“If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” This 5th century BC saying by Sun Tzu summarizes the importance of competitive intelligence, and it’s equally relevant for marketers in the 21st century.
Competitive intelligence helps you track, analyze, and activate information related to your competitors with the intention of making faster decisions and executing better strategies. The annual State of Competitive Intelligence report shares, “Nearly two-thirds of businesses have directly attributed their revenue growth to competitive intelligence.” Where does intent data fit into this picture though? How can you derive competitive intelligence from intent data and also fuel your business growth?
Why Should Organizations Consider the Use of Competitive Intelligence?
When monitoring competitors in your niche, it’s wise to do the following:
- Adapt to changes in the industry and better position yourself
- Proactively respond to your competitors’ moves
- Be aware of unfavorable trends
- Discover opportunities for business growth
- Find what your competitors are doing to win more deals
- Modify your marketing messaging and sales pitch
- Set a benchmark for yourself, and make strategic decisions
Gathering intelligence in these areas can help you make better business decisions while also moving faster than your competitors.
In addition, understanding the different features, performance, and prices of your competitors’ offerings unfortunately is not enough anymore. Keep in mind the following information in order to derive a competitive advantage:
- Ways competitors position themselves in the market
- Is it based on domain expertise, cost of ownership, or customer service?
- Competitors’ value proposition
- Competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
- Ways to differentiate your product from competitors’ products
- The changes your competitors are going through that might impact you
Furthermore, the process of gathering competitive intelligence falls within these five stages:
- Niche discovery
- Products in your niche
- Competitors in your niche
- Benchmarking yourself
- Deriving insights and implementing them
Intent data gives you an edge in many different areas including timing. Timing determines whether or not you will engage with a prospect and successfully convert them.
Did you know that according to Gartner, around 87% is done online? If you use intent data to identify potential buyers early in the buying process, you’re able to mold the conversation and edge out your competition.
Additionally, intent data can help you identify topics related to your offerings and understand when prospects are researching your competitors. Intent data can even help you control your churn rate and maintain better relationships with your customers.
All you need to do is upload your list of accounts to the marketing cloud and search topics related to your competitors’ brand names. Any account that shows a surge in intent for your competitors indicates that they are looking forward to a vendor switch.
The next step is to align your account lists with intent topics relevant to your competitors and the solutions you offer. By doing this, you’ll likely have a clearer vision of the type of content they consume, which in turn, will help you craft your message better.
Derive Competitive Intelligence From Intent Data
How can you derive competitive intelligence from intent data? Start with these five important steps:
- Activate intent data for competitive intelligence – Oftentimes, data is bought for particular use cases like demand generation. Ask yourself if you can leverage that data for competitive intelligence. All you need is a technique that normalizes and uses data correctly for different purposes. Accurate and actionable data in one place lets you make better campaign decisions.
- Get data in front of the right people – The value of intent data can often get lost amid too much information. If you share intent data thoughtfully via reports, notify sales of target account activity, and help customer success teams with upselling suggestions, it usually leads to timely execution.
- Create well-designed and secure data practices – Data is a raw but valuable asset. Large volumes of data are difficult to analyze and can overwhelm and even conceal essential signals. Therefore, thoroughly exploring the potential of intent data requires well-designed and secure data practices.
- Align and collaborate – Orchestrate account engagement across all channels and normalize your data so sales and marketing have a single source of rich and accurate data. Then, engage buyers with detailed information and highly customized content based on their intent signals.
- Gain C-level support – Receiving C-level support is critical for operationalizing intent data intelligence across marketing and sales. Gaining support from knowledgeable leaders and industry experts who understand the vast potential of data will help ensure it’s adopted across various processes with little resistance.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect”? Although the phrase isn’t particularly common in the B2B world, it’s important to practice competitive intelligence consistently. When you’re aware of what your competitors are planning, you can execute the right strategic response. So, why not focus on preparedness and thoroughness so you’re never caught by surprise again? In the meantime, do yourself a favor and discover intent today to see what else you can learn!