Content marketing is getting harder every day. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be in business.
It’s harder partially because for so long, it’s just worked. And by now, everyone has jumped on the bandwagon, and it’s “just working” for them too.
So for you to succeed, it isn’t enough to simply create good content. You need to know what else is happening in your content space, including knowing who your competition is and developing a strategy to beat them at their own game.
To win in content marketing, you need to identify your content marketing white space: those areas where your ideal customers are starving for content, yet you and your competitors just haven’t satisfied the need.
The concept of content marketing white space is a tricky one; it requires that you know precisely who your competitors are and what sets you apart from them. Differentiating your product, service, and content from the herd includes being aware of the type of content your competitors put out and using that knowledge to your benefit.
While you may be able to squeeze a few extra dollars from your already constrained marketing budget to generate a fancy competitor content analysis report, it can often translate into very little actionable insight and activity. Stepping beyond the struggle means you have to obsess over your opponent’s content — analyze how they put it together — and use that information to form your own content marketing strategy.
We’re going to try to save you from spending the resources you don’t have and cover how to perform an actionable competitive analysis on your own.
This includes determining the type and quality of your competitors’ content, as well as ways to find gaps in it you can cash in on.
Figuring Out What Their Content Is
Any competitive analysis begins with determining the kinds of content your competitors employ in their own strategies. Since most, if not all, content strategies begin with a website, it makes sense to begin your analysis there.
To get started, peruse competitor websites specifically with an eye for content including but not limited to the following list:
- Do they blog?
- Use infographics?
- Show social proof testimonials?
- What kinds of social media do they use?
- Do they offer white-papers?
- Do they utilize videos?
You also want to keep an eye out for gated content. HubSpot notes whether a company gates their content can reveal a lot about what their goals are and they want to achieve. If a company offers a lot of ungated content, then it is likely that they are trying to create brand awareness. This is in contrast to providing gated content, which is more oriented toward getting leads.
Quantify the Quality of Competitive Content
The type of content your competition is utilizing is important, but it’s also vitally important to analyze the level of content they’re producing. So the next step in a competitive content analysis is to quantify the quality of the variety of content you’ve identified on a competitor’s website.
But how exactly do you measure the quality of content?
To start, examine the depth, breadth, and uniqueness of their content. Is your competitors’ content unique to their space, or is it the same content that can be found anywhere on the web? Follow this up with an analysis of their approach— are they painting with a broad brush, staying high-level with their subject matter, or are they focusing more narrowly and taking a deep dive?
Unique content is both hard to find and extremely valuable to a marketing strategy, while commonplace content does little to differentiate or position you.
A broad approach to content tells you that your competitor may have little true experience in their space or lack understanding of the utility of content. A deeper dive and more specific content can tell you that your competitors may be more mature in their approach to content marketing.
Next, look at operational metrics to their content; start by comparing and contrasting their copy on everything and anything they have available. Some of the metrics you want to use are length, consistent voice, spelling/grammar, and frequency of posting.
An additional factor you to pay attention to is word choice. Certain arrangements of specific words have the ability to motivate and influence the decisions we make. HubSpot points out 13 examples of companies that increased their sales and conversions through a change in their wording, including replacing images with text, making grand promises of ROI, and paying close attention to the emotions your words raise.
Find Gaps in Their Content
Inherent in any kind of content you create are gaps. While there are no pieces of perfect content that exist (although some are pretty close to flawless), there are places in that content that aren’t as strong as the rest of the collective whole.
You can even use tools to help find the gaps in the competitors’ content. For instance, Ahrefs offers a “Content Gap” tool that reveals competitor keywords you don’t rank for. Another good example is SEMRush, which is a competitive intelligence tool that analyzes competitors and their advertising activity. SimilarWeb aggregates and analyzes data on the competition and presents it to you in a visually appealing format.
Finally, our WeRave platform allows us to map exactly what content your competitors are focused on from a human element, and determine exactly what content you need to create to fill in that highly demanded content marketing white space.
Create Original Content Based On Observations
Using all of the information you found relative to the content type, quality, and gaps in your competitors’ content strategy, begin to craft your own strategy around it. You do that by identifying competitor content that clearly isn’t performing well — topics they could cover better — and cover that topic yourself, only more engaging. In other words, go for their weak spots.
For instance, in the 1960s, car rental company, Avis, was positioned at second in their market. By releasing a series of ads revolving around the tagline, “When you’re No. 2, you try harder,” they went from losing to gaining millions of dollars. In essence, Avis used the weak spot — the observed gap — of their brand to effectively position themselves at #1 in their industry.
For All Else…
The importance of competitor analysis cannot be understated. It is very important for every brand to understand the competitive content landscape in order to maximize opportunities to earn profits and revenue. In other words, it’s always important to keep tabs on your opponent.
While tools can be helpful, especially the ones we listed, some things are just lost in translation and you need a human component to your marketing solution.
For more advice in developing your current content strategy, check out our blog on the content marketing trends for 2019.
And if you need more personalized help, you can chat with a real live MESHie one on one via our Drift chat. We’ll show you why we’re one of the top content marketing agencies in Boston.