5 Steps to Competitive Intelligence Success

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Marketing without competitive intelligence is like hitting a pinata blindfolded. How would you know who you're competing with or what your strategic advantages are if you don’t have a firm grip on …

Marketing without competitive intelligence is like hitting a pinata blindfolded. How would you know who you're competing with or what your strategic advantages are if you don’t have a firm grip on your competitive landscape?

This slide deck is part of a webinar that shows you how to get a leg-up on your online competition in five steps. Whether you’re looking to formulate a comprehensive competitive strategy or just to build competitive intelligence into your current marketing plan, this resource will help you gain insight into how to use competitive intelligence tools to stay informed and adjust for shifts in your industry.

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  • Compete’s numbers are unaffected by cookie deletion & non-human behaviorBoth technologies have strengths and weaknesses but ultimately compliment each other to help marketers get a better understanding of their competitor’s online strategy.
  • Your local analytics is a great tool for understanding the behavior of visitors on your own website, but local analytics can’t tell you how you’re performing against your competition. Nor can it tell you what keywords your competition is buying or how well they’re ranking on search engines. It can’t indicate that your competition implemented a new tactic or technology that was really successful & that you might also benefit from. That’s why the force is strongest for those that use competitive intelligence as well as local analytics. Yoda Agrees!
  • Knowing who your competition is will be the Critical First Step. Without knowing who you’re competing against it’s difficult to come up with a strategy that will push your marketing efforts forward.
  • Start by making list of competitors large and small. I’d recommend getting a group of colleagues together from different departments, as it’s likely that your colleagues will all identify different competitors. Keep in mind that the key to a great brainstorming session is the ability to throw around ideas, there is no right or wrong answers. Even if some of the competitors don’t make the short list of sites you look at often it’s good practice to do this exercise periodically. Even if it’s simply an email blast asking your colleages to rank your top 5 competitors in each segment (size –Large, mid, small / direct & indirect). Especially in retail, direct and indirect competition can be good to keep an eye on. For example, Zappos would consider New Balance an indirect competitor as they sell this brand of shoes on their site… however they want ensure sales through the zappos domain, not through the brand’s domain.
  • Getting your bearings is imperative to understanding who your competition is an how they’ve performed year over year. Making an industry timeline is a great way to assess how occurrences like product releases, seasonality, and current events impact performance. I recommend using resources like google twitter search and googlenewstimeline to start piecing together your timelines. http://newstimeline.googlelabs.com/http://realtime.google.com – 404 
  • There is no one metric that indicates stellar performance. Understanding both the data sets and the trends is imperative to competitive intelligence success. Once you can understand and identify which trends are indicators of top performance you’ll be on your way to crafting a persuasive story about what your competition did to be successful and how your team might approach replicating this success in your own marketing strategy.
  • Knowing what your competition is doing online is more than a one step approach. Make sure to investigate your competition’s url structure. Sometimes gems can be found in subdomain performance activity in addition to search and referral analytics data.
  • Anyone can report, but reporting isn’t actionable… in order to get value out of any competitive intelligence product or service data needs to be first understood to be acted upon.
  • Ask yourself, what are the “trends” telling me?! Reporting is the act of gathering information, will not be actionable as it is only the first step of the process. Analysis is the act of synthesizing information and applying insights to your overall business objectives.*I’m not alone on this line of thinking, it’s been echoed by thought leaders such as Avinash author of web analytics and hour a day.
  • Above are some questions to think about before beginning to craft your search strategy. The answer to each of these questions will differ from company to company and industry to industry as keyword marketing spend and each company’s position in the market make different search strategies more or less effective. There is no one size fits all answer to improving search, but baking both SEO and SEM efforts in with competitive intelligence can give you an edged on your competition because you’ll be able to identify shifts in your competition’s strategy and quickly adjust to take advantage of opportunities in these shifts. Allow you to pull the correct reports to influence ppl within your organization to act on the information you’re reporting on. You can tell what products are most important to your competition through looking at the search spend. If they are spending a lot on a certain keyword campaign you want to not only be aware but also prepared to act.
  • TELL THEM WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING AT.Critical Thinking – The green line on this graph indicated paid activity. Does Paid search activity seem more or less important to Zappos.com as it was last year? (Give them 1 min)
  • Understanding your competition’s flow of traffic can be imperative to your own marketing efforts. If you know that certain search, email, or affiliate relationships have been fruitful you can use this information to persuade your organization to shift your own efforts toward higher performing affiliate networks, more fruitful SEM investments, or targeting your email segments more strategically for example. Destination reports can also be helpful in your retargeting efforts, and I’ll elaborate further on retargeting later in the presentation.
  • Critical Thinking – What you’re looking at here is Zappos’ traffic dashboard. With this behavioral information you can see indications of cross shopping from other similar domains. If you take a look shoppers in August were referred to Zappos by other domains in the shoes and accessories category 10.82% more often than the month prior. This type of behavior usually indicates that shoppers are price sensitive. If I were zappos I’d consider AB testing 2 groups of users and incentivizing one group with free shipping, to see if this increases conversions on the site.On the right there is the visits count, which we see increasing. When you hover it shows you the categories. Click and you can deep dive to see the interaction on a domain level. (Give them 1 min)*typically you’d want to spend more time investigating these reports and performance on referrals on a domain level, but this overview helps you narrow in on top-performing domains via category grouping.
  • Ultimately in step 2 reporting and analyzing should allow you to be able to jump to conclusions about opportunities in your search efforts and relationships that may be fruitful to pursue.
  • Take a stab and formulating a strategy… depending on what worked well for your competition and your unique position in the market. There is no one size fits all strategy for your digital marketing efforts. Using competitive intelligence in your online marketing efforts is an iterative process.
  • The best way to persuade someone is with actionable metrics. Be sure to come prepared if you’re looking to pitch an idea that requires new resources. Using competitive tools and data can be a great way to formulate a case to acquire resources for the project you’re seeking to accomplish.
  • First… You need to hypothesize about what will work well for you.Next persuade others to think the same so you’re able to Implement your hypothesisAfter you’ve implemented this change you’ll need to measure and analyze the performance before tweaking your campaign with new hypothesis’ on what works best.
  • Your own expectations can interfere with your ability to understand online behaviorsSome results when taken out of context may make you scratch your head… Make sure you do your best to remain objective as unexpected results do not always mean incorrect ones. There is no right or wrong answer, digital marketing is not math. There will be successful and unsuccessful endeavors, it is what you gain in light of less successful results that matters.
  • For SEO’s and SEMS’s understanding how users might actually type in search results can be challenging once you’ve familiarized yourself with your company and brand it’s hard to un-learn everything you know about it so you can get a user perspective. That’s why keyword tools like compete’s category searches that return thousands of industry specific keywords & their performance in terms of engagement can be helpful in supplement to google’s keyword tool and Google trends’ keyword information. Depending on your role as a marketer or analyst your use of these tools will differ slightly, however ultimately we all should have an awareness of their capabilities and uses to get ourselves unstuck from inevitable plateaus that happen in our digital marketing efforts.
  • Knowing which keywords you’re competing on and with whom is a large part having the advantage to win the paid search battle. Once you identify keywords that are important to you and your competition. You can assess what’s currently working for you (internally) and what’s working for your competition on compete.You’ll find that you’ll be able to make alterations to your current marketing strategy, such as smart, targeted exclusions and more precise buys that will allow you to see the positive results you’re looking for.
  • Your larger competitors have more resources to invest in optimizing their campaigns, taking cues from their success can help you grow. Just remember not to lose your identity or compromise your values. If it doesn’t feel like an approach you should take, trust your instincts.Once you identify what’s working for them, think about if this aligns with what your goals are and what type of approach you want to take. Some find that buying more engaging and precise long tail keywords from their competitor’s search referrals highly affective.
  • Knowing what channels of traffic perform for your competition allows you take this information as a proof concept to demonstrate an opportunity to build a symbiotic relationship with new Affiliates, Advertisers, Publishers, and Influencers that allows both parties to benefit.
  • Make sure to qualify your partners through benchmarking their compete performance. Look for relationships that will bring you the highest value, whether it be exposure to new markets, more targeted ad placements, or better fitting clients.You can also use compete to feed leads to your sales organization.
  • Get answers about the flow of inbound and outbound traffic to your site and your competitors, which will help you retargeting efforts
  • Create conversion funnels – What does this look like currently, with the resources you have how can you project positive change?Identify where customers drop off using destination traffic reports to find out where users go after they leave your site as well as local analytics to measure quantifiable metrics like cart abandonment. Reward customers for coming back and bringing other new customers with loyalty programs
  • One of the age-old questions for analysts and marketers to understand has always been, where do my visitors leave after they go to my site? Competitive intelligence is key in answering this as compete information is behavioral an can help companies get to the root of where traffic leaves, so they can reposition, Identify where customers drop off using destination traffic reports to find out where users go after they leave your site as well as local analytics to measure quantifiable metrics like cart abandonment. Perform usability tests on your own site to ensure your conversion is a path of little resistance. Think about why your site and your competition has the destination traffic sites listed that it does. Be aware of shifts in performance month to month and year to year. Why do people leave?!Are your customers price sensitive? Is shipping cost an issue?What are the factors to when you get an abandoned cart –survey them via email to
  • In this example much of the outbound traffic leading away from nordstrom.com went first to search with a little over 33% share.In the top 5 referrers, there is a high amount of social activity with almost 5% going to facebook and about 1.5% to youtube. We also see cross shopping behaviors with Macy.com and shopathome.com. They’ve also increased % share m-o-m with their credit card activity, further research could be done to investigate how they increased engagement with card members.
  • Create conversion funnels – What does this look like currently, with the resources you have how can you project positive change?Reward customers for coming back and bringing other new customers with loyalty programs. You can alsoRetarget your customers with ads and incentives.For cart abandonment, you can survey your users if you collect their email address prior to check-out. That way you can help tweak your site make your products and services more appealing to the people you’re having drop out of the funnel. Ultimately you’ll want to test along the way. However asking is the first step to learning more about how to make the customer experience better.
  • Your expertise is one of your best tools, keep up with your industry it’s tools, and push yourself to learn something new every single day. Additionally ,I applaud you for attending our webinar today you’re already working toward this goal by taking the time to learn more about new tools, tricks, and techniques to keep you on top.
  • You want to be able to keep a pulse not only on your website performance, but also what’s going on in the industry. Much like the tenant – the early bird gets the worm, those that keep the pulse of the industry are quicker to act & benefit from industry opportunities, many others miss.
  • It’s important to get the most pertinent results with very specific searches. If you find a particular result helpful and want more like it find similarities in the information and update your searches. In my experience, monitoring thought leaders in your industry via name or sending leads to sales can make you a rock star within your organization. Sharing this type of information makes you a person ‘in the know’ that other’s will look to for advise and expertise.Personally I use it for updating blogs and forums related to my work. I also follow some of my colleagues that speak a lot (those of you in PR may already do this). You can also keep an eye out for your competition, your industry, or send leads to sales…
  • Unfortunately there’s no one size fits most solution in marketing. It’s the experience you gain in the practice that’s most important. Baking competitive intelligence in to your process is similar to backing SEO into the building of your website. It’s something that should be done but typically gets missed in the hustle-bustle of the day to day. Using CI can help you be aware and ready to act when other’s aren’t which can give you the advantage to outperform the competition, whether you’re an underdog or a major player.
  • Keeping your eye on your competition is instrumental to success, competitive intelligence is like being able to peek It’s hard to know if what you’re whacking is your target. Sometimes you can have a luck swing and have the pinata rain candy, but typically there is a number of failures associated with being blindfolded. I’m sure you could spend a delightful afternoon on youtube finding funny examples 
  • There is no one correct approach for digital marketing. You can use a left-brained data driven approach & right-brained approaches to creating engaging content and copy. Competitive intelligence compliments your local analyticsKnowing your competitive landscape is key to being able to quantify your successDifferentiate yourself from those that simply report by offering actionable insights. These insights will be suggestions based off of trends observed in the data rather a regurgitation of statistics gleaned from reports. Integrating competitive intelligence into your digital marketing strategy is an iterative process. Testing your hypothesis’ through changes in your current strategy, analyzing the results, and adjusting for changes is a recursive process.Finding improvements for your conversion funnel is important because you work hard to convert visitors into customers. Reinforce your efforts with retargeting campaigns that engage bounced visitors and nurture your current brand advocates to promote word of mouth business. Staying on top isn’t just about being number 1, being number 1 takes drive, ambition, and continuous attention. You desire to learn will be your best tool for success. Luckily, attending workshops and educational webinars like this one are a great start.
  • Add search help resource, google alerts “about” Quick-tips for PRO compete tool helpSupport contact informationLinked in groupCompete blog

Transcript

  • 1. 5 Steps to Online Marketing Success Using Competitive Intelligence
    A beginner’s guide to competitive intelligence
    Presented by: Lindsey Mark
    Client Relations compete.com
  • 2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahreido/4442226810
    Agenda
    • What is competitive intelligence?
    • 3. Introduction to Compete and Compete’s Data
    • 4. 5 Steps to Online Marketing Success Using Competitive Intelligence
    • 5. Overview
    • 6. Brief Q&A
  • The action of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about products, customers, competitors, and any aspect of the external business environment needed to support executives and managers in making strategic decisions for an organization.
    What’s Competitive Intelligence?
  • 7. each month Compete’s Online Consumer Panel measures2 million US online consumers
  • 8. Compete versus Local AnalyticsWhy the numbers aren’t exactly the same…
    Compete tracks actual users’ online behaviors.
    Local Analytics tracks individual pages of a website using a javascript tag.
  • 9. Competitive Opportunities, there are...
    Use local analytics & competitive intelligence,we will.
    Local analytics is a great way to understand your own website.
    However,
    Some questions can only be answered through competitive intelligence tools.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecastro/262721042/
  • 10. Step 1: Identify the Competition
    Understanding the Competitive Landscape
  • 11. Benchmark
    Identify competitors in your industry.
    Brainstorm
    • List Competitors
    • 12. large & small
    • 13. direct & indirect
    Identify Industry Leaders
    • Who had success in site engagement & popularity
    Look for the “Why”
    • New product offerings
    • 14. Higher engagement
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ tambako/
  • 15. Industry Timeline
    Identify industry events that may affect site traffic
    Include
    Correlate
    • Which events may have caused shifts in site performance
    Identify
    • Industry Trends
    • 18. Seasonality
    • 19. Stellar Performance
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/2415438447/
  • 20. Metrics, what are they good for?
    Loyalty = Visits
    Popularity = Unique Visitors
    Engagement = Average Stay
  • 21. Investigate
    Trend Analysis Deep-Dive For Top Performers
    Analyze Domain & Subdomain Activity
    Search Activity
    Traffic Referrals
    Identify the root of your competition's stellar performance using competitive intelligence tools.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/loungerie/
  • 22. Step 2: Synthesize the Data
    Analyze reports and identify areas of opportunity
  • 23. Gathering information is only the first step of the process.
    Reporting vs. Analysis
    Synthesizing information and applying insights to your overall business objectives.
    What’s the difference?
  • 24. Search Strategy
    Questions to Ask Before You Begin.
    Search Marketing
    • Who also competes for these keywords?
    • 25. What is my position in the market?
    • 26. Who am I targeting?
    Search Engine Optimization
    • What kinds of content/keywords will attract the visitors I’m looking for?
    • 27. What keywords would I like to rank higher for?
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/eivindw/4876863646/
  • 28. Critical Thinking
    Is paid search more or less important to Zappos.com this year versus 2010?
  • 29. Inbound & Outbound Traffic
    Uncover where your competition is getting traffic & where that traffic leaves after visiting.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lfodness/
  • 30. Critical Thinking
    In the past month, the shopping category was Zappos’ 2nd largest referrer. In which segment can we see cross-shopping behavoirs?
    Hint: the answer is highlighted
  • 31. Hypothesize
    Jump to conclusions about opportunities in…
    Search
    SEO
    SEM
    Traffic Data
    Partnerships
    Service Initiatives
    Product Offerings
    Retargeting
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/4812875482/
  • 32. Step 3: Take Action
    Analysis & Implementation, an iterative process
  • 33. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.
    David M. Ogilvy
  • 34. Actionable Metrics
    Implementing competitive intelligence is iterative.
    Creating buy-in is imperative.
  • 35. It’s important to remain objective.
    Things are notalways as they seem.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/san_drino/1454922072/
  • 36. Understanding Search Referrals
    Dig yourself out of a keyword rut.
    Take advantage of search work tested & implemented by your competitors.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/loungerie/
  • 37. Identify Opportunities in Search
    Strategy transparency in the search spend
    Hypothesize why your competition had stellar performance?
    Ask yourself if this tactic is repeatable?
    What would your company or brand do differently?
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wandering_angel/434537887
  • 38. Copying is a form of flattery
    Use your successful competitors as a model for your own success.
    Remain true to your core values.
    http://www.icanhascheezburger.com
  • 39. Relationship Building
    Which websites are key to your competition's traffic acquisition strategy?
    Affiliates
    Advertisers
    Publishers
    Influencers
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/archetypefotografie/5120656071
  • 40. Prospecting
    Find the right partners, publishers & clients using thorough qualification tactics.
    Spend more time perusing and less time qualifying.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mauricekoop/
  • 41. Step 4: Fix your Leaky bucket
    Identify lost opportunities through referral traffic reporting
  • 42. Create Conversion Funnels
    What does our current funnel look like?
    What does your future conversion funnel to look like?
  • 43. Identify Where Customers Drop-Off
    Using outbound traffic reports
    Identify marketing opportunities in competitor's destinations.
    Be aware of shifts in destination share.
    Hypothesize why visitors leave to the listed destination sites.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/yummy1986/3309283418/
  • 44. Critical Thinking
    Where can you find retargeting opportunities in this example report for Nordstrom.com?
  • 45. Retarget and Incentivize
    Nurture customers & ask for referrals
    Creatively engage your current customer base.
    Woo loyal customers with special offers and referral bonuses.
    Encourage your best customers to becomebrand advocates.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/337102798/
  • 46. Step 5: Stay Hungry & INFORMED
    Drive for knowledge, leverage tools, push your company forward
  • 47. Keep Tabs
    Frequent checkups help ensure your website stays healthy.
    Monitor your benchmarks and KPI’s regularly.
    Integrate competitive intelligence data into your marketing practice.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cjmphotos/1141218766
  • 48. Tune In
    Automate Alerts to keep up with your industry.
    Set-up Google Alerts
    • Competition’s name
    • 49. Industry terms
    • 50. Techniques
    Continuously Update
    • Make the search results specific & pertinent
    Review Daily or Weekly
    • Alerts have no value if not reviewed
    • 51. Put the feed in your mail client or RSS reader
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/abletoven/3223086466
  • 52. Lather, Rinse, Repeat
    Like any online marketing strategy, there is no simple fix.
    Arm yourself with the tools needed to succeed.
    Commit to integrating competitive intelligence into your existing digital marketing practice.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/flashpro
  • 53. Marketing without Competitive Intelligence is like hitting a target blindfolded
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/peasap/1393320084
  • 54. Today we learned…
  • 55. Resources
  • 56. Thank you!
    Presented by: Lindsey Mark
    Client Relations compete.com
    Linkedin.com/in/lmark
    Twitter.com/linji