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The Basics of Competitive Analysis for Content Marketing

Learn how to build a solid foundation for your content marketing strategy by using competitive analysis to determine what works in your industry.

competitive analysis

If you are new to a particular area of online marketing, or you feel like you are missing something in your strategy, then competitive analysis can help. Competitive analysis is not about stealing your competitors’ strategies, but rather about making sure that you are utilizing content marketing, social media and search to their fullest potential. In this post, we’ll look at the basics of what you can learn from competitive analysis in the main areas of online marketing.

What to Look For in Your Competitor’s Content Strategy

Most businesses, when starting their content marketing strategy, have a specific set of questions that they must answer. Fortunately, if they have competitors, they can find the answers to those questions by analyzing their competitor’s content marketing strategy. Those questions include the following.

How often should we blog?

How often is the first question a business will ask about their blogging strategy. The answer varies by your business size and your industry. You may notice competitor A is blogging once a day but receiving little engagement, while competitor B is blogging once a week and receiving lots of engagement. This analysis will tell you that a once-a-week publishing schedule is a good start.

Another interpretation to this analysis is that competitor A focuses more on content production and less on promotion, leading to less engagement with their content. To separate your business from both competitors, you could start by blogging once a week with heavy promotion to build your audience. Once you establish your audience, you can increase publishing frequency. So instead of one day a week with a lot of traffic, you can increase it to three, and eventually five if you choose.

What topics should we cover?

As a business, you know that the topics you should cover are those that will attract a specific audience base, namely potential customers. Look to your competitors to see what topics they cover. Competitors that have been blogging for a while have likely studied which topics are most likely to generate leads and sales.

Who should blog for us?

There are different approaches you can take when it comes to the contributors on your blog. You will see business blogs authored by the company owner, blogs authored by several people within the company, and blogs authored by many internal and external contributors.

All three blog author approaches will enable you to generate valuable content that can generate leads and sales for your business. Blogs authored by those within the company build the authority of the company as a whole within your industry. On the other hand, blogs authored using external contributors attract new audiences—and potential customers—from the contributor’s fan base. The combination is best for achieving both goals.

How long should each post be?

You should base the length of your content on your ideal reader/customer. If your business targets busy CEOs who enjoy overview content, then shorter posts are best. If your business targets developers who enjoy in-depth content, then longer posts are best. Look at your competitor’s blog content and see which pieces generate the most engagement from potential customers. Experiment with posts at that length as well as longer and shorter pieces of content to see what drives leads and sales.

Where should we guest blog?

While guest blogging has taken a beating lately, it is still a great strategy for businesses looking to gain exposure in their industry and to reach new customers. To analyze your competitor’s guest blogging strategy, you will need to find out who blogs for your competitor, and then search for them on other blogs. You can use the following search query to aid in this process.

“firstname lastname” -competitorsite.com inurl:author

This search should bring up the author pages for your competitor’s bloggers on other industry publications, with the most authoritative publication first. If you notice that your competitors regularly contribute to a particular site, it means that the site is sending them traffic that converts well into leads or sales, and therefore a good one.

Would other forms of content beyond blogging be successful?

Content marketing is not limited to blogging and guest blogging. Your business may want to experiment with podcasting, video marketing, presentations, infographics and other forms of content to capture a wider audience. If your competitors are already doing these things, you can look at specific metrics to determine whether they have been successful. These metrics include the number of podcast reviews, YouTube video views, SlideShare presentation views and so on.

Beyond metrics, you can determine the success of a particular content strategy by how long your competitor has been doing it. If, for example, your competitor has been podcasting consistently for the last year, but only has one or two videos, then you can infer that podcasting has generated more leads and sales. Of course, it could also mean that your competitor prefers podcasting to videos, so you shouldn’t rule out video marketing altogether. Instead, start with podcasting and then move on to video once you establish your podcasting routine.

Tools to Use for Content Marketing Competitor Analysis

To help with your content marketing competitor analysis, you will want to try the following tools.

  • BuzzSumo – BuzzSumo enables you to analyze what content performs best in terms of social sharing. Use it to analyze posts on your competitor’s blog or posts by topic across multiple blogs.
  • CognitiveSEO – CognitiveSEO offers a visual link explorer to help you quickly see which pieces of content on a competitor’s blog have the most inbound links. Use it to determine what types of content will support your SEO strategy best.
  • Feedly – Feedly allows you to subscribe to blogs via RSS. Use it to subscribe to your competitor’s blogs to see what topics they are covering. You can also use it to subscribe to industry publications for more topic inspiration.
  • Google Alerts – Google Alerts notify you when new search results appear on specific queries. Use it to keep tabs on when your competitors find new guest blogging opportunities using the search for “firstname lastname” -competitorsite.com inurl:author.

How to Apply Competitor Analysis to Your Content Strategy

Once you analyze your competitor’s content marketing strategy, you will have a good idea of how your overall content marketing strategy should look. The key thing to remember is that you are not your competitor. If your competitors have multiple writers, and you have only one or two, then you may not be able to produce as much content as they do. You don’t want to replicate the exact topics your competitor covers in their content. Instead, you’ll want to find the angles they are missing and cover those instead to be unique and authoritative.

The goal with competitor analysis isn’t to become your competitor, but to not reinvent the wheel. Competitor analysis will allow you to start with a solid foundation instead of starting from scratch. From there, you will be able to build a stronger content marketing strategy, and hopefully best your competitor in attracting leads and sales for your business with your content.

3 responses to “The Basics of Competitive Analysis for Content Marketing”

  1. ronellsmith says:

    Kristi,

    I’m always amazed at how high clients think the barrier to entry is for content marketing. Then, after a little digging, it makes sense: Companies compare themselves to their perceived competition, not their real competitors. So that small ice cream shop in downtown Celina, Texas, isn’t competing against the other local shop down the street, in their mind. They think copying Baskin-Robbin’s strategy is a sound idea.

    Large brands, too, fall into this trap, not realizing how customers see their brand and thus failing to understand who their real competitors are.

    The blueprint you put forward makes both of those points moot.

    RS

  2. […] If you are new to a particular area of online marketing, or you feel like you are missing something in your strategy, then competitive analysis can help. Competitive analysis is not about stealing your competitors’ strategies, but rather about making sure that you are utilizing content marketing, social media and search to their fullest potential. In this post, we’ll look at the basics of what you can learn from competitive analysis in the main areas of online marketing.  […]

  3. Raj Karmakar says:

    Nicely pointed out each and every angle . blogging is not difficult but to keep up the pace with competitors it is indeed ..

  4. […] tempting to research your competitors and decide that if they are posting new content to their blog once a day, you should be too. But […]

  5. Recommended, it’s useful to the new in industry. Keep posting regarding this stuff. I’m looking forward to it. Cheers
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