Competition is fierce these days, and if you want to stay on top of things, you have to know how your company positions itself against its competitors. That’s a tough task, especially when your business is growing and you have to juggle a lot of things – improving communication methods, developing fresh product features, hiring new employees… The list goes on and on. But there is a technique that might be helpful – brand audit. A brand audit allows you to stay agile and innovative and offers a health check of your company.
By implementing brand audit, you can:
- Determine your position on the market and develop improvement strategies
- Explore the expectations of your customers and align your product or service accordingly
- Perform a SWOT analysis and discover strengths and weaknesses of your business
- Analyse the sentiment your brand is generating among its customers
An audit can be performed by an external agency, but if you choose to do it by yourself, this article will provide a comprehensive plan of action.
Firstly, you have to decide whether you want to perform an internal or external audit or combine both of them. Of course, integrating them will give you the most extensive view of your company, but it’s also a very time-consuming project. You can focus on internal branding components such as your values, culture, and communications or on the external ones, which include your website, SEO, social media, events, PR activities and content marketing.
Create a Framework
Before you gather data and start the analysis you need to know which aspects of your actions your audit will cover. Do you want to focus on internal or external factors? Do you want to know how your company’s infrastructure is performing compared to its goals or are you mainly interested how your competitors are doing?
Put all the information in one document. That way you have an overview of your current situation, and on goals, you want to achieve. The framework should also describe how you’ll tackle the problems that might arise.
It doesn’t have to be a formal document. You should choose the form that suits you best. I’m a bit of a control freak and I love Excel tables but mind-mapping or storyboarding is also a useful technique.
Examine Web Analytics
I can’t stress enough how important it is to examine your website analytics on a regular basis. We do it every two weeks at Brand24, and we start with the origin of our traffic. The source is vital if you target specific geographical regions. If your traffic is coming from places you’re not interested in, you need to adjust your strategy.
When it comes to your website take a look at bounce rate. A high bounce rate indicates that there’s something wrong with your website that makes people go away quickly.
Another essential part of website analytics is conversion rate. We discuss the effects of our content marketing strategies during our status meetings, so we know which content is the most valuable to our readers and we adjust our action plan.
Analyse the channels that drive traffic to your website. It’s essential to diversify the sources of your traffic so you’ll be immune to sudden changes in algorithms and drops in social reach.
Talk to Your Customers
Your customers are a goldmine of knowledge. After all, who knows better about the good and the bad aspects of your product?
There’re plenty of possibilities to get the information you need. You can run a poll, conduct an online survey, ask questions by phone or email. The qualitative evidence you’ll gather will be a great addition to all the hard data. It’ll give you answers you can’t find in the metrics, such as the satisfaction rate of customer service experience or why people choose your brand over your competition.
Have you ever heard about mystery shopper technique? An employee in disguise comes to a brick-and-mortar store to assess how customers are treated. You can implement a similar approach to your online business. A random group of testers could check the usability and performance of your site and provide feedback. If you put yourself in customers’ shoes, you get a chance to spot all the glitches and bugs on your webpage.
Don’t forget about other critical factors such as security and privacy settings, ease of data import/export or website’s general performance (there’s nothing more annoying than unresponsive website due to a server crash).
Look at Sales Data
Analysing customers’ funnel can indicate specific areas that discourage your clients from purchase. You’ll be able to solve the problems in advance to ensure smooth customer experience. We had a similar problem at Brand24 and Mike can tell you how we dealt with it.
Last year, our primary challenge was a drop in sales within a global version of Brand24. A lot of customers were bouncing back from our “Pick a plan” page, and we had no idea why. We couldn’t figure it out what the problem was, but thanks to little help from Paweł Tkaczyk, we found the solution. It turned out we used a strikethrough font to show features that are missing in lower plans. Do you know any business that is promoting their products by stressing the lack of features? Yeah, me neither. We removed the “missing features”, and conversions went up.
Look at Social Data
Social data is the cherry on the top of your brand audit. It gives you access to customers’ insights about your product that is unavailable through other sources.
You can examine the context in which people mention your keywords and discover associations customers have with your brand. Take a look at the context of the discussion in our analysis tab – it shows all the words that appear in connection with your monitored keyword(s).
Social media listening can help you identify your brand’s influencers – people who can add value to your marketing campaigns. In Brand24’s dashboard, you’ll see right away who is linking to your website and what’s their influencers’ score.
One of my favourite features is sentiment analysis. It gives you an overview of public opinion around your brand, campaign or product. Moreover, you’ll know in an instant which features stole your audience hearts and on which you should work some more.
Internet monitoring can also be a useful tool for examining your competitors. You can set up separate projects for your main adversaries and monitor what their customers are saying on the Internet. Spot and fill the gaps in customer experience to gain loyal clients.
Actions and Results
The outcome of a successful brand audit should be a plan of action which will highlight the areas for improvement. The program should specify the goals you want to achieve and a timeline of expected results.
The brand audit is a useful technique to stay up-to-date and ahead of your competition. It will provide you with information pertinent to your business. The landscape we operate in is constantly changing, that’s why it’s vital to make it a continuous process.
Do you audit your brand on a regular basis? Which steps would you add? I’d love to hear your thoughts!