We often tell people there’s no one right way to do content, but there are several ways to get it wrong. A lot of it is trial and error. It’s testing topics, tones, and mediums to see what resonates with your target audience and gets them to engage. If you’re currently creating content for your business, have you looked back at what has historically worked? Are you keeping an eye on what the competition is doing? And are you actively working to create content for your target audience that no one else has? Answering these three questions will give you a strong foundation for any content strategy.
Whenever we begin to develop a content marketing strategy for a new client, we first start with a thorough content audit. We start by taking an inventory of all the content that has been created to date, we gather the goals for that content from the client, and we then use a tool like Google Analytics to determine how successful that content is. With that data in hand, we can begin to plot the content in a content matrix, that shows us what of the existing content is working, and what needs to be prioritized for improvement.
Taking inventory of all existing content can be tedious, but the more thorough the audit, the more insightful the content recommendations are. Remember, a content marketing strategy isn’t just about developing new content, it’s also about perfecting what already exists, and you can only do this if you have the full picture of how all your content is currently performing.
Are your competitors doing content better than you? And how can you figure that out? When conducting competitive performance benchmarking it’s important to focus on key performance indicators that matter. In other words, just because your competition is doing something, doesn’t automatically mean that it’s a worthwhile investment for them, or that it would be a worthwhile investment for you. So instead of focusing on FOMO, focus on the important areas in which your competition is currently beating you: market share, brand recognition, search engine rankings, etc., and then develop a content marketing plan to address those issues specifically.
Let’s say you’re a CBD oil company and most of your business is online sales. People who aren’t familiar with your brand may search for something like “best CBD oil”, and if your competition is all over the first 3 pages of search results, far fewer people are going to find your site online. Competitive benchmarking in this case should at minimum, include search engine rankings for the top 5-10 target keyword phrases you want to rank for (both for your brand and your competitor) that relate to the specific product or service. Also conduct a high-level content audit of the competitor’s efforts. It's perfectly fine to make assumptions. Since you and your competitor are in the same industry the likelihood is high that your intuition about their focus will be pretty accurate.
Whatever your business goals are, there are analytics tools that will help you determine how you’re currently performing, and how you measure up to the competition. But it starts with focusing on the data that truly matters.
Once you’ve shored up your existing content and made sure it is serving its purpose correctly, a content gap analysis will help you determine what content is missing from your site. A content gap analysis starts with a high-level content audit of your top competitors. Comparing the findings of your own content audit to your competitor’s can help you identify areas where you may be missing content, as well as the gaps in your competitor’s content efforts.
Knowing what your competition is doing, as well as industry influencers, will help you get a better idea of the areas in which you should prioritize building out more content. Keyword research and social listening are also two great tools for determining what types of content your target audience is looking for.
Understanding what your competition is doing content-wise, as well as how you measure up, will be vital to any focused content marketing strategy. Just remember, you’re not trying to be the competition, you’re trying to beat them.