CRM and Competitive Intelligence
In this digital age, customer acquisition and retention is no longer a matter of luck. It is a matter of strategy. To stay ahead, it is important to understand your competitors as well as your customers. As most companies are using CRM systems, they are also starting to use Competitive Intelligence (CI) in CRM to win their market.
Competitive intelligence (CI) is the process of gathering, analysing, and interpreting information about your competitors in order to gain an advantage over them. By understanding what your competitors are doing, you can adapt your own strategies and tactics to stay one step ahead.
Competitive Intelligence (CI) is a key component of CRM. The use of CI greatly enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of customer acquisition, activation, engagement and reactivation teams, while helping them to win their market. However, few companies actually have a proper CI strategy in place.
Competitive Intelligence along the Customer Lifecycle
The most successful companies use CI along the whole customer journey, from the first customer contact to after-churn communication. By using CI, they are able to identify and track the key customers in their market, as well as understand their strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to plan and execute their strategies more effectively, resulting in increased market share and profitability. Such companies are characterised by having superior customer lifetime value and a sustainable competitive advantage. Their communication strategy is consistent across direct communication channels, e.g. app-push, SMS, email, in-software communication, etc.
Acquire more customer
The first step to using competitive intelligence for customer acquisition is to know your competitors well. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses will help you create a clear picture of what needs to be done in order for you to win over their customers and consumers who have not yet decided for a company. This can be achieved by looking at their product offerings, promotions, communication strategy and so on. You should also look into their customer retention efforts as well as the ways they attract new customers.
Increase customer engagement
CI can also be a powerful tool when it comes to increasing customer engagement. By being best-in-class and learning from your competitors, you can find new and innovative ways to engage your customer base. One way to learn from your competitors is to explore what kind of promotions they are running. What offers do they have for different customer segments? How are they communicating with their customers? So you can make sure that your own promotions are always attractive compared to your competitors’. This way, you can meet and exceed users’ expectations, resulting in increased customer engagement. Additionally, by exploring your competitors’ customer journeys, you can get inspiration for how to improve your own.
Customers receive a variety of communications from different companies in the market. Often, clear patterns can be identified when you analyse how your competitors' communication channels are orchestrated. When and which offers reach certain customer segments via which channel? Leverage frequency and timing insights to reach consumers at the right moment with the right offer and make sure your communication does not get lost in the multitude of touchpoints.
Cross-sell customers more effectively
Understand how your competition cross-sells customers from one product (group) to another. When are they doing it, with which customer segment and which incentive or message? What is the underlying strategy and what can be learned and derived for your own approach. How are the approaches changing over time and what seems to be working well for other companies in the market? How do the approaches differ across countries? By understanding this, you can make sure you have the best cross-product communication strategy in place and effectively cross-sell your customers.
Strengthen customer loyalty
When you know what your customers expect, want and need, you know what you need to do to satisfy them. And when customers are happy, they will become loyal to your brand. Customer retention is a key factor for the long-term success of your business as retaining customers is more cost effective and efficient than acquiring new ones.
With a comprehensive CI, you can take your customers’ perspective and understand how they are wooed by your competitors. Make sure your retention strategies are attractive enough to shield them against your competitors’ promotions, preventing them from switching to another company. If your customers are already also using the products of your competitors, make sure your engagement and retention activities are attractive compared to your peers.
Be best-in-class and develop thought-leadership
Use your competitors as a benchmark to identify opportunities for growth
and spot weaknesses in the market to exploit. This allows you to better position your company. Additionally, benchmarking can help you track your progress over time and ensure that you are continuously improving your marketing and CRM efforts. As you achieve full market transparency, you can make sure to always be best-in-class and don’t fall behind. Instead of playing defense, you can focus on offense and become a thought-leader in the market.
Challenges for conducting Competitive Intelligence
Unfortunately, CRM data is notoriously difficult to acquire. Most of it is not publicly available, but is instead communicated through direct channels like email, app-push notifications, SMS, etc. At the same time, this data is customer segment, communication channel, market, and competitor specific. To draw conclusions, it is therefore necessary to cover both breadth (communication channels, markets, competitors, customer segments) and depth (number of users for each market, communication channel and customer segment). Without sufficient granularity, completeness, and redundancies in the data acquisition, the insights generated are not reliable for decision making, putting the marketing team into a difficult spot. To make things worse, it is also very expensive to acquire good quality CRM data in the first place.
Data preparation is another challenge, as CRM data is not in a standardised format, when collected. Structuring the data for analysis is time consuming and requires special skills that either need to be developed within the team or hired. New processes need to be established and head count allocated. Again, data preparation takes time but is a crucial step in CI.
After the data has been processed, the marketing team can conduct numerous analyses about the CRM strategies and activities of their competitors. Valuable insights can be found by exploring how competitors are using promotions types and values, product categories, frequencies and timings, etc. Typically spreadsheets and visualizations are used for this step, however are not very user friendly and usually lead to data silos. Insights are not effectively shared across teams and therefore only have a limited impact on strategic and operational activities.
In summary, conducting competitive intelligence in CRM is difficult and expensive. Specialist skills are needed to acquire, process and analyze the data. Even despite high efforts, collecting, processing and analysing data is a time consuming process, thereby limiting the usability of the generated insights.
To help you overcome these challenges, we have developed axess Intelligence, a market intelligence platform that shows you your competitors’ CRM actions across customer segments and communication channels for each market and competitor in real-time. We collect and process the data, provide you with analytics tools and support you generating insights that can be applied to your business fast.
Our team of experts will take care of all aspects related to the solution and upskill your CRM team to the best-in-class in your market. Get in touch now to get a demo by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out our lead form on our website.