Competitive Intelligence

Introduction to Competitive Intelligence / Analysis Resources, Tools and Services

Knowing what the competition is doing with their own marketing campaigns, for instance, is just as vital online as it is in traditional marketing. If you do not know what the competition is up to, then you are at a singular disadvantage on the net more so than off-net. Therefore, you need to know how to gain access to intelligence that helps you define not only where the competition is at in terms of marketing strategy, but where they intend to go from this point.

PPC campaigns can be remarkably effective when marketing products, regardless of what those products might be.

AFS conducts competitive intelligence for its paid search and SEO/natural search projects. However, since we are so successful at finding out information we also conduct this as a stand-alone facility and projects.

The internet makes it easier for AFS to identify exactly what your competitors are doing, frequently why, and often what their future plans are.

Competitive intelligence is an important task that Internet marketers should not take lightly. Knowing what your competition is doing is imperative in the offline world; the same is true online. Information about pricing, volumes is just as important as the keywords they are using, the adverts and the cost per click/impression/action they are paying.

Online marketers have an advantage over their offline peers: eMarketers can get data about their competitors' marketing activities, and the data can be worth a lot of money if used correctly. For example, with the right tools you can find your competitors' estimated marketing spending, targeting patterns, and means of optimization and a whole lot more.

This data is accessible at various levels of accuracy and detail on the Internet but you do have to be clever and knowledgeable to access it all of it. Sometimes we write our own routines to dig down deep (where humans cannot go) to access that data.

There are a number of tools and services available to help you with competitive analysis. The data provided are always estimates, and some are more realistic than others; the general rule of thumb is to take any information with a smaller or bigger grain of salt.

We do not use the data as if they are absolute facts and figures. We have to analyze and interpret that data. Before you make important decisions based on the data you uncover, use a number of different tools to acquire the data, and still others to compare them; most important, inform yourself about what sources were used by each service to generate the results for you.

Some specific intelligence
Search marketing is one of the fasting growing and most effective method of advertising to promote your business. Given this highly competitive advertising landscape, you need a tool that will give you an edge and stay ahead of your competitors. By incorporating iSpionage Keyword Monitoring tool into your search marketing program you are getting crucial data which can help you boost impressions, improve clickthrough rates and ultimately drive more qualified traffic to your website.

Understanding your campaigns' impression share is important because it tells you how much traffic your campaign is missing out on. If your ads are appearing only 25% of the time for a valuable keyword, you should take immediate steps to correct the problem as you are missing out on significant valuable traffic. You will also learn how well your campaign is performing compared to your competitors and learn how to stay ahead of them.

Gaining access to this intelligence can prove to be problematic though. You will find an incredible number of programs that promise to deliver the needed results, but which ones do the best job? Which ones offer the best mixture of accuracy and cost savings? For instance, Alexa can be used to considerable extent, but it can be a bit biased, as the data is only collected from toolbar installations.

As you might imagine, the means by which the information is gathered is quite important. You will also need to consider the scope of the collection process. Is the data collected only from the US market? Does the date reflect global trends? These are vital concerns when contemplating launching a PPC campaign and in need of accurate intelligence concerning the competitive market.
Who wins when you use PPC spy tools to steal competitor's keywords and strategies? Google does. As several affiliates spy on successful campaigns and jump on the same winning keywords, all it will do is jack up the PPC cost.

For almost every business, finding out competitors' identities, pricing, plans, strengths, weaknesses, suppliers and customers plays a very important part in formulating a business strategy. In fact, having or not having adequate competitive intelligence could mean the difference between success and failure, especially in international markets where the costs of making mistakes and the rewards of doing the right thing are much higher than in the domestic situation. Competitive intelligence allows a business to learn and profit from a competitor’s mistakes and successes. A business with good intelligence on the competition will know better when to enter a market, what entry strategies to use, when to raise or drop prices, improve customer service, repackage their offer, protect from various risks, undertake more attractive product adaptation, break up its competitors' alliances and supply chain, and so on.

AFS excels at gathering and putting together comprehensive competitive intelligence as part of its service to you. This is not an optional extra. It is a must-have.