Collecting data about your competitors is challenging when so much of it is confidential. However, thanks to plentiful sources of big data online, there is an abundance of information that is freely and publicly available to be analysed and interpreted for benchmarking purposes.
Discover what benchmarking data is available and what it can tell you about your key competitor’s performance.
What is benchmarking and why is it important?
It takes Sebastian 3 days to hand knit a sweater. Is that fast? Is that slow? You’re going to need some context to measure Sebastian’s performance and determine whether it’s good or bad.
If Sebastian wants to knit faster, what will he have to do? He may research the techniques and tools used by the fastest knitters.
Benchmarking is about comparing your strategies and your performance with some sort of standard to ascertain how well you’re doing and what you can do to increase your productivity.
The ultimate aim of benchmarking is to explore what strategies you can implement or how you can tweak existing strategies to improve your performance.
There are three types of benchmarking:
1. Internal benchmarking
This is where you compare teams and organisations within the company to explore best practices and roll them out across other similar teams. For example, your sales department northwest sales team is doing particularly well – compare their strategies against those of lower-performing teams, ascertain what could be causing their success, and roll out the same strategy across teams in other locations.
2. Competitive benchmarking
Competitive benchmarking compares the products, systems and processes of your main competitors. This can help you discern your position within the industry, as well as highlight what you can do to improve your processes or your product.
The main issue with competitive benchmarking is that traditional methods of collecting benchmarking data aren’t particularly accurate or easy to get hold of. Your competitors will most likely want to play their cards close to their chest, not openly reveal their strategies, and if they do report success using a particular strategy, it may be exaggerated.
3. Strategic benchmarking
Strategic benchmarking involves looking outside of your own industry to explore systems and processes that have made extraordinary changes to leaders in other industries.
Two examples of widely-known processes are Lean manufacturing (developed by Toyota in the 1930s) and Six Sigma (developed by Motorola). Both have been widely adopted by other industries as examples of world-class benchmark processes.
Collecting Competitor Benchmarking Data Using Big Data
Competitive benchmarking data is the hardest to collect. Traditionally methods of gathering competitive benchmarking data research include casual conversations with contacts from the other companies, and formal interviews or questionnaires.
Reports, news articles, press releases and other marketing materials can also provide you with information, although this secondary information may be less reliable.
However, thanks to social media and online reviews, we now have open access to communication between brands and their consumers. This big data is abundant, freely and easily accessible and rich with information about the successes and shortcomings of your main competitors.
The Symanto Insights Platform is capable of processing hundreds of thousands of comments and reviews sourced from over 75 online channels. The platform uses state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to analyse text and provide actionable insights.
Here are some examples of what the Symanto Insights Platform can measure for the purposes of benchmarking:
The Symanto Insights Platform assesses the language used in each comment and review to discern whether the author is promoting the brand (i.e. recommending it to others), detracting from the brand (dissuading others from buying from the brand), or whether their language is neutral.
The detractors are subtracted from the promoters to give a Net Promoter Score (NPS). A high NPS is an indicator of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Comments and reviews will also give you the consumer’s perspective on issues such as product quality and value for money. The Symanto Insights Platform organises comments by topic and subtopic and measures sentiment towards each one.
Interactive data visualisation enables you to easily delve deep into topics and subtopics and find out exactly what customers are saying.
The effectiveness of marketing initiatives
The Symanto Insights Platform can measure and compare brand mentions over time. Peaks in mentions can indicate the launch of a marketing campaign. Use this information to direct you in your research. Find out what the brand in question was doing at the time to boost brand awareness.
Happy employees make for happy customers and there is a direct line between the two, and research by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School has found a link between employee satisfaction and productivity.
Employee satisfaction ought to be one of your benchmarking criteria if it isn’t already.
What measures, if any, are employers putting in place to keep their workforce happy and engaged? The Symanto Insights Platform is connected to employee review website Glassdoor.com to give you an overview of satisfaction amongst your competitors’ employees. The efforts made behind the scenes within the workforce can make all the difference.
While big data can’t reveal benchmarking information such as cost per unit or defects per unit of measure, it can nonetheless provide you with incredible insights into the successes and challenges of your competitors.
The Symanto Insights Platform is connected to social media channels and major review sites such as Amazon, Trustpilot and Google reviews to help you to easily gather and analyse thousands of text entries within a matter of minutes.