Ever wonder why James Bond always comes out on top, no matter how sticky the situation? He has a team behind him who gathers intel on the bad guys beforehand and gives him the tools to beat them at every turn. Competitive analysis in content marketing can turn your team into the behind-the-scenes heroes that power every successful venture.
Like Bond’s sidekick, “Q,” you can give your brand team the marketing tools they need to defeat your gang of nemeses. Adding competitive analysis to your content strategy will identify your most dangerous competitors, evaluate their content strategy, and find the gaps and weaknesses that your team can exploit to your company’s advantage. Here’s a quick breakdown to help you find those chinks in their armor.
Search for Their Content – Let No Stone Go Unturned
Your competitor’s content goes way beyond their website’s static pages and, of course, its blog. But this is a good starting point, doing a deep dive into all the ways it communicates with its customers and prospects.
As HubSpot’s Corey Wainwright points out, it pays to dig into the more obscure aspects of your competitor’s site to find relevant content. Use the menu to uncover sub-navigation menus, the website’s sitemap, and other features, too.
Case studies, press releases, and the FAQ page are all rich sources of content that can influence engagement. Even internally focused content – if you can find it – is relevant to customer engagement. After all, engaged and motivated employees just might be your competitor’s secret sauce for success.
There’s something else you can do to experience content as their loyal customers do: subscribe to your competitors’ newsletters. Yes, you’ll probably get links to a lot of regurgitated blog posts. But you’ll also occasionally see a few more personalized communications that give you deep insights into how your competitors speak directly to their customers.
Look for links to download ebooks, white papers, and other resources. Download them so that you can take a more in-depth look at them later. Make sure you include non-owned content, such as videos on YouTube and other sites, as well as social media posts.
Analyze the Content Itself in a Variety of Dimensions
First, analyze the types, quantity, and publishing frequency of each content category. Then, jot down the topics they cover. Look for any pertinent topics that they might give short shrift to, so that you can capitalize on that lack in your own content.
Then, evaluate your competitors’ content for quality. Do their publications contain factual errors or logical fallacies? If so, you can create content to counter their argument using correct reasoning and substantiated facts.
Does the content look rushed, filled with fluff or typos? If so, make it your goal to beef up your content workflow to include more attention to editing.
Is their content attracting industry thought leaders and influencers? If so, you might want to up the ante on both the theoretical and practical aspects of your content to make it more thought-provoking.
Next, look at how their content performs in searches. Tools like SEMrush can speed up this crucial part of your analysis. Then, take a deeper look at the factors that drive the content’s performance, such as:
- URL construction
- Page titles
- Headlines and subheadings
- Keywords used and their density
- Image alt texts
- Internal links
- External links
Finally, analyze how their content performs on social media. Are they getting engaged followers on channels you’re not active on? Those channels might be places you want to have a solid presence on.
Look at how they interact with people who comment on their posts. If your company doesn’t spend enough time listening to and responding to your brand’s followers, you might want to consider doing so.
If, on the other hand, they’re not using social media to amplify the reach of their other content, such as blog posts, that might be a promising way to position your company at the head of the pack.
Compare Your Content’s Performance Against Your Competitors’
Obviously, you’re probably going to be somewhat limited in the types of competitive performance data that you can garner through various tools. For example, you’re not able to see a competitor’s Google Analytics reports. But there are tools, like SEMRush mentioned above, that can give you at least an idea of how well a competitor’s content is performing. At the most basic level, you can use services like Alexa and SimilarWeb to compare traffic numbers.
You’ll also want to use your own content analytics program to take a hard look at your content’s performance in all those categories. If you find a significant gap in a specific area, look into the “why” behind the numbers.
Or, if you see some areas in which your competitors are underperforming, take the initiative to excel in those areas. Whether it’s keywords that your target customers use often but your competitors rarely write about, or active social listening, there are always ways to use these weaknesses to your company’s advantage.
Find Ways to Differentiate Your Content from Theirs
If you’re like most large marketing teams, you probably know your company’s products’ unique selling propositions (USPs) inside and out. But how about your content’s USP?
One of the traps enterprise content teams often fall into is using the same general “template” to create content around their target topics. To beat your competitors though, you need to go outside the norm to develop creative, thoughtful content that actually helps your customers and prospects find solutions to their problems.
Don’t believe me? Take it from a real master of strategy – General George Patton. In his treatise on one of the most decisive World War I battles – Gallipoli – he issues a devastating critique of the British forces for their unwillingness to think outside the box. Their opponents, the Turks, led with an innovative, agile strategy and repelled the Allies from the Dardanelles.
Strategy is strategy, whether in war or in marketing. Taking calculated risks that differentiate your content’s value from that of your competitors can pay off royally in engagement and customer loyalty.
Start with an in-depth study of your target customers. In addition to your own analytics, use social media and search engine analytics to get a multi-dimensional picture of their desires, pain points, demographics, and online behavior.
Then, create content that meets their needs. But don’t stop there.
Showcase and Amplify Your Content
Use language to set the stage for a brand voice that reaches your audience in their hearts as well as in their minds. Knit it all together with compelling stories that turn your audience members into the hero.
Use catchy titles, intriguing meta descriptions, and plenty of visual elements to attract – and keep – your audience’s attention. Repurpose your content in various forms to draw in both people who like to read and those who prefer to watch videos or listen to podcasts.
Segment your audience by interest, location, and where they are on their buyer’s journey. That way, you can deliver personalized content that better meets their needs. Finally, when it comes time to publish your content, use a content automation tool to get it into the right hands at the right time and place.
For larger content teams, conducting a thorough competitive analysis can seem like drudgery. After all, their competitors are probably putting out a massive amount of content.
A comprehensive content marketing platform, however, can streamline parts of the process, freeing your teams to spend more time on the details that matter. DivvyHQ allows you to combine every aspect of the content ideation, creation, publication, and analysis processes in a single place.
With a 14-day free trial, you and your teams can give it a test drive to see what it can do to help your content overtake your competitors’ work. Start your trial today!