Why You Should Prioritize Brand Monitoring and Testing
Although you should do extensive research in the beginning to ensure elements of your company’s brand identity fit your target audience, you should also perform brand monitoring and testing regularly. This allows your brand to adapt to changing customer wants and needs.
You did your market research, discovered your target audience, and leveraged the data to create a bulletproof marketing strategy and brand identity. Congrats, that’s a great accomplishment!
Now that you have a solid marketing strategy and brand, what will you do? Should you just leave your branding “as is” and only hope it continues to perform over time? We wish it were that simple…
Imagine if Disney stuck with its outdated Mickey Mouse drawings from 1950 and never updated its messaging or even its park attractions. Disney continuously analyzes how customers react to its films, themes, parks, and products, and the company leverages this data to launch new offerings that promote a positive customer experience.
Does this mean Disney constantly changes its core values? Not at all. Disney has always been the magical, fantastical place it set out to be. But the look and feel of the brand has shifted over time to meet consumer demands.
What about Google? Do you think you would use Google today if it were still sporting that 1997 logo?
It’s okay (and recommended) to update your brand identity if your target audience shifts and trends change. The key is to periodically monitor and test brand elements to see how your customers are reacting.
Why is this so important?
Your Brand Should Be About Your Customer
You will often read articles that talk about staying consistent with your brand story, messaging, values, and ideas. This is all valuable and necessary, but be careful how business centric your brand becomes. Consistency is important, but not when it alienates your audience.
Ultimately, your brand is there to serve your customers, and the more you focus on your customers, the faster you will grow, regardless of whether you change the font of one letter in your logo.
Consumers aren’t happy with brands that are too self-serving either. Businesses are forcing their own messaging and marketing tactics on consumers, but it isn’t working.
Yet, businesses continue to pour money into marketing campaigns that may or may not work, and unceasingly promote their brand, waiting for the day when the now-imaginary customers come knocking down their door. But, this day may never come, as is shown by the approximately 20% of new businesses that fail during the first two years, and 45% that fail during the first five years.
So, how can you prevent your business from becoming a statistic of failure?
First, be aware of how easy it is to get caught up in the excitement of promotion that you forget about whom you are promoting to. An initial trickling of sales can trick you into thinking your marketing and branding is working, and your audience is responding to it. This may be true, but only if you have the data to support it.
The fundamental principle to understand here is that when you make your brand about YOU, your business will fail. It simply can’t survive. When you make your brand about THEM, you position yourself for growth because you focus on adjusting to meet your customers’ needs, which leads to happy customers.
Brand Monitoring and Testing: What Does It Mean?
So, you know you need to shift your focus to your customers. Great. But what does this actually mean?
It means that you need to periodically perform brand monitoring and testing to ensure you provide stellar customer experiences and satisfy your customers. Otherwise, you may wake up one day wondering where your sales went. The key is to be proactive now and get ahead of the game to capture the data before potential tragedy strikes.
What does this look like in the real world?
Well, let’s say that you poured thousands of dollars into ad campaigns, but you aren’t getting an ROI. Instead of continually changing up your ads to find a winning formula, consider that this marketing method might not be working anymore for your targets. Instead of succumbing to a knee-jerk reaction to increase your ad budget, step back and look at the big picture.
- Does your brand need to shift to other tactics?
- Does your marketing strategy need a review and adjustment?
- Is there anything you are overlooking?
- What does your data suggest?
Now, we are not suggesting that you need a brand change whenever an ad doesn’t work. We just want you to get accustomed to relying on data and thinking outside of the box when a tactic no longer works. Your target might not want to hear about how amazing your products are anymore. They may have shifted their ideals, communication style, and language. However, if you aren’t monitoring this, you will get blindsided and then lose more money trying to fix the problem.
What Is Brand Monitoring and How Does It Benefit You?
We discussed why you need to keep up with your customers’ perceptions of your brand. But, let’s dig a little deeper and discuss what brand monitoring actually is and how else it can positively affect your business.
Brand monitoring is the process of reviewing and tracking brand mentions around the web. You are essentially monitoring conversations and messaging to discover what your audience thinks about your brand and products. The purpose is to help you collect feedback directly from your targets to understand how your brand is perceived so you can use this feedback to improve and adjust.
Additionally, brand monitoring can help measure brand salience—the degree to which your brand is generally thought of or noticed by people in a buying situation. This is something worth looking at, as strong brands have high brand salience and weak brands have low brand salience. When you have a strong brand and high brand salience, potential customers are more likely to remember and choose your brand.
Now, it’s important to note that brand monitoring is not the same as social monitoring. Brand monitoring reaches far beyond just social platforms and extends to the far corners of the web, listening intently for mentions of your brand and any related topics.
Brand monitoring includes things like the following:
- Listening to how people respond to you
- Observing what people say about your brand across the web, as well as brand name variations and nicknames, and mentions of key figures (CEO)
- Watching conversations about your competitors
- Assessing how people share or don’t share your content
- Tracking how people interact with your website
And here’s how brand monitoring can help you…
Increase in Sales
Let’s say you discover your customers talking about a product feature they dislike. If many people are talking about it, a large percentage of your base might also be thinking the same. Use this feedback to run surveys and improve your products. The result? Happier customers, which equates to increased sales.
Improve Customer Service and Crisis Management
Consumers will talk about your brand without you even realizing it. Brand monitoring and testing will allow you to capture those conversations in real time to mitigate future issues and put out fires. You will also have the opportunity to show customers how dedicated you are to keeping them happy and satisfied, which will boost your brand in the long run.
Understand Customer Sentiment
Do you really know how your customers and target audience feel about your brand? Are your customers’ conversations about your brand positive, negative, or neutral? How do you determine this?
Sentiment analysis digs into consumer messaging intent to uncover the real meaning behind the comments and the way it affects your brand. You are essentially “reading between the lines” instead of just reading the comments and making assumptions. Brand monitoring tools like Sprout Social can help you measure sentiment and analyze this further.
Save Time and Money
Imagine you started a big campaign advertising a new launch, but it fell way below expectations. You later discover that your customers were slowly moving away from liking the particular category of products related to this new launch. But you never realized this because you were not monitoring your customers’ behavior. Had you been conducting brand monitoring and testing, you would not have wasted time, money, and resources on this new promotion.
This is a simplified example, but it's not uncommon to lose a lot of money on failed campaigns because you do not leverage data. And small businesses do not have the luxury of losing any money on failed campaigns and tactics.
Save time and money by monitoring your brand and gathering data, testing along the way to shift with your customers.
Brand Testing: How to Get Started
So, you monitor your brand across the web; this is an excellent first step. It’s not enough to gather the data, though. You also need to test it out to verify that what you discovered plays out with your target audience.
Don’t assume your target audience will continue to resonate with your brand. You can’t prove the way your audience will react without testing. Even if it seems like a sure thing, test it anyway.
Testing is an extensive subject (one we won’t be able to cover here in detail), but we want to give you an overview of what it looks like to implement it for your business.
Below are some items to monitor and test so you can stay on top of your branding:
- Website browsing behavior
- Cart abandonment rates
- Customer experience
- Customer retention
- Opt-in rates and lead offers
- Email open rates and sending times
- Omnichannel marketing messaging (ads, emails, website, landing pages, etc.)
- Colors and layout (ads, emails, website, landing pages, etc.)
- Customer segments
Brand Monitoring and Testing: What You Need to Know
The most significant step to preserving your brand now and in the future is to be aware of and track shifts, changes, and customer trends that warrant brand adjustments. Doing this successfully requires brand monitoring and testing to ensure your business remains 100% targeted to your changing audience so you can continue to grow.
In this article, we talked about why branding is never quite finished. Your core values remain, but your messaging, look, and feel may shift over time to meet consumer changes. Your brand should be focused on your customers and audience, not be self-serving. To stay competitive, monitor your brand to gather data, and test this feedback in the market to determine its validity.