The Guide to Content Marketing Competitive Intelligence

Unearth Their Content Competitive intelligence always starts with an audit of what your competitors have. I take the same approach with competitors’ websites; I scout out where the content lives. While some content may be shared on their blog (if they have one), you should check out resources they’re using. Off-site blogs, guest posts, or owned content resources not directly linked in navigation on the brand’s main website. How many e-books, infographics, videos, and images have they produced and shared with their audience? Your competitors might be producing a lot of blog posts that are receiving serious engagement. You also want to measure the topics regarding their impact and engagement. How high-level is the content? I always find gaps in a competitor’s strategy with this approach, which presents many opportunities to trump them and capture your audience’s attention in ways the competition hasn’t attempted yet. Don’t mimic your competitors’ efforts; instead, find new ways to approach topics and better strategies to ensure everything you do works to your advantage.

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The Guide to Content Marketing Competitive Intelligence

A marketer who’s thoroughly researched the competition should be able to list the key competitors – through competitive intelligence – in their industry and identify the significant differences between their businesses.
These aspects might include:

  • Differences in products and services
  • New lead acquisition techniques
  • Sales techniques for closing leads
  • Market structure and reach of competitors
 
For content marketers, a competitive content analysis paints a clear picture about the techniques used at various stages of the funnel, and the main objectives of content campaigns.
Gathering competitive intelligence is a smart move if you’re getting ready to unleash a new content strategy. It’s also important to revisit and gather new data when you’re modifying current content strategies.
I gather intel not only so I can see what my competitors are doing, but also so I can predict where they might be going next. This allows me to exploit gaps in their strategies while ensuring I don’t leave gaps in my own content marketing.
It’s a time-consuming task, but it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce your uncertainty about the competition and position your content in a better light with the audience.
Here’s how you can find the details your competitors don’t want you to know about.

1. Unearth Their Content

 
Competitive intelligence always starts with an audit of what your competitors have. This is based on a basic combat strategy that dates back centuries. Generals and Kings would scout the enemy, finding emplacements and barricaded troops, counting heads and resources to determine the best course of action.
I take the same approach with competitors’ websites; I scout out where the content lives.
Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about getting caught and thrown in a dungeon when investigating a competitor’s approaches to marketing.
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Check the website for navigation tools that clearly lead to content, such as:
  • Resource tabs
  • Support
  • Blogs
  • Case studies
  • Press and media

You want to check out the most obvious places first, but you should leave no stone unturned. Scouts often spent days observing the movements of opposing military to ensure no resource is unaccounted. Your competitors’ sites will have navigational menus that lead to typical pages like the contact form or ‘About’ page, but check everything to potentially discover hidden gems.
You never know where links to special articles or top-of-funnel content could be hiding in plain sight. I’ve seen e-commerce companies list product/category specific content directly on those pages rather than posting the information on a blog. You have to be vigilant when scouring through competitors’ content.
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Before you exit a site, be sure to check the footer navigation and analyze how the menus change when you move from main content to subpages and landing pages. Additional resource and content links often appear in footer content to avoid letting them clutter the website’s primary mode of navigation.

Don’t Stop at the Website

 
Content takes on many different forms, and it won’t always live on your competitors’ websites. While some content may be shared on their blog (if they have one), you should check out resources they’re using. Look for content channels and accounts owned by your competitors’ brands to see if there is content being published elsewhere.
Specific things to look for include:
  • Posts on social channels, going back several weeks or more.
    Look for media that was shared from other…

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