Monitoring your competitors' content efforts is an essential step for brands developing their own content marketing strategy. Finding out what works for a competitor will enable proactive brands to gain insights about the type of content their audience might also respond to, and the broader needs and demands within their niche.
There are plenty of tools marketing teams can use to dig deeper into content analytics, and monitor a competitor’s strategy, but here are a few creative ways to keep an extra eye on the field.
1. Sign up to receive email updates
According to a survey by BtoB Magazine, 59% of marketers say that email is the most effective channel for generating revenue. As such, marketing teams should be monitoring the emails that competitors are sending to their prospects and customers - consider subscribing to your competitor’s website using a personal email address, or at least, one that doesn’t include a company name in order to be more discrete.
By signing up to a competitors' email list, marketing teams can learn more about the company’s culture, business news, seasonal campaigns, types of content and frequency of publishing content, and how their competition addresses their target audience.
2. Analyze video content
A recent study by Cisco suggests that by the end of 2019, 81% of consumer Internet traffic will be video. Many brands now include video as an integral part of their content marketing strategy, and marketing teams should check whether or not competitors are using video and look for interactions, such as comments, views, and shares.
Engagement is a good indicator of content performance. Check to see which videos have the most views, evaluate target keywords in the video title and description, and document anything noteworthy.
Brands should also consider subscribing to competitors' YouTube channels in order to get alerts for new videos.
3. Track social media presence
Most companies are now active on several social media channels, which also provides an excellent opportunity for competitors to monitor and track what they're doing online.
You can keep an eye on your competition's activities by following them, and turning on notifications for any updates. Among various measures, you can observe the tone of their posts, the images they use, and the effectiveness of their overall social media strategy. If a particular type of content a competitor shares sees high levels of engagement, you may want to consider a similar approach.
A useful tool to monitor a competitor’s social activity is Rival IQ. This tool helps companies see how quickly competitors are gaining followers, how often they post, their average engagement rate, and their most successful posts.
4. Review top-performing content
Brands can also learn about their competitors' content strategy by looking at their best-performing content.
Social shares are one of the best, and easiest metrics to evaluate this content - you can use a tool like Buzzsumo, for example, to find and analyze a top-performing blog post for any competitor or topic.
Another app you can consider is Social Animal - these tools dig deep into each article, showing total social shares, main keywords, article length, and more.
Based on this insight, brands should consider what differentiates the popular content, and what makes it so compelling. For example, what questions does the content answer, and which keywords does it target?
Reviewing a competitor’s top-performing content, and gathering insights about what attracts an audience to it, can help marketers develop new content topics and ideas.
5. Identify the best keywords to target
Selecting the right keywords for your content can dramatically increase the chances of a company’s website appearing in relevant search results.
Ahrefs helps marketing teams monitor their competitors by revealing associated keywords, data on search volume, and the keyword proficiency for top-performing posts. The tool also highlights the competition for each keyword.
Knowing which keywords are driving traffic, and have less competition, will help you find related keywords to target with each piece of content you create.
6. Attend competitors' webinars
Sixty-one percent of content marketers use webinars as part of their content marketing strategy. Webinars often delve deeper into a particular topic, and through this, brands can find out what interests their competitors' audience and the specific angles they take.
Webinars typically have a question-and-answer session at the end, so it’s important to stick around to hear questions from the audience. Brands can then address those questions through their own content, or even generate topic ideas based on the information shared during the webinar.
7. Monitor changes to a competitor’s site
Lastly, brands should monitor their competitors' website or blog for any significant changes in design or messaging.
For example, marketers need to know if a competitor launches a new product or service, while tracking their approach to messaging is also helpful. It’s important to evaluate the competitor’s overall content experience. What colors and fonts do they use on their site? How do they organize their content? Is it easy to find information?
Brands should be aware of how competitors are delivering content and make sure they can give their audience a better experience.
There are numerous ways in which marketing teams can monitor their competition, and keeping track of a competitors' content is an essential element in developing an effective content strategy which continues to grow and evolve with the business.
As new competitors enter the industry, brands must be willing to make changes to their content strategies to adapt to the marketplace. Those that are able to do so consistently will be able to stay a step ahead.