As a savvy marketer, at times it can feel like you’ve pulled out all the stops, but are still chasing the boulder when it inevitably slips backward down the hill. You’ve developed content, briefed industry analysts, conducted interviews with the press, attended all the right trade shows and distributed the results through each of your social media channels. But how can you tell if your efforts are overtaking your competitors? When do you know if you’re winning?
Your competition may give off the impression that they’re “everywhere” or have roughly a bajillion dollars to spend on marketing, while you scrape together the small pieces you can to get a fraction of the attention—sound familiar? Don’t sell yourself short. The best way to measure where the finish line ends is to conduct an audit and find out where you place your starting blocks compared to the rest.
Before you start an audit, determine the factors you want to measure that are meaningful to growing your business. Did you experience a round of bad publicity and need to see how PR is improving your posture? Or do you need a frank look at where your content has room to improve? The answer will put you on the path for your ideal audit approach.
Measure your share of voice. Similar to how you’ve established your product’s market share, your paid, earned and owned media also creates a certain footprint. A share-of-voice audit measures how your press coverage, news announcements, award wins or external activities stack up against competitors. Not all mentions are quality ones, either; a comprehensive analysis of your share of voice will indicate positive or negative sentiment, which can add another level of sophistication on how the market perceives you.
Inventory your content. People are always hungry for more actionable material, but how is it resonating with your various buyer personas? To identify what’s working (or not working), a content audit can tally up the pieces you’ve published to date, then analyze website traffic, social media shares, SEO elements and other indicators of performance. The best content could spring forth new opportunities to combine existing assets for a new content rock, or even tweak them to help your sales team target a specific industry vertical.
Scope your social media presence. Don’t get caught up in the minutiae of tracking which of your competitors has the most followers on Twitter. Spam, inactive users and unverified bots confirm there’s more to your social presence than a numbers game. A social media audit can give you insights on the key messages your competitors stick to, whether they engage one-on-one with commenters, or if they merely use social channels as a robotic feed of recent blog links. And since the community engagement is public, this type of audit can reveal the types or cadence that works best for your competition, too.
Determine influencers’ perception. A neutral third party can really come in handy for an influencer audit. With customers, you want to find out what they love or hate about the product, any features they don’t understand (or haven’t bothered using), priority capabilities on their wish lists, and other unfiltered feedback that could inform your product roadmap. With influencers like press and analysts, you want to answer questions like: What does this person associate with my brand? Is another competitor top-of-mind? Has he even heard of our company? The right PR/AR agency not only has the friendly relationships to conduct this audit, but also the trust of your influencers to open the conversation to honest (and sometimes brutal) feedback.
How often should you audit your activity? Realistically, you won’t be able to see material changes week to week. Changing perception and gaining mindshare requires consistent activity and takes time. You can gain a comprehensive snapshot of progress with quarterly or semi-annual audits to account for organic campaign traction, or peaks and dips from seasonal cycles.