These days businesses have great visibility into their sales, marketing, product metrics and strategies but they also consider staying on top of the competition equally important. According to a research study conducted by IDC, world will be creating 163 zettabytes (one trillion gigabytes) of data a year by 2025. Having so much data available about your competitors is obviously a huge advantage, but that kind of volume also makes it harder to determine what’s actually important.
Competitive Intelligence helps businesses outdo their competition by converting data into “actionable” intelligence that can provide a real-time view of competitive landscape – industry, business environment, competitors, and competitive products and services. The gathering of the information and the analysis support business’s strategic decisions and also help in identifying competitive gaps.
Data scraping makes competitive intelligence happen by gathering huge amounts of publicly available data (unstructured in nature) and providing knowledge of what your competitors are up to. The whole scraping process can be automated by developing a custom web scraper which reduces the effort and time in the process. Once the data is collected, structured and organised, machine learning algorithms can identify trends and insights out of this vast amount of data and help businesses make faster decisions to be competitive in real-time or even ahead of time.
In this blog, we talk about 3 applications of competitive intelligence analysis where we can harness the power of external unstructured data and apply AI and Machine Learning (ML) to get competitive advantage:
1. Dig into Product Pricing, Product Line or Categories:
Customers’ desire for easy attainability, 24×7 accessibility, and fast turnaround has insisted almost every business-B2B or B2C to offer their product or service portfolio online. Now, customers have instant access to tons of data which they use to compare prices and products across websites before making a final purchase. This becomes even more important for e-commerce businesses where customers are often price driven.
Here, the simplest method a business can adopt is to check competitor’s site and see what they are charging for a similar product, but that doesn’t offer deep insights into their real time pricing strategies.
So, businesses can use web scraping to mine millions of websites across the market and gather real-time pricing and product updates. This helps to know:
- what product lines or categories competitors have on the their website, what benefits they provide to customers
- what competitors are charging, when and for what product
- what competitor’s pricing strategy is: discounts, flash sales, how to introduce and bundle products to drive more sales
- what platforms (Amazon, Flipkart etc) competitors are using to sell their products
- what rankings competitors’ products have on such marketplaces
- sentiments towards competitor’s product(s) and how it will affect the prices over time
All this information supports businesses framing the right strategy that will captivate the customers, give a competitive edge and help seize new opportunities.
2. Scrape Reviews and Comments from Third-Party Sites:
According to a study conducted by inc.com, 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, 68% form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews and 39% read reviews on a regular basis.
So, in order to stay up to date with customers’ preferences, businesses need to not only pay attention to their own social media channels but also observe competitors’ customers. By scraping community forums like PissedConsumer.com, third party and reviews sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, a business can gather customer feedback-positive, negative or neutral and find valuable insights such as:
- what customers like or dislike about competitors-quality of products, timely or speed of delivery
- customers’ expectations
- trends or patterns around which upcoming campaigns should be carried out
- key service related issues which often piss off customers
These insights can then be incorporated into business strategy to gain edge over competitors and dominate the market.
3. Audit Social Media Channels:
We all acknowledge the significance of social media reviews in buying process. Besides, there is more that can be reaped out of these social media channels to create an effective social media strategy.
By scraping social media channels of competitors and doing a thorough competitive analysis, following insights can be collected:
- what social networks competitors are on
- what competitors are offering to their customers
- what tactics competitors are using to foster customer engagement
- how often competitors post and engage with their target audience
- what kind of ads competitors run on social media channels
- what hashtags competitors use
- how big competitors’ followers base is and how quickly it is growing
This list doesn’t end here and there is a vast scope to gather several other insights that businesses can incorporate into their own marketing campaigns to improve the customer engagement and win a new group of customers.