A Peek Over The Fence: Scoping The Competition

95569246The web is fast, versatile and fickle, but it also never forgets. The persistence of marketing data can be troublesome when dealing with outdated coupon code aggregate sites, but it can also be extremely useful for checking out what your rivals are up to. While you don’t necessarily want to copy their content marketing analytics or approaches, researching them can be a very telling glimpse into your competition’s overall strategy and marketing spend – both in effort and dollars.

Checking The Status of Status Updates

A peek at the last few weeks of an industry peer’s social media feed will point to a variety of rich data points to mine: upcoming marketing campaigns, existing levels of direct consumer interaction, even the speed of their responses to complaints. Examine what social media content they bring to the table, as well as how far each type reaches in a network. Do photographs of their products “at work” garner more likes than text-based updates? How often are videos shared, if at all? If several competitors are studied simultaneously, even more comprehensive conclusions can be drawn – if company X has a more popular YouTube channel than company Y for example, what is their point of difference for achieving it? The answer becomes a guideline to work into your own framework if you plan to build presence on the same social network to further your marketing goals.

Effortless E-News Delivery

Email newsletters might not steal the limelight the way social media seems to, but make no mistake – they are still a hotbed of research and development for marketing. If you’re skeptical that these periodic oft-spam-foldered missives carry weight, consider this: emerging service companies like Owletter are now offering to collect competitor’s email newsletters to compare and contrast, for a fee.  Service or no, the effect is the same: the simple act of plugging in a non-company email and monitoring the inbox will keep actionable data on competition-based threats and opportunities flowing smoothly. These email newsletters carry everything from definitive launch dates to a clear snapshot of corporate culture, all easily stashed for future reference and reverse-engineering. If you aren’t already subscribed to them, you’re missing out on a valuable free opportunity to essentially force your rivals to tip their hand.

A Bare-Bones Content Breakdown

Open your competitor’s site and examine each page – where do they keep their content? How long, on average, is their content in terms of word count? How often is that content refreshed or updated? Put the “analysis” back in content marketing analytics by distilling everything from placement to keyword density out of your peer’s pages. Again, you don’t necessarily want to tread directly in their footsteps when forging your own path, but determining how wide their proverbial stride is could be useful in avoiding obstacles. Matt Medeiros of Matt Report suggests making a competitor board and tracking changes, updates and transformations over time at a glance.

Content marketing analytics should, ideally, be more than a prolonged glance in the mirror. When you incorporate an assessment of your business environment in addition to your direct actions, you’ll gain more comprehensive data to drive your plans and projections. When in doubt, take a peek at your neighbor’s paper – it just might help you ace the test!

Delany M is a freelance writer available for projects at WriterAccess.


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