SearchFest 2015 Overview: “Competitive Intel”

Why it’s important

Competitive intelligence and understanding your audience are core components to succeeding with your digital marketing efforts. Competitive intelligence gives you a better look into what you’re up against in the marketplace. Is there something you’re missing? How are you differentiating yourself from your key competitors? Having a sound strategy for identifying threats and opportunities in your marketplace is essential for the success of your business. Knowing and understanding your audience means communicating with them more effectively. With an intimate knowledge of who your audience is you’ll be better equipped to build a relationship with them and hone in on meeting their needs. Using competitive intelligence in conjunction with a strong understanding of your audience you’ll be able to create a stronger position for your business in the marketplace.

What it’s about

If you think competitive intelligence is just a Google search away, you’re wrong. Beyond the basics, this course discusses the latest in competitive intelligence gathering strategies and advanced methods for developing your audience. From this course you’ll be able to build upon a strong foundation of marketing expertise and market research skills to key in on industry trends to propel your business ahead of the competition and further carve out your niche in your industry.

Who presented? And why should you trust them?

Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz – Moz

You may not be able to find a more engaged digital media personality than Rand. The former SearchFest keynote is an undeniable industry leader in social media, content marketing, and SEO. If you didn’t get a chance to see him live at SearchFest then you’ll have to settle for this brief overview. But don’t let that stop you from getting some face time with the wizard, you can catch him every week on his Whiteboard Friday video series.

Get lost on your way to see the Wizard? Get more from Rand by following him on Twitter @randfish or via his blog.

Rae Hoffman, CEO – Sugarrae & Pushfire

Believing that the will to succeed can propel anyone to their goal, Rae is the driving force behind her own business and blog. An accomplished speaker and columnist Rae has carved out a reputation for direct communication and strong opinions. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and years of experience in affiliate marketing, Sugarrae provides keen insights and a unique perspective on many digital marketing topics of interest.

Want more from this Jersey girl? You won’t find her on the shore, but you can follow her on Twitter @sugarrae or get more insights from her blog.

What you missed from “Competitive Intel”

First up is Rand Fishkin with the four great failures in Competitive Intelligence.

#1 Assuming the Root Cause of a Certain Data Point

Most of the time when we looking into an issue, our analysis is flawed. You collect data on something and observed a certain thing happening. Next, you validate its frequency and make a recommendation to fix it. A better process would follow some of the same steps with a few tweaks to the recommendation. You start the same by collecting data. From that data you notice a certain thing happening and validate its frequency. From that you can propose several root causes on why that certain thing happens.

#2 Mistaking a few Outliers for a Representative Sample Set

Biased sample sets involve the same competitors in research and can lead you to the wrong conclusions. “We bias to what we know.” Just because a site is doing well in search it does not mean the business is doing well. Paul Graham of Y Combinator knows about these biases. “The cutoff in investors’ heads is 32,” says Graham. “After 32, they start to be a little skeptical. I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg. There was a guy once who we funded who was terrible. I said : ‘How could he be bad? He looks like Zuckerberg!'”

Funding those only under 25 year old eliminates a large amount of companies and does not guarantee success. It’s better to cast a much wider net. For example, instead of just analyzing the four biggest competitors in search rankings, analyze a broad scope of competitors and note correlations that might be able to predict successes and failures. Look at sites that rank well and sites that don’t and compare them. How are sites that rank poorly bringing in business from other channels?

#3 Over-investing in Imitation

Just because a competitor has done something does not mean it will work for you. Test everything. Even better than that would be to ask the question on if that test is important. We don’t know for certain why a given tactic will work or not so it is important not to jump to conclusions. Copying a strategy from competitor will just ensure that you will remain a follower instead of a leader in your industry. Testing different tactics could provide a leap to get ahead.

#4 Under-investing in Your Own Unique Strengths

What are your competitors doing? Facebook, display, SEO and TV. Just because a competitor is using certain channels to bring in leads does not mean that you should start using those channels. A better question would be what does your company do better than anyone else and which one of these things will reach and resonate with your audience. The intersection of these questions will be what you want to focus on.

Next up is Rae Hoffman.

Despite what you may have heard or read, spam works. It just works for only a short amount of time. The search engines are getting better and recognizing spam and the amount of time that these spam tactics work. Google doesn’t care what sites are ranking as long as they are good sites for the user. They continually tweak their algorithm to show better results for their users. Developing defensible links is a must.

The “content is king” montra doesn’t work anymore. Quality content is important but if you don’t go out there and promote it, it will never get seen. There is the content that interests you and that you want to write about. And there is content that your target market wants to read or find. These are not always the same.

Content marketing success includes increased sales, conversions, time on site, average order value, email list signups, brand searches, decreased bounce rate and more. Content is not a success without real results. If your content is worth sharing, people will start talking about it, but getting links is not enough. What impact does this content have on your audience?

Using tools will help manage all the data so you create the correct content. If they are to expensive to be on boarded all the time at the same time, try using them in batches. Even one month of using a tool that costs $2000 a month can have an immense amount of value if you plan to get the most out of it. Below are some tools that you should look into using.

  • LinkResearchTools: A very expensive tool but is very valuable for finding good content ideas and finding back link opportunities.
  • Buzzsumo: This tools helps you find shareable content and data into what content is getting shared. Has audience insights and can also help discover other sites that you may want to write for.

If you are not building an email list, you will fail. Businesses spend a LOT of time and effort getting traffic, but if Google makes an algorithmic update that pulls the rug out from underneath your business, how are you backing that up? An email list is a great way to create tangible long term value.

More from Searchfest 2015

If you liked what you found here, visit our SearchFest hub page to discover more topics to follow from SearchFest 2015.

Nik Dahlberg

Dedicated Father, enthusiastic marketer. Let's connect.

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