The Internet gives manufacturers like you incredible opportunities to scale your growth and introduce your products to new audiences. But selling your products online can also feel like releasing them into the wild, where they may get lost or attacked beyond the safety of your own website.
The sheer number of retailers, review sites, forums, social platforms, and influencers can make it feel like you have no control over what happens to your products in the jungle of the world wide web. After all, more than three billion people have access to more than one billion websites.
How can you possibly keep track of every webpage where your products appear, let alone how they’re presented, or what people think of them?
It’s actually easier than you think. You don’t need to manually scour the web every day or patrol product pages. Monitoring your brand online doesn’t have to be overwhelming—you just have to track the right things, look in the right places, and use the right tools.
Here are four things every manufacturer can (and should) track online, and three of the main places you should monitor
1. Branded keywords
If you want to know how people are talking about you online, you need to monitor not only your company name, product names, and brands, but any specialized vocabulary you introduce in your ads or educational materials.
As you build your brand, you naturally develop a suite of unique vocabulary to help people understand their problems and aspirations, and the solutions you offer. These could be terms that you’ve embraced to describe what your products do or specific features and components of your product.
Tracking all of your branded keywords gives you a holistic understanding of what’s getting traction and how you’re influencing the industry. Keyword tracking isn’t about reading every mention of your branded terms—it’s about looking at aggregate data to see how often people are searching for them and what they’re finding when they do.
Maybe a competitor reviewed your product and used the opportunity to point people to their products, and they’re ranking #1 for “[your product] review.” Or you created a new branded term, but no one is searching for it in Google yet—meaning they aren’t really thinking about it. That could be a signal that you need to talk about it more.
When you see how people talk about your brand as a whole, you can identify gaps in their understanding and make adjustments to the way you present yourself and explain your branded terms. You can also see what aspects of your company and products people are latching on to, so you know what to focus on promoting.
2. Relevant search terms
Before most people make a purchase online, they research their problems, the solutions, and any concepts they need to understand to make wise choices. And for that, they often turn to Google.
Monitoring what your target audience is looking for in search engines helps you understand their greatest needs. You can see what kinds of questions they’re asking, what concepts they need help understanding, and how often they’re searching for those keywords every month.
This can shape the type of content you should be writing, what ads you should be running, what your website should explain, and how you should talk about your product. You want people to see your product in relation to their problems and aspirations, and that can only happen if you really understand what your audience is looking for.
3. Brand and product mentions
When people talk about your brands and products, you want to know what they’re saying and where they’re saying it. Monitoring mentions lets you see where your brands are popping up in online conversations, who’s talking about them, and who’s hearing about them. It can also create opportunities for you to join the conversation, so you can amplify your supporters, thoughtfully respond to critics, and provide any clarifications.
Unlike monitoring your branded keywords in search engines, monitoring mentions is about finding recent conversations about your products or brands—not looking at search trends and top results.
If a new article talks about your company or one of your products, you want to know about it right away, not weeks later. A delayed response means missing an opportunity to engage potential customers and show that your brand is present online.
4. Industry-related words or phrases
Every industry has its own jargon. Monitoring your niche’s specialized vocabulary helps you stay relevant. You can adjust to changes in how people talk about or understand your industry, and again, enter into relevant conversations—through content you create, or simply the way you talk about your products.
Say an article sprouts up with arguments that your product category is irrelevant or ineffective, or that a new player in your space is about to disrupt your market. You want to be aware of these trends and updates as they occur so that you can proactively respond to concerns and address new issues within your industry.
Even if these terms don’t directly mention your brands and products, you need to be aware of what influencers are saying in your space, or how your industry is coming up in the news.
Where to monitor your brand
Those are some of the key things every manufacturer needs to track online. But where should you be looking? What are the places your customers and potential customers go to discuss your products and your industry?
Here are four types of websites you’ll want to monitor.
Forums are highly specialized sites where communities of people explore specific topics, experiences, and questions. Some industries have their own established forums, but there are also large forum sites like Reddit and Quora where virtually every topic and industry has an audience. These are great places for you to see how influencers and regular people talk about your product categories, your industry, and the problems and goals your products address.
It’s hard for brands to be active on every social media platform. But you should at least monitor what your audience is saying about you. People generally only talk about brands and products on social media when they:
- Have a bad experience
- Have a great experience
- Want to learn what their friends and family think
On some social platforms, it’s also completely appropriate to respond directly to consumers. Some brands use this to build a reputation for listening to their customers, turning frustrating experiences into pleasant surprises.
Additionally, social listening helps you pick up on what other content creators, competitors, and retailers are saying about you.
What people read, watch, and view on social media impacts their buying decisions. So any manufacturer selling products online needs to keep a pulse on what people are saying on social media.
When people are preparing to buy, they tend to check review sites first. Some of these sites (like ConsumerReports) allow consumers to explore thorough reviews from trusted thought leaders. They often include direct comparisons between you and your main competitors, and may even explore all of the solutions in your category.
Monitoring review sites is vital because it’s often one of the last stops your audience makes before choosing you or a competitor. If you don’t take steps to remedy criticisms or capitalize on positive feedback, potential customers may decide to buy something else.
If you thoughtfully respond to reviewers, you may even develop valuable relationships, which can impact their impression of your brand in the future.
Almost all retail websites have some sort of ratings and reviews section on their product pages. This lets shoppers see how others have reacted to a product and if there’s consistent feedback about particular features or capabilities.
Additionally, retail websites typically have a place for people to submit questions about a product. This gives you an opportunity to provide more insight, talk people through practical scenarios, and address any confusion.
Wherever people review your brand or ask questions about your products, you want to keep tabs on what they’re saying. You might notice issues you can address with better education, or by framing your product in a different way. Maybe people feel like a promise you made was misleading. Or maybe there’s a lesser-known benefit you haven’t been highlighting that your customers can’t stop raving about.
What are people saying about you and your products?
Maintaining your brand integrity doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right tools, you can automate a lot of the process, so you don’t have to hunt for important information. PriceSpider gives you an intuitive dashboard with comprehensive information about:
- How retailers are representing your brand
- What customers are saying about your products
- How you’re doing in reviews and ratings across the Internet
- And more
Check out what PriceSpider’s brand integrity tools can do for you.