Competitive Intelligence Tools
How to manage effective Market Intelligence
by Ido Amit
Keeping your advantage against your competitors is vital, here’s what you should know in order to do just that.
When dealing with a software or an online product, the workspace will always be dynamic and packed with information so it sometimes seems like competitors pop out of nowhere and could, in no time become a genuine threat to your market share. How can you simultaneously watch over both shoulders when the competition demands every competitor to overcome rapid transformations, obtain new publishers, nurture new partnerships and most importantly develop new products and features? This post is here to provide you with the right tools and tips that will keep you in control over what goes on in the market space.
Who are we dealing with?
Before we begin tracking our competitors, it’s important to understand who we are even dealing with. The ability to see “the bigger picture” is super important in this line of work, and it’s necessary to keep on making sure there are no blank spots in that picture.
First, get your hands on as many names as possible such as companies, products, relevant people in the industry, investors and business partners. Google would be your best friend during this initial stage of research, don’t be afraid to go with the flow of results and let the clicker guide you from one lead to the other, a name leads to an article, which leads to an investor, which leads to a member of some company’s board of directors and so on. After you’ve obtained more names than it seems possible to remember, write them all on a board – and start connecting the dots. When the initial market picture clears, you will already be able to narrow that mass down to a handful of competitors you need to focus on. Then, and only then, we can begin working.
Ok, what now?
We’ve finally narrowed the names on the board to the selected few competitors, how could we keep track and not lose anything important? Now we’ve figured out there’s a massive amount of data track (probably an understatement). If only there was a way we could be alerted of every new story, from any source I choose, on any subject, oh, and have it all in one place… don’t worry, I came prepared.
Netvibes is an excellent alert management tool that allows us to input a search string (e.g. product company name or even a general search string) and receive any kind of relevant news on that specific search including regular news and updates, social alerts and more. Netvibes also allows input and monitoring of RSS feeds similar to tools we all love like the old Google Reader or Feedly. All these features and more perform as a center point of information on all subjects that interest you, recommended to add to your morning coffee routine.
The NetVibes Dashboard
You’ve randomly stumbled upon a new relevant website, how will identify whether it poses a threat or even requires your attention? And who the heck is standing behind it?
You already know a lot about your existing competitors, and suddenly you came across a name you don’t recognize, what a horrible feeling.
One of the most wonderful and irritating things about the internet is that there are some details that are not exposed to just about anyone, in such cases it’s important to memorize the following motto:
“Information about anything exists and is accessible, you just need to know where to look.”
Here’s a small verity of online tools that will help you conduct an in-depth research on a site you are interested in:
CrunchBase.com – A giant database containing general information on different people, companies and sites in the technological industry upon request.
Whois.com – Provides information on a specific domain including the registrant name, address, released and update dates of the domain. This tool lets you understand who is behind a certain site (whether it’s a company of an individual).
ComeScore / Alexa / Compete / SimilarWeb – These listed sites (some are free, some require payment) provide information on user traffic and visitors passing through a certain site, with this information we will be able to track a specific site for a period of time and better understand it’s size and competitive potential.
KeyWordSpy – Provides data regarding the words that a specific domain / competitor has paid using Google AdWords and an estimated amount of money he spent for those words.
AdClarity / WhatRunsWhere – Two great tools allowing you to keep track and follow competitors’ Display Ads Campaigns, where they are distributed, in what frequency, information about the advertiser, the publisher, division by country and specific landing pages – all in one place.
Think that’s too much? You’re absolutely right. Here’s a good example of a great tool that offers to gather and present all the information from all the above mentioned services in one place. Meet this little Chrome extension called Follow.net . With Follow.net, you will be able to get all the information mentioned above and more on the site you are currently visiting in your browser.
Follow.net active on Chrome
You can’t really analyze a market without looking at some numbers and statistics, remember “the big picture”? Make sure you always aspire to look even bigger!
Say you want to break into the extensions / add-ons market, you should probably know what the market share division is between the different browsers. Or you want to buy words and advertise on search engines’ results’ pages, a quick check could cost you a fortune by understanding which search engine is relevant to your geographical needs (maybe you should go Bing instead of Google this time).
Market researches are a fairly common product, and they provide great strategic intelligence when planning on breaking to a certain market. It’s always important to check if someone already researched the information you are planning so eagerly to look for. Statistics on just about any technical subject are available on sites like Statowl.com , where you could just search for any information you like and get relevant statistics.
The most effective tool you could have when managing an efficient Market Intelligence / Competitor tracking function in an internet company, is yourself. Make sure you always function as the bottleneck of all market related information and see to it that the company you work in acknowledges your role as one. A good Market Intelligence / Competitive analysis team generates a significant advantage by supporting all of the company’s functions starting with Product by comparing their work to other industry standard, through sales, business development and executive management. A relevant Market Intelligence function allows the company, as a business unit to choose the correct strategic and stable future when facing the other players in the market, and enables it to exist and develop expositional in this crazy market space we call the Internet.
Ido Amit is an experienced Online Market Researcher, specializing in identifying market trends and potential, performing background checks and conducting company, service and product online research.