How to Use Competitive Analysis to Build a Content Strategy

Self-evaluation is a good practice in business and in life. It’s helpful to look at what you’re doing, and what you’ve done, and critically take stock. But content marketing doesn’t happen in a void. It’s equally useful to see what your competitors are doing and what the marketplace looks like. With a few key actions and tools, you can see where you stand and adjust accordingly. Here’s how you can use competitive analysis to build your content strategy.

Unless your business caters to an incredibly niche market, you’re going to be operating in a competitive market. Conducting a competitive analysis allows you to get a better picture of that market. By identifying competitors and assessing their strengths and weaknesses relative to your own, you can understand your audience better and decide on a course of action that gives you an advantage. This is an important consideration when it comes to developing a content strategy—the lifeblood of your company’s content marketing program.

A competitor analysis and content strategy go hand-in-hand, as they’re both necessary during the launch of a new company or product. However, they don’t have to be reserved for those situations. In fact, too often, businesses fail to revisit them down the road. However, it’s wise to periodically recalibrate your marketing efforts.

This is crucial for your content strategy because it clearly maps the development of your content for your entire team. It also ensures you’re producing relevant content that connects with your audience. Despite this, the data states that only 37 percent of B2B marketers and 38 percent of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy.

Previously, we covered the development of a content strategy, which you can read here. But here’s an abridged version:

  1. Goals: Investigate what your general and more specific goals are.
  2. The Audience: Define your audiences or buyer personas, and why your brand is relevant to them.
  3. Audit: Examine your content archive and that of your competitors’. Take stock of what’s been covered in the industry by yourself and your competitors. Look for glaring gaps.
  4. Key Messaging: Create a brand guide that covers the tone of your content and how you’ll reach each buyer persona.
  5. Management: Decide who will be involved with creating, reviewing, publishing and analyzing the content.
  6. Creation and Distribution: Now you’re finally ready to start brainstorming and pushing your content out.

How do you combine competitive analysis and content?

There are a variety of ways to analyze your competitors. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t go too far past assessing their social media accounts. That’s fine to get a general idea of what’s happening in your industry, but you can do better. By using data, you can glean valuable insights that will improve your content and help your brand grow.

Essentially, you want to know what and where your competitors are publishing and what the numbers are. With the resources currently available to marketers, it’s easier than ever to get that kind of information. Here are just a few ways you might start using competitive analysis to improve your content.

Manual Content Audit

Unfortunately, the first step to competitor analysis has no shortcuts. You’re going to have to delve into your competitors’ websites and audit their content. Don’t be discouraged, though! There are tools (that we’ll get to later) that will make your life much easier.

First, get a feel for the quantity of the content they’re publishing. Look to see how many blog posts, white papers, eBooks and case studies they’re putting out. Next, look at the frequency these pieces of content are published each month or quarter. Finally, look at what topics they’re covering. With these basic investigative goals, you can establish what kind of content operation you’re facing, determine how active they are currently and find the subjects they’re trying to develop thought leadership onnot to mention, the subjects they’re neglecting.

Now that you have a feel for the size of your competitors’ marketing efforts, you can start to look at the quality. Obviously, quality is subjective and, even considering that, it will vary from piece to piece. So examine a handful of assets from each competitor. Questions to consider:

  • Is it accurate?
  • Is the copy free of grammatical errors?
  • How is it structured?
  • Is it in-depth?
  • Are people commenting?

Besides looking at the quality of each piece of content, evaluate the blog as a whole. Look for indicators that they’ve thought things through: sensible content categories and menus, noticeable social media follow and share buttons, custom graphics and quality images, an accessible search bar and results page and author bios. Ultimately, is it structured well and easy to navigate?

Now think about the content you’ve audited and rank your competitors to identify the quality of their content compared to yours. Now you know what you’re up against and how to properly allocate your resources.

Yes, this is a process that requires a lot of digging and reporting. But it’s worth it to understand the competition. Plus, tools make it much easier to engage in competitive analysis of social media and search traffic.

Content Intelligence

Content intelligence refers to tools that automate the accumulation and analyzation of data. By streamlining these processes, content intelligence produces actionable insights. The possibilities are vast, but in this context, the ability to benchmark competitors is most pertinent.

PowerPost’s content intelligence integration includes features that clearly shows where your competitors are having success. Select domains to benchmark, and you can see total engagement for every competitor by the social network. This makes it very clear what content is currently connecting with people.

Presenting this information neatly makes it easy to evaluate how you’re presenting your own content on social media. Look at what your competitors are having success with and compare it to what you’re doing. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Go to the posts and look at the comments. What seems to be connecting with people? Conversely, are they ignoring something? In this way, you can alter your content strategy to strengthen its shortcomings and exploit gaps in your competitors’ offerings.

PowerPost’s content intelligence integration includes another beneficial feature that can be used in the competitive analysis—share of voice.

Share of Voice

There are different ways to define share of voice (SOV), but it’s generally thought of as the percentage of the market a brand holds over a certain period of time compared to your competitors. You start to see where you’re leading the conversation and where others are drowning you out.

Share of Voice Pie Graph

See where you stand with PowerPost or another tool such as Brandwatch Analytics, which crawls the web for reviews, articles, comments and conversations and segments the data. Of course, you can also calculate SOV another way.

It will definitely be more time consuming, but it does present an opportunity to deepen your understanding. Manually calculating your share of voice boils down to selecting industry keywords and competitors, recording the ranking of each keyword and then calculating SOV using the average click-through rate (CTR) for search engine rankings.

What can we do with this information?

While content intelligence gives you very targeted results, SOV supplies a more general idea of your overall position. This can be used to narrow the focus of your content, though. If you spread yourself too thin and try to make content that’s all-things-to-all-people, your voice will be lost. Instead, focus on creating content with keywords that you’re able to target more effectively. Furthermore, the better you know your audience’s search patterns, the easier it will be to serve them content that connects. In the long run, that will boost your SOV.

With all the knowledge you gain from competitive analysis, you’ll understand your position in the market. Subsequently, you’ll see want kind of content creation you’re competing with and what’s needed to outpace the competition.

Do you want more valuable information on how to improve your content marketing? Download our eBook, the Brand Publishing Roadmap!

By | 2018-01-17T18:46:03+00:00 January 17th, 2018|Articles, Featured, Uncategorized|1 Comment

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  1. […] a more effective content strategy and build a business blog that drives traffic. One method is to perform a content audit on your competitors’ websites, collecting information on the frequency of their posts, the topics […]

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