8 Marketing Influencers Talk About Competitive Intelligence

Usually when I tell someone I work for TrackMaven, the Competitive Intelligence platform for enterprise marketers, unless they work in marketing or tech, I usually get some stunned faces. Although, usually when people ask it’s in an out of work setting, so I can understand.

However, this is something I’m in every day so it makes sense to me. But then, I start to wonder, how are other marketers handling competitive intelligence? How do they feel about their competitors? What are they using to track their competitors? I have an understanding of what our customers use it for and that’s most important (as shown with some of the answers below), but what are the influential marketers saying about it today?

We had the chance to ask some pretty awesome marketers questions about competitive intelligence. Here are the questions we asked:

So, what is marketing competitive intelligence to your company/brand/agency?

“Marketing competitive intelligence from a consultant’s perspective is better described as competitor research and analysis. As a consultant, I use competitor data and information to create compelling pitches and business cases to my clients in order to affect change in their organization and get things done within their company. Often this means showing where they are being beaten online, or the channels where their competitors are investing that they should also invest in. “ – John Doherty Office Lead and Senior Consultant at Distilled NYC @dohertyjf

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“Marketing competitive intelligence to ViSalus is a must. If you don’t know where you stand in the competiive landsacpe how do you even know if you’re on two feet?”- Allan Gungormez Social Media Marketing Manager at ViSalus @AGungormez

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“The most important thing to our business is share of voice. How many stories about our industry are being written in the press, and how often do they mention us? We of course, care about monitoring what others are doing with their advertising and social efforts, but in our industry (content marketing), we tend to laugh when a competitor succumbs to buying advertisements because that means they suck at the thing they’re selling.” -Shane Snow Co-Founder Contently @shanesnow

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“ME, FAKEGRIMLOCK, THINK BE COMPETITIVE AND INTELLIGENT VERY IMPORTANT! PUT TOGETHER EVEN BETTER! LIKE CHOCOLATE AND THING EVERYONE PUT IN CHOCOLATE.” -FAKEGRIMLOCK GIANT ROBOT STARTUP DINOSAUR @FAKEGRIMLOCK

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“Being aware of our competitors is important for a number of reasons. We like to know if they have repositioned their offering or unique value prop, and if they are investing in certain teams or areas of their product. There is a fine balance between being aware of competitors and becoming too obsessed with them. Competitive intelligence for us is always knowing the ecosystem we are playing in, but we don’t obsess over competitive moves. Instead of investing too many resources into tracking our competitors decisions we try to invest our time and resources into where we think we should be going.” -Joanna Lord CMO of BigDoor @joannalord

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“Competitive intelligence is knowing what people and companies in your space are doing and planning. These days information is available to almost anyone… so the main advantage you have is execution. If you can’t move fast enough, knowing where the market is going is useless.” -Neil Patel Co-founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg @neilpatel

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“For us marketing competitive intelligence is divided into understanding…

1) Who we currently directly compete with for customer love.
2) Who we indirectly compete with, or companies who offer products or services that could be substituted for services offered by Moz.
3) Future entrants (and barriers that do or do not exist) into a market that we compete.

We do detailed analysis and tracking in those three categories for our different offerings and all prospective offerings.

As for the “intelligence” part: for Moz it is critical that we share this information throughout the organization and integrate into product development, marketing and business strategy.” -Tim Resink Product Strategy Principal at Moz @tresnik

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“Initally, digital competitive intelligence is having a complete view of the marketing tactics of our competitor across paid, owned and earned media channels, along side their relative effectiveness.  In the long term, it would be great to have a view of the broader marketing strategy of our competitors across the ‘4Ps’ – product, placement, promotion and pricing.” -Hooman Radfar Founder and Chairman at AddThis @hoomanradfar

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How do you feel about your competitors?

“ME LOVE COMPETITORS. THEM TASTE DELICIOUS.” -FAKEGRIMLOCK @FAKEGRIMLOCK

“We are in the unique position in that many of our competitors are also our customers, for example applications that use the Mozscape API. Even those who are not our customers we support. Our vision at Moz is to help drive the shift from interruption to inbound. Any company that is helping customers achieve this in a TAGFEE way is considered a friend. “ -Tim Resnik @tresnik

“I feel a deep rooted hatred that has been instilled in my bones through decades of rivalry. Just kidding. I actually have different feelings toward different competitors that range from respect to thinking that some are just silly.” -Allan Gungormez @AGungormez

“There are companies I call “good guys” who care about first about consumers and journalists, and there are companies I call “bad guys” who care primarily about money and marketing. I root for the first category’s success, as the rising tide lifts all boats. The second category is going to fail, so I don’t worry too much. We’re leading the market right now, so I’m not overly concerned with competitors, but rather that we continue to be innovative. The thing that keeps me up at night, however, is the fact that we might not know when a new competitor—or an existing competitor who’s gone dark—might be up to something. Not knowing what could be going on is scarier than seeing that your competitors are making smart moves.-Shane Snow @shanesnow

“From a consultant perspective, competitors are a faceless entity, albeit one that I very badly want to beat! Depending on the vertical and how they are winning (ie are they naturally ranking better or are they spamming their way to the top), I can either respect them or be very annoyed by the tactics they are using, even if they will not last for the long term.” -John Doherty @dohertyjf

“I think competitors are going. It helps encourage more innovation and in the end consumers win.-Neil Patel @neilpatel

“Historically, we’ve felt as if we have a strong POV on product, placement, and pricing.  I think that there has always been a more qualitative assessment, however, when assessing the effectiveness of competitors across promotional channels.”  -Hooman Radfar @hoomanradfar

What are some ways that you track your competitors?

“We use many of our own tools: Open Site Explorer to compare link profiles, Just Discovered Links to track new links, Fresh Web Explorer to track mentions, rankings reports to track SERPs, among others. We also use good old-fashion Google Alerts.” -Tim Resnik @tresnik

“We’ve leveraged a number of tools in the past such as Compete.com, Hitwise, Builtwith, as well as observed metrics from public earned media channels such as Twitter.” -Hooman Radfar @hoomanradfar

“Trackmaven, Google alerts, Radian 6, Social Bakers, industry websites, and spy blimps. However the most effective and time consuming way is to get one of our own hired by our competitor and have he or she there as a double agent. “ -Allan Gungormez @AGungormez

“We track competitors with Google alerts and an intern named Evan who compiles a regular report on what’s new in the industry.” -Shane Snow @shanesnow

“I track my SEO client competitors through Moz’s Campaigns. This way I can track keywords and rankings and shifts that occur, which can signal that they are possibly implementing a new strategy or that Google changed something. I’ve also set up folders in Evernote that competitor emails get passed to, so that I am then able to go back through and find new ideas for content. As far as other parts of inbound marketing, I wrote about some ways that I begin tracking competitors in this post on Moz back in April-John Doherty @dohertyjf

“MOSTLY ME LISTEN FOR THE SCREAMS.” -FAKEGRIMLOCK @FAKEGRIMLOCK

What is competitive intelligence to your brand? How do you feel about your competitors? And most importantly how are you tracking them? Did you agree with these marketers? Comment below, give me a shout at sabel@trackmaven.com, tweet me (@sabelharris), or give Maven a treat (@TrackMaven)! We’d love to hear from you!

Sabel Harris See more of Sabel's posts

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