Yet one of the most common questions I'm asked when I present a client with a competitive analysis is: "There's no point in doing this more than once a year, right?"
Think again. There’s a lot you can -- and should -- do with competitive intelligence tools to drive ROI on a regular basis. Here's a short list to get you started:
1. Learn from your competitor's tests, not just your own. We all talk about testing, but did you realize that you can double your efforts by gleaning ideas from competitors? If you see what works for them, you can test it for yourself. And if you see something that doesn’t work, you can deprioritize that test, and put more lucrative efforts first.
2. Identify key subject lines, phrases, creative, etc. Chances are, if it engages your competitors’ audience, it will probably engage yours, too. It’s worth sorting through creative examples to get ideas for what you can test next.
3. Quickly see what is new in marketing. It can be difficult to find the newest innovations, tools, or techniques that can drive your results and make your job easier. A competitive analysis tool can help you keep tabs on your competitors so you can identify when they are doing something that you can’t. Think about all the technologies we now use that were virtually unknown 10 years ago: real-time suggestion engines, dynamic image generation, and more. Just by asking, “how did they do that?”, you might uncover that your competitors are using a new tool or technique that you could implement to help drive your ROI too.
4. Prove you need a bigger budget. A competitive tool can help you see exactly how much effort your competitors are putting into their email channel. Based on those competitive insights, you can prove that you need a bigger budget to keep up.
5. Track benchmarks. It’s helpful to understand how you stack up against competitive benchmarks, such as read rates or share of voice. It can be even more helpful to know how those metrics change in different seasons and during different holidays. This can support your budget requests or even potentially help you restructure your program.
Clearly there is a lot you can learn from your competitors. Once a year definitely won’t cut it if you want to keep your program fresh and continue to drive ROI. Instead, consider a two-part approach:
Weekly and/or monthly: Make quick dives into the competitive tools you use to see creative changes on a regular basis. This is strictly to generate ideas that you can use to update your own testing grid. It will help you with the top three items above. A frequent check-in will keep this from taking too much time, because you’ll have enough familiarity with the competitive landscape to scroll through quickly.
Bi-monthly or quarterly: Keep your more formal reporting to a less frequent schedule. This type of reporting is important because it will help you with the last two items on the list above. But it is the part that doesn’t change often. Quarterly may work, or you may decide that there are certain timeframes that are so important to your business that you need to adjust your reporting schedule around them. Even with adjustments, a formal reporting schedule shouldn’t be more often than every other month.
What else do you do with competitive intelligence tools? Please share in the comments below.