On the Paragraft blog, we bang on about the importance of originality week in, week out.
So, why should it matter what your competitors are up to? Surely, in the pursuit of creative innovation, you should keep your focus firmly on your brand and your audience, paying little attention to the surrounding noise?
Not exactly. Competitor content analysis is key to understanding how to optimise your content creation and wider content marketing strategy, in order to engage (and convert) your audience.
That’s why, today, we’re exploring what competitor analysis is, why it’s important and how to get it right. We’ll demonstrate how shining a light on your competitors’ content can illuminate the road ahead for your brand’s own content creation.
What is competitor content analysis?
Competitor content analysis is the process of evaluating your direct competitors’ use of content in a strategic and structured way. It involves analysing the purpose, quality and informational value of competitor content (among various other factors) to identify its strengths and weaknesses.
Why is competitor content analysis important?
Competitor content analysis boasts a whole host of advantages to your content creation, wider content strategy and, as a result, content success.
The Beatles may have gotten by with a little help from their friends, but here’s how your content can go further with a little help from your enemies:
Establish (and exceed) the benchmark
If content creation is your brand’s main event, think of competitor content analysis like the weigh-in. This process helps you to understand how your content measures up against that of others in your industry, and identify where your own strengths and weaknesses lie.
With a better understanding of the types of content that audiences within your industry respond to, you’re able to establish value-related benchmarks for your content creation. What does the audience expect? What’s ranking in search engine results?
Make no mistake, though - the aim shouldn’t merely be to make the grade. Instead, aim to exceed the industry benchmark by going above and beyond, creating best in-space content to provide more value to the user than any competitor has so far.
Identify content gaps
By mapping out your competitors’ content topics, you’ll be able to gain a greater understanding of their content gaps (topics covered by you but not your competitors) and your content gaps (topics covered by your competitors but not you).
This boasts two advantages. First, by identifying your own content gaps, you can ensure your content strategy is as comprehensive as your competitors’. Do this by creating content that covers the same topics and addresses the same customer pain points.
Second, by finding competitors’ content gaps, you’re able to ensure your content strategy is more comprehensive than theirs. Capitalise on any identified opportunities by creating fresh content or strengthening existing content so that yours is the only place customers can find the solution they need.
Inspire new ideas
When assessing competitors’ content, look to analyse what works and what doesn’t, establishing their best and worst-performing content. You can use these findings to inspire new content ideas.
Assess the technical quality, informational value, purpose and style of your competitors’ low-performing content - can you identify the likely cause of this poor performance? If you can, look to capitalise by creating your own higher-quality content on the topic at hand. If you can’t, perhaps it’s best to avoid the topic instead - it’s possible the audience demand just isn’t there.
For competitors’ best-performing content, address the same topics but with a unique spin that sets your content apart. This could be a creative style, a unique angle or a fresh perspective. Whichever you choose, ensure you’re always striving for best-in-space status to outperform your competitors every time.
While conducting your competitor content analysis, you may also discover some industry trends you’ve missed out on. Competitor analysis can be an effective way of keeping one ear to the ground, ensuring your brand is positioned at the forefront of your industry.
How to perform competitor content analysis
Now you know why competitor content analysis is worth the effort, let’s take a look at how you can get it right for your business:
Step 1: Identify your competitors
It may sound obvious but identifying your competitors is the starting point of any competitor content analysis.
Look to identify your direct competitors first. These are the businesses selling the same products or services, operating within the same industry and creating content within the same topical spheres.
It can also pay to consider your indirect competitors, too. When it comes to your content creation, your indirect competitors are likely to be blogs and publications within your sector - those that don’t tread on the toes of your products or services but do produce similar content.
Step 2: Take inventory
With your competitors established, look to take an inventory of competitors’ content.
Catalogue the topics they tackle and the formats they leverage to tackle them. This will give you a deeper understanding of their level of content investment and the types of content that work for them.
Assess the relative importance of each topic and type by assessing how much (or little) content they dedicate to each. This will help you to paint a picture of competitors’ content strategies, which should be cross-referenced with available user data to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your own content strategy.
Pay close attention to their content frequency, too. How often are they posting content? Which channels are they promoting it on? This can help you better understand your competitors from a community engagement perspective, learning lessons on what does and doesn’t engage their audience. Look to incorporate their successes into your own community building content strategy.
Step 3: Assess content quality
The final step is to assess the quality of your competitors’ content - where are the strengths and weaknesses?
Your investigation should focus on two primary areas: value and purpose.
Let’s start with value. Any content creator should be striving to provide the utmost value to the reader, both in the information contained and how it’s communicated. Assess the informational value of each piece of content by comparing it to the topic scope - has the topic been explored in sufficient detail and have the user pain points been suitably addressed?
Look to determine whether competitors have demonstrated authority to strengthen this user value. Industry stats, relevant quotes and expert insights all contribute to establishing credibility and authority through content, so be sure to incorporate these factors into your value analysis.
Next, consider the purpose of each piece of content. What has it set out to achieve and has it achieved it? The metrics and outcomes you discover here will vary depending on the content’s purpose, ranging from keyword rankings (for SEO-driven content) to engagement metrics (for community content).
Use the findings from your value and purpose assessments to inform new opportunities in your content marketing strategy. Capitalise on competitors’ weaknesses, address your own, and continue doing what you do best.
When it comes to creating high-value, purpose-driven content, it pays to keep your friends close and your competitors closer. Look to assess what they’re doing right and wrong to better understand the content demand within your industry and use this to create market-leading content that performs as standard.
To discover the strengths and weaknesses of your own content creation, get a helping hand from Paragraft. Get in touch to learn how our content audit can help you discover where your content efforts are best placed.