Staying on top of competitors’ movements and the market’s shifts has always been vital for business success and growth. Which is why pioneering and business-savvy organizations have been using competitive intelligence since the 1990’s. Today, almost every organization uses competitive intelligence in some form or the other, some unknowingly, and some tactically and strategically. One of these approaches is wiser.
With technological innovation leaving no industry untouched, even the field of market and competitive intelligence has undergone an impressive evolution. The result of this transformation has been AI and ML-powered, high-tech market and competitive intelligence tools and software. These tools can collect, analyze and distribute crucial information about your market and competition in an automated manner, in near real-time. Successfully leveraging and implementing such technological solutions has become essential for organizations to maintain their leadership positions and sustain growth acceleration.
However, there is no dearth of competitive intelligence tools in the market in present times, each with a host of features, and each touting itself to be the best. How do you know which competitive intelligence tool is right for your business? Don’t worry, in this article, we’ll help you understand market and competitive intelligence in-depth, delineate reasons why it’s important to have a competitive intelligence tool, and finally take you through some of the top competitive intelligence tools in the market. Let’s go!
What is Market and Competitive Intelligence?
In the business lexicon, market and competitive intelligence or M&CI as it is commonly known, is the process of collecting, analyzing, and distributing information on the markets, competitors, partners, and customers to support strategic management and improve decision-making in an organization.
The information collected during this process is called intelligence, and can serve as the foundation for all strategic business decisions. Here are some commonly known benefits of M&CI:
- It provides insights into a business’s target audience, its growth potential, market opportunity, competitor analysis as well as other future goals.
- It divulges how an organization fares against its direct or indirect competitors.
- It helps an organization anticipate the future of their market, and guides their business’s decision-making by cutting through the noise out there in the market.
- It expedites strategizing around the competitive landscape, the target market, customer trends, and specific buyer personas.
- It aids in the improvement of an organization’s position by helping invest in the right projects and avoiding losses.
- It assists in planning the launch of new products and/or services.
In short, market and competitive intelligence helps an organization gain a comprehensive understanding of its competitors, the state of its industry, market conditions, and the changing consumer landscape as a whole, thus granting them a desirable advantage in the market.
Reasons to Have a Competitive Intelligence Tool
You’ve already read above how market and competitive intelligence can help an organization gain a competitive advantage in the market. One of the primary reasons you need a tool to carry out competitive intelligence is the vast amounts of unfiltered and unstructured information present on the internet. How are you going to filter and sort through this never-ending sea of information on a daily basis? Manual collection, analysis and distribution of competitive intelligence is a losing battle, one which will only end consuming vast amounts of time, effort and resources.
This is why a competitive intelligence (CI) tool is a far smarter and efficient option. It not only cuts through digital noise present on the internet, but also automates repetitive, and time-consuming tasks like collection and organization of relevant information, which makes more time for analysis and actual decision-making. In addition, cutting-edge market and competitive intelligence tools these days offer a number of advantages including:
- Identification of industry shifts and trends, and their graphical representation/visualization using intuitive dashboards, improving an organization’s response to such shifts.
- Competitive analysis of your organization vs. your top competitors, which helps in assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, thus improving the organization’s response to competitors’ movements.
- Centralization of all the information collected from public sources, premium tools or paid analyst reports an organization may be using, saving time and effort spent in searching for information scattered across the organization.
- Distribution of intelligence to various stakeholders and teams, in formats that are accessible, familiar, and relevant to their business function
Competitive intelligence tools empower organizations to make smarter, data-driven decisions quickly and efficiently by providing a regular stream of intelligence to all business functions and teams. In addition, with the popularity of CI tools increasing globally, it’s highly likely that your competitors are already using a competitive intelligence tool, and they’re doing this unchallenged. It’s time to change that, and get a CI tool of your own. Let us now look at the top competitive intelligence tools for you to consider for your organization.
Top 5 Competitive Intelligence Tools to Consider for Your Business in 2022
Contify is a one stop competitive and market intelligence platform that helps businesses track information on competitors, customers, partners and industry segments by enabling users and teams to collect, curate, and share actionable intelligence across their organization.
Contify is brimming with features to help organizations compete intelligently, get ahead and succeed in the modern markets, and offers the following benefits:
- Competitive Intelligence Automation: Help CI/MI professionals automate routine competitive intelligence tasks, streamline analyst workflows and save time spent on manual research and information processing. Contify’s competitive intelligence system also enables the efficient distribution of personalized intelligence newsletters across the organization.
- Sales and Account Intelligence: Provide noise-free, intelligent updates customized to each member of sales and account management teams to drive conversions and conversations.
- Competitor Tracking: Track competitors’ digital footprint across websites, media coverage, announcements, social media and more.
- Industry Intelligence: Track industry segments to identify trends, innovations and emerging threats like new entrants, disruptors, etc., that are beyond the scope of already established competitors.
Contify caters to a wide-array of organizational functions such as Sales, Marketing, MI/CI, Strategy, Market Research, etc., and collects noise-free intelligence for over 200,000+ sources such as news, press releases, company websites, social media, review websites like G2, regulatory portals, job boards, etc.
SEMRush is basically a CI tool for marketing function/use-case, and can be used to track competitors’ organic and paid keywords, advertising, content performance, and social media to make data-driven marketing decisions. In addition it can provide the following benefits:
- Provide you with a comprehensive picture of your competitors’ advertising and content performance.
- Analyze competitors using a variety of metrics like organic keywords, backlinking, content performance, display and search advertising, social media performance, PPC, and website traffic.
Talkwalker is a social analytics and real-time tracking tool that can be used by organizations to track their competitors’ mentions on news and social media, as well as set up alerts on industries and topics that are of interest.
Talkwalker offers features such as social media analytics, competitor intelligence alerts, consumer insights, head-to-head competitor comparison, dashboards and reports on competitors’ brands, etc. You can use it to do the following:
- Set up alerts for your search terms across news and press, Twitter, blogs, and forum/discussion boards.
- Monitor competitors and track what is being said about them across multiple social channels
- Identify which channels and social media platforms are best for you to target
Owler is a sales and marketing tool that allows organizations to follow, track and research companies in real-time. It crowdsources and provides competitive insights through news alerts, company profiles, polls, etc.
Owler is meant largely for marketing and sales teams of an organization, and can help them do the following:
- Track companies that matter to the organization (competitors, partners, clients)
- Access exclusive company data (annual revenue, employee count, funding, and top competitors)
- Explore the latest news and events about your competitors and your market
- Integrate with your CRM to track active prospects and customers
5. Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a tool that notifies you (through email) whenever it finds results matching the search terms you’re targeting. Google Alerts sends you web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research, which is why it has been a popular unofficial competitive intelligence tool in the past years, and of course, for the reason that it is free to use. However, Google Alerts has its limitations, for example: Google Alerts is not very accurate when compared to advanced CI tools, it offers no analytics, and is not suited to be used for reporting.
What Google Alerts can do, is help organizations with the following things:
- Track and monitor any topics or search terms they’re interested in
- Stay up to date on market news and trends
Depending on the kind of competitive intelligence you wish to track, you can choose one or more of the above mentioned tools to give you a competitive advantage over your competitors. Here’s what we suggest: understand the competitive intelligence needs of your organization first, then evaluate the tools that fall within your criteria one-by-one. In our opinion, every department should benefit from the usage of CI. If you want a one-stop solution that all your functions such as sales, marketing, strategy can leverage and benefit from, leverage a one-stop solution like Contify. To truly get the best of competitive intelligence tools, you need to do more than just gather information, you need to analyze and share that information. So make sure you choose wisely.