Explore Your Competitors’ Most Valuable Content
As marketers, we need to tell stories, a whole bunch of stories to our audience. But what should all these stories be about? What things should we write about?
I love this part of the research, as it makes my life as a marketer so much better. With the following strategies, you will be able to find out what content your competition creates is getting a lot of engagement.
No more guessing what type of content works.
I am using BuzzSumo (free) and Ahrefs (paid) for this research.
Head over to BuzzSumo and under the “most shared” tab, enter the domain of your competition into the search bar. In this case, we’re using “hubspot.com”.
With a free version of the app, you’ll be able to see their top 5 most shared pieces of content, filtered by date, language, and content type.
Now, just document your competition’s best content.
Advanced Techniques For Content Marketing Research
If you are more serious about content marketing, you should also check the backlinks (referring domains) that these articles get.
You want to check their referring domains to know if their audience is referring this content as a resourceful piece of content or not.
Here is how to do it using Ahrefs, and their content explorer feature.
Now you know what your competition’s most shared and most referred articles are.
What might be next?
Let’s see where and who they share these articles with so that we can outreach and share our content with them too, thereby getting targeted traffic and providing quality content.
Let’s take this article by HubSpot, 42 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2017. They got 4.9K shares on LinkedIn and over 1.8K referring domains.
Using Ahrefs, you’ll be able to download all the backlinks and filter by domain ranking.
As a next step, you’ll be outreaching to these domains with your own content and trying to get links back to your site for SEO and targeted traffic.
BuzzSumo and Ahrefs are brilliant tools that we use in our arsenal here at MAN Digital. These are the kinds of in-depth pieces of research we do with our clients. If you would like us to build this for you, please don’t hesitate to let us know here.
Spy On Your Competitors’ Advertising Strategies And Systems
Are you ready for more?
Let’s dive into some even more advanced spying.
First things first.
We want to know if our competitors are using any paid ads or doing any remarketing.
Now head over to your competitor’s domain and check this icon :
Click on it and you’ll see all the trackers that this domain is using. In HubSpot’s case, they use a bunch of them.
I check for obvious things like:
Are they doing Remarketing?
For this, I check Facebook Custom Audiences and AdRoll.
Are they using AdWords? Or DoubleClick?
What CRM are they using? (Obviously, in this case, they are using HubSpot.) 🙂
Do they have Google Tag Manager installed or not?
This way, I can decide if they are serious about online paid advertising or not.
OK, now with BuiltWith.com, you’ll be able the check the same but with more details.
Look at the advertising, analytics, and tracking sections.
I might also look at their hosting providers. If I see any low-cost hosting providers like Namecheap, GoDaddy, Bluehost, or HostGator, I just note them down and take it as a sign that they don’t have big online marketing budgets (but this is just an assumption).
Advanced Techniques For Uncovering The Online Advertising Strategies Of Your Competition
In this section, we will be using advanced tools to uncover our competitors’ online advertising strategies.
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- Which display, video, and Facebook ads they are using
- Where they send their ads traffic, and to which landing pages
- Which websites they place their ads on – their placements
- Which ad networks they are using[/ht_message]
Disclaimer: some of these tools are enterprise-level pieces of software with costs starting from $200 a month.
See the video below for these advanced techniques.
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Get More Insights Into Your Audience’s Voice And How To Create Your Copy
This part is neglected most of the time by many business owners, as it is considered too fluffy.
We want to know what voice is used by our audience, what they are asking online, and what reviews they have written about your competitors or market.
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I use 3 main sources for this:
- Business review sites to see what voice is being used by my audience.
- Amazon Books in my niche, where I look at book reviews and tables of content to see what questions are being answered in these books.
- Reddit or Quora to see what my customers’ FAQs are.
I want to find out the following:
- Are these customers satisfied with the value received for the money they have paid?
- What features do they like the most?
- What features are they missing?
- What are the main benefits of using the product?
- What are the most used keywords appearing in the reviews?
- What are the tables of content like in speciality books? What questions do the authors want to answer?
- How are the forewords written in these books?
- What are the most FAQs of my audience?
Research Your Audience’s Business Needs On Niche Review Sites
The first step I take is to research websites that review similar products or services to mine, or have the same audience that I target.
For example, I implement Marketing Automation for Small Businesses, therefore, I would like to know the kinds of feedback provided by different marketing automation software users.
For SaaS, I use:
I would look into marketing automation software companies that have a lot of reviews on these platforms and copy the reviews.
On Capterra, they focus a lot on Pros and Cons, so I usually start with this one.
Try to avoid comments like “I love the team at HubSpot”; focus on comments that talk about benefits and case studies.
When supplying an automated campaign workflow for a client, they had difficulties getting to grips with the old workflow, as it was complex to look at and figure out how to use. Now it looks much cleaner, intuitive, and easy to use, so I can’t wait to show the client! [Source: Capterra]
Works well with social for posting and listening. The blog performance is good too. [Source: G2 Crowd]
It was good when we were a company with less than 25 employees, but as soon as you want to scale, HubSpot cannot handle it. [Source: G2 Crowd]
This last review (which would need to be validated by more reviews) helps me understand that if I were to target HubSpot users, my focus would be SMBs and I would need to concentrate on building my persona based on this.
These comments can help me to write better content, and write my answers to all sorts of objections like these ones.
We carry out comprehensive research into the reviews written about our copywriters or anyone else in the team writing copy, so that we understand clients’ objections, their voice, concerns, and satisfaction with using the product/service.
To visually see the bigger picture in terms of the words most used in reviews, I create a tag cloud using tagul.com.
I made a tag cloud using HubSpot reviews. You’ll get something like this.
Of course, the more reviews you add, the more accurate your tag cloud will be.
Research Niche Books, Quora, And Reddit To Build Better Content
I use this strategy to create better landing page content, blog posts, and online ads.
Check out the video below to learn how I do it.
- Search for books using services/products as search strings.
- Look inside one of the books.
- Check its table of content and its foreword, and then look for patterns in how chapter titles are constructed.
- Determine the book’s main ideas and jot them down in your Evernote for future inspiration.
- Check a few of the book’s reviews, as these can often also be a very good source of inspiration for finding answers to potential questions.
Note down any chapter titles and book reviews you like, as these will come in handy later on when you’ll be looking for ideas for creating your content.
I also use Blinkist in much the same way as I use Amazon.
The Blinkist team writes summaries about the most important points covered in mainstream books. I love Blinkist as you can also listen to these books, they have a very easy to understand structure, and the site helps me to understand the main messages that authors want to convey.
Question-and-answer sites are excellent for getting traffic, as well as for researching your audience. Carry out some preliminary research on Quora and Reddit and check if people are looking for the answers to questions you might want to cover.
Note down any FAQs.
Check the answers some companies have provided; many of them will have pitched their product and service. This can serve as inspiration for your own copy and for understanding the voice of your audience.
Always carry out comprehensive research on your audience and competition and have multiple sources of information.
Facebook Audience Insights, Twitter Audience Insights, and Google Analytics will help you to understand the demographics of your audience. You’ll be able to see a lot of valuable data and build your buyer persona based on this.
To find out more about the voice of your audience so that you can build better content, use book reviews and summaries, research their writing style, as well as using Q&A sites and specific sites that review similar products or services to yours (i.e. G2 Crowd and Capterra for SaaS businesses).