Understanding your audience means a lot more than knowing why they read your content and why they select your solution—it also means understanding what they love about your competitors, and why they buy from them too. With the right digital research process, you can unlock what works for your competitors and start making it work for you.
The key to digital espionage
Before you start spying on your competition, you’d better understand what information you are looking for and why you’re looking for it. Having a clear goal outlined before you go undercover can help you find what you’re looking for more quickly, and get busy putting the information you find to use for you.
Before any digital mission impossible, you need to understand the following:
- Who your audience is (product/solution/campaign KPI specific)
- How your audience interacts with your content (current site analytics)
- What problem your problem is trying to solve (top of the funnel keywords)
- How people talk about your solution to the problem (bottom of the funnel keywords)
Once you know these key “mission specifics,” do an audit of your own blog and see what content is most successful for your audience, which types of content are most effective and inversely, the least successful topics and types of content.
Here are three things you can learn about your audience from your competitors’ blogs.
Key differentiators: The ones that matter
One of the best reasons to look at your competitors—along with your own blog—is to identify which topics are most popular. By looking at what blog articles get the most social shares and the most comments—in other words, the most community participation—you can get an idea of which topics your audience is most responding to. You can also use this to identify what key differentiators amongst the competition are most popular, what topics receive positive interaction and what topics receive negative responses.
Content types that work
Another great reason to spy on the competition is to see what kinds of posts and what types of content are most popular. Does your competition post videos? How about podcasts? Do they have a series of popular infographics that get tons of social shares, or perhaps eBooks and other rich media content? Use similar metrics that you used to judge topics—social shares, comments, and the whether the response is positive or negative—to build a matrix of what types of content are hot and what’s not.
Commenters are potential influencers
One thing more—but certainly not the last thing—you can learn from your competitors’ blogs is who comments the most. Looking at top commenters can give you a key into important influencers for your audience, and may provide a key to a prospective new audience—namely, your competitors’ customers. Furthermore, you can use this new found information to search for the social profiles of these commenters, and engage with them in those media. Once you have identified these key audience influencers, you can begin to engage them with content specifically tailored to their needs and desires.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on what you can learn from your competitors’ blogs, and what should already be known about your own. Extending your audit to include social media channels, both yours and others, can net you even more actionable insights. You can learn which mediums are used most often to share your content, your competitors’ content, what the preferred platforms for sharing are, and what types of content are re-shared or engaging in those platforms.
Image credit: John Lester