Knowing what your competition is doing is just good business sense, no matter what line of work you are in or what industry you are in.
How can you attract your own customers if you don’t know what your competitors are doing to attract those same customers?
You may not be offering something that your competitors are, or you may be going in a different direction than the market. Staying on top of what your competitors are doing is just as important as researching your market and your audience.
Content marketing is a great place to start learning about your competitors because it reveals the topics that are of interest to your customers, and it shows off the strategies that are (or are not) successful at engaging your customers.
You must conduct content marketing competitive intelligence to get a good sense of where your rivals are, what your customers might need, and how well you are doing in your marketing. Here’s how you can do that:
Find their Content
Before you can analyze what your competitors are doing with their content marketing, you have to find their content – all of it.
Start with your competitors’ websites and look for places where content might be. The blog is the most obvious location, but other sources can include tabs or links for press and media, resources, case studies or support. Look for tabs or links that have similar terminology, as well.
Links to exclusive content and special articles can even be hidden on pages that you wouldn’t expect, such as the “About” page or the “Contact” page. Competitors can put these links on these pages to encourage additional exploration of the site.
Check out all navigation bars, menus and the sitemap where available. You never know where you may find content.
Then look beyond the website to places like social media, video channels like YouTube or Vimeo, other websites that might have guests blogs or sponsored content, and more. You can find much of this content with a backlink checker like BuzzSumo.
Audit the Content
Once you have a comprehensive list of content (or as comprehensive as you can surmise), you must run an audit of the content.
Your audit should seek answers to questions like:
- What is the publishing frequency?
- How many pieces are being published?
- What types of topics are being covered?
- How is the brand promoting the content?
- What type of content is making the biggest impact in terms of traffic and user engagement?
Some of these questions can be broken down further into more specific questions. For example, you not only want to know how much content is being published, but also how much content for each topic.
You should also look at what type of content is being produced, be it blog posts, ebooks, video blogs, slideshare presentations, infographics or something else. Look at the topics by content type, and look at the publishing frequency by content type.
You want to have a thorough picture of what type of content is being published when, and what kind of impact it is having with readers. How many shares is the content getting? Likes? Hits? Comments? Compare the answers by type of content, publication timing, topic and other metrics.
Analyze the Quality
Certain content may not be performing well because it is poorly written, not because it was published at the wrong time or it was about a topic that wasn’t of interest to readers.
To really understand how the content is impacting readers, you also need to understand the quality of the content.
Look at what kind of resources are added to the content, such as citations, authoritative links, charts and figures, or other data. Look at how well-written the content is, both in terms of the words being used and the information being presented. It should not only be grammatically correct and use advanced-level language, but it should also present interesting information and complex concepts.
Does the content have a unique point of view? Does the content provide solutions or other valuable information? Is the content free or paid?
The answers to all of these questions will help you better understand why readers respond to content in different ways. For example, the exact same piece of content may perform better when it is offered for free as opposed to when it is kept behind a pay wall.
Again, to really know how your competitors are doing and why, you have to evaluate all aspects of their content marketing.
Ultimately, the goal isn’t to replicate what your competitors are doing – that wouldn’t help you to stand out at all. Instead, you want to find a way to create a niche for yourself. You need to be a part of the conversation happening in your industry – which means you can’t be out of the loop on any topics – but you also want to make sure your voice is heard above the others – which means having a unique point of view and unique marketing.