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The importance of monitoring your competitors’ content marketing activities

The importance of monitoring your competitors’ content marketing activities

One of the most important elements of running a business in the 21st Century is understanding the value of competitive analytics (sometimes referred to as competitive intelligence). This is the practice of monitoring competing business’ activity, and using that information to develop new strategies and techniques that will allow your organisation to perform better.

Competitive analysis can take all sorts of different forms, ranging from studying competitor customer service practices all the way through to insights into any new products that may be being developed. Just as important, however, is undertaking competitor analysis that focuses on where, how and why other organisations in your industry are distributing marketing material.

With effective content marketing a cornerstone of any online strategy, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of what your competitors are publishing, and react appropriately in order to secure your business’ position within its industry.

It’s more important than ever to stay on top of what your competitors are publishing, and react appropriately.

Why monitor competitors at all?

Before we get into the details of monitoring competitors’ content marketing strategies, it’s important to understand exactly why competitive analysis is so valuable.

Competitive analysis is defined by the non-profit Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) group as the “legal and ethical collection and analysis of information regarding the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions of business competitors.” It should go without saying that ‘legal and ethical’ are keywords here, as all analysis should be based on publicly accessible information, rather than data collected through nefarious means.

This collection of information could look at social media posts, press releases, news articles, interviews or anywhere else a competitor reveals its operational activities, with the real value coming from what you do with these insights. The benefits include everything from avoiding unwelcome surprises (such as an unexpected product rollout) all the way through to gaining the ability to position your brand as a better alternative to your rivals.

Competitor analysis: A case study

A great example of the value of competitive analysis is pricing research. By pulling metrics on what competitors are charging for a product, it’s possible for a business to determine what consumers are willing to pay for certain items, and what factors influence that decision.

For example, if pricing research reveals that customers are willing to pay $100 more for a Smart TV (with built-in Netflix), despite it being otherwise identical to a cheaper TV, a business can make a conscious decision to only stock Smart TVs. In addition, this type of pricing research allows businesses to work out exactly what competitors are charging, and set their prices slightly lower, to gain a psychological edge in the minds of consumers.

Regardless of whether you use competitive analysis to set the right product prices, measure consumer satisfaction or build your brand reputation via social media, it’s critical to have a thorough understanding of what can be done to outperform competitors. This is particularly true when monitoring content marketing, as simply knowing what your rivals are publishing isn’t enough to gain the upper hand when it comes to successful marketing campaigns across multiple channels and social media platforms. You’ll also need to know what to do with those metrics, and how to create content that competes.

Why monitor competitors’ content marketing

The importance of monitoring your competitors’ content marketing activities can be broken down into two key areas.

The first of these is gaining a better understanding of the marketing moves being made by other players within your industry. After all, you share the same target audience, so seeing what works and what doesn’t work in a marketing strategy makes it far easier to tailor your own content accordingly. Similarly, you may be able to preempt certain types of competitor activity (such as the launch of a new product) and respond accordingly by publishing content that keeps your business in line with whatever the latest industry developments are.

Secondly, analysing your competitors’ digital strategies can open up new content marketing strategies that marketing teams may not otherwise recognise. If you notice that a certain competitor is publishing heavily in a certain niche subject, that may be a sign that you need to up your game in that particular area.

Similarly, if none of your rivals have identified a common search query or set of keywords, there’s a great chance that you’ll be able to get in first, driving more traffic to your site from search engines and generating leads.

Analysing your competitors’ digital strategies can open up new opportunities that marketing teams may not otherwise recognise.

How to monitor competitor content marketing

So, now that we’ve covered the value of monitoring competitor content marketing activity, the question becomes: What’s involved in the process?

Identify competitors

Monitoring competitor activity effectively starts by identifying who your most significant rivals really are. While you’ll already know who your ‘direct competitors’ are, you may find that there are international or online-only companies that offer similar products and have a powerful online presence.

To identify what brands you should be focusing on, you’ll need to conduct keyword research, monitor social networks and make use of tools such as Alexa’s Audience Overlap product, which reviews the users of your website and provides insights into competing sites with a similar target audience.

Audience overlap tool

Analyse performance

Once you’ve worked out which competitors are worth monitoring, the next step is to take a close look at their content marketing activity, and work out what their goals are.

For example, if they have a strategy that focuses heavily on social media, it’s likely they’re trying to build their brand reputation and drive traffic. On the other hand, a focus on long-form content such as eBooks likely means they’re more focused on pushing leads through the sales funnel and boosting conversion.

When analysing a competitor’s online marketing activity, it’s also important to consider the frequency and quality of blog posts and other content, in order to ensure your own strategy is competitive.

Create better content

Finally, once you’ve analysed the content marketing of your competitors, you’ll need to use that information to create content that provides better value. This doesn’t necessarily mean producing the same type of content. Instead, you should be taking a look at the opportunities to outperform your competitors in key areas such as keywords or popular search terms, and create the best possible content for that niche.

Ultimately competitor analysis is simply another tool in the content marketing wheelhouse, making it possible to better understand what type of material should be created to appeal to a target audience – delivering information that customers need in a clearer, more engaging way than anyone else in your industry.

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Ben Lange
Ben Lange About the author

A Castleford veteran now based out of England, Ben writes across a broad variety of industries, including construction, education, recruitment, banking and film and music. He’s a regular contributor to the Castleford blog and writes for clients such as Hilti Australia, TRC Group and Beyond Bank.

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