The ultimate guide to competitive marketing intelligence

In today’s fierce business landscape, keeping up with the latest market trends and staying ahead of the competition is more important than ever. Without a clear understanding of the competitive landscape, businesses risk falling behind their competitors, losing market share, and missing out on growth opportunities. This is where competitive marketing intelligence comes in.

Image with three persons looking through binoculars to illustrate competitive marketing intelligence.

Competitive marketing intelligence is a subset of market intelligence that includes gathering data, analyzing information, and using insights about competitors to inform competitive positioning, business decisions and many day-to-day actions. By leveraging market intelligence data, businesses can stay up-to-date on their competitors’ activities, identify opportunities and threats. As a result, they can adapt their strategies to gain a competitive advantage.

In this page, we explore the benefits of competitive market intelligence, the steps to set up a program, its process, the trends and ethics, some available solutions, and how to get started.

Definition and benefits

A subset of market intelligence

Competitive marketing intelligence is a specific type of market intelligence that focuses on understanding the strategies, tactics, and positioning of competitors in a particular market. While competitive intelligence aims to better understand the competitive landscape at the business level, competitive market intelligence has a distinct focus on the customer. Its purpose is to develop a better understanding of potential buyers and to develop a better customer experience.

In today’s market, customer experience is a key differentiator and a competitive advantage. Companies that prioritize the customer experience are more likely to weather economic challenges and succeed in the long term. By analyzing their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses through the lens of the customer, businesses can gain insights into what works and what doesn’t in their industry. They can make informed decisions to improve their own customers’ experience and gain a competitive edge. Learn more about the differences and what is competitive marketing intelligence.

Competitive positioning

Competitive positioning is a critical aspect of competitive marketing intelligence that involves understanding how a business is perceived in the market relative to its competitors. 

Effective positioning makes your product’s value obvious to your customers.

The Competitive Intelligence Alliance

By analyzing their competitors’ positioning, businesses can identify opportunities to differentiate themselves and stand out in their industry.

Competitive positions enable businesses to identify unique selling points and value proposition. Ultimately, it helps create a marketing strategy that is distinctive from the competition. It impacts a wide range of marketing activities, as well as product development and sales. Ultimately, a clear competitive position helps businesses prioritize some activities over others to foster growth and fill market gaps. By understanding where they stand in the market, businesses can make informed decisions and implement strategies that give them a competitive edge. Learn more from the competitive positioning playbook published by the CI Alliance.

Competitive benchmarking

Competitive benchmarking is a key component of competitive market intelligence. By comparing their performance against that of their competitors, businesses can identify areas where they are falling behind and develop strategies to improve. Competitive benchmarking can cover many areas such as products and services, marketing strategies, customer engagement, and financial performance.

Aligning sales and marketing efforts with customers’ points of view

One of the key benefits of competitive marketing intelligence is the ability to align sales and marketing efforts with customers’ points of view. By gaining insights into their customers’ needs and preferences, businesses can develop more effective marketing and sales strategies that truly resonate with their target audience. This alignment between sales and marketing efforts not only reduces cognitive dissonance, confusion and hesitation, but it also reinforces key messages to your audience. It really helps to describe pains and value in a coherent way across all touchpoints and moments in the customer journey.

Moreover, it helps sales and marketing teams identify the most promising sectors and use cases to tailor marketing collateral and sales content to. This includes not only messaging but also pipeline efforts, with a focus on the highest potential leads and accounts. By utilizing competitive marketing intel to align sales and marketing efforts with customers’ points of view, businesses can establish a more customer-centric approach. This ultimately leads to increased customer satisfaction and revenue growth. Learn more about enabling sales teams with a sales enablement content strategy.

Get in touch to understand how competitive marketing intelligence can benefit your business:

Setting up an intelligence framework and program

To gather and analyze information about competitors, businesses need to set up a competitive marketing intelligence program. In this section, we’ll discuss the steps involved in doing so.

Defining the scope of the program

The first step in setting up a program is to define its objective. To do so, agree on what the business wants to learn and what impact it should have. Think in terms of outcomes first, such as clarifying competitive positioning, then identify the outputs to enable them.

Next, identify the specific areas of the business that the program will focus on, such as product communication, social media marketing, events, sales content or customer service. Be clear about the goals of the program and what information is needed to achieve those goals to avoid drowning in a sea of information.

Selecting sources of data

Once the scope of the program has been defined, the next step is to select sources of data. This can be a challenging task as the landscape of media and communication is constantly evolving, making it difficult to keep up with emerging information sources. With so much fragmented information available, it can be overwhelming to manually monitor all potential sources of information for marketing research.

One solution is to leverage AI and machine learning tools (like Cronycle) that can help discover sources on a regular basis. This allows businesses to stay on top of new developments in their industry and ensures they are not missing out on valuable insights.

It’s important to note that selecting reliable sources of data is critical to the success of the program. Ethical aspects must be taken into account when gathering and analyzing data, and businesses must ensure that the data is accurate and up-to-date. The market intelligence data used is both publicly available data (articles, social media posts, reviews, websites), as well as proprietary data (customer feedback, tear downs).

Building a team

A successful competitive intelligence program requires a dedicated team of professional intelligence analysts. This team may include product marketing managers, market researchers, data analysts, and business analysts. It’s important to build a team with the right skills and expertise to gather and analyze data effectively. You can also integrate experts in primary research to collect both qualitative and quantitative data.

Creating a process

Finally, it’s important to create a process for gathering and analyzing market data. This process should include clear guidelines for collecting data, analyzing data, and disseminating information to relevant stakeholders within the business. However, creating a process for competitive marketing intelligence should be approached with a flexible mindset. Start small, focusing on the most important areas, and plan to grow incrementally as the program becomes more established.

It’s also crucial to involve stakeholders in the process and gather feedback to refine the program over time. In particular, incorporate analytics to identify areas for improvement and adjust the program as needed. It’s important to create a consistent schedule for data collection and analysis, but also to remain open to adjustments based on feedback and changing market conditions. Ensure to involve stakeholders in related areas of the overall intelligence system, such as business intelligence and teams doing product intelligence analysis. By establishing a clear and adaptable process, businesses can maximize the value of their intelligence program.

The marketing competitive intelligence process

The process involves gathering, analyzing, and sharing intelligence to gain insights into competitors. In this section, we’ll discuss the key steps in this process.

Gathering market data

The first step in the process is to source and gather market intelligence data. This usually involves secondary research done by monitoring competitors’ websites, social media accounts, review sites, and other online channels. The objective is to collect information about their products, services, and marketing tactics. As mentioned earlier, a key challenge is to keep up with emerging information sources. This is why having a solid sourcing strategy is critical.

Gathering intel also involves primary research conducting surveys, focus groups, or interviews with customers or industry experts to gain insights into market trends. Listening to your audience is critical here!

Analyzing intel

Once market intelligence data has been gathered, the next step is to analyze it. This involves identifying patterns and trends in the data, as well as identifying areas where competitors have an advantage or weakness. It also involves identifying gaps in the market where there may be opportunities for the business to gain a competitive advantage.

For example, segment your audience to create marketing personas, then identify the competitive position for each competitor relative to these personas. This will help the content writers and designers create resonating content, and it will guide sales teams with adapted language and arguments. These personas should ideally leverage primary and secondary research findings.

Ultimately, you want a good view of the competitive landscape and where your company fits in this picture, in relation to your audience.

Sharing and enabling teams with competitive market intelligence

Finally, sharing is critical to the success of any program. Indeed, it’s important to share competitive market intelligence data with the relevant stakeholders within the business. This usually includes sales and marketing teams, category and product managers, and senior management. By sharing market intelligence data, teams gain insights into competitors and can use that information to inform their actions.

The best approach is to regularly disseminate insights to teams who will benefit from competitive marketing intelligence. A regular trickle of contextualized information beats stale battlecards, particularly in dynamic markets. Learn more about building sales battlecards to increase performance.

Also remember to disseminate where your stakeholders are already. And do it on a regular, predictable rhythm. We see many of our users share daily findings, and offer a synthesis on a weekly basis, often using a newsletter. Finally, give access to a searchable database with strong tags so market intelligence data is available at all times. 

Check our content marketing eBook.

Take Away

Process steps overview:

  1. Collect competitive market data
  2. Analyze information to form intelligence
  3. Disseminate and enable teams

Trends and ethics in competitor analysis

In today’s highly competitive market, staying up-to-date on the latest developments in competitive marketing intelligence is essential for businesses to gain an edge over their competitors. As the field continues to evolve, it’s important to stay aware of the latest trends and practices to make informed decisions. However, it’s equally important to maintain ethical standards while collecting and using competitor information. In this section, we’ll explore both aspects.


One of the key trends in competitive market intelligence is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to collect and analyze data. AI can quickly and accurately identify patterns and trends in large datasets. This is essential in a world where the amount of published information is increasing exponentially. Sadly, this challenge is just about to get worse with the advent of large language models (like ChatGPT) that make it much faster to create content.

However, blind reliance on AI-powered content filtering tools can create information bubbles that hinder researchers from staying in control. Cronycle solves this problem by enabling the use of human intelligence at scale, working hand in hand with AI.

AI can also help humans extract specific information on a larger scale, speeding up the process of collecting insights. For example, social media monitoring tools use AI to track competitors’ activities and customer sentiment. They provide valuable insights into their engagement strategies and customer satisfaction.

Another trend is the use of data visualization tools to present market data in a more accessible and engaging way. However, these tools are most effective with numeric data and have limited impact on competitive marketing intelligence, which often involves concepts and languages.


While competitive analysis can provide valuable insights into competitors, it’s important to approach this practice ethically. This means respecting competitors’ intellectual property rights, avoiding deceptive or unethical practices. Also ensure that data is collected and used in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Businesses should also be transparent about their use of market intelligence data, both internally and externally. For example, they need to inform customers about how their data is being collected and used.

Solutions in the competitive intelligence market

To implement a competitive marketing intelligence program, businesses can leverage a range of solutions. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the key solutions available for businesses looking to gain insights into their competitors.

Competitive data analysis tools

Competitive data analysis tools can help businesses gather and analyze market intelligence data. These tools may include social media monitoring platforms, web analytics tools, and customer feedback software. They are focused on structured data, on what can be measured. By using these tools, businesses can gain insights into their competitors’ marketing successes and failures, some customer behaviors, and market facts. They will not explain why some patterns exist but help spot them.

Market and competitor intelligence tools

Specialized secondary research tools help businesses stay up-to-date on the latest developments in their industry, among their competitors and for their audience. One such example is Cronycle, which allows businesses to discover and filter information related to any topic and/or competitors. Its workflow makes it easy to extract insights and disseminate competitive marketing intelligence.

By using such tools, businesses can stay informed about their competitors’ activities and identify potential opportunities or threats. They can also monitor their market at many levels such as technology, consumers, regulations and the economy. Learn more about competitive intelligence solutions and how to choose one.

Primary research tools

Primary research solutions are an essential component of competitive marketing intelligence. They involve gathering data directly from customers, prospects, and other stakeholders in the market through surveys, focus groups, interviews, and other methods.

One advantage of primary research is that it provides businesses with first-hand insights into their target market, enabling them to identify customer needs, preferences, and pain points. This information can then be used to develop more effective marketing strategies, improve product offerings, and enhance customer service.

There are several primary research solutions available, including online surveys, in-person interviews, phone interviews, and focus groups. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice will depend on the research objectives and target audience.

Online surveys are a popular and cost-effective method of primary research, allowing businesses to reach a large audience quickly and easily. In-person interviews and focus groups provide more in-depth insights, but can be time-consuming and expensive. Use them when you lack an understanding of your target audience. Alternatively, leverage the primary research already done by product and design teams as well as information from the sales reps.

Market research services

Market research services can provide businesses with in-depth insights into their competitors and the overall market. These services may include industry reports, competitive benchmarking studies, and custom primary research projects. By leveraging these services, businesses can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their customers, competitors and the market as a whole.

This table helps you compare the different solutions mentioned above, at a glance:

Competitive Data Analysis Tools
Market and competitive intelligence tools
Primary research tools
Market Research Services
Dynamic intelligence
Identify patterns
Understand patterns
Develop team capabilities
Get in touch to understand what type of solution is most adapted to your needs:
Take aways

Get started with actionable intelligence

Remember that it is important to enable teams with the tools and resources they need to analyze and act on market intelligence data. This may involve providing training on data analysis tools, or investing in new technology to help teams clarify competitive positioning more effectively.

To conclude, here are some first steps for businesses looking to get started with competitive market intelligence:


  1. Define the scope of your program: Determine what are your goals, and the types of market intelligence you need to form, and which competitors you want to focus on.
  2. Build your team: Assemble a team to gather and analyze information, and to implement changes to your marketing based on those insights.
  3. Define a sourcing strategy: Identify the method for sourcing market intelligence data, such as topic-based AI, social media monitoring platforms or market research services.
  4. Create a process and select a relevant solution: Establish a process and toolset for gathering, analyzing, and sharing competitive marketing intelligence, including how frequently you will gather data, how it will be accessed and how it will be used.

By following these steps, businesses can begin to gain valuable insights into their competitors and customers, and use that knowledge to inform their positioning strategy and marketing.


In conclusion, competitive marketing intelligence is a powerful approach for businesses looking to gain a competitive edge. By gathering and analyzing market intelligence data, companies can identify opportunities and threats, optimize their marketing, and better understand their customers and competitors. This knowledge can help teams make more focused and informed decisions and ultimately drive growth and revenue. With the right tools and approach, organizations can establish a successful program that provides ongoing value and insights.


What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence involves researching, monitoring, collecting, and analyzing data about your competitors and your competitive space. The purpose is to gain insights into what is happening in your industry. Then develop intelligence to guide the organization in making informed, data-driven decisions about goals, actions, and growth opportunities.

What is competitive marketing intelligence?

Competitive marketing intelligence, looks at the customer. It seeks to understand:

  • How do customers use your competitor’s products?
  • What’s most important to your stakeholder audience?
  • How do customers use your products?
  • How do they feel about your brand and your competitors?
  • What are the pain points your audience is trying to solve?
  • How do potential customers view your products in contrast to your competitors?
  • Etc.

What is competitive positioning?

Competitive positioning is a critical aspect of competitive marketing intelligence that involves understanding how a business is perceived in the market relative to its competitors. It enables businesses to identify unique selling points and value proposition. Ultimately, it helps create a marketing strategy that is distinctive from the competition.

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