Hey Google: Should Businesses Take Voice Search Serious?

Hey Google: Should Businesses Take Voice Search Serious?

Voice search isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s more prevalent than ever before and that’s not going to change. The latest stats show that by 2020, at least 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

Even more surprising is this nugget of information. Digital transformation leader Gartner anticipates that in the same time frame, 30% of all searches will be screenless, as well. Screenless searches most often involve digital assistants such as Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. Experts anticipate that the voice speaker market will exceed $30 billion by 2024.

Put these facts together and we can draw one, inevitable conclusion:

Companies that fail to optimize for voice search now will lose business to companies that embrace the trend.

So… what do you need to know about voice search right now? How can you optimize your site to ensure that you’re grabbing your share of voice traffic? Here’s what you need to know.

What Are the Differences between Traditional Search and Voice Search?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that voice search is just traditional search with a new name. It’s not. There are some key differences in the way people seek out information when they’re speaking aloud, and you’ve got to understand them to capitalize on the voice search trend.

Here are the main differences:

  1. Voice search uses long-tail keywords. If you were looking for a product before voice search, you might simply type what you were looking for into Google and peruse a list of results. With voice search, you’re likely to ask a very specific question about where you can find the product in your area. Short keywords (also known as head keywords) aren’t going to help you in voice search.
  2. Voice search answers questions. If someone’s looking for the best pizza place in Chicago, they’re not going to say “Minneapolis pizza” to Siri. They’ll likely frame their query as a question: What’s the best pizza place near me? Your content must answer the questions that are most likely to lead people to your business.
  3. Voice search allows consumers to bypass intermediate steps. Traditional searches offer searchers a list of results which they can then filter. In voice search, the questions themselves act as filters and may allow a user to skip the filtering and jump directly into buying a product.
  4. Voice search only provides one answer. Traditional search queries return pages of potential websites for you to choose from. By contrast, ask Cortana where to buy your favorite brand of shoes and she’ll give you one answer and one answer only.
  5. Voice search is intent-focused. That means that people ask Siri or Cortana specific questions that have an intent – whether it’s to go out to eat, buy a product, or find a service.
What you should take from this is that voice search is intensely competitive and highly specific. It’s not enough to throw a few short keywords on a page and call it a day. Voice search optimization must be intentional and thoughtful.

Choosing Voice Search Keywords

Voice search optimization starts with keyword selection. You know you’ve got to focus on long-tail keywords, but which ones?

A good place to start is with Google’s new-ish “People Also Ask” feature. When you Google a keyword associated with your business, you’ll see a box just below the top result or two with a list of similar questions that people ask. You can use those to help you optimize your page.

Another way to choose your voice search questions is to look at the FAQ on your website and on your competitors’ sites. The questions that people access most frequently are likely to be ones that will bring a lot of traffic to your site.

Considering the intent of the questions you choose is essential, as well. Remember, voice searches are always asked with a specific intent. The user wants to find a product or business, or they’re seeking an experience, or they want help with a problem. If you keep their intent in mind, then you’re likely to do a good job attracting voice traffic.

Of course, your questions should still incorporate your local keywords. For example, say you own a pizza
restaurant in Minneapolis. Here are some examples of voice queries you could use:

  1. What’s the best pizza restaurant in Minneapolis?
  2. What the best Minneapolis pizza place?
  3. Where can I get vegan pizza in Minneapolis?
You get the idea. You want to incorporate your long-standing keywords into questions and use those as the inspiration for your content.

Tips for Optimizing for Voice Search

You understand why voice search is so important – now it’s time to do something about it. After you’ve chosen some key questions to answer, here’s what to do.
  1. Build a conversational interface. Your new, voice-optimized content’s got to answer search queries as specifically as possible to bring people as deep into your sales funnel as possible. This process takes time and skill.
  2. Focus heavily on localization. Most local businesses rely on local customers and they’re likely to incorporate place names into their voice search queries. You should answer their queries as specifically as possible while making sure that your business information is properly indexed. That way, people who need to find you will be able to find you.
  3. Use Schema markup on your pages. Proper Schema markup will ensure that search engines such as Google will be able to properly index your page and return it as a result for voice searches.
Perhaps the most important reason to start optimizing for voice search now is to stay ahead of Google’s algorithm. If you were one of the companies whose ranking took a hit after Mobilegeddon, you know how devastating it can be to get caught lagging behind a search trend.

It’s only a matter of time before Google adds voice search to its algorithm. You don’t want to be scrambling when that happens – which is why you’ve got to act now.

Voice search is here to stay. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to jump aboard the bandwagon now, while there’s still time. You’ll get a leg up on your laggy competitors – and reap the rewards in the form of a thriving business.

Voice Search Changed How People Find Your Business

Voice Search Changed How People Find Your Business

Voice search is everywhere these days. You’ve heard about it before, but it’s long past time to think of it is something to worry about in the future. The future is now.

As of 2019, 20% of all Google searches are voice-activated – a number that’s expected to leap to 50% as early as 2020.

The statistics around voice-enabled gadgets like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, are even higher. Only 18% of US households owned one as of 2018. By 2022, it’ll be 55%.

What’s that tell us? Voice search is here to stay. It’s growing – and businesses who don’t embrace it now are going to be left scrambling in the very near future.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to embrace voice search and recognize that optimization is not optional. Here’s what you need to know.


Voice Search vs. Traditional Search

There are two key differences between voice search and traditional text-based searches. Understanding them is a must if you want to capitalize on voice search and grab your share of traffic and sales.

The biggest difference is one that illustrates why the growing trend of voice searches isn’t something to take lightly.

With traditional search, you can grab a share of the organic traffic from the SERP even if you’re not ranked number one. Why? Because searchers don’t always click on the first link. They’ll scroll, skim titles and meta descriptions, and choose the link that best suits their needs. Even if you’re tenth – or on the second page of search results – you can still get a few clicks out of the deal.

Voice search is a different thing entirely. When someone searches a keyword or asks Siri a question, they’re not getting a list of results. The virtual assistant reads one – and only one — result. In other words, in the world of voice search, if you snooze, you lose!

The second key difference between voice and text search is the keywords that dominate. Google’s been prioritizing long-tail keywords for all searches, but in voice search there’s no other option.


Pointers for Optimizing Your Site for Voice Search

As you probably expected, Google keeps its voice search algorithm secret. However, there are some ways to improve your chances of ending up in the featured spot – the coveted position where your site is the one being offered as the solution to a search request.

#1: Answer a Question

A lot of voice searches are worded as questions. Answering the most commonly-asked questions can help you move up the SERP to the featured position.

Not sure what questions to answer? You can try using Answer the Public, a site that generates questions based on the keywords you enter. Here’s a sampling of the suggested questions for Facebook advertising:

  1. How does Facebook advertising pricing work?
  2. What are Facebook advertising policies?
  3. Is Facebook advertising taxable?

To grab the lion’s share of traffic for these questions, the best method is to make the question itself an H2 tag in your content. Then, answer it as clearly and concisely as possible immediately under the H2. Google’s always going to prioritize quality content. Getting right to the point in a way that’s engaging will help Google see your response as the best answer.

#2: Optimize for Long-Tail Keywords

A lot of businesses are accustomed to optimizing for short keywords. Those days are over. Long-tail keywords are the name of the game. They’re more conversational and contextual than old school keywords. They’re also the keywords most likely to be used in voice searches.

Ever since Google released its Hummingbird update in 2013, the emphasis has been on long-tail keywords. To maximize your traffic from voice search, you’ll need to identify the most likely search terms and highlight them in your content.

One of the easiest ways to identify long-tail keywords is to scroll down to the bottom of the Google SERP after doing a search and check out the “People Also Ask” box, which lists questions that are commonly asked along with what you searched. It’s a great way to identify variations and pinpoint the terms people are using to search.

#3: Optimize for Local Searches

You might be tired of hearing about local search, but the truth is that it’s more important than ever. 76% of all voice search users use it for local searches at least once a week, and 53% make local searches daily.

If you haven’t standardized your NAP listings, optimized your site for local keywords, claimed your review listings, and optimized your Google My Business listing, you’re probably not going to perform well in voice search.

Make sure that all business data is accurate, including your hours of operation, address, and any other information that might be relevant to searchers.

#4: Use the Right Words

It might shock you to know that approximately 20% of all voice searches are triggered by the same 25 words. These include words like:

  1. How
  2. What
  3. Best
  4. Where
  5. Top
  6. New
  7. Define
  8. Types

Focusing your content on these words can help you jump ahead of your competitors and grab more than your share of voice search traffic. The key is to incorporate the right words into content that answers questions, using the proper tags and markers to ensure that Google can read and index your content correctly.

#5: Speed Up Your Site

Voice searchers expect to get search results nearly instantaneously. In fact, one study found that a site that took just 5 seconds to load was 90% more likely to get a bounce than a site that took only one second to load.

Complicating matters is the fact that mobile searches have a bounce rate that’s nearly 10% higher than desktop searches.

Maximizing your site’s speed increases the chances that you’ll move to the top in voice search. A slow-loading site is not going to be Google’s first choice. Remember, their goal is always to deliver the most relevant site to the searcher as quickly as possible.

Voice search is coming for all of us – and you can’t afford to ignore it. SEO is never an exact science, but the tips here can help make your content what Google voice searchers want – and increase the chances that you’ll land the coveted top spot.

The 5 Simple Marketing Metrics You Should Know

The 5 Simple Marketing Metrics You Should Know

When you’re running a business, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with everything you need to do. A lot of business owners look at marketing as an afterthought. They’re focusing on other things.

That attitude’s a common one – but it’s not a great idea to ignore marketing. And while you might not have a ton of time to spend on marketing, there are a few basic marketing metrics that you should have at your fingertips all the time. In fact, not knowing them can negatively affect your business’s profitability over time.

#1: The Size and Demographics of Your Audience

Your audience, whether they’re subscribed to your email list or following you on social media, is the pool from which you’ll attract most of your new customers. It’s also representative of the people who’re most likely to buy from you even if they’re not in your audience now.

There’s no denying those things are important. You should always know three things about your audience:

  • The number of people in your audience
  • Where they are
  • What they have in common with one another

Let’s look at each question in turn. The number of people in your audience is probably the easiest thing to track, but you’ll need to check multiple locations regularly. For example, you can check:

  • Your blog metrics to see how many readers you have, on average
  • Your social media following on various sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram)
  • Your email and text subscriber lists

Getting a handle on the numbers will also help you understand where your audience is. You may notice that you have far more followers on Facebook than on Instagram.

The final thing you’ll need to do is to analyze your audience. On Facebook, for example, you can view age, gender, and geographical breakdowns of your audience. You can also see what interests they have in common. Having this data at your fingertips can help you build lookalike audiences and do a good job of creating content that your audience will enjoy.


#2: Your Online Review Status

Online reviews are important to every business. Research shows that 86% of all consumers read online reviews, and that 89% read company responses to reviews. Those aren’t numbers you should ignore.

To get a handle on your online reviews, you’ll need to:

  • Search for your company listings on review sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Angie’s List, and claim them.
  • Update your listings to accurately reflect your current address, phone number, business hours, and prices.
  • Set up a system for responding to all reviews, especially negative ones, in a constructive and professional way.
  • Find ways to encourage your customers to leave reviews for your business.

Another related “must” is to set up alerts, so you get notified when there’s a new review of your business. You’ll need to respond quickly to show existing and potential customers that you care about them and their experiences.

#3: Your Google Ranking

The third marketing metric you need to know – and it’s a hugely important one – is your website’s Google ranking. You’ll need to conduct regular Google searches for your most important keywords and keep track of how you’re doing.

Your ranking for one page may be high while another page is down on the second (or third, or tenth) page of Google results. If that’s the case, you’ll need to improve your SEO and increase your visibility to improve your ranking.

Why does this matter? Well, research shows that the first result on Google’s SERP for any keyword grabs about 30% of clicks. The second and third positions can get as much as 10%, but after that the fall-off is precipitous. You’ll be lucky to grab 2% of the traffic.

The good news is that focusing on local SEO and voice search can help you improve your ranking – but you must know where you are now before you can attack the problem and rise in the ranks.

#4: Ad Performance

Whether you’re running just a few ads or juggling dozens of marketing campaigns, it’s necessary to track the performance of each ad. It’s the only way to know whether your marketing mix is right – and whether your money is going down the drain.

Let’s use Facebook as an example. Facebook provides tons of insights for businesses. You can see how many people your ads are reaching, get an overview of their demographics, and even track the days (and times of day) when your posts get the most engagement.

If you prefer an all-in-one solution that will allow you to track your performance on all social media accounts, you can use UTM tags to track them with Google Analytics. Or, if you prefer, you can use a social media tracking tool.

#5: ROI by Campaign

ROI Campaign dollar bill

The final metric you should track is your Return on Investment, or ROI, for each marketing campaign. In case you don’t know, ROI is calculated as a percentage using a simple formula. Here’s how it works:

  • Calculate your total revenue from the campaign
  • Calculate the total costs associated with the campaign
  • Subtract the costs from the revenue to calculate your profit
  • Divide your profit by the cost to calculate your ROI

For example, say you spent $200 on an email marketing campaign. Some of that money might be from hiring a writer to craft the emails and the rest might be the associated costs from your email provider.

Email marketing has a high ROI (4400%, to be exact). Let’s say that your revenue from this campaign was $9,000. That would mean the calculation would be:

$9,000 revenue – $200 cost = $8,800 profit, and $8,800 profit/$200 cost = 4400% ROI
ROI calculations will help you identify the marketing campaigns that are earning you the most revenue. You can use that information to:

  • Rethink your marketing mix
  • Split-test and improve underperforming campaigns and ads
  • Put more money into the marketing tactics that are most impactful

You don’t need to be a marketing guru to run a successful business. You do need to be aware of these 5 key marketing metrics – and know how to use them to attract new customers and increase your profits.

3 Mobile Marketing Musts for Local Businesses

3 Mobile Marketing Musts for Local Businesses

You might be sick of hearing about mobile marketing, but you can’t afford to ignore it. No local business can. With voice search dominating and local searches accounting for fully one-third of all inquiries, any business that’s not prioritizing mobile marketing is likely to end up out in the cold.

So, where should you start? What mobile marketing elements are the most important for local businesses? Fortunately, if you’re new to mobile marketing, there’re only three big musts – and if you focus on them, you’ll be able to capitalize on the huge growth in mobile searches.

#1: X Marks the Spot

In the world of marketing and SEO, it’s common for experts to go out of their way to mention that not all searches happen on Google. But guess what? Virtually all mobile searches DO happen on Google – and that’s not an exaggeration. As of 2018, almost 95% of searches on mobile devices were Google searches.

The challenge is clear. Your business must be findable on Google if you’re to have any hope of ranking for local searches and grabbing your share of traffic. And yet, Google Maps rankings incorporate both organic and paid traffic.

The good news for you is that many local businesses aren’t optimized for mobile and local searches. That means you’re in an ideal position to improve your ranking and take your competitors out – if you follow these four steps:

  • Run a free directory report to find your company’s listings online and optimize them. It’s important to know where your company information appears and how it looks to maximize your impact on Google.
  • Standardize your listings and add your most important keywords to each one.
  • Make sure that your location on Google Maps is accurate, so that people can find your business.
  • Focus on making your Google My Business listing as perfect as possible. If you haven’t already claimed your business, do so immediately. Then, once you’ve claimed it, choose all categories that apply to your business. Add keywords to your description and put information in every possible section of your listing.

The more accurate and complete your online information is, the easier it will be for Google to recommend your business for searches of your most important keywords – and your location.


#2: Stop Procrastinating and Optimize Your Website for Mobile

It wasn’t that long ago that optimizing for mobile was optional – but that’s no longer the case. According to Statista, 52.5% of all worldwide traffic to websites came from mobile devices in 2018. That number’s only going to grow in 2019 and beyond.

That’s not the only number that matters, either. Mobile users are notoriously impatient when it comes to loading times. According to a Google poll, slow-loading sites were the top complaint of mobile users. And, according to an Akamai case study, the optimal page loading time for conversions was 2.4 seconds. When you take into consideration that the average site took a whopping 22 seconds to load on mobile as of 2018, you can see why there’s room for improvement.

The bottom line? Visitors shouldn’t need to squint or scroll horizontally to navigate your website. It should be easy for them to find what they need – and even more importantly, take the action you want them to take!

Fortunately, the solution is easy. It’s not difficult to build a mobile-optimized website. Your mobile website should include all relevant information from your regular site, including vital information about your products or services. It should also have clear actions for visitors to your site to take, such as:

  • Getting directions to your store or office
  • Calling your business
  • Subscribing to your list
  • Making a purchase
  • Following you on social media

You may want your mobile site to be a bit simpler than your regular website. You don’t want to overwhelm your visitors. However, you do need to make sure to include the relevant information and keywords that will convince Google to award you a high rank.

#3: Embrace the Potential of Mobile Marketing

You know where your customers are. If you’ve done any audience research at all, you know where they live, what they like, and what they need from you. And, if you’ve got a local business, you know that most of your customers live within a small radius of your business address. It stands to reason – 90% of consumers buy what they need within a short distance of their home or workplace.

A lot of local businesses have been slow to adopt mobile marketing, but it’s one of the best ways to target your audience. You have a few options to consider:



  • Running Facebook ads and using the “Call This Business Now” call to action.
  • Collecting mobile numbers from your existing clients or customers and creating an SMS (text message) marketing campaign.
  • Intersperse text messages with marketing email to maximize your impact and connect with customers.
  • Use geofencing to send out offers when people are close to your store.
  • Run mobile ads – and experiment with various formats such as video, interactive, and native advertising in apps.
  • Create a mobile app for your business

Whatever mobile marketing techniques you decide to try, make sure that you set detailed targets and measure your results. It’s important to understand how much you’re spending and what your ROI is, so that going forward, you can fine-tune your mobile marketing campaigns to maximize their impact.

Once you’ve run a few campaigns, it’s a good idea to do some split testing and gradually improve your mobile ads’ conversion rates. Mobile marketing can take a bit of trial and error. It’s worth the time and effort to fine-tune your mobile marketing campaigns.

The bottom line is that mobile marketing is a must for local businesses. It provides you with an opportunity to connect directly with your target audience – and give them a reason to patronize your business instead of your competitors.

Create Killer Content without Writing a Word Yourself!

Create Killer Content without Writing a Word Yourself!

The title of this article pretty much steals my opening line:

What if you could create better content with less work?

If you’re screaming, “Sign me up!” then you’re not alone. Content creation is a lot of work. It takes time, expertise, and attention to detail.

And let’s face it: sometimes we have ideas for content but lack the expertise to execute them. Nobody’s good at everything, right?

The solution is – drum roll, please – NOT DOING EVERYTHING YOURSELF.
I’m talking here about content collaboration.

Maybe you’ve never collaborated on a piece of content before and the notion sounds scary. I get it.

But what if a little bit of teamwork and collaboration is just what you need to make your content sing? What if collaboration could increase your engagement, attract more leads, and bump your profits?

It can. Here’s what you need to know.

Content Collaboration?

So, what is content collaboration? How does it work?

Simply stated, content collaboration is what happens when more than one person – could be two, could be 10 or more – work together on a piece of content.

The benefit of collaborating on content is that it allows you to bring together people with different experiences, training, and skills to contribute what they know to the finished piece. When it’s done well, content collaboration can help you:

  • Be more creative with your content by adding outside expertise and opinions. When people collaborate, they’re sometimes able to come up with ideas and creative solutions that they might not conceptualize on their own. It’s a synergy thing.
  • Use your available resources more productively. We all have strength gaps and holes in our knowledge. In a group, you can capitalize on the individual strengths and skills of the entire team and use them, collectively, to make your content sing.
  • Increase your brand recognition and reach. This one’s especially true of you include industry influencers and experts in your collaboration. Each one of you can help expand the others’ audiences just by your presence on the team.

Content collaboration offers you the chance to create high-quality, engaging, and memorable content that will help you attract new leads. That’s a win no matter how you look at it.

Where to Find Collaborators

I’m willing to bet that collaboration sounds good to you now. That makes the next question where to find potential collaborators and how to choose the best ones to help you with your content.

Let’s start with the where. There are a few options:

  • Internal contributors. The people who are already working for your company, either as employees or freelancers, may have insights and skills that can make your content more compelling.
  • Customers and clients. The people who use your products or services know them well and might be able to offer tips to potential customers.
  • Suppliers and subcontractors. If your company works with suppliers or outside contractors, they might be able to offer a unique take on your content that potential leads can’t get anywhere else.
  • Industry publications, experts, and influencers have expertise that you may not have, and they also have their own audiences that may be interest in your products. Collaborating with them can help you beef up your content and expand your reach at the same time.

You should think about the content you want to create and decide who to approach about collaboration. If you’re going to ask people to write a section of content, you should think about their writing skills and whether you’ll need to edit or rewrite. Factor that into your decision.

Content Collaboration Ideas to Try

Not all content is ideal for collaboration. Here are 10 ideas you may want to consider as you undertake your first content collaboration.

  • Write a book. Writing a book all by yourself might seem like a daunting task. But if you gathered 10 collaborators and each of you wrote a chapter, you could be done with the book in no time – and offer your readers far more value than you’d be able to provide on your own.
  • Create a round-up article. You’ve probably seen round-up articles with titles like, “12 Experts Give Their Best Investment Advice” or something like that. The idea is that each collaborator contributes a tip or trick. All you’ll need to do is edit the whole thing together and you’ll have a unique and useful piece of content.
  • Collect reviews. This is an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and create useful or fun lists for your readers to enjoy. An example might be a collection of computer reviews by software users.
  • Conduct interviews. Doing interviews is an easy way to create content. You can simply record them (with audio or video) and then they can be posted in multiple formats. Videos can be shared to YouTube and social media, while audio may be turned into a podcast. You can also post a written version to your blog.
  • Courses and workshops. This type of collaboration is ideal if you want to get customers or clients involved. After all, the people who buy your products may be the best people to ask about creative ways to use them. You can either ask people to teach a segment of a shop or have a group workshop/demo where they demonstrate different techniques and uses for the product.
  • Newsletters. A newsletter is an idea place to collect short articles and contributions from your collaborators. You can send it out via email or post it on your website.
  • Slideshows. When multiple people contribute to a project, you can take each contributor’s work and design one or more slides around it. You can even take the slides and turn them into a video presentation.

I hope you get the idea. The content you create with collaborators should go above and beyond what you can do on your own. By incorporating many ideas into one meaningful piece of content, you’ll be giving your audience something valuable that may convert them from leads into paying customers.

Why Your Competitors are Thriving and You’re Not!

Why Your Competitors are Thriving and You’re Not!

What are your competitors doing that you don’t know about?

That might sound like a paranoid question, but it’s not. It’s a marketing must. If you don’t know what your top competitors are up to, you can’t beat them. It’s that simple.

Of course, you can’t expect the competition to turn over secrets to you – but you don’t need them to do that to be informed. All you need to do is observe, think, and ask a few key questions about what they’re doing.

Where Are They Marketing Themselves?

The first thing you need to know is where and how they’re finding customers. You don’t need a copy of their marketing blueprint to figure it out. Here are some suggestions.

  • Check out their website and make note of their most important keywords. You probably have some keywords in common, but you should still look at their content to figure out which words they’re targeting.
  • Search the keywords you’ve identified on Google and Bing to see if they’re advertising with either search engine.
  • Search social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to look at their profiles and see the kind of content they’re sharing. Your Google search may also turn up a few retargeting ads for you to check out.
  • Track their social media mentions.

You may want to create a spreadsheet to track who’s marketing where – and how they’re doing it. Don’t forget to check sites like Tumblr, Snapchat, and Reddit. They don’t get mentioned as often as Facebook and Instagram, but they still offer marketing opportunities.


What Makes Them Unique?

You’ve spent some time figuring out how to distinguish yourself from your competitors – but how do they distinguish themselves from you?

A brand’s Unique Value Proposition tells you a lot about how they see themselves. Are they branding themselves as innovators? Solid and reliable? Affordable? Luxury?

You can pick up a lot of clues about your competitors’ unique qualities by looking at their websites and ads. What you learn can help you figure out how to be more competitive.

What Marketing Techniques Are They Using?

It’s not enough to know where your competitors are putting their marketing dollars. You also need to know what they’re doing with it. It can take some time to get a handle on their strategy, but it will be time well spent.

You may notice that they’re running both search engine ads and retargeting ads. That may indicate that their target audience requires a lot of nurturing before they buy. Or, you may notice that they’re relying heavily on customer-created content on social
media, and that could inspire you to create some brand ambassadors of your own.

You should also make note of the kinds of content that performs best for them in terms of engagement. Are they posting lots of videos or sticking mostly to photos? Are they using infographics or instructographics? Every technique they use could point in the direction of more effective marketing for you.

What Are Their Strengths and Weaknesses?

As you observe your competitors’ marketing and check out their websites, you’ll probably notice that there are some things they do exceptionally well. Maybe they’ve got killer blog posts that fans love and that get tons of shares on social media. Or, maybe they’ve got a YouTube channel with hundreds of useful videos.

At the same time, you should look for things they’re not doing so well. Maybe their website’s out of date or their social media posting is irregular. Maybe they haven’t done a good job of differentiating themselves in the market.

Make note of anything that might be helpful. Your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses can help you fine-tune your own marketing strategy.

Marketing Strength

What What Are Their Values?

It’s become increasingly important to consumers to know that the brands they buy have a moral center. You know that because you’ve seen the way brands can suffer when they misbehave. Customers can turn on brands in a flash if they feel they don’t share their core values.

If your competitors are affiliated with causes or charities, it’s important to know about it. You should look especially hard at any marketing efforts that tout their involvement and values. It’s quite common for brands to dedicate pages on their websites to their charitable efforts and values.

Millennials put a very high premium on corporate values both when they seek employment and when they shop. If you’re not clearly articulating your values and your competitors are, you might be at a disadvantage.

Keep in mind that when you express your values, you should look for causes that align with them. For example, a lot of food manufacturers and restaurants get involved with local food pantries and soup kitchen or sponsor food drives for hungry families.

How Do They Engage Fans?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is what your competitors are doing to engage their followers and fans. Engagement can mean a lot of different things from reading a Facebook post to creating unique, brand-based content – but it matters at every level.

One of my favorite ways to track engagement is to look at my competitors’ CTAs on social media. What are they asking fans to do? They might:

  • Ask fans to vote by asking them to like a post for one option and share it for the other.
  • Ask a question and encourage fans to answer in the comments.
    Sponsor a contest and give entries to fans who like, comment, and share their posts.
  • Ask fans to create content and use a special hashtag they’ve created for that purpose.

You can also make note of the kind of content that gets the most engagement. Do they get five times as many likes on the videos they share as on photographs? Are they sponsoring contests to incentivize engagement? These are all good questions to ask.