WriterAccess Webinar Archive

Digging Deep with Competitive Intelligence

Thursday, April 29, 2010 – 1:00 PM ET

Join SpyFu founder Mike Roberts and ideaLaunch founder Byron White for the advanced webinar, Digging Deep with Competitive Intelligence.

You’ll get insight on SpyFu technology, which offers the in-depth information you need to make content marketing strategy decisions. You’ll also learn sophisticated methods to track the ROI and impact of the content you deploy on your website using revolutionary technology powered by both WordVision (an ideaLaunch toolset) and SpyFu. Don't miss this cutting-edge content marketing webinar!

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.

Video Transcription

Byron: Without further ado, it's about one o'clock. Maybe we'll wait another minute or so. All's well. How are you Mike? Thanks for joining us today.

Mike: Thanks. I actually just found out that's his cell phone not his speaker phone.

Byron: We'll go with our previous theory then that it's probably not working.

Mike: Good theory. I'm doing great.

Byron: Good. Thanks for joining us again. You are a popular celebrity figure around these monthly webinars. We're glad to have you back and diving into some new data. On we go here. I wanted to dive in today and talk a little bit about our famous four or five slides, maybe six, on what is content marketing. Then I'm going to dive right into some tips and advice on competitive intelligence before Mike takes things over. Then we'll finish up and answer as many questions as we can as long as you want to continue onward. So look forward to starting.

What is content marketing? It's really the art of listening to the wants and needs of your customers. We're doing that now in a variety of ways, most importantly:

  • Looking at your search box, what people are looking for;
  • Looking at the social media world;
  • Looking at your analytics on what your hot key words are that people are currently finding you on;
  • Looking at certainly the popularity;
  • Most importantly, believe it or not, we're actually trying to talk with customer service representatives to learn what problems their customers are calling in for;
  • Of course, traditional questionnaires to gather data about what the important elements are - what are the wants and needs of your customers.

There is really a science to delivering what they want and need. We've mastered that art. We're going to talk about that a little bit today. Certainly using content and knowledge as the new pipeline for leads is what content marketing is all about. I'm going to use technology to score those needs to see who's most likely to convert. We're moving away from a marketplace where we're cold calling the people that don't know anything about our company. Instead, we're calling on people that have interacted with the content assets and education we're bringing to the table. It's certainly keeping tabs on the competition with intelligent tools. Spyfu being my personal favorite. The data is out there, and the tools are out there. I've added some new tools to the list that I think you'll find interesting. So, take a look at that in the future download of this presentation.

It's certainly constantly testing campaigns. As it turns out, A/B testing and multi-variant testing are critical parts to the content marketing process, including inbound marketing, in enhancing and improving conversion rates.

A little plug for Tim Ashe's conversion conference that I'll be speaking at in San Jose the first week of May. If anyone is in the San Jose area and wants to stop by that conference, send me a ping and I'll try to get you a free pass for the show floor or something. Can't promise that depending on how many people respond, but send me a tweet @ByronWhite and I'll try to get back to you and see if I can help you out and get you in the conference. It is a great conference. I'd encourage everybody to take a look at that.

Certainly measuring reader's engagement and their desire for more. To me that's the ultimate test of whether content is quality or not and something we really stay close. So, let's dive into competitive intelligence. I've got not that many slides here that I want to buzz through with you - maybe about 15 or 20. I'm going to spend a few minutes going through some tips and advice on competitive mapping and competitive intelligence.

First of all, I think that these are sort of the big five things you need to take a look at. Determine who matters to you. Limiting the number of competitors you're looking at and looking at them one at a time. Gathering data is really the right strategy. Focusing on what matters. Certainly looking at strategies and tactics and what the drives are that the competitor and yourself have. What the goals are. Certainly performance - how are the competitors performing? You really need to determine what matters yourself for your own strategies and your own tactics because there are a lot of different strategies and tactics that you can use.

The key, however, is probably to develop a process. I believe that competitive intelligence is a discipline that you need to practice every day. Doing smart things like creating email folders for your competitors and putting their promotions in them. First of all subscribing to any email promotions your competitors have. Look at how they're marketing and assembling that data in a logical way is an example of a daily task. Certainly looking at the tools and technology that are keeping track of it all. In general, you need to learn how to gather the intelligence and how to look around for the answers and what's happening on the web. You also need to look to your employees to help with this search. The more eyes you can have on gathering intelligence the better.

Most importantly is how you use the intelligence. I suggest that you set up either a weekly or monthly or at minimum a quarterly meeting to literally review the data. Prepare the data and review the data because only then can you make decisions with the data. That's often the missing link.

I'll make only one other comment. Competitive intelligence is generally been viewed as something only the big giant companies that have special department that do this stuff can invest in and reap the benefits of. But really if you think about, small businesses are the ones that are affected the most by change and by competitive advantage. Ironically I think it is the small business that needs to do more with competitive intelligence than even the bigger company that can certainly have a delayed reaction to seeing their market share chip away. So, I just wanted you to keep that in mind. I think the tools and technology we'll talk about today are really going to be a benefit.

One of the first things that we do is we look at the content asset portfolio that you have and are using on the web and in your web marketing efforts. Does your website contain premium articles and news articles and SEO articles and tip and advice center? You can see this laundry list here. By grading how your website has these assets versus the competition is really a good start to look broadly at whether you can compete on a particularly organic market level.

Here's a survey that we did that you might find interesting. What content assets are you deploying monthly in 2010? We actually have a breakdown of this by industry segment as well. The net of it is that most companies are sending out at least a newsletter monthly - over almost 35 percent. Case studies were high - that was surprising to me. News articles were high. Premium articles not as low. Look at the opportunity. Not many people are using Facebook or Twitter on a regular basis with the customers that we surveyed. I thought you'd find that interesting.

Then we also wanted to show you this graph of who is using what and when. As far as who's blogging daily - only 20 percent of the marketplace. Who plans to be blogging throughout the course of the year. This is really quite revealing. Printed books was shocking to me in that 47 percent of the people that responded said they were planning on printing a book in their individual role or their company role. That was a really shocking surprise to me that printed book publishing that might become something important to develop and establish your authority status.

So next - comparing strategy with the competition. Looking at lots of variables - testimonials, social conversations in measuring and monitoring those, publishing frequency of the content on your website. There are tools and technology that allow you to measure and track all of this and not just subjectively look at this stuff by guessing. This is really important data particularly when you start looking at your marketing spend and how you stack up versus the competition. Looking at SEO performance. This is a graph from our technology platform, powered by Spyfu I might add, that is showcasing comparative SEO performance of one website versus another - my website versus another site - and showing where we're gaining market share versus the competition. I thought you'd find that interesting.

Another great source to keep tabs on your competition is to use Google news feeds. Either do individual searches or set up RSS feeds and go check in. I happened to do a search for content marketing and custom publishing on Google and I was happy to find that ideaLaunch came up number six or whatever it is today. I just ran this a few minutes ago. That's an interesting way to keep track of how your competitors are getting in the news.

Google Hacks - pretty good book - I think it's getting a little outdated now to be truthful, but it does have some great, quick, fast resources to use Google as a quick, fast research tool to gather data. Some of our favorite hacks are on there.

Comparing traffic statistics and trends is something that you'll find increasingly important particularly if you can catch surges where your competitors are moving ahead of you at a quick, rapid pace. Those will tend to raise the blood pressure of your management team and make a case for taking some action on your website. Here we compared Target and Wal-mart and surprisingly close to one another - almost neck and neck with organic listing positions.

Next, comparing not only pay-per-click keywords but the spend. Mike is going to talk about that a little bit today, so I won't dig too deep there. A great way to dig in and find information. I love the concept of comparing authority status - yours against the competition. Are your competitors speaking at conferences? Are they creating white papers and webinars and podcasts? Are they printing books with their name on the by-line? Are they offering free courses and information guides? Taking a look closely at the projected authority status of your company versus the competition can also reveal a lot of things like conversion rates that might be higher, better job of earning trust and turning browsers into believers and believers into buyers. There's a lot going on with some of these things.

Here's some data on listing positions of Target versus Wal-mart and looking at the overlap keywords. I love this tool that Mike's put together here where you're looking at the overlapping keywords. To me, this just crystalizes the opportunity to say we need to create content in this area alone. Look at this zone where Target is losing the battle versus Wal-mart. We've really shown a visual sense as well as a click one button and see all the results and even export that data and start massaging it and building keyword silos from the data. That's basically what we do and how we use Spyfu.

Comparing publishing frequency - there's a couple of tools that allow you to monitor. Watchthissite.com is one of the tools I stumbled on a couple weeks ago where it actually keeps track of new, fresh content and even when a page is changed on a website. We'll have to talk Mike into building some technology out for Spyfu in that area. Although he probably already has and I just haven't seen it, so we'll talk with Mike about that.

That's a really interesting part particularly from our perspective - the content marketing perspective. What's changing on a website? Are they putting money into it. Even if it's a revamp or revise of existing content on the website, that's a really important thing to look at. Comparing social media reach, and I would also add social media conversations happening within the industry, that is a really important thing to be monitoring and measuring to see what is your activity of conversation on Twitter versus your competitors. Are they more aggressive with actually conversing with people? That's where you're going to need to start taking a look at, and there are a lot of tools out there that allow you to measure that.

This goes back to comparing the conversations and social trends. Great tools out there - TweetDeck being one of them which I have open almost every day that has about five or six things that I'm tracking and following and conversations about content marketing and competitors and all kinds of neat stuff.

Compare testimonial power - something we often overlook. Literally reading their testimonials and making an evaluation of how important they are.

Comparing inbound marketing statistics and looking at actual conversation rates and the number of inbound links coming to a particular website - another important factor.

Looking at where those links are - another critical factor.

Are they listed in directories that you might not be listed in?

Are their links coming from press releases out on PeerWeb or some other source? Where are their links coming from? Do they have content widgets that are pushing links out and feeding links back to their website - maybe pushing content out and getting links back to their site.

So, these are all things that you need to analyze. I'm sure that most people on the line realize and understand that, but comparing inbound links alone would be a great way to do some competitive intelligence and really see what's driving top listing positions.

Looking at internal link strategy - another fascinating subject often overlooked. How many internal links is a company building on their website? We have seen so often that one of the greatest and easiest ways of improving list position is just to build internal links within websites. We have companies, many of which have signed up with ideaLaunch for content development services, that have gold mines. They have thousands of pages of content on their website that is not properly linked, that isn't supporting particular keywords that for example might already be achieving positions 11 through 50 at Google. Just by building internal link strategies supporting those pages that are almost to the top 10 from other pages that are deeper in their website, they can really improve their listing positions.

At the same time, tracking whether a competitor is properly building internal link strategy and whether they're growing their internal link strategy is another great competitive resource.

Another source of comparison is testing methodology. Are you testing your landing pages? Are your competitors A/B testing and multi-variant testing. You can learn a lot from those tests and actually set up different computers to see what their pages are and keep track of the pages. Most importantly keep track of which pages are winning in the end. Those pages will end up being selected at the end of the day, and you can build from that.

One more slide for you and that's just some actual model madness over here you could call it. If you really want to dig deep into competitive intelligence and really go crazy with it, there's some interesting models that you can look up and Google. One is called SWAT, and it's just making an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats that you have versus your competition and creating these four quadrants that summarize your position and your strengths and weaknesses and grade your areas.

Another concept is a strategic group map where you plot where your company and your competitors go based on just two variables that you feel are the most important variables like pricing or product quality or content quality or whatever variables you want to focus on. By graphing those on the chart, you can see where the open spaces are and where you win and where they lose and you can build momentum around those opportunities.

One of my favorites is a content battlefield where you simply compare your traffic growth by keyword silo. If you're Wal-mart and you are trying to look at how you're doing versus a competitor in the baby safety zone or silo, you can look at 50 or 100 keywords and track the listing positions of those particular keyword phrases and to find lift where the competitor has gone ahead and you haven't maybe because they're creating more content than you are around that particular group of silos. If you start breaking down the keywords into silos and then looking at the correlation of content, I think you'll find an interesting way to work.

Without further ado ...