How to Choose the Best Competitive Intelligence Tool for Your Needs

In the 21st-century business world, an online presence is a crucial component of success. Competition can be fierce in physical and digital spaces, meaning it’s necessary to keep up with what your competitors are doing to stay relevant and prosper. Fortunately, that information isn’t hard to come by. Several tools are available to help companies keep track of what their competition is doing, allowing businesses to be proactive rather than reactive.


Competitive intelligence tools are used by many different types of companies but can generally be divided into two categories: professionals and amateurs. Professionals are typically defined as those who use multiple tools regularly for strategic purposes. They often have a dedicated department that focuses on implementing and using these tools, which allows them to implement a long-term strategy for staying one step ahead. Amateurs are defined as those who only use one tool at a time, usually when they encounter something new or were not aware of it before.


Tools can take many different forms (web applications, desktop programs, and browser extensions, to name a few) and can be as simple or as complex as they need to be. Many web-based tools offer a free tier for those who may want to try it out without committing money upfront.


Despite the availability of these tools, several factors may make it difficult to choose the right one for a company. The primary factor is the size of the business. Small companies may find some tools overwhelming or be unable to afford anything but free versions of premium software. Another consideration is in-house resources: if no one in a company understands how to use and interpret the data that these tools provide, it might not be worthwhile to invest in such a tool.


Once a company has decided to begin using competitive intelligence tools, it will decide which one will work best for its unique needs and challenges. One of the most important things in choosing a tool is knowing what data points the company wants to glean from its competitors’ online presence. Some tools focus on specific aspects of this, like website traffic, social media mentions, or app reviews, while others encompass everything under the sun. Once that has been determined, look for tools that specialize in those areas and compare prices to determine which one comes out on top.


These tools are usually used to gather data from the Internet. However, if a company prefers an in-person approach, they can ask their competitors what tools they use and when/how often they use them. If that isn’t possible for one reason or another, many websites detail which tools various companies use for competitive intelligence. Once it has been determined which tools to use, the next step is analyzing what data they provide. This can be done manually (which requires much more time) or through automation (albeit at a cost).


One example of when these tools can come in handy is when a new app that’s similar to an existing one comes out. Data gleaned from competitive intelligence tools can be used to determine if the new app is a competitor or complementary to an existing program. Suppose it’s determined that they are competitors. In that case, there are many available options for dealing with them, such as entering into a cross-promotional agreement with the other company, making price adjustments to account for the new competition, or simply ignoring the newcomer. If it’s determined that they are complementary, data can be used to determine how best to reach out and make a connection with this new company.

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