Leveraging Internal Data to Target Competitor Customers

Many companies already own the right data for targeted acquisition from their competitors, yet most aren’t aware of it. Is your company one of them? What you think you don’t know but actually likely do regarding your competitors’ customers represents a huge untapped potential that could create substantial impact to your company’s bottom-line.

You can download PDF version of this whitepaper here.


A number of industries, especially telecommunications and finance, are facilitators of interactions between people – be it, for example, a phone conversation, or, a financial transfer.. These types of interactions allow such industries to have a unique ability in terms of marketing: direct access to competitors’ customers. When a telecom operator’s customer makes an off-net call, or when a bank’s customer makes a money transfer to another bank, they provide precious bits of information for the company – the phone or account number of a potential customer as well as behavioral information about that potential customer. Using a blend of traditional and unconventional tools of data mining and direct marketing, it’s possible to reach out to these potential customers and make very specific and targeted offers to them.

But, Why?

The utilization of analytics in designing and conducting marketing activities has become a de-facto standard among the best of the best, providing significant benefits to those organizations wise enough to realize its potential. Mainly until now though, most of the analytics-driven marketing activities have focused on the existing customer base – for retention, for internal growth, and sometimes, for win-back. Many of the companies in the aforementioned industries have thus far wasted the opportunity of using analytics for acquisition. If data mining techniques have been useful for identifying untapped potential in one’s own customer base, why not use them to get a better understanding and targeting of the competitors’ customers interacting with one’s own?

Using already accessible internal data to cherry-pick the competitors’ customers provides a highly cost-effective means for acquisition. It also allows companies to select targets for acquisition that are most related to its own customer base, hence increasing the loyalty of its existing customers through the building of a closer-knit community.

So, How?

Similar to most customer analytics initiatives, competitor customer acquisition starts with preparing the data required for analysis and targeting. A competitor customer data mart – a data set including one potential customer on each row as well as summary of his/her interactions with your customers – is best-suited for this job. In this competitor customer data mart, you would have:

Telecommunications (from CDR data)

  • A unique identifier: Phone Number of the Competitor Customer
  • History: A field regarding the length of time in years the phone number has been appearing on your network as a called individual.
  • Value determinants: Fields regarding count, duration and value of interactions with this customer from your network (e.g. different number of your customers calling the number / total MoU for calls to the number)
  • Behavior determinants: Fields regarding time and type of interactions with this customer from your network (e.g. SMS interactions mostly / weekend-heavy users)

Finance (from Transactions data)

  • A unique identifier: Account Number of the Competitor Customer
  • History: A field regarding the length of time in years the account number has been involved in financial transactions with your customers.
  • Value determinants: Fields regarding count and monetary value of interactions with this customer from your customer base (e.g. different number of your customers transferring / total $ of transactions with this account)
  • Behavior determinants: Fields regarding nature and type of interactions with this customer from your customer base (e.g. small and frequent quantities / currency used in interactions)

Once such a data mart is ready, the next step involves the use of traditional analysis and data mining techniques – such as value and behavior based segmentation – to identify the best targets for acquisition (in addition to business case modeling to understand the potential revenues and impact on cost of acquiring a given customer)Usually, the competitors’ customers with the highest amount of interactions with your customer base would turn out to be the most valuable customers of your competitors, hence the best targets for your acquisition purposes. Other factors of course need to be examined (i.e. the benefits of not paying an interconnection fee in telco, for example). Based on the behavior segments in your target base, you can approach them with value offerings that are most relevant for their needs (e.g. offering weekend discounts to potential customers who interact with your base most frequently during weekends).

Of course, the natural question at this stage would be: “Now that we know whom to target and what to offer, how can we communicate with them?” Two alternative answers exist for this question:

  1. In countries where rules and regulations allow such actions and the local culture is such that the potential customers would not be irritated, the most effective approach would be to reach out directly. In telecommunications, this means calling them or sending an SMS to their phone numbers – which is already known in CDR data. In finance, this would mean either making use of contact details provided by your own customers when performing their transactions, or making dummy transfers towards your potential customers – such as a $0.0001 money transfer to their account with a personalized message and offer as the description of the transaction.
  2. When existing regulations or local culture does not allow for direct communications with your potential customers, the next best alternative is using your own customer base for contact, through the leveraging of referral programs. Once you know which potential customers you desire, it’s easy to identify which of your own customers interact with them the most. Using highly targeted referral offers – such as ‘get the last customer you’ve called on to our network and you both get 200 free minutes’ – your customers would literally work as your intelligent acquisition channel, grabbing the most valuable customers from your competitors.

What Next?

Using internal data for competitor customer acquisition may seem to be an unorthodox method for most traditional marketers. Yet, as long as regulations allow for it and you avoid invading the privacy of customers, it can generate quick profits and build an avalanche impact, as the more customers you get, the more visibility you will have over your competitors’ base through their interactions. If you are up for it, we recommend that you start with some quick-wins and test the concept in your market.

To learn more about acquiring from your competitors using analytics, please contact info@forteconsultancy.com.


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