As you can tell by my featured image, I have an instilled ideology for overtaking the competition and “standing on top”. A new year is upon us and with that a chance to take hold of the spirit of resolution. Your digital marketing strategy is a ripe place to take your renewed, energetic attitude and create a plan to overtake the competition in the New Year. If you have been wondering why the competition is somehow building a stronger brand, it is likely because they have likely better embraced the omni-channel approach to digital marketing. So, take your marketing channel blinders off and lets dig into several channels and how we can even the playing field if not overtake the competition!
Organic Search/Content Marketing
There are a few pillars of competitive analysis as it relates to Organic Search and those are visibility and links. Those are primarily achieved through content generation in today’s SEO environment. From a high level we will want to take a look at what content competitors have that is ranking, gaining social attention and also attaining links.
Our first step is to use SEMrush to review the keyword visibility with an eye for what pages are ranking.
Take this data in an export and sort by URL and secondarily by search volume. Now you can get an understanding of whether the majority of their ranking content is the homepage and top level pages or whether they have created blog, whitepaper, resources, video pages, etc. types of content that is greatly expanding their keyword visibility.
Hopefully now you are beginning to understand what types of content is providing their exposure. As they are your competitors, they are likely content topics you can also delve into, but not directly duplicate.
For pages that are highly visible, it is likely that these pages have also seen favorable link attainment and social sharing. We are going to begin checking this by reviewing OpenSiteExplorer for which pages on the site possess back links aside from the homepage and top product/service pages.
Take this a step further and review by popularly linked landing page which sites are linking to them. If these sites prefer this content they will likely prefer you’re soon to launch content as well.
Next, take to Buzz Sumo as we want to see the content that gets the most social attention. Pay close attention to not just what content is shared the most but through what social media properties. Also view the sharers of the content. Note the ones with the most authority. Like our linking sites above, these social influencers prefer this content and may likely prefer yours too.
The aforementioned process is one of the easiest I have come across. Of course, we could have started by manually viewing the competitors’ sites but this may prove to be fruitless. This is because they may have different content than our site but it may not be do much for them.
Once you have this process down, you should pay close attention to the type of content that performs well. Is it a resource guide, infographic, blog past tactic such as “newsjacking”(reposting breaking industry news with your opinion) or ordered lists that are performing well for clients? Since their audience is your audience this will need to be a focus as you don’t want to cover a great keyword theme in the wrong way and waste a message.
Your competition has probably worked very hard to build an audience with social media profiles…time to start stealing them! As I mentioned, their audience is your audience. We will begin this by creating custom Facebook Ads; audiences which feature those with interests to your competitors’ brands.
Additionally, in Facebook Insights, they provide you with a dashboard element for you to select pages to watch. Take advantage of this so you can watch post frequency, new Likes and post engagement.
Another social competitive item on our agenda is to use Twtrland to review your competitors’ Twitter profiles and so that you can add these to your list (the power users or influencers that Follow them).
Taking it a step further and considering that there may be some audience overlap, I urge you to also use Followerwonk so that you can compare audience overlap and only review the competitors’ followers that you are not already following. It also gives you the option to directly begin following desired Twitter users and showing their respective social authority score.
While competitive intelligence for email marketing isn’t as vast with cool toolsets as Social, Organic and Paid Search, it can still be an extremely effective channel for your marketing efforts as well as a tool for generating customer loyalty.
Your competition may not be placing much effort in email marketing, but, what if? The first stop I like to take is SimilarWeb. While you should take all estimated share/traffic from tools with a grain of salt, it is interesting to get at least a slight feel for email marketing’s share to their overall traffic.
Next, you should join their newsletter from your personal email address. Review the blast frequency as well as the template structure. Are they providing their email list audience with specific incentives, content or other strategic elements in which you might want to follow suit?
We’ve covered several digital channels so far but Paid Search is one we definitely don’t want to forget. For competitive analysis within this element we are going to visit a few tools. We have visited SEMrush once so far, but this tool is also great Paid Search. Let’s take a look at a few areas including:
Do you share many terms with competitors or are they owning Paid visibility for many terms.
You are playing in the same space as them. Does there copy have more enticement than yours? What are they offering?
Take a look at their display creative. Again, what are they offering? Where are they advertising and are there gaps in publisher placements?
If we are seeing drastic gaps in placements in SEMrush, it is safe to assume that the competitions’ pockets are deeper than ours right now. For spend projections SpfyFu does a pretty good job of letting us know how we match up with the competition.
We can now get a sense for how much they are spending in Adwords, but we also gain insight on when their uplift in spend will likely occur.
These are just a few tools you can have at your disposal and certainly my insight is not the limited to their utmost functionality. There are other great insights into other areas and segments such as mobile advertising, Product Listing Ads bids and more.
Outside the Box
The outlined areas above are a great way to get a competitive start to the New Year and increasing the effectiveness of your digital marketing presence. Aside from what I have mentioned as must do’s above, below are some additional ways you can take competitive analysis a step further. Try thinking outside the box a little more such as:
-In SimilarWeb, take a look at the Referring Sites section for your competition to better understand where their visitors are visiting before coming to your competitors’ sites as well as where they are going after they leave their sites. Do you advertise on these sites? Can you reach out to them for paid placement opportunities?
Begin listening to not only the conversations socially about your company on Twitter, but your competition as well. Using a tool such as Topsy or Meltwater you can gain a better understanding of what your competitors’ audience is saying about them. Are they happy? Are they engaging with great content types that you are not creating yet?
As simple as it sounds, set up a Google Alert for your competitors brand names and, taking it a step further, any trademarked products they may have so you can watch press mentions or any buzz about the brand they may be incurring.
The year 2015 is the year of you! It is time to remain vigilant regarding your digital presence and take the needed steps to ensure that when 2016 rolls around you are standing on top of the mountain.