Let Me Show You How to Properly Conduct an Inbound Marketing Competitive Analysis

In inbound marketing, you often need to rely on competitive research to gain an advantage over your competition. Luckily for you, you don’t have to go drilling around your competitor’s trash can. Today, there are a handful of tools designed particularly to assist you in keeping eyes on your competitions.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to use and get maximum benefit from a handful of awesome research tools. With these tools at your fingertips, you’ll quickly and easily be able to inspect on your competitor’s inbound marketing by looking at their content, backlinks, social media, email, and paid advertising.

Okay, let’s begin!

Are your competitions creating content regularly? If they are, then you must go and visit their website to grab few tips.

In the past, you’ve probably heard about the famous “content is king” phrase, and in order to bring more leads and convert them into customers, you’ll have to produce content on a regular basis to become super successful.

Everyone, including me, agrees that content production is the lifeblood of every inbound marketing plan. However, remember one thing – you’ll have to go beyond the regular content marketing formula to be truly successful.

You see, you just can’t simply publish more content on your website to see significant returns. If you want to see big results with content marketing strategy, you’ll have to be creating, publishing, and marketing proper content for the proper audience.

So, how the heck can you tell what is right content and what is wrong content?

Here’s how you can start: look for topics and content types (format) that are generating better results for your competitors.

To do a research on your competitor’s marketing strategy, you’ve got two methods – a) do the research manually, or b) use automated tools.

If you want to do a research manually, you can start by visiting the website of every competition. While you’re at their website, look for these vital blogging clues:

  • Are your competitions regularly blogging? If they are, how often?
  • What topics are they covering?
  • How valuable, accurate, and detailed their content are for the readers?
  • Does their content often seem to get social media share?
  • Do they have a mobile friendly blog?
  • Who is contributing to their blog?

To take this analyzing a little bit further, you can also use BuzzSumo – an automated competitor research tool – to know exactly what is your competitor’s content marketing plan.

With BuzzSumo, everything becomes simple. All you have to do is enter a topic or a website URL of your competitor, and it will instantly display you in-depth reports about your competition.

Buzzmo Screenshot

Since BuzzSumo is so easy to use yet so powerful in many situations, you’ll often find yourself coming back to using this awesome tool.

Mathew Barby, a digital marketing guru at Wyatt International, frequently uses BuzzSumo for his SEO and content marketing campaigns.

“It promptly tells me which content are doing well in any industry and who are their major influencers. For me, I just can’t think of any other tool that gives me the level of penetration that BuzzSumo provides,” says Mathew.

To really understand the content marketing plan of your competitors, go inside the BuzzSumo Dashboard and under the Reports menu, click on ‘Content Analysis,’ and finally, type your competitor’s website URL. That’s all there is to it.

Buzzmo Screenshot Reports

Next, Buzzsumo will instantly reveal you interesting report about your competition, such as:

  • Average shares on social network

This insight will give you the name of social media sites that produce the most engagement and shares for your content topic and industry.

  • Average distribution (shares) by content type

This report will tell you what content type deliver better exposure.

  • Total distribution by length of the content

With this report, you’ll immediately know the ideal content length and the level of detail that people enjoy reading and sharing with others.

  • Total distribution by issue date

This report will tell you about the best day to publish the content, particularly for your business.

  • Most shared domains by network

This report will tell you which websites that are publishing your competitor’s content are getting the most shares, which can be quite helpful to you if you decide to collaborate with them in the future for marketing or guest blogging opportunities.

  • Top content for the keyword phrase you enter

This report will immediately reveal you content pieces that have gained maximum exposure for your chosen keyword phrase.

  • Hot topics for content related to the keyword you enter

This report will reveal you other content pieces that are relevant to your keyword that is performing really well so that you can also use similar keyword phrase into your own content strategy.

Buzzsmo Dashboard Screenshot

If you aren’t using BuzzSumo already, check out this awesome BuzzSumo introductory guide. For an in-depth look at the BuzzSumo’s Content Analysis reports, I highly recommend that you check out this review written by Larry Kim – CEO of Wordstream.

How did your competitors build their followers on social media?

After you’ve gone through your competitors’ websites (using both manual method and an automated tool like Buzzsumo), you’ll have a good sense of how often their content are being distributed on social media.

However, to fully understand your competitor’s presence on social media, you’ll want to go even further. Again, a combination of both manual reports and automated research will be useful to you.

If you already haven’t done so, start by visiting each website of your competitor to find out which social media sites they’re spending more efforts on.

Once you discover their social profiles, ask the following questions to determine how powerful their social media presence is:

  1. Do they have a good social media following?
  2. Are their audience targeted and real?
  3. Do their posts receive high exposure on social media?
  4. How often are they posting to different channels?
  5. What content types are they sharing often?

A combination of intuition and manual research will provide you a better picture about the prowess of your competitor’s social media presence. If you’re interested, you can also use few awesome automated social media reporting tools.

For instance, if you’re already using HubSpot, their Competitor’s Report feature will be your first stop. Using this awesome Competitor’s reporting feature, you will quickly see how your social media presence is performing compared to your competitors.

Competitors Dashboard

So, if you’re not already using HubSpot, you can try Buzzsumo to get an in-depth social media report. This awesome tool lets you to:

Buzzsumo GraphThat’s not all. Here’s another reason why we really love Buzzsumo: you are allowed to enter more than one competitor’s website URLs for a single report.

This will help you perform an industry-wide research to identify the most shared content (popular) in your niche.

How effectively your competitors are conducting their email marketing campaigns?

If there’s one thing you need to master, it must be email marketing. A recent study conducted by eConsultancy revealed that of every channel out there, email marketing yields one of the highest results, second to SEO.

Channel ROI Ratings

If you aren’t already doing so, go and subscribe to your competitor’s email mailing list now.

There are quite a handful of reasons to subscribe to the email list of your competitors. First and foremost, without a doubt, you’ll most likely share the same contact database with your competitors. That means if you know what emails your competitors are sending, then it will be that easy to get inside the head of your prospects.

Secondly, checking out your competitor’s emails will also help you be aware of content types they are creating and promoting, how frequently they’re publishing their emails, and what topics do they cover and what tone do they use in their emails, among other things.

Recently, we have been busy picking actionable tips, tricks, and tactics from one of our friends, Jimmy Daly from Vero.

Recently, Jimmy wrote an awesome blog post, which was a beginner’s guide to monitoring your competitor’s SEO, social media, and email marketing. In this killer post, Jimmy advises that you create a new label or folder in your email inbox especially to receive emails from your competitors. Then you can create a filter so that those emails will skip your inbox. Whenever you want to study emails from your competitors, you can do so without blowing up your inbox.

This awesome post also pointed us to a smart app known popularly as Email Insights.

With this handy tool, you will be able to create reports that will instantly reveal you about the email marketing plan of your competitors, like email frequency, the time and day they sent emails, and the length of the subject line.

If you’re curious, we highly recommend that you give a try to Email Insights. Currently, they are offering a free 30-day trial. Awesome thing.

How powerful are your competitor’s backlinks?

You see if you want to master backlink building strategies, pay no attention to other than Brian Dean. He’s the best in the industry when it comes to backlinking to your website.

In his recent guest blog post, Brian reveals a vital tip found nowhere else on the web: if you can build as same backlink profile as your competitors have today, rest assured that you’ll be on your way to Google’s top 10 positions in no time. In this killer post, Brian gives exact four tips to find, recognize, and get competitor’s backlinks.

Let’s go over quickly to Brian’s backlink building process.

First of all, you’ll gather a list of websites that are in first few pages in Google search results for your targeted keyword and similar searches. You’ll notice that some of these websites are your business competitors, and others are sites that regularly publish content related to your industry. In both cases, they are your competitors.

To gather your list, simply head over to Google search and type your targeted keywords. Browse through the first three pages on Google (skip Wikipedia, government sites, and discussion boards now) and jot down everything else that pops up in search results. On top of this, you can also grab additional keywords from the Google’s “related searches” to find even more ranking sites.

Next thing to do, as Brian recommends, is removing shady-looking sites from your list. This will ensure you’ll be generating backlinks for high-quality sites and not some random blackhat websites with dubious link profiles. To do this, use the Ahrefs Site tool.

In the next (third) step, you’ll dig deeper into your competitor’s websites looking for the most powerful backlinks. To do this, again you can use Ahrefs tool.

In some instances, your competitors may be a business partner (or some kind of business relation) with a linking website. If that’s the case, it might be difficult to get a backlink from these sites, particularly if you already don’t have a business relationship. And sometimes, your competitors may also be getting valuable backlinks through guest blog posting. In order to sort these links appropriately, you may have to do some drilling checking each and every backlink one by one. Well, this extra step might consume few more valuable minutes for you, however, you’ll really thank yourself later that you did it.

If you want to learn how Brian’s builds backlinks for his site, I highly recommend that you go and check out his famous blog post, which will quickly help you re-engineer the same backlinking tactics that your competitors are using now.

How your competitors are driving traffic to their website? Are they organic, paid traffic, or combination of both?

This is very important.

If you’re interested in knowing exactly how your competitors are attracting traffic to their website right now, how much of traffic is organic vs paid, and also which keyword phrases are sending the most traffic to them, then I highly recommend you to try SEMrush tool. This awesome tool will instantly scan your competitor’s web pages and show their traffic sources to you.

SEMrush is super easy to use. You just have to enter your competitor’s URL, and the tool will handle everything for you. Once you’ve entered your competitors’ website and hit the “Search” button, SEMrush will instantly provide you the performance report of both the organic and paid traffic.

Semrush Screenshot

On top of this, SEMrush will display you all the keywords that are attracting traffic to their website, the total number of traffic coming through organic search, overall website backlinks your competitor has, each keyword rankings, as well as recent ranking changes.

Likewise, for paid ads, you can quickly see which keywords your competitors are targeting, various keywords that are sending new visitors to their website through paid search, the total number of traffic coming through paid advertisements, and the expected amount of investment done in paid advertisement.

The level of report you’ll gain about your competitors using SEMrush is simply mind-boggling. Even if you only spend 5 minutes looking through your competitor’s website report, your are 100% sure to find few killer actionable tactics.

Key points you just learned

  • A quick competitive analysis report can help you immensely to set up your inbound marketing plan.
  • Assessing your competitor’s current content strategy will assist you to figure out which content topics, formats, and content length brings them the most exposure.
  • The best way to boost your search engine rankings is to re-engineer your competitor’s backlink building strategy.
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