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Gathering Competitive Intelligence for B2B Marketing

DBS Interactive
An illustration of competitive intelligence putting a person ahead of the competition.

Having your brand “at the top” is no longer a figure of speech, thanks to the power of search engines like Google and the business benefits that come with being seen at the top of search results when potential customers look for your products or services. This is especially true for B2B brands that market to businesses differently than the B2C brands marketing directly to consumers.

Appearing at the top of search results on Google and other search engines can significantly amplify your brand recognition, and even increase website traffic, lead generation, and sales. But winning those top spots can be difficult with all of the competition you face from competing brands–some of whom might not even be your direct market competitors.

To get any B2B website to the number one ranking and position the business to win more search traffic from prospects, you need efficient analysis and effective execution according to a plan informed by competitive market intelligence.

When it comes to digital marketing, B2B businesses typically compete more for customer attention and less for direct sales. Since internet users are online at all times, optimizing your marketing campaigns to outcompete other brands in your space is also an ongoing process, around the clock, 24/7.

Competitive intelligence reports are crucial for informing the creation of effective digital campaigns and strategies.

Goals of Your Competitive Intelligence Report

The goal of competitive intelligence is for a business or individual to be able to make smart and strategic decisions with that information. Companies need to have a good understanding of what competitors are doing. A good business strategy contains two of the most important elements of the business: “Customers and Competition”.

While the wants, needs and buying behaviors of Customers are taken into account, the competitor offerings, pricing, limitations and objectives are aligned into the business intelligence report. Information on market trends, legislation, customers, suppliers, competitors, distributors, product development, and almost every other conceivable topic is available on the internet anytime. Search engines, online libraries, company websites and other digital sources provide adequate information as required.

Based on the market intelligence data gathered, your competitive landscape report should include the following:

  • Establish digital competitors who are competing for the same keywords and/or target audience and operate in the same paid or organic spaces.
  • Compare keyword strategy, performance, ranking, web design, UI/UX, and core web vitals.
  • Inform best practices, goals, and strategy for marketing.
  • Form a sophisticated understanding of the industry landscape.
  • Help identify internal flaws and opportunities.
Gathering competitor research

Steps to Gathering Competitive Intelligence

There are several components of competitive intelligence-gathering. It is important to understand and execute each step in sequence to maximize the efficiency of your process and the value of your competitive research report.

Step 1 – Planning

As the proverbial saying goes, “Plan your work and then work your plan.

The first step in planning is to create an outline for your research. You should have a general idea of what you’d like to learn to keep from wasting time researching tangential or useless information that doesn’t inform the plan or increase its likelihood of success.

The outline of your plan should contain the basic three elements:

  • Identify your target audience for a competitive intelligence.
  • Identify your business goals and objectives. Ensure that the information you gather will align with the success and goals of the business.
  • Identify where you will likely find the data you intend to acquire and how you intend to acquire it.

Step 2 – Research

Once you have completed planning, you can begin upfront research to identify the primary digital competitors to your business (remember, digital competitors may not be the same as your direct market competitors–essentially, the difference is that a digital competitor only fights your brand for real estate and visibility online).

Competitor Brand Maps

Competitor brand maps feature an analysis of the relationship between brands and their association with various product and service attributes. From brand maps, we can outline defining positions of brands, learn which brands are undifferentiated in their position, outline unclaimed attributes in the market, and uncover similarly performing brands. Brand mapping enables us to graphically show the different values attached to a range of competing brands.

Search Query Report

Search query reports from tools like Google Search Console provide highly valuable insights. They contain detailed information about the keywords that drive traffic to your website, and even reveal how well your website pages perform (rank) for specific search terms across a given date range. It’s vital to optimize your keywords to ensure your website is being considered and favored by search engines for relevant terms that your prospects are searching.

Shared Keywords

Periodically, you need to assess the search performance of competitors for your target keywords. Which shared keywords are you and the competition are both targeting? If both of you are targeting keywords but neither is winning the #1 position, what kind of content is winning the top spot (and are they a competitor you overlooked)? This research should inform your marketing efforts to help you outsmart competitors and create content that eventually outranks them and drives more organic traffic to your website.

Keyword Metrics

It’s important to measure how difficult it will be to rank for a particular keyword based on data you can gather from various tools. Search marketers can determine which websites that are winning popular keywords, then analyze their content to estimate how much time and effort will be needed to overtake those competitors organically in search results. Set reasonable expectations for when you will see results–improving rankings for particular keywords or search terms will not happen overnight, and it requires a long-term content strategy supported by high-quality articles and pages.

UX/UI Analysis

Closely examining the user experience and user interface of competitor websites can help you recognize missing opportunities for your own website. Especially when it comes to the world of competitive business intelligence, a good user experience plays a significant role. Websites with better UX are abandoned less, and they convert more visitors into new business leads. Ultimately, the quality of your website’s experience is a statement of your own brand’s quality, so focusing your UX and UI design strategy on your customer personas and the pathways that support their needs is best practice.

Calls to Action (CTA)

The calls to action you see on competitor sites should be analyzed to look for missed opportunities on your own site. You can even map competitors’ CTAs to gain an understanding of their approach to converting visitors. CTAs are the most significant conversion point for generating leads, which is the ultimate goal of most B2B websites–though there are others, like capturing email addresses to build subscriber lists, helping users navigate on-page to other pages, and more. Follow best practices such as wording your CTA in a way that highlights the benefits–for example, you can use “Get More Business Insights” instead of “Subscribe!”

Step 3 – Optimize Research

Identifying competitors is one thing, but finding the right data to accurately compare you against the competition is even more important. Filter out unimportant information and find the data that reveals insights about the competitor’s customer engagement, marketing strategy, and more.

Marketing data is classified as primary and secondary data according to its relevance to your business. To navigate and gain a competitive advantage, you need to make decisions that are informed by secondary data, and targeted primary research.

You need to compare this data from your research against your own marketing goals and objectives. In the process, you will learn more about optimizing your research by unifying primary and secondary research to support better business decisions and gain actionable insights.

Step 4 – Conduct Analysis

Data Analysis is the next important step in the competitive intelligence process. Derive information that can help better target, communicate, or sell to the target audience.

Competitive analytics helps organizations with the process of defining, gathering, cleaning, analyzing, interpreting, and visualizing their competitors’ data.

To make the data easier to understand and act upon, create easy to navigate graphs, infographics, and/or reports so that information is easy to digest. This enables all stakeholders and decision makers supporting the marketing team to be more actively involved and invested in strategic decisions going forward.

Step 5 – Create SWOT

Based on information gathered, determine where there are strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to winning digital real estate and gaining the attention of your target audience. A SWOT analysis of each competitor is critical to forming a digital marketing strategy that positions your brand to win on multiple fronts and channels.

an illustration of business targets standing out from a crowd of business competitors

Final Step – Integrate Findings into the Marketing Strategy

Based on research, refined information, and SWOT analysis, you are now better equipped to create goals and strategies for an achievable marketing plan. Importantly, you should make sure to keep your plans updated periodically with more competitive research.

There is tremendous value in streamlining all the information gathered during your competitive intelligence gathering into your marketing road map. The best of B2B companies have a well-articulated competitive advantage or a unique selling proposition (USP). What makes your company stand out from the crowd, can be clearly identified or the need for it.

A well informed marketing plan can help you develop your market segmentation along with customer personas, identify all possible opportunities, and set priorities for your marketing campaigns and digital strategies.

Get Some Intelligence Gathering Help

Identifying competitors is one thing–finding the right data to generate meaningful competitive intelligence that positions your brand to win in B2B markets is another. This level of competitive analysis takes dedicated effort and adequate manpower.

That’s why you need a partner with over 20 years of experience beating competitors in the digital landscape. Contact DBS if you’d like some help forming a b2b digital marketing strategy that turns your website and online content into lead-generating machines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Competitive Intelligence is the research of the market a company operates in to determine competitors and gathering intelligence on those competitors to inform the marketing plan.

The steps to gather B2B Competitive Intelligence are:

  • Step 1 – Plan
  • Step 2 – Research
  • Step 3 – Optimize Research
  • Step 4 – Conduct Analysis
  • Step 5 – Create SWOT
  • Step 6 – Inform the Marketing Plan

By conducting market research on the market your business is operating in you will be able to determine who your competitors are. If you would like to determine who your online search competitors are, contact DBS your SEO experts.

Competitive intelligence gives insight into who your competitors are and what spaces with in your market they occupy, giving way to discovery of opportunities to connect with new audiences.