When did you last like, retweet or comment on one of your competitors’ social posts? How many of your competitors have you sent a LinkedIn request? What was the last post published on your rival’s company blog? How do you KNOW your competitors are really your competitors?
If you can’t answer any of these questions with a worthwhile reply, it’s time to wake up and get involved with the world of effective marketing competitive analysis.
Marketing competitive analysis or intelligence isn’t about making assumptions, nor should you need to scrutinise data to see how their marketing ROI is faring. It’s about being part of their community and opening your eyes to find out how they are really engaging with their customers or potential customers without digging too deep.
How many posts a day does your arch rival post? How many tweets, favourites, followers did the most popular Twitter posts get? Did they just spend $500 to boost their Facebook follower count? You should be able to answer these questions before attempting to kick off your social efforts, because you don’t want to be making the same mistakes they make (say, investing in Facebook advertising when you should be crafting blog posts).
Also, follow all the bigwigs on every social network you can. It’ll help you gain some insight into how they liaise with clients and also, give you ideas to promote the thought leaders in your organisation, whether that’s reacting to current affairs or spreading the message about your company.
Praising, not trolling
If your competitor has a blog and is posting engaging content, say so in the comments. Don’t be afraid to say they’re doing a good job because the old adage applies more than ever: keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer. You want them on your side, thinking you’re creating great content too.
Triggering a discussion via blog comments can also give you valuable insight into what their potential customers (and of course yours, too) want. Ensure you’re alerted when anyone replies to your comments so you can stay ahead of the game.
Their posts may also inspire you. Keep a list of content ideas that you think would work well on your blog when you’ve established your target market and your content strategy.
Missed tricks with a quick fix
Is your competitor’s website missing a site map, page titles, meta data, h1s, h2s? Which short, mid and long-tail terms are they missing out on? Where are their backlinks coming from?
Often, a simple SEO analysis can help you identify where both you and your competitors are missing out on key tools to boost visibility. You can take advantage of these missing elements and ensure their losses are your gains by implementing a solid SEO strategy that doesn’t have to take months to roll out, but can have almost instant results on your rankings.
It’s all in the competitive analysis
Once you’re tracking your competitors’ marketing efforts and who they’re targeting, you can start to form a much better idea of your target market and even uncover some of the most effective strategies for directly targeting those customers they’re missing out on.
Use this to form the basis of your content marketing strategy, but don’t forgot to make analysis an ongoing process, because it’s likely that they will adapt their strategy when they see your gains.