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How a Competitive Analysis Can Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

competitive analysis for content marketing efforts

I am really lousy at board games. Settlers of Catan, Stratego, Mouse Trap, you name it: I follow the rules, focus on my own strategy, and assume I’m winning. Before I know it, everything is over and I’m in last place … again.

As you probably know (and I apparently don’t), winning a board game requires you to do a lot more than simply move your pieces. A good strategy involves paying attention to your opponents, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and analyzing every move they make — and this goes for your business as well as Monopoly.

A competitive content marketing analysis can help you keep score in your industry. By scouring your opponents’ content inventory and evaluating their current marketing tactics relative to your own, you can determine where you’re ahead — and where you may need to step up your game.

Related: Prove that your marketing efforts are working. Here’s how to show social media marketing ROI to your boss.

Identify your most competitive industry rivals, and we’ll show you how to analyze their content and use that information to optimize your own.

Perform a Well-Rounded Competitive Content Marketing Analysis

You’re probably more than aware of the other top players in your industry (and if you’re not, they’ve already got the upper hand). So let’s take a closer look at the content they’re producing.

Pro tip: Include in your analysis a company that you consider best in class across all industries. Maybe it’s Apple or HubSpot or Coca-Cola. Identify a brand that’s doing the big-picture best and add them to your list of competitors. Thinking bigger than your industry will set you up to outclass your competition.

1. Websites and marketing materials. Don’t be disheartened if you encounter an intimidatingly beautiful site — oftentimes, this is merely an illusion of value. What we’re looking for is accessible company information.

Put yourself in the shoes of their target audience and answer:

  • How quickly do they answer your questions?
  • Can you easily locate company objectives, products, and services offered, as well as prices, on the front page?
  • How quickly can you find out if they’re the right fit?

2. Content inventory. As a content marketing agency, we know the importance of producing great content to promote a brand. Take a look at your competitors’ content stack and answer these questions:

  • How often are they creating new content?
  • Is it meaningful to the audience and tailored to their wants and needs?
  • Is it aligned to the purchase cycle, and are they addressing each stage?

As you consider all of this, don’t lose sight of how you stack up. A competitor may be taking a different approach than you are in some places, and it may be a more effective one.  

3. Social media. Social media plays a crucial role in today’s marketing environment. The key here is to identify how your competitors are utilizing their social media presence. Are they posting their website content? Is it being reshared or engaged with by their followers? This information lends a clue not only to what customers think or say about your competition but whether the content they are creating has consumer value.

4. Search results. A quick Google search for news, public relations information, reviews, and other mentions of your competition can reveal a lot. (You can even set up alerts for any new information that comes up in the future.) You’ll get a sense of how consumers view your competition, and you may even find information about ways they plan to expand their offerings, new markets they plan to enter, or changes in the company. 

5. SEO rankings. Is your competitor optimizing their searchability to get ahead? See who among your competition ranks best for key industry terms. Improving your SEO rankings is a beast of a journey in itself — for which we’re here to offer plenty of guidance — but evaluating the SEO standings of your competitors is a fundamental step in improving your own.

Stay Self-Aware

Be sure to apply the same questions and sources you used to gather information on your competition to your own brand’s content — you might be surprised by what you can learn about your own business and where your blind spots may be. After you’ve evaluated your competitors, ask yourself:

  • How does the quality of your content stack up?
  • Is your content reaching your desired audiences? Are they engaging with it positively?
  • Do you have more or less of a social media presence than competitors?
  • What gaps have your competitors left open that you can take advantage of?

A good, competitive content marketing analysis should do more than help you understand your competition — it should help you identify changes you can (and should) make to your own strategies. Look around; there’s a lot to learn.

If you need help implementing new marketing tactics, contact us or explore more of our strategy-focused content.