First things first: This is not about stealing ideas. However, especially when the first steps in content marketing are imminent, it is worth taking a look at one’s own industry for strategic planning. This makes it possible to learn a lot about not just the needs, interests and wishes of users – but also about your own content marketing.
A competitive analysis is a useful planning tool for every marketing action. Also in content marketing one should take the time for a quick look around during the conception phase in any case. Because exactly at that point you can see which niche a company can still occupy in content marketing. In addition, the content marketing activities of the competition provide the first indications of how one’s own strategy can be successfully implemented.
Competition Analysis: A little browsing is allowed
The first step is simple: Pick out a handful of competitors and start your analysis directly on the company’s website. Is there a blog or an online magazine here? Then take a closer look and pay attention to the following aspects:
One of the main questions that arises in content planning, for example, is the frequency with which new content is to be published. Here you can profit from the experiences of the competitors. If one company blogs daily but receives little feedback, while another receives a lot of attention only once a week, this could be an indication that a moderate frequency is sufficient.
But don’t jump to conclusions: The lack of quality of the contributions and an incorrect selection of topics can also be a reason for the lack of feedback.
This takes you right to the next analysis step. What is important is which niches competitors have already occupied thematically. Content marketing is more successful if you occupy your own niche. Sometimes all you have to do is specify the topic a little.
A supplier of sliding doors would like to start with content marketing. In order to stand out from its successful blogging competitor, the company focuses on topics relating to sliding doors running inside the wall. This specialization sets the company apart from its competitors and proves its expertise.
The choice of topics also offers a lot of inspiration. Like I said, it’s not about stealing content. You don’t get far with copied content. However, you can pick up topics and give them a new twist. For example, an article on the five best content strategies becomes an article on the five best content strategies in B2B marketing.
There is also no rule against discussing a competitor’s blog post in your own blog. Of course, you should remain objective and discuss the topic in a solution-oriented manner. But if you have a different view of things or valuable additions, this could be quite interesting for your future readers.
Tip: Info free of charge
Does your competitor send out newsletters? Then register! Often there is an overview of the topics of the last weeks and maybe even announcements. In the newsletter you can read regularly what your competition is writing about.
3. Length and Formats
Take a look at how long your competitors’ articles are, but also which content formats are used: Just text? Videos? Interactive formats such as quizzes or Infographics…? From this you can deduce which content is well received by the industry and the target group. But you can also see how much potential is still up for grabs.
If your competition focuses on detailed instructions, then develop an up to date news ticker with short messages. Does nobody use videos or infographics? Then you have the opportunity to occupy a niche here. Even for the blog post itself it can be the case that certain types of texts are incredibly underrated or even neglected, the interview for example or case studies. Take advantage of this dormant potential!
4. Feedback and Channels
Make absolutely sure to take a look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Co. Because here the competition will promote their content marketing actions. And here you are at the source of qualitative feedback. Especially in their social media channels it is very easy to assess how well content is received by the community. This helps you to see which channels are suitable for your content distribution in general.
At the same time, you always get a feeling for what kind of feedback is attainable. This also helps later on when it comes to setting goals and producing individual content elements.
At the end of the competition analysis you are (hopefully) already a lot smarter. Instead of starting from nothing, you can now fall back on a few lessons, even if these are the performance of others and not based on your own. This makes it much easier to develop a proper strategy for yourself.
Stay True to Yourself!
Remember, however, that you are not your competition. Maybe you have other resources at your disposal or your corporate culture offers much more or even much less scope for content marketing. Perhaps your customers or personas are also set up slightly differently from those of your competitors. Accordingly, your strategy will and should be different in the end.
By the way, if you notice that no one in your industry is yet engaged in content marketing or there are only timid attempts – congratulations! Because then you have the chance to take the field for yourself. You don’t have the experience of others to fall back on and you’ll have to experiment a lot more but it will make it a lot easier to establish yourself as an innovation leader. And from this pole position you’ll have a much better chance to succeed and stay on top.