How Competitor Research Improves Your Content Marketing

A wealth of information lurks in the success (or failures) of the Other Guy.

Here are some ways you can improve your own content marketing results using competitor research tools and tips:

See What’s Popular

Your competitors are working in the same industry as you are, or so I assume. So they have the same audience that you do. This gives you an immediate view on what your audience is looking to read about, watch, view, or listen to.

It doesn’t take a lot to figure out what’s popular with your target demographic. Peek at what is trending on their site(s) and social media profile(s). Make a list of content that has gotten a lot of traffic, views, social media shares, and comments.

From there, you can develop a content strategy that follows the same general idea.  Take a note of:

Discover Where Competitors Are Lacking

In addition to seeing what they are doing right, you can see what they are doing wrong. I distinctly remember this competing podcast of a client I was working for. They released this video series connected to their show, but not really a part of it. The first couple got a decent number of hits, but then they got next to no views.

Wondering what the issue was, I did a quick viewing of all of their videos (which they continued to release in spite of the lack of interest from their user base). They were cheesy, badly written, and not close enough to their podcast format to brand it properly. It was a trainwreck, basically.

In addition to this travesty of video, the podcasts were suffering because too much effort was being put into a new form of content that didn’t work.

Guess what the client did? Avoided videos, stuck with the podcast, upped their promotion, and ended up poaching a lot of listeners.

Track Mentions

We all know that reputation management is an important part of overall branding. But tracking mentions of your competitors really work wonders, as well. You can keep track of announcements both major and minor, and also see what people are saying about the competition.

I worked for a startup once that setup mention tracking for three other platforms in the same industry, with a similar pat structure to their own. When the founder discovered a blog doing a review for a competitor, they asked them to do one for their own.

In the end, the review compared them to the last review and the startup I worked for came out on top.

Tools For Competitive Research

I mentioned before that you will have better tools at your disposal than asking Rebecca’s teenage sister the secret to her cookie selling success. These are some of those tools, though there is an endless supply of competitor research apps and dashboards out there to choose from.

  1. Google Alerts – The free option, and my personal favorite. You can create alerts that monitor any mention of your competitors across the web. It includes both social and web page results. I use it to monitor my competitors, my brand, and my industry. You can set your alerts to give you a digest of daily results, or to immediately let you know
  2. Spyfu – Don’t just monitor your competitors, flat out spy on them! Spyfu is a fun and informative dashboard that uses keyword research, mentions and more to keep track of your competitors. It is a combination of SEO and PPC research, so it applies to content and advertising.
  3. Compete – I don’t always recommend this tool because it is pretty pricey. But if you are a business with a decent budget, you can seriously improve results using this tool. You will learn a strategy to compete with competition on every level, including your social marketing. It is a very in depth tool full of data, and acts almost like a consulting service with a self service bent. It is an investment, but worth it if you have the cash on hand. Some businesses have reported a conversion improvement of 42% or more… seriously.

Do you have a tip for competitor research to improve content marketing? Know a tool that belongs on the list? Let us know in the comments!

4 Of the Most Destructive (And Common) Blogging Tips You’ve Ever Heard

Did you know that the majority of blogs become inactive within 100 days after creation?

I believe this is because the owners don’t realize what makes a blog successful. In fact, I had a client who believed it would be easy to make money on the Internet, and all she needed to do, was to quickly whip up a website. After four years of throwing money to freelancers to help her, she finally admitted defeat.

I’m not sure what happened to her, but I know of many people like her. I’ve also analyzed the content of a stack of small business websites, and the following fatal blogging tips are rampant.

Description: b2b-content-marketing-statistics-2015-10.png
Blogging is not easy, contrary to a common misconception.
Here you can see what most bloggers struggle with.
Image Credit: SocialMediaB2B

Don’t be amongst those blogs who close shop 100 days after starting because they didn’t know what blogging entailed. And please never listen to the "experts" who advise you to do these four things to get more blog traffic:

#1: Just add lots of content, often

When I first started dabbling in online marketing several years ago, I was told that in order to get traffic to my website, I would need to add content. Often.

Which is what I did.

But to my shame, the content was of no real value. I don’t know what I was thinking! Somehow, whoever it was who dispensed the "just add content" recipe to me, neglected to mention that it needed to add some kind of value for my readers.

It’s no wonder it never got shared or commented on, and my website’s bounce rate was high.

I see the same trend today, specifically with small businesses who go online. They add content – any content – to try get more traffic, not realizing that not only is their brand at stake, but so are their search rankings, because search engines look for quality, value-add content to match to user’s searches.

And trust me, search engines have algorithms in place to determine whether content is crap or not.

Brian Dean from Backlinko, expert blogger, says that, "Blogging today is 110% about quality…not quantity."

Just adding content – any content – will not get your blog more traffic, or result in more business.

#2: Stuff in keywords wherever you can

In days gone by, when search engines were still collecting themselves, website owners cottoned on to stuffing keywords in wherever they could. And then search engines got clever and wiped those websites far into the abyss of no return.

Yes, your blog needs keywords to rank higher in search engines and therefore get more traffic, but keywords need to be included in content in a natural way, making it easy for people to read.

My suggestion would be to use SEOChat’s free related keywords tool and then go on over to Google Keyword Planner to find the best keywords that have low competition, but high search volume.

Add a keyword naturally into:

  • The title of your post
  • The URL of the post
  • H1 header tags
  • In the first 100 words of your content
  • Sprinkled throughout your content, every 150 or so words
  • In the category of the post
  • In links to other authority sites
  • In image descriptions

When you stuff keywords in content, search engines will not promote your blog. And visitors will click away pronto.

#3: Hire cheap writers to churn out more content, fast

There is great demand on freelance writing websites like Upwork, but you get what you pay for, and since getting more blog traffic is not about churning out content just for the sake of content, when you hire cheap writers for your blog, you’re going to get not only badly written content, but it won’t be SEO optimized, or provide value to your readers.

All the top websites understand this, and pay about $266 or more for one blog post. When you consider that writers on sites like Upwork, charge from about $10 for a blog post, you can start to understand why the quality would be so poor.

So. Perhaps you pay $10 for someone to write you a blog post. But that post can actually damage your search engine ranking because of bounce rate (people come to your site, see crap content, and immediately leave). It will also damage your reputation, and most users will not convert. And so I ask you: why are you wasting money on bad writing? What is it benefiting you?

If you’re not a good writer, for goodness sake, hire a decent one who understands your target audience and optimizes the content, or just stop blogging.

And read Neil Patel’s step by step guide to creating a money-making blog. His advice is sound, and since he is the master of online marketing, he knows a thing or two on this subject.

By the way, while we’re on the subject of Neil Patel, when you check out his post, have a look at the quality of it, and how it’s all laid out. It’s popular because he only writes content that is helpful to his audience. Do your best to emulate the style he uses, but adapt it for your niche.

#4: Add stock photos to attract attention

Somewhere, you heard that images in blog posts attract attention. That would be right.

But. And it’s a very big "but": stock photos just don’t cut it anymore. They’re boring, fake and your readers can’t relate to them. It’s a psychological thing.

Description: lame-corporate-people.png
A cheesy, fake and ineffective stock image…what business people do you know who do this?!
Image Credit: WebMeUp

To do justice to your blog by attracting attention and leading to higher conversions, images need to:

  • Be of high quality.
  • If your blog centers around an online store, make sure your product images are clear and show enough detail and offer as many views as possible.
  • Images must be relevant to the content. They should support the text and not simply be added for the sake of adding an image.
  • Add image descriptions that titillate, because people’s eyes draw to images first. If the description creates curiosity, they are more likely to keep reading, and this is good for SEO, and conversions.
  • Be sure to compress images so that they don’t slow down your site.

Fatal advice summed up

If you’re going to blog, you may as well do it right. Unfortunately, doing it right means it’s going to take time.

But if you don’t do it right, you’ll lose business and opportunities.

To sum up, let’s reverse the four most common and destructive blogging tips:

  1. Add blogging content that rocks. Help people want to share it because it resonates with them.
  2. Use keywords naturally, and strategically.
  3. Hire writers who may charge more, but will get your blog better results.
  4. Add images that are relevant and support the point you’re trying to get across in your content.

Color Theory in Display Advertising

Advertising online has been a tricky business for awhile. Unlike traditional advertising, which can be slow to adapt, the Internet is always changing and attempting to find more ways to attract its core audience. Sometimes the shifts in tone will be so extreme that you will be shocked that they actually worked.

It definitely isn’t your grandpa’s marketing.

Color has a unique plan in advertising. In fact, it may be one of the most important elements to it.

Color and The Human Brain

All species have a reaction to color. Red may signify danger, green food, others help enhance movement or let prey ward off predators. As human beings, we come from the same evolutionary perspective. We also react to color, but on a much deeper scale.

Humans will connect on an emotional level with color schemes. Which is why it is so important to find the right one when branding. Advertisements, logos, promotional content, and designs are all impacted by the colors we choose.

When you select the right colors to match the tone of your ad, you will be able to improve results.

Display Advertising Color Tools

1. Bannersnack

Bannersnack

Bannersnack is a comprehensive platform allowing you to design and monitor your display marketing creatives.

Not only will it let you create amazing banners but it will also allow you to manage your display advertising (Facebook, Adwords, etc) from one place.

You can create static, animated HTML5 and interactive banner ads using Bannersnack advanced visual editor.

2. Photocopa

Photocopa

This tool lets you generate color palette based on any picture you upload. This is a very useful tool when you want to match your banner to your logo or a social media branding:

3. Color Contrast Analyzer (Google Chrome)

Color Contrast Analyzer

This extension allows you to analyze color contrast on web pages. Unlike other color contrast analyzers, this one assesses text within images and reports how well your text overlay can be seen (especially to people with poor eyesight)

Using Color To Improve Your Brand Recognition

There are some colors that are immediately associated with a certain brand. Red and orange to match the clown mascot with McDonalds. Blue, orange and white for Walmart. Black, silver and gold for Chrysler. These are iconic.

In the case of your own brand, you may or may not reach those levels of recognition (every major corporation had to start somewhere). But you can at least lodge yourself into the brain of consumers by selecting the right colors for your brand.

Triggering Emotional Responses In Customers

Emotional Responses In Customers

Goal is important when choosing colors for ads. Of course you want conversions, so put that out of your head and assume it is a given. A better focus is triggering an emotional response that will make the customer want your product.

Your logo is going to be separate from this task. It will already feature on any banner ads, promotional materials, designs, commercials, etc., that you post on the web. And it doesn’t matter if it “clashes” with ad colors, because that will only make it stand out more.

That doesn’t mean you can’t match your ad and your logo. Just that it should be a secondary concern.

When choosing an ad, start by deciding what feeling to put off. Do you want your customers to think of your product as something that will put them at ease? That will pump them up? That will help them live a healthier lifestyle? That will make them more trendy? That will put them on the cutting edge? That will make them happy?

Try to think of two or three adjectives relevant to the focus of your ad. Then begin incorporating it into your advertising.

  1. Red – As the boldest of the colors, red is a great attention grabber. But it is also aggressive. While customers will take notice, they may not respond in the way you want them to. Different tones of red, making it brighter or darker, may blunt that in-your-face feeling, and make it a bit more moldable to your brand. Unless the idea of your ad is to be extreme, in which case a bright red can really get the job done.
  2. Green – Earthy and natural, green is a big promoter of health, wellness, wealth, and growth. It is perfect for any product or brand that centers itself around those concepts. Which is why it is the most commonly used color in natural supplements like vitamins and weight loss products. Anything that aims to promote forward motion and progress is perfect for green.
  3. Blue – The most calm and tranquil of all of the colors, medical centers are especially apt at using blue for their services. It elicits emotions of trust, peace and serenity, like floating on a gentle ocean, or looking up at a clear sky. When put with other mild shades, such as white, it is further softened. But paired with darker shades, like black, it can take on a harder edge. Tech companies that need to show their machines as dependable are often seen using blue in their ads.
  4. Yellow – Bright and bubbly, yellow is the happiest and most optimistic of all colors. That extends to its more passionate, playful cousin, orange. Both can give your advertisement a sense of importance and cheer that catches the customer’s attention, and makes them feel positive about the product.
  5. Purple – Regal and rich, purple is the color that best promotes luxury and suave-cool. It is also a color used to represent intelligence and wisdom, appealing to customers as a symbol of the power of the mind. It is a highly sophisticated tone.
  6. White and Black – Balance is an important part of advertising, and when using black and white you have to take care to strike that balance. In some instances both can be used to great effect, but too much of either can really damage your message. Think of both as enhancers, not straight themes. If you do need to do with a contrast, try grayscale instead. And make sure you are using it properly… these shades on their own, even in moderate gray, can come off as depressing to many customers.

Examples of Color In Advertising

Target

Target banner ads

Target uses bright red to advertise based around a theme. Being a bullseye in their logo, the harsh combo of red and white work to give it a bold look that works for the brand.

Home Depot

Home Depot banner ads

Home Depot goes with an orange advertising theme, and it works well. It speaks of work and progression and optimism. Something that many people feel when undertaking home projects.

Milka

Milka banner ads

Purple is the color used by chocolate company Milka. It signifies the rich of their food product, and shows them off as a luxury brand.

Do you have an example of how color was used successfully in advertising or branding? Let us know in the comments!