Updated Sept. 21, 2021
What’s the first step to creating unique, differentiated content? Analyze the content created in your market. You need to know what your neighbors, friends, and competitors are publishing to ensure that you’re creating the most engaging, differentiated content. Completing a competitive content analysis helps you stay one step ahead in your content marketing strategy and use your competitors’ efforts to your advantage.
To do a competitive content marketing analysis, take a list of your content marketing competitors and follow these three steps:
- Take inventory of your competitors’ content.
- Evaluate content quantity and quality.
- Tag and analyze content topics.
Step 1: Take inventory of your competitors’ content
Catalog each content medium and each content site. In other words, capture everything from blog articles to videos on and off their website. Each content type gives insight into the level of content investment, the format types their audience enjoys, and the range and relative importance of topics and keywords. Content types include:
- Blog articles: Frequently published, short-form content gives insight into the range and relative importance of content topics and keywords.
- Podcast and audio recordings: Audio content can add color to how the team operates and thinks about certain topics.
- Webinars: Past and upcoming webinars often goes deeper into a topic of particular interest to the audience.
- E-books and white papers: From top of the funnel e-books to deeper-dive white papers or research reports, long-form written content highlights key target topics.
- Videos: Visual content can give you a more thorough look into a company’s brand and tone.
- Presentations: Whether SlideShare posts or another format, presentations are rich with thought leadership and product content.
- E-newsletters: Emails reveal what content companies think is most valuable to send directly to their prospects and customers.
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Step 2: Evaluate content quantity and quality
Once you’ve inventoried your competitors’ content, it’s time to evaluate it. It’s important to understand the extent of the focus each type of content receives from your competitors and how the audience receives it. Take stock of how many types of media and channels they are leveraging, as well as how frequently they are publishing that type or to that channel. One of the great things about content marketing channels is that they often offer some publicly visible markers of popularity and engagement. Look for trends in engagement level – shares, comments, etc. – to understand how well the content is performing.
Layer these measures of quantity and quality into your content inventory to get an overall picture of your competitors’ content marketing strategy.
Step 3: Tag and analyze content topics
The next step in your analysis is to go to the micro level – each content piece. Tagging and analyzing the topics of each content piece helps surface content marketing gaps, which become opportunities for you.
As you review each piece, take note of the content’s title and description, and consume as much of the content as feasible. If some of your competitors have too much content to digest, start with the most popular pieces and channels, or most recent content published. For each content piece, tag the piece with a topic or set of topics.
You’ll end up with a master spreadsheet of your competitors’ content marketing strategies deconstructed. Now dive into the fun process of analyzing trends. Looking at a combination of the quantity and quality of content coverage by topic will highlight topics to stay away from and gaps you can fill. In other words, you will create a map that shows how to differentiate and win with your content marketing.
Habit of intel-driven content
Completing a content marketing analysis is a key step in creating intel-driven content, but it’s not enough to do a single report. Just like you, your competitors are regularly publishing more content, learning from their past publishing, and optimizing their own strategies. To make sure your content remains differentiated, it’s important to build a habit around seeking and leveraging intel on your competitors’ content strategies.
On top of that, you will likely find that you have content competitors – organizations that compete with you for your audience’s attention but don’t necessarily have competitive products or services. These are also important organizations to include in your analysis and pose another unique opportunity: content partnerships. A content marketing analysis of complementary organizations can help surface opportunities to work together to reach the same audience using the strengths of both content creators.
Analyzing the content marketing landscape can be a time-consuming but critical step in creating unique content that truly stands out among the noise. Instead of blindly pumping out content, take the time to understand where the true opportunity exists to create valuable resources.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute