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Content Marketer’s Unofficial Guide to Competitive Intelligence

Posted by Emily Dumas on Thu Mar 07, 2019 08:00 AM

Have you ever heard the phrase, “content is king”? Chances are, you have, and you wholeheartedly agree. Businesses put a lot of emphasis on their content whether it be blogging, long-form content such as ebooks and white papers, or audio/visual content such as podcasts and video. When you google any brand, I guarantee you’ll be able to find at least one type of content where they shine that showcases their brand.

The brains behind this content epidemic, the content marketers, are responsible for everything from content strategy to content creation to content analysis. It’s important that your content showcases your brand, your product, and your industry expertise. But what else is crucial to a strong content marketing strategy? The answer is simple - competitive intelligence. Without competitive intelligence, there may be gaps that you’re missing throughout your content lifecycle. Let’s take a look at how competitive intelligence is crucial for content marketers when you’re planning, executing, and analyzing your content marketing strategy by looking at five key elements to analyze.

The Five Elements to Analyze

When it comes to competitive intelligence, there are a number of elements to analyze across your organization. For content marketing, dive into these five elements that will help you when you’re planning, executing, and analyzing your own content marketing efforts.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical piece of every content marketing strategy. In addition to tracking your own SEO results, you should monitor the keywords your competitors are ranking for as well as how their rankings compare to your own.

Topics of Content

Pay attention to the topics of content that are being produced. Not only does this give insight into your competitors’ strategies, but it can also spark creativity for you and your team.

The Frequency of Content Releases

How often is your competition releasing new content? Keep a pulse on how frequently they are publishing new content, from blog articles to ebooks to other download offers.

Type of Content Being Created

Where are your competitors’ sweet spots? Is one a powerful blogger? Is another pumping out dozens of videos every month? Keep track of the different types of content each competitor is creating.

Quality of Content

Measuring the quality of the content your competitors are creating isn’t simply judging if the content is good or bad. It’s digging deeper and analyzing the length, the details, the depth, and importantly if the content is relevant to your target audience.  

All five of these elements are crucial for content marketers to analyze. Now, let’s take a look at how you can integrate your competitive findings from these five areas into your content marketing roadmap.

Download our Competitive Intelligence Resource Kit 

Competitive Intelligence and Content Strategy Development

When building your content marketing strategy, go beyond internal ideas. Monitoring your competitor’s content marketing strategy can help positively influence your strategy. When you are analyzing your competitor's strategy to incorporate it into your own, remember to benchmark your own activities against theirs. That way, you can see where there are gaps in their content, and where you can improve and expand.

Planning your content strategy can involve many moving parts. The key pieces of your competitors' strategy to integrate into your content planning include their SEO performance, content types, and the topics of their content. The topics that your competitors write about can be used as inspiration for your own content, and can also be used to gain insight into where their strategy is moving. For example, let’s say you work in the finance industry, and your competitors start releasing content about the benefits of mobile banking. This can shed light on where their company is moving - building a mobile banking option for their customers.

Since you have been monitoring their SEO performance, you have an idea of what keywords they currently rank for, as well as which they’ve been targeting, based on the change in their SEO. Maybe they’re suddenly ranking for a couple of your top keywords, and have released new content to promote that topic. You should plan to optimize your keywords, as well as potentially target some of their top keywords by producing and optimizing high-quality content.

The final piece of planning is wrapping your SEO strategy and topic strategy in with the type of content you want to produce. Is your competitor’s blog post about mobile banking missing anything? Could you create a couple of blog posts to rival their blog articles? Or maybe, you have so much information about mobile banking, you can create an ebook about it because that’s something they haven’t covered. You want to ensure that you’re planning different types of content to position yourself alongside your competitors, as well as filling in the gaps by creating the content your market needs.

Competitive Intelligence and Content Marketing Execution

After you’ve planned your content strategy by choosing your target keywords and topics, now it’s time to actually create the content. At this stage, you want to make sure you are keeping a competitive advantage with your content frequency and quality. Quality comes into play during your planning stage, but now is when you want to make sure your content is hitting all key points, offers enough insight to provide value, resonates with your target audience, and meets their needs. Whether it’s a blog post, ebook, video, infographic, or case study, you want to ensure that your content is high-quality and can provide your audience with actionable takeaways.

The frequency that you produce the content is fundamental. Through your analysis, if you found that your competitors are releasing blog posts only once every two weeks, your audience may want more content to read or more visuals to explore. You can create more pieces of content and release them more frequently to become the go-to resource in your industry.

Where you distribute your content also plays a large role. You want to make sure you are meeting your audience on the platforms that they use. Do you host your content on your website? Do you send emails to your database? Which social media platforms is your audience most active on? More importantly, how do your competitors distribute their content? Pay attention to which channels your competitors use for content distribution. If they share their content on LinkedIn and get a lot of engagement, maybe that is a channel you should be using to your advantage. Make sure that you share the content so that people can find it organically. You want to make sure your content is getting in front of the right people, so delivery is key.

Competitive Intelligence and Content Marketing Analysis

Once you’ve planned and executed on your competitive intelligence-fueled content marketing strategy, you want to capture your competitors’ activity in response. How have they responded to your increase in content? Have they decided to increase their own content creation? Have you noticed a shift in organic keyword performance, targeting similar keywords you’ve been after? Maybe they’ve done a social media push to resurface some of their existing articles and get them in front of the right people. Whatever their reaction is, any reaction shows that your content strategy has been noticed.

As well, you want to analyze your own content performance as it stands on its own. Are you now ranking for the keywords you targeted? Did your audience grow as you expected? Now that you’ve integrated competitive intelligence into your content marketing strategy, you’ll be able to gain the competitive advantage you need to crush your competition with content.

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