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Why You Should Create a Centralized Competitive Intelligence Database

TJ Kiely

May 3, 2024

Competitive data has many homes: websites, social media channels, and SWOT analyses, to name a few. Bringing all of this data together gives companies a more holistic view of who their competitors are and where they stand. That’s why creating a centralized competitive intelligence database should be high on your radar.

For data-driven decision making to thrive, companies need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The truth is harder to come by when it’s scattered across various documents and systems. Simplifying the way you collect and organize competitor data makes it more accessible, usable, and useful. 

The result: better decisions made on complete, accurate, up-to-date information.

Here’s why you should create a centralized competitive intelligence database and how to go about it.

Table of Contents

What Is a Centralized Competitive Intelligence Database?

A centralized competitive intelligence database creates a single source of truth for your competitive data. It funnels information from various sources into a single location for analysis and reporting. 

Typing information into a database.

This approach reduces or eliminates many of the struggles companies face with competitor data management. For example, a centralized database improves collaboration across teams and makes data more accessible. It also removes the need to manage multiple data sources, allowing companies to gain a single view of the competitive landscape.

The Benefits of a Single Source of Truth

Developing a business intelligence database offers a range of benefits and purposes. It ensures all users are on the same page and can access the same data regardless of need. Here’s how this approach proves beneficial in any organizational context.

Reading Tip: Single Source of Truth for PR & Marketing Data

Increase data’s usability for the average user

Breaking down data silos is a top priority for many organizations. One study found that 62% of decision makers believe that the average user lacks the competence to work with data. A lack of sufficient or complete data increases the need to prepare individual data sets, which places further pressure on data users.

Bringing all competitor data under one roof relieves some of the pressure created by data silos and usability shortcomings. Data is standardized to reduce the need for additional data preparation and analysis.

Ensure Data Is Up to Date and Reliable

Duplicate, old, or incomplete records can skew the decisions made from data. A centralized competitor database can implement checks and balances to ensure data is up-to-date, complete, and reliable so that users can make informed decisions.

Improve productivity

McKinsey once reported that the average worker spends 19.8% of their time — or about one out of five work days — searching for information.

A newer report from Elastic shows the problem has gotten worse: 58% of office workers say that searching for files is a “top three problem,” with more than half of workers spending more time searching for resources and content than working with those resources.

Looking at data in different formats.

Centralizing competitive data in a competitive intelligence database is a step forward in improving productivity. Users know exactly where to look for information and don’t have to spend time searching multiple places to gain a complete picture.

Expand data access

Departments working on the same strategy cannot operate as a black box. Rather, they need to be able to access the same data when they need it.

A single source of truth expands data access to the right stakeholders. It eliminates data silos so that users can gain a complete picture of their competitors.

However, expanded access doesn’t mean a free-for-all. These databases allow for role-based access so that only the appropriate stakeholders can view critical information. Systems administrators can grant quick access to specific users based on need.

Enhance team communication

When team members are on the same page, better communication becomes a natural byproduct. Teams can access the same information in real time, allowing everyone to contribute to your competitive strategy in meaningful ways.

Where to Find Competitor Data

Competitive data comes from many sources, which is one reason why centralizing this data is so cumbersome. There’s also the matter of companies keeping their business strategies close to their chest to avoid leaking too much information to competitors. Because of this lack of detail, it’s important to latch on to any information available to develop insights into a competitor’s strategy.

Chess pieces.

As you’re developing your competitor database, you’ll want to analyze a few key components:

Competitor research

Competitive analysis involves researching your major competitors to learn more about their marketing strategies, target audience, products, sales process, and branding. This gives you a chance to compare your own approach to these components and see how you stack up in the market.

Competitor research covers many aspects, including SWOT analysis, market research, market share, social media presence, technology stack, content production, pricing strategy, and audience engagement. 

Your goal in conducting this research is to learn how your competitors operate so you can find opportunities to outperform them.

SERP data

Search engines can provide a wealth of data on your competitors. Search engine results pages (SERPs) contain both organic and pay-per-click (PPC) content that gives you insight into how your competitors are performing via search. 

You can use SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or UberSuggest to see how your competitors are ranking in organic search. See which keywords they’re ranking for, their average organic position, and even how much traffic they’re getting via Google and other search engines.

You can also do a quick manual search to see if your competitors are running PPC ads for specific queries. See what type of content they’re promoting and how they’re generating leads or sales. For example, they might be using PPC ads to promote top-of-the-funnel or middle-of-the-funnel content to generate leads. Or they might be focused more on short-term deals and offers to drive immediate sales.

Reading Tip: How to Write SEO Optimized Content

Media Mentions

Are your competitors getting attention from major media outlets, blogs, and podcasts? If so, you’ll want to know where this attention is coming from and whether they’re earned or paid opportunities.

Tracking media.

Tracking media mentions via brand monitoring, or generic media monitoring gives you direct insight into how your competitors are getting noticed by their target market. You can manually track this by setting up Google Alerts using the company name as your keyword. However, this approach can be somewhat limited as you’ll only get alerts based on sources that Google tracks. 

A better approach is to use an all-in-one tool like the Meltwater Media Intelligence Suite that tracks thousands of online and offline sources. You can track unlimited keywords across blogs, social media, podcasts, print media, and other sources to learn more about your competitors’ media coverage.

In the same vein as media mentions, you’ll also want to know who is linking to your competitors. Backlinks are a major indicator of quality when it comes to organic search. Content with lots of backlinks tends to rank higher on Google, allowing you to drive more “free” traffic to your website and increase your brand awareness.

You can manually do backlink research via SEO tools like Ahrefs. A faster way is to put this analysis on autopilot and track your competitors’ backlink strategies at a glance. Learning where they’re getting backlinks can give you a more focused direction when reaching out to websites to earn your own.

How to Build a Competitor Database

Choosing to create a competitor database is the easy part. Your next objective is to decide what data to collect and how to organize and access it.

Chances are, you’re already collecting much of the information you’ll want to include in your database. The key is organizing it in a logical and consistent way and making it accessible to the right people. 

Follow these steps for long-term success:

1. Decide what data is essential to your competitor strategy

There are tons of bits and pieces you can collect about your competitors. While you want as complete a picture as possible, there can be such a thing as too much data. Viewing too much information at once can cause important insights to become lost in the jumble.

Data results.

To start, identify what types of data will matter most to your strategy. This data should tie directly to your marketing, sales, and branding initiatives so that you can make valuable improvements

Get input from all departments and teams that will be using the data. Sales, marketing, customer service, and R&D all have different priorities when it comes to competitor strategies and can therefore provide unique insights into what’s important and how the data will be used.

2. Use a tool to automate data dollection and analysis

All-in-one tools like the Meltwater Suite can collect data on your behalf and funnel it into your competitor database. You can collect the most up-to-date information on autopilot without it becoming a time-consuming manual process.

Tip: These are the best competitor analysis tools on the market.

3. Decide on a format for rour database

You may be able to create your competitor database in a format you’re already accustomed to. For instance, if you’re using Excel sheets or Airtable for other types of data, your competitor data might adapt well.

If you’re using a tool like the Meltwater Suite, you can create custom dashboards to gain insights at a glance. You can see the most important competitor data, then choose items to analyze more deeply.

4. Have a strategy for maintaining your competitive intelligence database

Creating your database is one thing; maintaining it is quite another. Competitive data isn't stagnant — it's always changing, so you’ll need to allocate time and resources to maintain this data to get the most value from it.

Revisiting your database gives you an opportunity to re-evaluate your competitive approach and make sure you’re collecting the right data on the right competitors. You might discover new competitors or sources you’d like to monitor. You might even surface new insights that may have gone overlooked.

Reading tips to maintain your competitive intelligence database: An Introduction to Database Normalization, The Fundamentals of Data Structuring, How to Use Data Cleansing & Enrichment

Next Steps: Sharing Your Competitive Data with the Right Stakeholders

Competitive analysis tools like Meltwater serve as both a database and a full-service reporting platform. Easily share your competitor data with the right stakeholders to demonstrate ideas, growth opportunities, and impact. 

With Meltwater, you can quickly generate competitive analysis reports based on a single metric or sets of metrics that matter to you. Automatically collect new insights in real time and share findings with teams and decision makers. Show them only the data they care about in a relevant context.

Meltwater makes it possible to turn competitor data into one of your greatest assets in a way that’s simple, complete, and not time-consuming.

Learn more when you request a demo by filling out to form below.