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Sharing competitive intelligence and GTM insights with newsletters, on social media, with Slack or Teams, and others

How to share competitive intelligence

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This post is the fourth and last in a series of tutorials describing how to conduct competitive intelligence to gain in efficiency and impact:

The role of a CI team is to enable stakeholders to be knowledgeable and proactive rather than reactive. But teams cannot underestimate the challenge of successfully sharing competitive intelligence in a timely manner. Indeed, most of their audience – particularly sales teams and executives – won’t be ready to go to yet another platform to pull insights from. With that in mind, how do you share competitive intelligence? If you are in an organization hungry for competitive intel, how do you channel the various requests from many teams and build a solid workflow and delivery mechanism that enables self-service? 

Disseminate where your audience is

While it is useful in most cases to provide a single source of truth to get back to (Cronycle provides that option), it’s crucial that you deliver insights and intelligence information where your audience is already, within their flow of work. 

So, start with your audience: who are your top priority stakeholders you need to reach? Identify a couple of high performers in this audience and discuss with them their objectives, process, and what tools they use – as well as what currently is working and not working. Make sure to ask open-ended questions and don’t hesitate to observe – either by visiting them at their desk, or with screen shares. 

This will help you identify how best to disseminate competitive intelligence, thinking about: 

  • Where should intel be delivered?
  • How often?
  • With what level of information, volume and format(s)?
  • To whom? 

You might benefit from delivering information differently to specific segments of your audience. First, though, take a step back and see what common methods and formats you can use for delivery. Cronycle boards are very helpful to reuse the same research and analysis and easily deliver it in different forms – messages, newsletters, PDF reports, etc – all from one place.

Before going full steam ahead, don’t hesitate to share your ideas, test your approach and improve it based on feedback.

Prepare your insights

In our previous tutorial, we described how to analyze competitive intelligence and covered the value of summaries and notes to prepare your analysis. 

For notes, we recommend making ample use of text formatting to structure your analysis. Visual structure makes it easy to scan. Consistency is also a great way to improve how you share competitive intelligence. It helps your audience find what they are looking for more quickly and effectively.

A note with a clear structure to share important insights of competitive intelligence

Unless you are only using newsletters and export, you probably will need to use the “editor approval” option on boards. It lets you control when a piece of information is ready and can be shared through integrations or with subscribers. So check your summaries and notes before distributing through to your selected methods. More on editor approval here.

editor approval check box to use before sharing CI

Not all content types can be published. Here is an overview of what is possible:

  • Articles, tweets and twitter conversations can be published to all integrations.
  • Notes can be published to all integrations except for RSS feeds.
  • Files cannot be published to any integration, except for Slack. To extract and share insights from PDFs, annotate and extract annotations as notes, which you can then publish. We’ll soon add the option to add uploaded image files to newsletters.
  • Emails saved as Fixed text notes on boards cannot be published to any integration. Instead, annotate and extract important sections as notes.
  • Story Arcs (groups of content) can be published to all integrations, but are not well adapted to RSS and social media due to the formats expected there.
Sharing competitive intelligence and GTM insights with newsletters, on social media, with Slack or Teams, and others
Publishing integrations to share board content outside Cronycle

Deliver competitive intel to Microsoft Teams or Slack

We have noticed over time that Microsoft Teams and Slack are the most common and effective means to deliver a trickle of updates. They are a great way to enable your audience to be more proactive – no need to wait for the weekly or monthly update to know about important information!

Importantly, both Teams and Slack make it easy to share specific aspects of your intel to the relevant audience. With our integrations, you can easily publish content from a specific board to a specific channel (or set of channels), and publish a second board to another set of channels.

Configure the integration

How do you start to share competitive intelligence to Microsoft Teams of Slack? Once you have at least one board, click on the Publish blue button. If you already have some options enabled, click on Set up more publishing options

A list appears with the integrations available. Expand the Messaging Apps sections and click on Set up publishing to Microsoft Teams / Slack. Then follow the steps with the guidance from the dedicated tutorials for Teams and Slack

first step of the wizard to share competitive intelligence to Microsoft Teams

They each have different methods of connecting – a token for Teams (which requires admin rights) and direct authentication for Slack. They also require different means to map your boards to the channels. 

In both cases, you get to choose whether or not to use editor approval. The default is yes, and we recommend you keep it that way: it gives you time and control to write and craft summaries and notes before they are sent to Slack or Teams. You cannot modify the messages once posted in a channel!

Approve content to share

Once your setup is ready, make sure to approve content in order to share it to your audience. For each board item sent to Slack or Teams, a message is automatically created with your summary and content.

article with summary shared to Microsoft Teams - appears as a message with competitive intelligence information

Prepare and send regular reports as newsletters

Because Teams and Slack posts are easily lost in the mass of communication, they are best enhanced with newsletters – also a great way to share packaged analysis weekly or monthly. The slightly slower pace and more controlled presentation also make it the perfect place to reflect back on recent learnings. This ensures a regular analysis is performed, which speeds up the synthesis process for quarterly or monthly reports.

Notes are commonly used in newsletters to share analysis of key competitive intel that happened during the period. Sections make it easy to organize information, often with the most critical at the top. Depending on how impactful an update is, you may want to add in-depth analysis, using notes, or lighter analysis using articles with summaries.

Prepare a newsletter draft

Each board has an integrated newsletter editor. From the board, simply click on the Newsletter button towards the top right and start the first draft. Content from your board is visible in the left column. Simply drag and drop it in the middle section – your draft. You’ll see summaries neatly introduce content and notes appear fully formatted.

newsletter built-in editor to prepare and share competitive intelligence

This dedicated tutorial explains how to change templates, customize the sender information and the footer. You can also add a button at the bottom of your newsletter. Use it to point to your CI platform, surveys or active campaigns.

Subscribe stakeholders

Before you send, you need to add subscribers. For competitive intelligence, this is most likely a list of internal stakeholders which you can prepare in a table and import as a CSV. The columns should be:

  • 1st column: email (compulsory).
  • 2nd column: first_name (optional).
  • 3rd column: last_name (optional).

Once your CSV is ready, go to your Contacts page, click on Add contacts, then select Import list, followed by Import CSV file. Simply drag and drop your CSV and confirm. If it is not working, please check our dedicated tutorial

From the same Contacts page, you can also add contacts individually – useful when you identify a new stakeholder. You can also delete contacts, for example when someone leaves the organization.

You are required to check the box about authorization. If you are sending outside of your organization, ensure you are compliant with the regulations from your audience’s location. 

Once your contacts are imported, go back to your newsletter, click on Audience & Send and tick the checkboxes corresponding to the contacts who need to receive the newsletters from this board (or click on Subscribe all if relevant). You can subscribe a different set of contacts per board – thereby creating several subscriber lists.

user interface to subscribe audience members to receive newsletters with competitive intelligence updates

Check the contacts page anytime to view the subscriptions per contact, across all boards in the organization.

Send your competitive intelligence newsletter

Before sending to your subscribers, send a test email to check how the email appears. Once it is ready, from the newsletter editor, click on Audience & Send, then on Schedule & send. You get two options: send immediately or schedule for later. It takes a couple of minutes to deliver all the emails, depending on the number of subscribers.

Once the emails are all distributed, a new draft is automatically generated for your next issue.

Prepare CI reports

Most of our customers also prepare quarterly or monthly reports for execs and strategy meetings, often in the form of short PDF files or PowerPoint presentations. Cronycle boards have two main options to ease this process: direct exports to PDF, and easy copy-paste. The latter is recommended if you use a custom layout in PowerPoint or another presentation tool. We’ll cover appending to Google docs in the next section.

How to share competitive intelligence in PDF files

There are several options when it comes to exporting information on Cronycle boards as a PDF.

First, if you are using newsletters, you can benefit from the packaging done for the issues and simply export an issue as a PDF. To do so, from the newsletter editor, click on Past issues & analytics. A list appears with all your past newsletter issues. On the right, you can download (down arrow) each issue as a PDF.

Secondly, you can export as a PDF from the board directly. Go to the board, filter and/or search to show a set of items you wish to export – for example Last month and the tag of a competitor. The number of items corresponding to your filter appears and the board view shows the items you are about to export. 

from board interface, filter, click on Extract then on Export board content to export competitive intelligence to share as PDF, CSV, RTF or HTML

When that looks fine, click on Extract then on Export board content. Several options appear. PDF is available for headlines only, headlines and abstract, and full content. Soon, it will also be available for Your insights – focusing on what you added (summaries, tags, annotations). Notes and summaries are always fully exported. Uploaded files are not included in the export per se, but the information about the file and link is available. 

Confirm the export when you have selected the right type and selected PDF. It can take a couple of minutes, depending on how many items and their length. When finished, you’ll receive an email. You can continue using the web application in the meantime.

Another option is to export information from your board as RTF (Rich Text Format) which you can easily open and edit with Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Use competitive intel in PowerPoint

Many CI teams have specific presentation templates, often in PowerPoint, to summarize and present competitive intelligence. In this case, specific elements of information need to be taken from Cronycle to PowerPoint (or other presentation tools). Because PowerPoint has no integration and the information is not structured according to a standard, Cronycle makes it easy to copy content from Cronycle to paste in other apps. 

How to copy board content

The copy options group information so that for each board item or set of items, you need to copy only once to collect the summary, title, source, tags, and sometimes annotations or full content. Here is an overview of the copy options, they are based on which view you copy from:

  • Copy several items from the board menu: search and filter first, click on Extract and then on Copy board content to copy the results of your filters, up to a maximum of 200 tiles.
  • From the board tile, copy one item: from the same board content view, click on the three-dots options button at the top right of a tile, then select Copy tile content.
  • Copy several items with annotations from the board insights view: go to the insights view, filter, then click on Extract followed by Copy board content to copy the results of your filters, up to a maximum of 200 tiles.
  • Copy one item with annotations from the insights view tile: from the board insights view, click on the three-dots options button at the top right of a tile, then select Copy insight content.
  • From the content reader top menu, use the top copy icon button (or click on Extract and select Copy content) to simply copy the full text in plain text, alongside summary, title, original source URL, author, annotations, image URLs and tags.
  • In the board reader, from each annotation, click on Extract text, then on Copy to clipboard. Here, you can select the elements you wish to include when copying using the sliders. The highlighted text is always copied.

When you paste you’ll see the information is neatly organized using prefixes (such as Title:) and line breaks. You can then easily remove what you don’t need. Formatting is easy thanks to the plain-text copy – you should not see fonts and colors overriding your template.

Note tiles copy-pasted from a board insights view to a document with clear structure

How to share competitive intelligence via a single source of truth

As mentioned earlier, a single source of truth is often very valuable to enable stakeholders to search for what they need. With training and habit, this can save you a lot of time that you would otherwise spend answering micro-requests! 

You can deliver this single source of truth using Cronycle boards (inviting your audience as subscribers), or via integrations.

Adding subscribers to Cronycle boards

Board subscribers can view, search, filter, read, comment and vote for content on boards you share with them. They cannot modify or add content. Typically, these board subscribers have a limited account type in Cronycle (also called subscriber) so they cannot create feeds nor boards either.

Enable you board(s)

To start, a board owner or collaborator needs to enable sharing a board with subscribers. From the board, click on the users icon and avatar(s) near the top right corner of your board menu. Go to the Subscribers tab and enable it for subscriptions. 

You’ll notice two options appear below the switch to define what information is visible to subscribers. We recommend using Editor approval (the default), so you have time to add your summaries and finalize your notes before it becomes visible to the subscribers. 

Enable sharing competitive intelligence board to subscribers in Cronycle

Add and/or approve content

Next, approve a few items on the board (which are ready to be seen by subscribers), so they do not land on an empty board. Unlike with integrations, the information visible by subscribers is always in-sync with what you see. So modifications you do after approval will reflect on the subscribers’ view, too.

Add subscribers to the board

Now you’ll need to add subscribers to the board. If the subscribers are already users in your Cronycle organization, you can add them directly from the board. Click on the avatar(s) near the top, then on Add users. Next, select the Subscriber option, and add one or several users. Remember to confirm by clicking on Add

add subscribers to a board to share updates and knowledge hub about competitors

If you need to invite new subscribers to the organization, you will need admin rights in Cronycle, or the help from an admin user. An admin user has access to the Admin console where subscribers can be invited and added to boards enabled for sharing.

When a subscriber is added to a board, they get a notification with the link to the board. If they are new to your Cronycle organization, they get an email invitation with a link to activate their account. They can login using their Microsoft or Google login credentials, or set a password.

Subscribers view Cronycle board content in a very simple interface where they can switch boards, open tiles to read, comment and vote on the competitive intelligence you shared. Learn more about subscribers here.

subscriber view on the board interface
Competitive intelligence board viewed by a subscriber

Integrations to feed into another platform

You can share competitive intelligence updates – whether notes, articles with summaries or Story Arcs – on an internal WordPress site using our plugin to publish updates

When it comes to updating profiles, you can append new updates to Google Docs using our Zapier integration. The same Zapier integration can also feed information into other solutions.

Because not all integrations are available, we provide an easy method to copy content which is built to make it easy to paste. See the details about what is copied from where in the above section How to copy board content.

Portability to sales tools

Sales teams, major consumers of competitive intel, also have dedicated tools they use daily to engage with leads and customers. While we plan to build integrations in that space, the RSS feed is helpful to share articles and tweets to Hubspot for example (not compatible with notes).

Check whether your sales tool has a relevant integration with Zapier to let you to add content in the right way.

So how do you share competitive intelligence information to sales tools? The option described above to easily copy-paste is often the best bet. We’ve made it efficient and easy to use, and it requires no configuration and no IT support! Exporting PDFs also works for sales platforms that are file-oriented.

Continuously improve how you share competitive intelligence

Once you start sharing competitive intel, and after any major change in the organization, delivery or formatting of the information, consider collecting feedback – both qualitative and quantitative – to improve how you share competitive intelligence. 

Qualitative feedback

One of the benefits of adding your audience as subscribers to your boards is collecting feedback and questions. Indeed, subscribers can ask for clarification or give positive and negative feedback via comments, using mentions to trigger notifications. Use it to ask for feedback and to get replies.

Board tiles also make it extremely easy to up and down vote content. So don’t hesitate to ask your board subscribers to use this – it only takes a click and will give you good indication of what is useful and valuable.

Analytics

When sharing competitive intelligence, analytics are extremely valuable to see the impact of your work. Cronycle newsletters come with analytics, showing the amount of received, bounced, opened and clicked emails per issue. To access it, go to the board, click on Newsletter, then on Past issues & analytics.This opens a  dedicated page. The view becomes available once you’ve sent at least one issue (excluding test emails). 

Past issues to view, download and check analytics for past issues

Note that Cronycle does not send new emails to contacts that hard-bounced previously – corresponding to the number indicated in Bounces column. 

In terms of judging engagement, focus on either open rates (particularly if you use notes) or on click rates (if your objective is for your audience to open the original content). 

Collective monitoring

Last but not least, your audience could also be a very good source of information to grow your competitor monitoring coverage. 

If you are in an organization with a will and openness to share links and notes, you may want to add members of your audience in Cronycle as curators. They would be able to add links, files and notes on specific boards which you can separate from your “clean” boards and use to review suggestions. Copying content from one board to another is very easy, making this option a straightforward solution. While comments are not kept when copying across boards, summaries, tags and annotations are. Simply make sure to enable them with the switch at the top of the board selector.

If you receive files by emails, you can forward the emails directly to your board. Indeed, each board has its own email address. You’ll find your board email address from the board settings. You can also send links by email – please closely follow the instructions on the tutorial about emailing content to boards. Only board collaborators can email content to their boards.

Finally, copying text as notes or links to add articles is very easy – simply go to the board, click anywhere in the grey area, and paste. Cronycle automatically identifies links (to extract articles or posts) from text (to add as notes) and from files (to upload).
This concludes this tutorial explaining how to share competitive intelligence, and the series on conducting CI. We hope you found this useful. Other tutorials are available from this page, and cover other functionalities and aspects which are not typically central to competitive intel.

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