FOUND Friday

A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.


Topic: Using Search and Social for Competitor Intelligence

Competitor intelligence that leads to actionable insights is more than just knowing what the enemy is up to. Valuable competitor intelligence takes into account the entire competitive arena. Re-think your approach to gathering and acting on competitor data across search, social, and content marketing.

Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics
Karen Scates, Marketing & PR Manager, GinzaMetrics


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Karen: Hey, everyone. Welcome to this edition of FOUND Friday, our YouTube series where we talk about everything marketing and SEO. I’m your host Karen Scates and with me today is Erin O’Brien our COO. This week we’re talking about re-thinking our approach to gathering and acting competitor intelligence across search, social, and content marketing. Marketers may feel that they have more data than they can handle. How does looking at competitor data help, not add to marketer’s challenges?


Erin: It’s always funny when we talk about competitor data or adding additional analytics to someone’s life because people do feel like there’s so much data that they’ve already got going on. A lot of it is – as we’ve talked about before – things that I think people are collecting but they’re not using to actually make new marketing decisions. So it’s something that they feel like they need to report on, that they’ve been asked to report on but isn’t actually moving the strategic bar for them when it comes down to doing stuff.


So I think that when we’re talking about adding competitor data, what you should be looking at is layering it into a lot of different areas of your marketing organization as opposed to making it a completely separate endeavor. If you are looking at making it a completely separate endeavor and then there’s analytics on e-mail, analytics on social, analytics on search, all these different things and then a full roll up and then in a separate place, you’ve got analytics on competition. What you want to look at is how are your competitors doing in search? How are your competitors doing in social? All these different things. And by adding those layers in, it’s really just picking and making sure that you connect the correct analytics that matter for your brand within your existing reporting and measurement structure.


Karen: So when it comes to collecting competitor data, it’s different across search, social, and content marketing for most folks. Typically – because these tools are all different – is that causing more problems or does it matter where the data comes from at all?


Erin: I feel kind of split on this because I think that a lot of us are using a lot of different tools to measure different things, and some of that is important because you have a lot of things that you want to be able to collect and analyze separately and certain tools will offer deeper analysis. I think that it’s also really important though to be able to roll your data up and get a good picture view.


I think that because there is so much similarity between search, social, and content that being able to look at a cross section of this information in a single tool can be really helpful. Because what you can be able to see, hopefully, is how keywords and organic terms that are driving traffic to your content are affecting content, how the types of content you create and share on social are being found on native search.


As we always talk about, I think it’s really important to look at and say, “If these are the terms and the types of ways that people are discussing us and finding our content on search, these should also be some terms that we try to use when we share our content on social or we engage our audience on social and vice versa.” Without having a place to collect all that data, even if what it is is the use of multiple different tools and then putting that information in one place and analyzing it, kind of what we talk about with media method and message. That’s the only way that you’re really going to get true insights from measuring search, measuring social, measuring content because none of these efforts exists on an island like they’re all part of one big ecosystem.


Karen: I think that’s a lot of what people are talking about when they’re talking about breaking down silos. It’s all about the data sharing and really how data that is significant in one area has influence on another area. So that’s not new, it’s just not happening.


Erin: It does. People always ask, “How do I make this happen? How do I make this happen?” We had a lot of conversations around CM World. One of the things that I heard the most was, “I want to put all these things into action but my organization is not set up in a way to make it happen and we didn’t episode on some thoughts and ideas around what to do to try to make things happen.”


A lot of those ideas – which I don’t want to dive back into because I know we’re having a different show today – a lot of those thoughts are things that I think people can try to do and one of the things that I did mention in the show that I will say here is – hopefully if you’re working for a large organization it does have a lot of data in organizational silos – is you have to take a longer term view and you have to break down what you consider movement on this issue, which may be you make an en route with somebody else in another organization and you guys start to share data, and hopefully over time that leads to other places but you probably won’t be able to affect systemic change overnight and expecting it will probably just make you feel crazy and disappointed all the time.


Karen: Let’s talk about how content marketers, SEOs, and social media specialists can all gain insights from the same set of data. Because maybe the problem is that people don’t really know or they don’t really believe that everyone can get good insight from the same information.


Erin: Yeah. One of the things that we’re working on here and we’ll be releasing in the next couple of days is this idea of tying in social trends and share of voice into our SEO platform. One of the ways that this can be really useful is if you are setting up keyword groups and content groups, which we always advocate and we try to make it super easy using our Keyword and Content Group Wizard, is if you’re setting up keyword groups and content groups you should be able to bucket things out by things like features, product lines, campaigns, geographies, whatever it is you want to break your keywords and content out by.


From there, if you’re actually tracking specific types of keywords and specific groups of content, one of the things that’s really important about sharing search, social, and content insights is you can see specifically how people are reacting and how people are not just finding your data or finding your content but what’s happening on your site as you release new content, what the reaction to that is. I think it’s really important to look at it from both points of view.


That’s why having this break between search and social is such a big problem is people create content and then they’ll use social to share it or e-mail or something else and they’ll send stuff out there and then they won’t be able to track and see how people are discussing that in that natural area. They’ll then like miss out on all of that data. They’ll be missing out on what those conversations could mean to new keywords to track, not just new keywords to track but if you have new keywords based on these conversations, you have an idea of what new content to create. So then you have better content creation and then that better content leads to higher search rankings because you’re more relevant for those key 

Erin: To just wrap up, some of the data points that we got is obviously not just keywords individually and their rank but how content itself is actually ranking, not just individually but as a group. In addition to that, with these new social trends and share of voice that we track, not just for you but for your competitors based on the kinds of content that you’re creating, based on how you’re sharing it on social, based on the keywords that you’re tracking, we’re looking at where your competitors are rising and falling. So as you release new groups of content, you can actually see rises and falls or changes in share of voice on these social media channels which should tell you as you release content groups or new content or target new keywords how that’s actually having effect across a larger swath of your marketing equation.


Karen: And that’s true not just for your own data but for your competitor data, as well. So how much competitor analysis do you think is useful when trying to make your own strategic marketing decisions?


Erin: I think that if you’re in an industry where competitor data is a big thing and you work in a space where you have an actual competitor analysis team, then that’s maybe a little bit of a different thing. But I think for a lot of marketers, there’s really just some baseline things that will help you decide how much deeper you need to dive into your competitor thing.


I like to say that, for us, one of the things I like to do is track a baseline of what’s going on with certain things – little stuff like setting up Google Alerts for your competitors or tracking them in a tool like GinzaMetrics. One of the things we offer is a top keyword activity and we do it not just for you but for your competitors. So you can actually see when a competitor is having an enormous spike in keyword activity for something that you’re actually trying to rank for and that’s really important. Or you could see with our new social share of voice when your competitor is actually starting to take the big chunk of share of voice.


This is not the be-all end-all of data, it’s the signifier that you need to start paying attention and diving deeper into the data. But just keeping track of a couple of these small things like using either one of our custom dashboards or our reporting tool where it would just send you an e-mail would make it a lot easier for people to know because most of us don’t have time to do a deep competitor analysis every day or every week. Some people don’t even have a chance to do every month, so they do it maybe quarterly or yearly.


I think we talked about that at the beginning of the year. I can’t believe it’s already November, but we talked about it at the beginning of the year, what are some baseline things that people can do and how often. So if you do this regular send of information with just these couple of baseline things, it’ll tell you – you’re like, “Oh, something crazy is happening. I should probably pay attention and dive into it now.”


Karen: One another place to look is – we’re talking about social media but looking at the different social media channels and where is your competitor all of a sudden spiking, maybe in one particular channel. That’s another way to look at that and look at those trends and get an alert and say, “Hey, wait a minute. Something is going on here. Let’s take a deeper dive. Let’s find out what’s going on.”


Erin: It is one of the challenges. When you’re talking about building a search platform these days and tying in things like social and content as the marketing space continuous to grow and things continue to change in terms of how some elements affect other elements. Because these things all have their own evolving integrations with each other, building something that meets those needs is something we work really hard on and we work with our customers to ask, “What would work well for you?” or “What other information you’d like to see?”


I think that’s why these Social Trends chart and Share of Voice chart stuff that’s coming out next week is going to be really exciting because again, it’s not meant to be a full-on social media analytics suite. What it’s meant to do is tie in and give you information about keywords and content that are working really well organically for your audience and it’s meant to tell you when your competitors and when you are experiencing big gains or big losses to help you go back and know that this is the time that you need to be checking it out.


We tried to add all this stuff into the automated reporting system, as well. That’s one of the big things that I hear from folks a lot. They say that they don’t have time to necessarily get up every morning and log in to 10 different platforms and check and see where things are going, try to find out what’s happening over here, what’s happening over here. Then if there is a big rise or big fall they’re like, “How do I even figure out what happened here?”


That’s why one of my tricks – I tell people this all the time when they seem overwhelmed with new data – is set up a weekly or daily custom reporting modules so you can literally just pick out a couple of things like I usually use the top keyword activity thing daily. We have Goal Conversions or Goal Completions area and a Summary bar, and I just pick those. What I do is I just have that sent to myself daily. In the morning it’s in my inbox and then I just take a quick look. So before the day gets crazy and I try to dive in to everything else, I at least have an idea of, “Do I need to look at this now or can I prioritize doing some other things and then get to this a little bit later?”


That’s not to say that I don’t think that diving into the platform is important every day but if we’re all honest with ourselves, that’s not necessarily the first thing that happens for everybody’s daily life. So you might as well figure out a way to make it work for you. I think that that’s the point with all competitor analysis. When we’re talking about search and social and all these things is there is a way to make it work for you. So you have to figure out what those things are that you can track and will track.


The first idea is how am I going to use it? Once you figure out how you would use it, you pick a couple of things that you can actually affect on a regular basis and you go with that. It’s best to just start small even just one or two things. Just set up a little competitor alert, in Gmail a Google Alert. Set up a little competitor alert in Ginza. Start with one thing.


Karen: Also, the great thing is that if you are doing social media and that’s your thing, you can just pick out those modules and get those alerts. If you’re doing SEO, you might pick out recommendations and get those kinds of alerts so that you can choose to see the data you want to see every morning and everybody doesn’t have to be looking at the same data. If you’re on a small team and you’re doing it all, you might choose a combination of those things.


Erin: That’s actually a good point. Because a large team can share this platform, somebody from the social team can get information from here, somebody from the search team can get information from here, somebody from content can get information from here. That’s one of the things that when we’re talking about how is having multiple platforms affecting folks – we have a SlideShare on this – is when you’re using a lot of different platforms, it means that everybody is getting their information from a different source every day and then trying to recombine. But, unfortunately, not everybody measures information the exact same way.


Some people measure or will have set up mentions differently or keyword groups differently. So you have to make sure that if you’re going to have a content tool, a search tool, and a social tool and you’re trying to do keyword groups and content groups and mentions and things like that, that you guys are all sharing the same list of things and actually measuring them the same way across because then you can’t say, “This product is performing better than this product in social,” when search is actually using different keywords to track that because then everybody is confused about what exactly that means.


I think that that’s one of the benefits of even if your social team is using a social analytics tool and your content team is using something for content that if you use Ginza, they can actually get some of their information out of our product and then hold it up against whatever other analytics tool that they’re using. It’s like, “Hmm. This seems like it’s a little bit weird. Maybe I’ll take a look and see why.”


Karen: I think that’s about all the time we have for today. If you have any questions or you want more information, you can contact me, or Or join the conversation on Twitter at #FOUNDFriday.


Thanks again for being here, Erin, and everybody be sure to join us next week. In the meantime, have a great weekend.

Erin: Bye, everybody.

Karen: Bye-bye.

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