Focus on Automating Competitive Analysis for Speed
There are many ways to monitor your competition. The traditional ways of doing this involved analyzing competitor products, websites, marketing materials and using some type of framework or template to collect the data. The problem is that doing all this manually can be very time-consuming, especially if you have many competitors.
That’s why more and more businesses are using competitor tracking software to automate the process. The idea is once you’ve set up an automated competitive analytics tool, you just sit back and let the data flow.
Qualities of a Strong Competitor Monitoring system
- Competitor analytics are refreshed regularly. That means you’re seeing daily, weekly, and monthly updates from a regular stream of intelligence.
- Marketing is under constant surveillance. Monitoring their messaging, content, and performance is difficult for a human but exactly the type of thing a tool can help with.
- Insights are easy to distribute to teams across your organization. Product, Sales, Marketing, and leadership should be able to ask questions about the competitive landscape without jumping through hoops.
How to Identify Your Competitors
Whether you compete with 1 or 100 businesses, you’ve got to start somewhere.
Understanding who your top 5 competitors are is key to building a successful sales program.
Not all competitors are equal; different types are monitored in different ways. To gather the right data, you first need to understand the role of direct vs indirect competition.
What is a Direct Competitor?
Direct competitors are businesses you go head to head with on a regular basis.
Does their name appear in your CRM often?
Do they come up in most customer calls?
That’s your direct competitor.
These companies will have overlapping messaging and product features. They are likely targeting a similar buyer persona and customer segment as you are.
A great example of direct competitors is Hubspot vs Salesforce in the CRM segment. Both companies target the Sales department with a CRM product. For years Hubspot was known for its marketing tools and Salesforce was a dominant sales platform; today the two giants are competing for many of the same customers with overlapping products.
What is an Indirect Competitor?
Indirect competitors are going after the same budget but might not have the same product. You can call them the “wallet-share” competitors.
For example, Microsoft & Okta. Enterprises buy products from both companies and in many situations, the two must work together as partners to make their customers successful. But if you ask them who they think they compete with, both businesses are likely to name each other.
[ Bonus Term : Co-Opertition : n. The act of competing with companies you are partnered with. Sometimes you cooperate. Other times you compete. ]
Indirect competitors can lead to head-scratching moments for your partner and sales teams. It’s important to educate your teams on how to interact with them in any given situation. A good sales Battlecard can help your teams understand how to position against the co-opertition.
Examples of Direct and Indirect Competition
- Samsung vs Apple – The smartphone leaders have battled it out directly for years.
- McDonalds vs Domino’s – They’re different restaurants but are indirectly vying for the same customer.
- Playstation 5 vs Xbox – Industry giants with a decades-long rivalry.
- Uber & Lime – You can take a scooter or call an Uber, either way these indirect competitors want your business.
Creating a battlecard can help you visualize your landscape of direct vs indirect competitors.
Additionally, a tool like 1up can help automate queries about the landscape:
Understand the Competing Products
Using an automated competitor intelligence platform can help you analyze your opponents’ products, features, and functionality. It enables you to understand differences between your product offerings, find out what new features and messaging your competitors are promoting, and reveal hiring trends to learn how they might be investing in R&D.
Visualize Your Competition’s Messaging
An automated competitor analysis tool can help you track marketing messaging, positioning, and collateral with ease. It can even tell you if a competitor is copying you by helping you answer questions like:
- What key phrases are they using?
- Does competitor X have a USP that’s effective for them?
- How has competitor X’s messaging evolved over time?
Queries like this can be automated with 1up like this:
Track Competitor Events and Webinars
You should know what your competitors are doing in the real world as well as online. See a calendar of their events to keep tabs on their activity and get automated alerts & summaries on their webinars. 1up will even watch your competitors’ videos so you don’t have to, saving you time and manual effort.
Frank Villavicencio, Chief Product Officer – Greenshades Software
It’s imperative to knowing who your competitors are in your target market and specific segment, especially given the constant changes in the landscape.
Monitor Competitor Finances
Where is your opponent’s capital coming from and how are they investing it? How much are they spending and on what? How much revenue did they generate? What is their sales rep quota? From venture capital to burn rates and beyond, you need to keep an eye on the financial health of your competitors.
Track Competitors Employees
Your competitor isn’t some abstract concept or entity—it’s a team of people. And they’re good at what they do. Knowing who your competitors’ people are means monitoring their hiring and firing activity, retention rates, and the general feelings among employees.
With a tool like 1up, you can spot trends and answer questions like, “Who is my competitor hiring and where?” – you can see what departments they’re investing in, get alerts on key hires and churn rates, and know how people feel about working there.
Track Customer Sentiment
One of the best ways to learn about your competition is by looking at their customer base. Why are users buying the product? Where does the competitor focus their efforts? How do people feel about the competitor’s product?
Combining a variety of signals both public and private can help you track a competitor’s customers. Plugging this data into 1up can give you an idea of how customers feel about your competitors, and how you can use that to your advantage.
Being able to pull competitive analytics across multiple segments is the foundation of a strong GTM strategy. But data alone is not actionable. Sales & Marketing teams need to be able to glean insights that guide their strategy and messaging. They need a fast and easy way to respond to customers and handle objections.
How do you effectively bring this data together for your team?
What if my competitors find out I’m analyzing them?
Competitive analysis works both ways. You should assume that they’re looking at you, and they know you’re looking at them. The best companies are aware of each other’s messaging, deliverables, and strategies. However, if you want to fly under the radar there are a few ways to do this:
- Download your competitor’s gated content using a fake email address.
- Watch their webinars using a different guest name.
- Follow and monitor them on social media using a throwaway account. To add a layer of intrigue just follow their social media with your primary accounts.
- Ask them questions through email or live chat using a different name and email address.
- Attend their events wearing a disguise (OK, maybe not this one…)
Can I keep certain content private from competitors?
We live in a world of increasing transparency. Your pricing, product capabilities, customers, and other details will eventually find their way to your competitors. It can’t be avoided. However, competitors might obfuscate information by using gated pricing pages and other methods.
A good way to find such information is to look up public forums such as Reddit or G2 or you can use tools like 1up, which is an automated intelligence gathering tool that can help you find this information easily.
How do I know if customers are happy about the competitor?
This is where sentiment analysis comes in. Although you can read what people are saying about your competitors online or find out what employees are writing about them, manually analyzing all of this information can take hours. Using an automated CI tool, however, you can quickly understand what people are saying.