By its nature, content marketing is public. You have to take your content to the public sphere to have any impact with it – and so do your competitors. This public forum gives you an outstanding opportunity to look at what your competition is doing so you know how to improve on their offerings and earn a larger mind-share with your customer base. By turning your competition’s successes and failures into lessons for your own content marketing strategy, you build a more robust content network that supports long-term growth.
Here’s what to watch from your competition:
What They Publish
The most visible sign of your rivals’ content marketing efforts is the content itself. Read their blogs, sign up for their newsletters, and download their white papers. Gain a feel for what they’re trying to say and where their content positions them within the marketplace. When you have an understanding of their content strategies, improve on them by offering higher quality, more information, and multiple content streams. Google Alerts take almost no time to set up and let you keep tabs on who’s publishing what.
How They Rank on Social Media
Twitter, YouTube, and other social media channels tell you how many followers and subscribers publishers earn. How do your numbers compare? Have you seen any significant spikes in their figures that could represent content that’s gone viral or dips that might mean poorly conceived content? Tracking public numbers over time is important to knowing where you stand in your industry.
Which Keywords They Target
Analyzing other content using SEO tools will reveal which keywords your competitors rank for and where you can stake a claim on your own space. If they’re successfully dominating a set of keywords, you learn how to sidestep their strongest areas; if they struggle to capture their keywords and phrases completely, the time might be right to tackle them head-on in this arena.
Their Ad Copy and Placement
Learning what your competitors target with their ads is an important territorial marker. Contextual ad placement gives you insight into the audience they’re trying to capture, and with a little effort, you can discover how effectively they’re doing it. You can also learn about their pay-per-click advertising strategies, including how much they pay for the terms they bid on for PPC advertising.
Social Media Engagement
Raw figures are useful at-a-glance indicators of success on social media channels, but how do you drill deeper and find out details about engagement? It’s one thing to have 950K followers and another to achieve high engagement with them, after all. Tools such as Fanpage Karma give you in-depth reports on social media rankings, post frequency, most and least popular posts, and other engagement indicators.
Customers in every industry have a low threshold for frustration when it comes to site performance. A website that takes many seconds to load or delivers sub-par options for mobile users is inevitably going to have a high bounce rate. Tools to measure site performance are built into Google, so avail yourself of the search engine giant’s suite of site-monitoring tools and use them on competitors’ sites as well as your own.
Links still matter, and knowing where rival companies are getting theirs could help you follow suit and gain high-value links on your own pages. Conversely, you might learn that much of your competitors’ links are low-value, which means you don’t want them anyway; Google will undoubtedly devalue them soon itself with an upcoming algorithm tweak or two.
Content marketing isn’t all your competitors do any more than it is the whole of your job. It is, however, one of the most visible aspects of your competitors’ marketing strategies, so looking and learning only makes sense.