Updated: 25th June 2017

How Competitor Research Improves Your Content Marketing

A wealth of information lurks in the success (or failures) of the Other Guy.

Here are some ways you can improve your own content marketing results using competitor research tools and tips:

See What’s Popular

Your competitors are working in the same industry as you are, or so I assume. So they have the same audience that you do. This gives you an immediate view on what your audience is looking to read about, watch, view, or listen to.

It doesn’t take a lot to figure out what’s popular with your target demographic. Peek at what is trending on their site(s) and social media profile(s). Make a list of content that has gotten a lot of traffic, views, social media shares, and comments.

From there, you can develop a content strategy that follows the same general idea.  Take a note of:

Discover Where Competitors Are Lacking

In addition to seeing what they are doing right, you can see what they are doing wrong. I distinctly remember this competing podcast of a client I was working for. They released this video series connected to their show, but not really a part of it. The first couple got a decent number of hits, but then they got next to no views.

Wondering what the issue was, I did a quick viewing of all of their videos (which they continued to release in spite of the lack of interest from their user base). They were cheesy, badly written, and not close enough to their podcast format to brand it properly. It was a trainwreck, basically.

In addition to this travesty of video, the podcasts were suffering because too much effort was being put into a new form of content that didn’t work.

Guess what the client did? Avoided videos, stuck with the podcast, upped their promotion, and ended up poaching a lot of listeners.

Track Mentions

We all know that reputation management is an important part of overall branding. But tracking mentions of your competitors really work wonders, as well. You can keep track of announcements both major and minor, and also see what people are saying about the competition.

I worked for a startup once that setup mention tracking for three other platforms in the same industry, with a similar pat structure to their own. When the founder discovered a blog doing a review for a competitor, they asked them to do one for their own.

In the end, the review compared them to the last review and the startup I worked for came out on top.

Tools For Competitive Research

I mentioned before that you will have better tools at your disposal than asking Rebecca’s teenage sister the secret to her cookie selling success. These are some of those tools, though there is an endless supply of competitor research apps and dashboards out there to choose from.

  1. Google Alerts – The free option, and my personal favorite. You can create alerts that monitor any mention of your competitors across the web. It includes both social and web page results. I use it to monitor my competitors, my brand, and my industry. You can set your alerts to give you a digest of daily results, or to immediately let you know
  2. Spyfu – Don’t just monitor your competitors, flat out spy on them! Spyfu is a fun and informative dashboard that uses keyword research, mentions and more to keep track of your competitors. It is a combination of SEO and PPC research, so it applies to content and advertising.
  3. Compete – I don’t always recommend this tool because it is pretty pricey. But if you are a business with a decent budget, you can seriously improve results using this tool. You will learn a strategy to compete with competition on every level, including your social marketing. It is a very in depth tool full of data, and acts almost like a consulting service with a self service bent. It is an investment, but worth it if you have the cash on hand. Some businesses have reported a conversion improvement of 42% or more… seriously.

Do you have a tip for competitor research to improve content marketing? Know a tool that belongs on the list? Let us know in the comments!

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Author: Vivek Patel

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