A startup is more than an idea and a state of mind. It is a relatively young company that, after proof of concept, is focusing on growth. Scalability unconstrained by geography is the key attribute of a startup, and the key-differentiating factor from a small company.
Thus, in this rush of growth, more startups do forget the basic marketing rule of knowing who your customer is, what he thinks, how he feels about everything and what he tweeted last night. Product development and KPI’s are becoming so important, that we forget who we have built this product for in the first place.
So, if you are at all involved in any startup, brand monitoring is the essential part of your business. Technopedia calls brand monitoring a “business analytics process”, which means that you cannot expect your business to thrive without performing the necessary research with the help of brand monitoring tools.
What does a brand monitoring tool contain?
Basically, it helps you gather insights on your company, its perception within the digital space, your products, your overall brand image, and, really, anything that has any relation to your business. What’s more important, brand monitoring allows you to monitor your brand’s performance with your target demographic. This is vital for being aware of your particular audience segments and your target audience.
Why Brand Monitoring for Startups?
If you believe that a brand monitoring platform is only relevant to PR firms and is a luxury for a startup, then think again: here are 8 reasons why you should implement a brand monitoring strategy right now.
#1. Learn From Your Competitors
Remember, how it was in the old days? You never knew what conversations were going on between your competitors and their customers. And nowadays you can see them happen in real-time. Moreover, you can follow your competitors’ marketing and sales strategy and take on their success cases, as well as learn from their mistakes. It is great to be creative and innovative, yet there is no need to reinvent the wheel – you can spare your business from lots of troubles and challenges by merely looking at your competition. Moreover, your competitors can be both a source of inspiration and endless improvement.
#2. Define Areas of Improvement
All that noise that surrounds your brand (via Social Media, reviews, comments etc.) is worth your attention. People are happily sharing their feedback in the digital space and these companies that are able to respond quickly and satisfy customers’ needs are more likely to succeed. No survey or focus group can reveal improvement areas as well as people’s honest opinion, shared on your Twitter, for instance. We all know that people are more likely to be frank and straightforward when contacted via digital means. Moreover, you don’t even need to reach out for feedback, for feedback often comes to you. Thus, you end up having a free and direct brainstorming session with your target audience, which is priceless. If it is a customer-oriented approach your business is taking (which it should), then this is what can help you build the utmost customer-centred product and business strategy.
Here is what you should pay a close attention to:
- Product and Feature Requests: When you tell your customer that his/her feedback is, indeed, important, that’s one thing. However, when you promise that their feedback can have a real impact on your product strategy, here is when you provide the real added value to whatever feedback you want to receive from your customers.
- Bugs and Enhanced Product Features: You might spend ages testing your own product before it lands on the market, however, we all know that nothing can be perfect. And live customer feedback can almost replace an entire UI and UX team. Find your own brand champions and let them test your product. You’ll gather some great insights from a user-centric point of view.
- Spy on Your Competitors: Make sure that you know what your competitors are doing and what their customers are saying. This is especially useful for new brands, which have more established competitors. Who knows, maybe you can do something long-before your competitor replies to that particular product or feature request and win over some audience?
#3. Improve Your Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve defined your product strategy, it is high time that you’ve taken a look at how a brand monitoring tool can enhance your marketing efforts. For a great product has no real business value if it is not marketed smartly. Acquiring customer information is the key to your marketing success. The first layer of a great marketing strategy always has to do with knowing your target audience. You should know all about your demographics, customer intent, sentiment analysis, customer preferences and habits – the more, the better. And here is how brand monitoring can provide you with rich customer insights:
- Know Your Customers: Targeting is not an intentional business decision, it is rather an intuitive one. However, in the modern world, full of tools and marketing models, going with your gut is not the best solution. Thus, identifying your target audience should be a data-informed decision. Look at your competitors once again, have a glimpse at discussions various customer segments are having on your industry and define your target audience.
- Identify Your Customers’ Needs: By monitoring discussions about your particular business niche, you’ll be able to quickly identify what it is that your customers expect from your product/service. Only by knowing what your customers want, you’ll be able to satisfy their needs.
- Be Where Your Target Audience Is: It is simply not smart to be present everywhere at all times. Pinpoint where your potential customers already are – do not target them on 7 Social Media channels, rather choose one or two and have an efficient and successful presence there. Or if your target audience does not happen to be on Social Media, and is only using web search to find out about your service, invest your resources in an effective PPC campaign. Thus, a brand monitoring tool should really impact your resource allocation strategy. And, as you probably know, startups are known to have scarce resources.
- Follow Industry Trends: Make sure you are up to date with what is going on in your niche. If your competitors are investing in a brand extension, following a new market trend, stay alert and consider joining the race.
- Track Campaign Performance: There are plenty of ways to track your performance. However, when it comes to brand monitoring, it is impact you should be looking at. Look at your brand mentions, and make sure that those who mention your competitors have paid attention to you, too.
- Identify Opinion Leaders and Influencers: The value and impact of Influencer Marketing cannot be overstated. According to Forbes, influencer marketing can solve issues, ranging from lack of engagement to low sales during the key selling periods.
#4. Perform a Sentiment Analysis
The “it-thing”, and, frankly, one of the coolest features of the digital age, is the ability to perform a sentiment analysis. Some brand monitoring tools allow you to effortlessly measure whether your brand perception is negative or positive. And it is up to you to take a look at areas for improvement: be it your product, your customer service, your marketing strategy or the success of a certain campaign.
#5. Maintain Your Customer Service
If you cannot yet afford a large customer support team, a brand monitoring tool can come to your aid. The fact of the matter is that the digital space already contains all the necessary instruments for customer support and retention; you just have to leverage all the possibilities. Once you’ve attracted customers, this is when the real job starts. Customer loyalty and satisfaction often comes with high costs. However, learning to listen, react timely and make sure that the support is present will save you a lot of trouble.
So these are some areas you have to monitor daily:
- Social Media Inquiries: Social Media is often the first stop for your customers. Thus, make sure that your team monitors your SM accounts (both feeds and direct messages) daily. A chatbot that keeps the user entertained while someone offers assistance or a simple auto-reply is better than leaving your customers hanging and left wondering how to reach you.
- Enhance Your Team Collaborations: Customer support often involves skills and knowledge of various company employees. Thus, your job is to make sure that they are quickly and effectively collaborating on issue resolution.
- Determine Customers “at-risk”: Brand monitoring can help you quickly identify customers who are unhappy or dissatisfied with your product/service. Thus, they are unlikely to use your services ever again. And here is when brand monitoring can enhance your customer retention tactics, for identified quickly, your team can offer support and assistance for the disappointed customer.
In fact, by solving an issue rather than merely keeping the customer happy, you are increasing the chance of acquiring a loyal customer by 21 percent.
#6. Increase Sales
It is obvious that if you create a customer-centric business and product approach, address (timely) your customer queries and needs, quickly and successfully handle their issues your business will have pretty much everything it needs from a customer viewpoint to be attractive and compelling enough to be loyal to. Thus, brand monitoring can effectively enhance your sales strategy. However, it can also influence your lead generation. And here is how:
- Find sales opportunities: Monitoring websites like Quora, or any other Q&A, review, forum sites will help you identify potential customers, for 81 percent of shoppers often prefer to, firstly, discuss the product online prior to its purchase.
- Customer engagement: Your customer support should ideally start before acquiring that very customer. Any help and assistance from your side will increase the chances of closing the deal with an inquiring or simply curious potential customer.
- Attract your competitors’ customers: As was the case with areas of improvement, you can always outperform your competitors, based on their customers’ needs. However, you can also simply keep track of customers, who are left unsatisfied with your competitor’s service and offer them what your counterpart could not.
#7. Identify and Reward Your Brand Advocates
Let’s start with numbers. 84 percent of consumers claim that the most trusted and influential source of information about brands, products and companies come from word-of-mouth. Note, that there is a difference between opinion leaders and brand advocates, for the latter do not get paid for reviews or are not considered to be industry experts. Brand advocates, or champions, are people who are loyal to your brand and appreciate the work that you do. Thus, they are willing to recommend your brand to their peers. Having a brand voice isn’t enough in the modern age. So these brand champions are precisely the solution you are looking for. Know their names, engage with them personally and maintain that cost-free and beneficial relationship. There’s no need to offer much, however, make sure that you reward your brand advocates for they are doing a big part of your job at no pay rate.84% of consumers trust info about brands, products and companies from word-of-mouth. Click To Tweet
#8. Content Generation
Now, this final point should make your heart ticking quicker. If you’re practicing an inbound marketing strategy, you very well know that content is the cornerstone of generating more leads. Neil Patel pinpoints that if a B2B company runs a blog, it generates 67% more leads per month. So you can use the wide range of information you get from a brand monitoring platform to get ideas about what kind of content would be relevant to your customer and prospects.If a B2B company runs a blog, it generates 67% more leads per month. Click To Tweet
A web monitoring tool is your eyes and ears concerning what’s been said throughout the web, so if you don’t use that at your advantage then what will you? Using specific keywords or hashtags you can identify trending topics and digital influencers (see how) of interest. You can filter the results by engagement, ranking, sentiment analysis, language or even geolocation. You can further limit down the research by channel or date filtering, as well as only within a specific domain. By listening carefully you might be able to detect gaps in your area of interest, which will give you the chance to play smart and fill in ahead of the competition. Setting up emails alerts will always keep you posted!
It is important to recognise that online conversations are not merely a matter to be considered by your marketing team.
Instead, brand discussions that you spot with a brand monitoring tool matter to your entire business: they can shape your product, marketing, sales and overall business strategies. From identifying your target audience and performing competitor analysis to building and maintaining customer relationships and generate more leads through targeted content marketing.
Brand monitoring allows you to monitor your brand reputation, its overall performance, follow industry trends and gather all that data to make data-driven decisions that will help you build a successful and customer-oriented business.