What You Can Learn from Your Competitors

No one likes a copycat. “Me-too companies” are inevitably going to have a hard time making it in an increasingly competitive market. Brands constantly need to find a way to distinguish themselves and communicate what makes them stand out from the competition, particularly those that are in oversaturated markets. As a brand, you need to ask yourself, what makes you different from everyone else out there? Why should people buy from you as opposed to your competitor around the block? How can you deliver value?

Although it is critical to distinguish your brand from your competitors, you can glean valuable insights from your competitors. In fact, understanding what your competitors are doing and what they aren’t doing can help you refine your own marketing strategy and selling points. Take a look at the things you can learn from your competitors to make your marketing strategy stronger than ever. 

Get Great Inspiration for Content

Your competitors are actually an excellent source of inspiration for content. By taking a quick look at your competitors’ blog posts and Facebook pages, you can get a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to topics.

“It’s hard to come up with new content ideas consistently, especially after a few years of running a consistent blog, and especially if your industry isn’t a particularly exciting or fast-changing one. The emergence (or existence) of a competitor means a gateway to free content ideas for your blog,” Jayson Demers explained in Forbes. “Find a way to put new twists on topics they’ve already covered, and think about what topics they haven’t covered. Opportunities here are plentiful, so keep your eyes open, and let your brain run wild.”

Of course, there is one key caveat here: You don’t want to directly copy your competitors’ content or steal their strategies. That’s plagiarism, and it will do more harm than good. The key is to leverage your competitors’ content as inspiration or direction for your own great content.

In order to ensure you can get great inspiration from your competitors, you will want to make sure are monitoring what they’re publishing. Sign up for their newsletters or subscribe to their blogs’ RSS feeds. You will also want to follow them on social media and check their pages regularly to monitor updates.

Of course, while you are monitoring the content your competitors are posting, you will also want to keep a close eye on what isn’t working. Were there particular things that didn’t work? Certain things that proved to be offensive or didn’t garner engagement? File these notes away, and make sure to consider them when producing your own content. After all, you don’t just want to learn from your competitors’ successes; you also want to learn from their failures.

Figure Out Which Keywords They Are Using

There are a variety of SEO tools out there – including SpyFu, Moz, and SEMRush – that give you a tremendous amount of insight into which keywords a competitor’s website ranks for, as well as what keywords your competitors are bidding on and what percentage of their traffic is organic as compared to paid. Basically, these tools are an excellent way to figure out what keywords your competitors are targeting and how your own SEO efforts compare to theirs. With this kind of knowledge, you can hopefully distinguish yourself from the competition more successfully.

Take a Look at Local Review Sites

Local review sites, like Google and Yelp, are pretty much a landmine of information. Find your competitors’ pages and do some serious trawling through the reviews. Are there any trends that emerge? Something a competitor seems to do very well? Or something one of your competitors does poorly that you can do well? Once you find any noteworthy trend, you can use it to refine your own selling points. For example, if there is something a competitor can’t do or can’t do well that you can, you can emphasize it going forward in your own marketing content to differentiate yourself.

Check Out Who Is Sharing Their Content

Part of being successful at content marketing is identifying and reaching out to influencers. Of course, identifying influencers is easier said than done. However, with access to some information about your competitors, it’s actually feasible. It is all about figuring out who is sharing their content and which of those sharers are driving the highest levels of engagement. So, how can you figure out who is sharing your competitors’ content? Luckily, it isn’t too hard. 

“Go to BuzzSumo.com. Paste in your competitor’s website URL. You’ll get back a list of the top articles, infographics, videos, and interviews they’ve published. You’ll also be able to see how many shares each piece of content got on the major social networks,” Brian Sutter explained in Forbes. “Best of all, you’ll be able to see who shared their content. These sharers are the influencers we all talk so much about. Now that you know which content the influencers in your industry are interested in, follow them on Twitter for a while, and then tweet to let them know when you’ve published something they might like.”

Understand How They Get Their Links

“While the influence of links is diminishing, they aren’t obsolete yet, especially the most powerful ones (which are usually the hardest to get),” Sutter said. “So knowing where your competitors’ most powerful links are coming from is valuable information. Those same sites might give you a link or two, with the right content and wooing.”

How can you figure out what these links are and where they are coming from? Luckily, there is an SEO tool for that. Majestic is an excellent way to get insight into understanding which links are valuable and worth digging into a bit and which are totally worthless. When you identify the meaningful and valuable ones, you can work to get links from those sources. Moreover, Majestic can provide you with insight into your competitors’ link velocity, or the rate at which they are accruing links. You can then measure your own link velocity against that of your competitors to track your performance.

In conclusion, learning from your competitors can give you an edge in the marketplace. The good news is that when it comes to content marketing, most of what works and what doesn’t is all in the public domain. That makes it easy for you to monitor – and ultimately leverage – your competitors’ successes and failures for your own gains. If your company needs help figuring out the best way to learn from their competitors, contact us today!