The Compete Picture

  |  July 6, 2009   |  Comments

The online behavior of millions of Internet users can help brands sharpen marketing efforts. Here's a look at one competitive benchmark tool.

Let's say you're a mobile device company about to launch a big new about the same time that your more visible competitor is doing the same thing. Knowing that said competitor is pulling out all the stops to market its product and that consumer interest is near an all-time high, wouldn't you want to piggyback on that momentum? To ride that larger marketing wave?

Wouldn't it be great if you could know ahead of time, with clarity, where that wave will break? And which part of the wave is best for surfing so you can perform alongside all the other riders and maybe even get the ride of the day?

These days it's becoming easier for companies to do just that -- in informed ways that weren't possible even a few years ago. Large-scale competitive benchmark tools routinely serve up consumer intelligence data to the world's top brands, helping them sharpen marketing efforts based on historical metrics and the online behavior of millions of Internet users.

When you have one of the world's largest consumer-behavior databases in the world, you know a thing or two about how people travel down the purchasing funnel. Jeremy Crane, managing director of online media and search for Boston-based Compete, puts it this way: "We do the research so companies can put it into practice." Compete typically analyzes data over a six-month period, starting with a major marketing or sales event and working backwards. It sorts through its massive behavioral data to see how consumers narrowed their focus over that period from nonbranded search ("cars," "trucks") to branded search ("Audi TT," "Ford F-150") just prior to purchase.

Compete's data translates into targeted, strategic marketing and branding campaigns for companies that need to know how to speak to consumers at different points in the funnel. "You have to know the mind set of consumers and where they are," says Crane. "From a marketing perspective, it's about using your resources wisely. Being in the right place and saying the right things at the right time." The messaging extends to everything from search analytics to major branding to specific copy. With research backing it all up, there's no guessing involved.

Getting back to our mobile scenario, if the smaller company is privy to relevant data that shows how consumers behave leading up to major product launches, it can plan accordingly to capture and ride some of that market lift. In a way it's like drafting in the Tour de France. One reason Lance Armstrong won the tour seven times was because he drafted (define), riding in the middle of the peloton (define) until the time was right, tapping its momentum and conserving his own energy, waiting for the right moment and situation to use his spend.

Drafting in the marketing sense means staying current and close to the pack, knowing the impact of trends and technology and what your peers are up to, so that when consumers go searching for that big campaign, you'll be there too to get your share of consumer attention. And if you plan it right, you may ride your best wave or race to the finish, with the help of a few million Internet users.

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Shane Atchison

In 1998, Shane co-founded ZAAZ to advocate a different approach to Web services — one that respects and delivers on the power of the individual and the promise of Web technologies. As CEO, Shane leads the company's long-term strategic vision of working with leading financial service organizations, consumer brands, startups, non-profits, and community-based organizations, helping each realize the potential of the Internet and its meaningful impact on their business.

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