Every brand needs an edge over their competitors. Small businesses must have it to survive and thrive in today’s tough market. Even large, established brands need it to continue to win new business. According to the Marketing Director at Wasp Barcode Technologies Brian Sutter, having a good product and providing great customer services simply are just not enough anymore.
He states that you need to know what your competitors are doing and beat them at their own game. And content marketing is particularly effective at helping you do this. Since most of what works (and doesn’t work) for your competition’s content marketing efforts can be found online, it is fairly easy to learn about their successes and failures and leverage them to give your own content marketing strategy a leg up.
You’ll want to use all the insights you’ve gathered to avoid the mistakes your competition made, and invest more time and resources to do what has worked for them. As well, by identifying the topics or niches your competitors are dominating, you can avoid competing with them head on and win where your strengths are.
Ready to get started? Here are 8 strategies Brian recommends to help you learn more about what your competition is doing and beat them at content marketing:
- Find what they are publishing
Sign up for your competition’s newsletter or subscribe to their blog’s RRS feed. Then create a folder in your inbox for each competitor you are tracking. You may also want to set up Google Alerts for their company name, products and even executives at their organizations.
Keep in mind that Google Alerts can’t catch everything, like references from social media, so you will want to follow your competition on every social media channel they are on. You can also set up social media alerts on platforms like Social Mention.
- See how well their content is doing on social media
Use content search tools like BuzzSumo and search by your competitor’s website URL. You’ll be able to get a list of top content, including articles, infographics and videos, that your competitors have published, as well as social shares for each piece of content.
With a BuzzSumo Pro plan, you can even see which influencers have shared their content. This will help you understand what influencers in your industry are interested in, and you can also follow them on social media and start building relationships with them. So when you create a piece of content that your influencers might like, you can share with them and solicit their help with amplifying it.
- Find out which keywords they rank for
SEO tools like SEMrush and Moz can help you find out which keywords your competition rank for and are bidding on, as well as their percentage of organic and paid traffic. These tools can also help you understand how well your efforts are stacking up against your competition, which sites are linking to your content, and which keywords are driving quality leads to your site.
These insights will give you the ability to focus your resources on the marketing efforts that truly drive value for your business, helping you generate more quality leads and ultimately sales.
- See how their social media is performing
In addition to following your competition’s brand channels, you can also use fermium and paid tools like Fanpage Karma, Twitter Audit and FollowerWonk to see how well their social media is performing and how engaged their following is.
Fanpage Karma shows you how individual Facebook pages perform, including their most and least popular posts, the types of posts they publish, and stats on their audience growth and performance. Twitter Audit allows you to check if your competitors have any fake followers, so you can follow legitimate accounts that are following them. FollowerWonk helps you find out the most influential followers of your competition, so you know who you want to follow as well.
- Find out how their site is performing
Site speed and mobile optimization can give your site an edge in search rankings. To find out how your site is performing and how your competitors are doing, use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly Test.
Another useful tool is QuickSprout, which you can use to analyze how your website stacks against your competitor sites and get a ranking on key scores for each. Hubspot Website Grader is another great tool to use to get insights into how well your site is performing around key areas like SEO, mobile and security.
- Complete an SEO audit of their sites
Screaming Frog and other SEO audit tools can give you a deeper dive into your competitor’s sites, looking at their structure and content. For some, these tools are a bit too technical, but they do give you a deeper look at your competitor sites beyond the tools listed in #5.
- See where they got their links
While some marketers may have long abandoned linkbuilding, there is still power in links for higher ranking. The key is knowing where the most powerful links are coming from for your competitors so you can target those sites, and hopefully they may give you a few backlinks as well.
One potential tool you can use to find out where those links are is Majestic, which gives you insights on which links are most and least valuable. Just like any other content marketing tools, I would recommend doing some research on the available tools out there, give a few of them a try if they offer free trials, and see which tool is right for you and will give you the most value.
- Find out what customers are saying about you
Whether you are a local business or not, if you get traffic from review sites like Google and Yelp, you will want to include how your competitors are doing on those sites in your analysis as well. Check out how many reviews they have and what their ratings are. Look for trends in both positive and negative ratings to see if there is something your competition is not delivering that you can beat them at? And find out if there are any unmet needs that you can leverage to grow your business.
Now, that is a lot of information to gather, and you will likely need a legal-sized page spreadsheet to capture it all. Try to limit yourself to that size though, because while it is tempting to take every bit of data you can find, you can feel “analysis paralysis” pretty soon, which defeats the purpose of doing this analysis in the first place.
So, only take down the information that will truly help you figure out how your competitors are attracting consumers, including where their powerful backlinks are coming from, who their top influencers are, and where they have an online presence, then apply this information to help improve your own content marketing strategy.
What other tactics or strategies do you use to improve your content marketing efforts to beat your competition? Please share your thoughts below!
If you are looking for more content marketing tools to give your strategy a boost, check out my top list for 2016 here.
Are you interested in engaging and converting new customers for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help.