Conducting a competitive analysis is a great way to learn what works (and what doesn't) for your opposition in the industry. By painstakingly researching your competitor's strategies, your brand will be able to set an effective content marketing strategy.
To get a full picture, you must assess your competition's content, SEO, SMM and email marketing, since they're all integral components of content marketing. Here's a list of the kind of data you will need for a thorough competitive analysis .:
– Which keywords do they rank for ?: You can use tools like Alexa Competitive Keyword Matrix, SEMrush, or Moz to find out which keywords are performing the best (paid for or organic).
– Site traffic: How is their website performing? How many visitors are they getting each month? If you're interested only in visitors from the US, a tool like Compete will help you get this kind of data. Otherwise, SimilarWeb is also good for traffic insights.
– Domain authority: Check your competition's website page rank. How are they ranking? Who is linking out to them? The Open Site Explorer by Moz is one of the most trusted tools for this.
– Identify the type of content : What does your competition usually post? What are the topics they cover? Are they blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, videos, podcasts, etc.? Once you know the type of content that performs the best for them, you can position your brand to fill the places they're lacking in regards to content, or go head-to-head with them.
– Where they post their content : Go through everything you can find with a fine-toothed comb. Take your time and check out your competitors' websites, look for channels and accounts in their name, set up Google alerts, sign up to their newsletters, etc. Check if their authors write guest blog posts and how do they perfrom. The goal here is to find out where their most relevant content is. You can use tools such as Alexa's Page Rank Checker, or BuzzSumo to get the data you need.
– Evaluate quality : Quality of content is a bit subjective, but one way to assess it would be to check if it's well-written / produced. Are your competitors posting content that is helpful? Is it in-depth articles or basic level ones? Another way to assess quality is to see how their readers share and interact with the content.
– Audit the content : What is the quantity, the frequency , the distribution of their content like? The number of content is an important piece of data, but it may be more useful to look at the quantity per type of content, and not the overall figures. How often they put out new content is also a useful way to know who you're up against. Is it a company with an impressive amount of content already? Do you need to invest in a big content creation team to keep up? Or is your brand on a par with its competitors?
– Platforms: Where do your competitors have a presence? Do they have an account on every platform? Or are they just on Twitter and Facebook? Where are they performing the best? Twitter Analytics and Facebook Page Insights are free tools you can use.
– Frequency of posts: how often do they post, when, what times of day
– Following: How is their social following growth on each platform?
– Content: What kind of content they post? Do they promote their own content or share things from other content creators?
– Shares: What are the average shares per post? Which posts are the most shared?
– Response times: customer service, questions, compliments; are they quick to respond?
– Frequency: The best way to gauge their strategy in email marketing is to subscribe to their newsletter. Do they send emails daily, weekly, monthly? What times of day?
– List size: How many subscribers do they have? This number is often found on the subscription form when you sign up.
Putting it all together
This kind of in-depth research will most likely take up a big chunk of your time, but it will be worth it. When all the heavy lifting is done and you've gathered all of the data and insights you could get your hands on, your company can use all of it to its advantage so that you can craft and implement a great content marketing strategy.
Not only will a thorough competitive analysis let you know where your competitors stand, but it will also give you a pretty good idea of where your brand stands in comparison. Are you keeping up with your competition? Or are you being surpassed? Check out their strengths and weaknesses, compare them to yours. Is there somewhere your brand can take advantage of a weakness? Is there a gap in their strategy you can fill with your own? Keep in mind that if you're planning on going up against a competitor's strength, you have to make sure your product / service can stand up to it.
Remember that all of this information is meant to serve as a guide for your company's content marketing strategy, a guide that will help you hone in on the trouble areas of your strategy and point out what you can do to make them perform better. However, don't fall in the trap of letting your competition dictate the steps you take, your brand has its own unique selling point.