Online marketing (done right) takes a lot of research.
At this point, you’ve probably already burned through dozens — if not hundreds — of marketing guides on how to have a successful online business. These may include keyword research, lead generation, link building, and on-page optimization.
Unfortunately, none of the strategies you’ve learned are guaranteed to work for you.
Bear in mind that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all strategy in digital marketing. One particular tactic may yield great results for someone else, but since every business has different marketing needs and goals, every step you take must be tailored to brands in your niche.
Sure, you can rely on trial and error to develop your own strategy from a clean slate. But, why do all that work when you can “borrow” ideas from your top competitors’ campaigns?
In this post, we’ll show you how to fashion effective marketing strategies from someone else’s research.
Let’s get started.
1. Identify Your Top Competitors
If you are going to do competitor research, you might as well start from the top. After all, your biggest competitors are the ones who clearly have the marketing know-how in your niche.
The most straightforward way to find your top competitors is to perform a Google search.
For example, if you own a gaming blog, all you need to do is use any seed keyword in your niche and look at the top Google results.
You can also do the same on social media to scoop up a few more competitors. For now, just add them to a separate list from the competitors you found on Google — both are likely to specialize in very different marketing strategies.
If you already have an existing audience base, you can also run a survey using free tools to identify brands they’ve interacted with recently. Alternatively, you can run polls on social media groups or online message boards to get more information.
2. Look At Their Target Keywords
Any experienced online marketer will tell you that keywords make or break a marketing strategy.
Not only will targeting the right keywords help you reach potential customers in a PPC ad campaign, it will also help you attain higher rankings in search engines.
Usually, you need extensive keyword research to find lucrative keyword opportunities for your marketing. If not, you may look at your competitor’s target keywords to figure out what works for them.
A tool like SEMrush will help you dissect the keyword strategy of your competitor in an instant. Using the “Domain Analytics” feature, simply enter the domain URL of your competitor to view in-depth insights, including their top organic and paid keywords.
Just be sure not to compete for the exact same keywords if there’s a huge gap between you and your competitor in terms of online presence and size. Although you should also keep their keywords in mind in your marketing, aim to diversify your target keyword pool with tools like LongTailPro.
3. Check Their Content Strategy
Of course, your competitor’s target keywords are only the beginning.
You should also assess their content strategy through direct observation to understand how they manage to capture your target audience’s attention.
There’s really no need to do anything high-level for this step. Just give their blogroll a quick scan and identify content patterns you can adopt into your own strategy.
The idea is, you’ll check out what your competitors are doing (content creation-wise), then add into it your content development best practices. That way, you can come up with a stunning content that can skyrocket your content marketing results.
Below are a handful of aspects you should focus on when spying on your competitor’s content:
Is your competitor publishing mainly long-form guides or quick updates about their product or service?
Does your competitor use a lot of infographics, videos, or slideshows to enrich the experience?
Main Content Categories
What are the particular areas of your niche that your competitors tend to explore?
Lastly, does your target audience prefer a professional writing style or a more casual and approachable tone?
4. Analyze Their Social Media Presence
Another way to spy on your competitor’s content is through social media, where they most likely share some of their best pieces.
You can always go the traditional route and monitor their activities through the social media network itself. A more efficient approach, however, would be to use tools like Fanpage Karma to view their top-performing posts.
A social media listening tool like Keyhole, on the other hand, will help you find not just your competitors’ posts, but also their top influencers.
Remember, influencer marketing is all about leveraging the presence of other brands to give your social reach a quick boost. By identifying the influencers of your competitors, you may be able to collaborate with them into also promoting your brand — that is, of course, if they’re not under contract with your competitor.
Bonus Tips: Strategies Your Competitors May Have Missed
Although every website has different needs when it comes to marketing, that doesn’t mean that there are no strategies that are guaranteed to generate some improvement.
It’s true that the strategies below — alone — won’t make your online marketing campaign successful, but they’ll definitely help you reach your marketing goals even by just a little.
Speed Up Your Website
Statistics show that 40 percent of users would leave your site if it doesn’t load within three short seconds.
Remember, marketing success isn’t all about getting traffic. It’s also how you plan to turn your visitors into paying customers, which is why you want them to stay on the page rather than leave before they even see your products.
The good news is, boosting your website’s loading speed isn’t rocket science. Just follow these tips and work out a performance optimization plan accordingly:
- Use a performance analysis tool like GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights to detect performance-related issues on your website
- Shrink your website images with compression tools like Compressor.io
- For your website codes, minify them with MinifyCode.com
Improve Your Security
Speaking of optimizing your website’s performance, it’s impossible to provide them with a compelling user experience if it’s being targeted by a DDoS attack.
If you can, invest in a managed SIEM or Security Information and Event Management service to track and respond to online threats before they cause symptoms. It could be a DDoS attack, malware infection, brute force attack, and other forms of intrusions.
Embed Trust Seals on Your Website
For e-commerce websites, you can take advantage of your website’s security by showcasing trust seals on your website. Payment gateways like PayPal also offer these badges to help you build buyer confidence.
Make Sure That You Aren’t Violating a Social Media Site’s TOS
Here’s the thing: While there are truckloads of benefits to be had from using social media marketing, there are risks that come with it — massive ones, at that.
Blindly sharing the content of other Instagram users, for example, isn’t as “safe” as other people might think. There are legal aspects to it that needs to be considered so you know you’re staying within IG’s TOS — and avoid getting pursued legally by other users.
And so the question becomes: How do you make sure that you aren’t stepping on any social media legal landmines?
I’m glad you asked.
For the most part, if you give their TOS a closer look AND ask permission from the content’s creator if you can share their content — you’ll most likely be on the clear. If you’re running your marketing campaigns through Instagram, the guide published on this site has a treasure trove of info on the legalities of reposting on Instagram.
Spying on your competitors will help you skip hours of number crunching in developing your marketing blueprint.
The strategies above should be more than enough to help you get a grip on your top competitor’s marketing strategies.
What do you think is the best way to spy on your competitors and use their tactics to your advantage? Feel free to leave a comment below — we appreciate all your feedback!