Except that he probably didn’t come up with that zinger on his own. It’s been attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to TS Eliot.
Which proves the point: For memorable content, steal what you can and make it your own.
Your content is competing for your buyers’ attention. To make an impression, you have to be more informative, more entertaining, and more engaging than your competitors, both direct and indirect.
We’re not suggesting plagiarism here. We’re encouraging you to get a deep understanding of the landscape by conducting some competitive recon. Here’s how to use competitive research to bolster your B2B content marketing strategy and ultimately improve performance.
How to Improve Your B2B Content Performance with Competitive Research
There are two major components to competitive research. First, you should experience specific competitors’ content in the same way your audience is. Second, take a broader look at content from the audience’s perspective. Here’s how to do both.
Analyze Competitor Content
What type of experience is your competitor giving your target buying audience? How does it compare to what you’re offering? Go undercover as a potential customer for your top competitors and see how they do it.
#1: Read Their Blogs
Take a look at what they’re posting about, how frequently certain topics come up, and how in-depth their treatment is of each topic. You can also analyze how frequently they post, how long each post is, influencer/guest involvement, and whether there’s an option to subscribe.
Once you have a feel for the blog, put the blog’s 工作职能邮件数据库 URL in BuzzSumo’s content analyzer and see how their content is actually performing. Is their approach working? If not, how can you do better? If so… well… how can you do better?
#2: Sign up for Email Lists
Content is only the first stage of a potential customer relationship, of course. So it’s worth seeing how your competitors are deepening the relationship with their audience. Sign up for their newsletter or subscribe to the blog and see what happens.
Are the emails relevant? Do they appear personalized? What do you find unsatisfying about them?
Naturally, it makes sense to subscribe to your own email drip as well — even if you’re the one writing the messages. It’s worth seeing how the nurture campaign plays out in real time.
'Undercover Boss' your own brand... Your goal is to be pathologically empathetic to your customers. Why? Because: Empathy is the Miracle-Gro of a thriving customer-centric business. - @annhandley of @MarketingProfsCLICK TO TWEET
#3: Attend Webinars
A webinar takes time and resources to plan and execute, so it’s a good way to gauge how your competitors are shaping their content strategy. Take note of what topics they’re covering, and whether they have other industry experts co-hosting.
Live webinars generally have publicly-displayed stats on who is listening, and a chat for live engagement. Take note of how many people turned up, how many stay on for the entire webinar, and how many use the chat functionality.
Zero In on Audience Intent
Keeping track of what works for your competitors is only part of the equation. Your content is competing with more than just what other players in your industry are publishing. It’s competing with everything else trying to grab your customers’ attention. As customer service and experience expert Shep Hyken has put it: “The good news is that you no longer have to keep up with your competition; the bad news is that now you have to keep up with your customer.”
The good news is that you no longer have to keep up with your competition; the bad news is that now you have to keep up with your customer. @HykenCLICK TO TWEET
The best way to keep up with your customer is to know exactly what they’re looking for, how they’re looking, and whether or not they’re finding it. Here’s how to get started.
#1: Analyze Top-Shared and Linked Content by Topic
Last year, BuzzSumo released their Content Trends 2018 report. In it, they found that social media sharing had decreased by 50% in the last three years. Social shares used to be common currency; now they’re a rare gem.
As such, content that’s actually earning social shares is well worth studying. Check to see what content is ranking first in search, for sure, but don’t neglect the social aspect. It’s worth looking at what content is earning backlinks, too — that’s another sign the content is resonating with its intended audience.
#2: Explore Keyword Intent
As search algorithms become more sophisticated, keyword research has grown increasingly complex. Modern SEO is less about finding one or two brief phrases to rank for, and more about topic clusters and long-tail keywords.
When doing keyword research, focus on how your most valuable audience would search for what they need the most. For example, if you’re offering a cloud-based ERP for small businesses, top-performing content for “cloud-based ERP” is likely to be less relevant to your audience