How To Identify The Best Competitive Intelligence Sources

Data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers. And in today’s hyper competitive business world, where 60% of businesses fail within the first three years, acquiring – and retaining – customers is vital.


A myriad of factors can lead to a company’s decline but with data – or rather intelligence – organisations are in a strong position. They can identify and predict trends, threats, risks and opportunities. They can understand the competition’s strengths and weaknesses and analyse what that means for them. 


In short, businesses that embrace competitive intelligence make smarter decisions faster. But how do they do it effectively?

We’ve written a lot about tracking the right types of information, but what about the sources? If you’re already tracking your market – or you’re about to begin – how do you ensure you’re using the right sources of competitive intelligence?

identifying competitive intelligence sources

Understanding Competitive Intelligence Sources

Competitive intelligence sources are websites and other online environments where market and competitor data is held, published and shared.


By monitoring these sources, you can extract valuable data about your competitive landscape and the wider market. This data, once analysed, can be used to make informed strategic and tactical decisions that give you a competitive advantage. 


Broadly speaking, these sources of competitive intelligence provide insights on 3 areas:

A) Market trends

By tracking market dynamics, you can understand what’s happening and what’s to come. This can help you make strategic changes, ensuring that your products or services align with the current demands of your audience.

B) Competitor activities

Online sources provide access to a treasure trove of data regarding your competitors’ strategies, strengths and weaknesses. These insights serve as a guide, helping you align your strategies to seize opportunities and outmanoeuvre your rivals.

C) Customer preferences and behaviour

Online sources are a rich source of data reflecting customer preferences and behaviour. You can customise your products or services to cater to the evolving needs of your customers, ensuring that your business remains customer-centric.

10 Types Of Competitive Intelligence Sources

1) Competitor websites

Your competitors’ websites hold a wealth of insights about their products, services, positioning, pricing and marketing approach. Analysing your competitors’ online presence allows you to understand their digital marketing strategies and customer engagement efforts.

Competitor websites and online presence give you a direct view of how your rivals present themselves to the world. This can be particularly useful for identifying areas where you can differentiate your brand.

2) Social media & online forums

Conversations on social media platforms and online forums are fountains of competitive intelligence. These channels often contain candid discussions, reviews and comments from customers, as well as public interactions between your competitors and their audience.

Monitoring social media and online forums can provide insights into customer sentiment, emerging issues and areas where your competitors excel or fall short. They offer a glimpse into customer opinions, pain points, and brand loyalty.

3) Job postings

Understanding the changes in your competitors’ workforce is a valuable aspect of competitive intelligence. When companies post new job openings, it can indicate their plans for expansion, changes in strategy or the introduction of new products or services.

Likewise, tracking senior hires announced on various media publications can reveal shifts in leadership and strategic direction. These changes may influence the competitive landscape.

4) Advertising & marketing campaigns

Your competitors’ advertising and marketing campaigns are transparent indicators of their immediate priorities and where they feel the market is at. By analysing the keywords they target, the platforms they use and the messaging they employ, you can gain insights into their marketing and business strategies.

Advertising and marketing campaigns provide insights into your competitors’ immediate priorities and areas they are actively targeting. This information can help you align your strategies accordingly.

5) Industry reports 

Specialised industry reports and market research studies may lack the immediacy of real-time competitive intelligence, but they still have their place. They can provide a good level of depth and are typically written by market experts.

By combining data from periodic reports with curated insights on what’s happening day to day, you can bridge the gap between what’s been and gone and what’s to come.

6) Customer reviews & feedback

Customer reviews and feedback on various online platforms can provide direct insights into your competitors’ performance from the customer’s perspective. These reviews often highlight what customers appreciate about your competitors’ products or services and what issues they face.

Customer reviews offer an unfiltered view of your competitors’ performance and provide valuable feedback about their strengths and weaknesses.

7) Legal & regulatory documents

Gleaning insights from legal and regulatory documents can proactively safeguard your business. These documents can reveal any legal challenges or regulatory issues your competitors are facing, allowing you to address similar issues before they become disruptive.

Legal and regulatory documents provide a heads-up about potential challenges your competitors are dealing with. This source helps you anticipate and address similar issues.


8) Partner & supplier websites

News of your competitors’ partnerships and collaborations can offer insights into their strategic direction. By monitoring their partner and supplier websites and social channels for announcements, you can identify any new alliances or developments that might influence the competitive landscape.

Partner and supplier announcements can reveal your competitors’ strategic objectives and future plans.

9) Industry news publications

Online publications that report on industry news and publish features provide a valuable source of information about competitor activity and market trends. Although your other sources of competitive intelligence may pick up competitor news sooner than it takes the story to make it in the press, tracking what competitors are promoting via press releases will provide a strong indication of the narrative they want to create and their priorities as a business.

10) Third-party content sites

Whether it’s a website carrying company profiles or independent blogging sites like Medium, there’s a lot of value to be found. If an active competitor is using these types of content sites, they’re likely to take care of what appears in the profile.

All of this can reveal the messaging and strategies they’re using to attract customers and build their brand. It can be useful to benchmark your own company and identify key topics for content.

competitive intelligence product marketingr

Combining Multiple Competitive Intelligence Sources

While each of these competitive intelligence sources is valuable in its own right, their true power emerges when you employ them together. The richness of competitive intelligence lies in the diversity and depth of insights gained by cross-referencing data from multiple sources. 


Here’s why using a combination of these sources is important:

Enhanced accuracy & reliability

Relying on a single source for competitive intelligence can be risky. Data from a sole source might lack context, be outdated or even biased. However, by drawing information from multiple sources, you can corroborate data and identify trends or anomalies more accurately. This enhances the reliability of your competitive intelligence, allowing you to make more informed decisions.

Comprehensive & holistic insights

Each competitive intelligence source has its own strengths. While social media may provide real-time customer sentiments, industry reports can offer historical data and trends.

By using a combination of sources, you can gain comprehensive insights that span various aspects of your competitors and the market. This holistic understanding is invaluable for shaping your strategies effectively.

Early detection of trends & shifts

The business landscape is in a constant state of flux. By harnessing the power of multiple sources, you’re better positioned to spot emerging trends or shifts before they become mainstream.

Early detection allows you to be proactive in adapting your strategies and staying ahead of the curve. Whether it’s changes in customer preferences, emerging technologies or shifts in the competitive landscape, multiple sources help you stay vigilant.

Improved decision-making

Informed decisions are the cornerstone of successful business strategies. Using insights from diverse sources enables you to make data-driven decisions. As well as helping to attract customers, companies that use data to make decisions are six times as likely to retain them and 19 times more likely to be profitable.

The comprehensive view you obtain by cross-referencing data enables you to evaluate various scenarios, anticipate challenges and seize opportunities effectively. All of which is vital for gaining a competitive edge.

Scenario modelling & risk mitigation

Effective competitive intelligence is more than just understanding your competitors; it’s about anticipating various scenarios and mitigating risks. Multiple sources allow you to create well-rounded models for different scenarios.

For instance, you can gauge how your competitors might react to market changes, industry disruptions or economic shifts. This scenario modelling enables you to proactively prepare for contingencies, ensuring your business’s resilience.

Competitive benchmarking

Benchmarking your performance against your competitors is a critical component of competitive intelligence. A single source might provide a partial view of this benchmark.

However, by combining insights from various sources, you can create a comprehensive competitive benchmarking model. This model provides a well-rounded view of your competitive strengths and weaknesses, helping you identify areas for improvement.


Incorporating these advantages, you can craft a well-informed competitive intelligence strategy. Not only can you gain a more accurate and in-depth understanding of your competitive landscape but your strategies will be agile and responsive to market dynamics.


Measuring The Impact Of Competitive Intelligence Sources


Measuring the impact of your competitive intelligence efforts is essential to ensure that your investment in gathering data is paying off. 


To evaluate the effectiveness of your competitive intelligence sources, you need to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that align with your business goals. Here are some critical aspects to consider when measuring the impact:

Competitor awareness

To assess the success of your competitive intelligence, monitor your team’s awareness of key competitors and their strategies. Successful analysis should result in a heightened understanding of competitor actions and market dynamics.


Data accuracy

Regularly check the accuracy of the data provided by your chosen competitive intelligence sources. High data accuracy indicates that your sources are functioning effectively in collecting and processing data.


Response time

Evaluate how quickly your team can respond to market changes or competitor moves. A shorter response time is a sign of an efficient analysis process. It demonstrates the agility of your business in adapting to competitive dynamics.


Competitive insights

Measure the depth of insights gained from your analysis. The more granular and actionable your insights, the more successful your analysis is. The insights should be translated into effective strategies and actions.


Market share growth

Monitor changes in your market share over time. Effective analysis should contribute to the growth or maintenance of your market share. It’s a key indicator of your business’s competitive strength.


Cost savings

Evaluate the cost savings achieved by using competitive intelligence sources compared to traditional methods. Reduced costs indicate the cost-effectiveness of your approach. This KPI can demonstrate the efficiency of your analysis efforts.


Strategic adaptation

Assess the number of strategic changes or adaptations made based on analysis insights. A higher number signifies the practical utility of your competitive intelligence. Strategic adaptation is a measure of how well you are capitalising on the insights you gain.

learning to gain a competitive advantage

Analysing Your Competitive Intelligence

Businesses often gather vast amounts of data from various competitive intelligence sources. However, data in itself is just raw material. To make your analysis effective, you need to transform this raw data into actionable insights.

For some businesses, this can be a challenge. Two-thirds of businesses don’t have a data analytics strategy. When choosing a competitive intelligence platform, it’s worth considering one that curates and analyses the data it gathers. This will often involve human analysis by experienced market experts.

Once you’ve analysed the data, you’ll be able to assess its impact more effectively. Regular review points are valuable, covering questions such as:

  • What have we learned about our competitors?

  • How are we using this intelligence to refine our strategies?

  • Are we staying ahead of market trends and customer preferences?

  • What improvements have we made as a result of our insights?

Your data analysis should feed directly into your decision-making processes too. Insights gained from your competitive intelligence sources can directly influence your strategic choices, product development, marketing campaigns and other business activities

How to Track Different Competitive Intelligence Sources

Tracking and managing multiple competitive intelligence sources can be a complex process, but it’s essential for the success of your analysis efforts. 


A competitive intelligence platform can streamline this process, making it more efficient and effective. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to track and analyse different competitive intelligence sources:

A) Choose the right competitive intelligence platform

Start by selecting a competitive intelligence platform that aligns with your business’s specific needs, objectives and budget. Ensure that it offers user-friendly interfaces and robust support to facilitate a smooth adoption process.

And, as we’ve said, consider how data is curated and analysed by the platform’s team as this will provide an efficient way to use the data.

B) Integration into existing processes

After selecting the platform, the integration process is pivotal. Ensure that it seamlessly fits with your existing workflow and systems. This may involve customising the platform to share intelligence via the channels your team use every day, such as Slack, Teams or Power BI.

C) Set-up data collection parameters

Once the competitive intelligence platform is integrated, configure it to start collecting and analysing data. Define data sources and parameters according to your objectives.

Your competitive intelligence platform team will typically provide someone to manage this process for you, working to your goals and ambitions. Your dashboard can be tailored to track specific competitors, market segments or product categories based on your business focus.

D) Customise alerts & notifications

Competitive intelligence platforms often have the capability to send alerts and notifications based on specific triggers. These triggers could include changes in competitor pricing, shifts in market trends or any other criteria you consider crucial.

Customise these alerts to match your decision-making needs. Timely notifications can help you respond promptly to critical developments, ensuring that you stay ahead of your competitors.

E) Training & user adoption

To maximise the benefits of the competitive intelligence platform, ensure that your team is well-trained in its usage. Many platform providers offer training sessions or resources to help your staff become proficient in using the tool effectively. Encourage user adoption and the incorporation of AI-driven insights into your regular decision-making processes.

F) Feedback & continuous improvement

As we’ve already touched upon, it’s important to gather feedback from your team and evaluate the platform’s performance regularly. Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your competitive landscape analysis.

Use this feedback and data to fine-tune your use of the platform and adapt your strategies. Continuous improvement is a key component of successful competitive intelligence efforts.

Final Thoughts

Implementing a competitive intelligence platform can significantly enhance your ability to track and analyse various sources effectively. It provides real-time data, a deep understanding of competitors, insights into market trends and cost savings through automation.

With the right platform in place, you can stay ahead of the curve in the fast-changing business landscape of 2023.


Competitive intelligence has evolved significantly with the advent of AI and advanced technology. To stay competitive in your market, it’s crucial to embrace these modern approaches, ensuring that you have the most up-to-date and actionable insights at your disposal.


In the fast-paced, digitally-driven world, where your competitors are constantly evolving, tracking the best sources of competitive intelligence can offer a big advantage in the market.