How to Choose Brand Monitoring Software — Digital Shelf Analytics That Improve the Customer Experience

If you’re flying a plane, obviously you need control of all your senses. If you were flying blindfolded, the passengers wouldn’t be happy to hear, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have a general idea of what’s going on.” It also wouldn’t be good enough to gather clues from your other senses. Just take the blindfold off before we crash! And when piloting your brand’s ecommerce strategy, having a general idea of what’s going on with your sellers won’t cut it either, nor will attempting to manually gather bits of information. Just take the blindfold off already. 

Your brand is one of your most vital assets. It directly impacts the perceived value of your products and the qualities consumers associate with them. If a single touchpoint doesn’t accurately reflect your brand, it can lead to bad impressions and confusion that will negatively affect consumers’ future interactions with you.

Maintaining your brand integrity unifies your catalog across channels and helps create consistent, cohesive experiences at every touchpoint. Tracking and evaluating how consumers interact with your brand empowers you to create the best possible impression at every touchpoint.

That’s why ecommerce brands rely on brand monitoring software or what is also often referred to as digital shelf analytics software. Brand monitoring software automatically flags inconsistencies across product pages and helps you evaluate how your products are performing through various sellers. You can then take what’s working well at one distribution channel and help other retail partners replicate that success. You’re also able to identify the best opportunities for improvement and measure the impact of any changes you implement.

But not all brand monitoring software is the same. It’s crucial that ecommerce brands select solutions that help them track, measure, and analyze the information they actually need. As you compare brand monitoring solutions, here are the questions you should ask and the capabilities you should consider.

What can it track?

Traditional “brand monitoring” is usually limited to social listening, where brands use software or manual processes to find mentions of their name and products online. While this delivers some awareness of what consumers are publicly saying about your brand and products, ecommerce brands need more advanced insights.

If you sell products online, you could easily have thousands of product pages scattered across hundreds of websites, each of which needs to accurately reflect your brand.

For ecommerce, brand monitoring is all about digital shelf analytics. You need to track how your products are performing on the digital shelf in relation to your competitors and how well each product page adheres to your brand guidelines. Here are some of the most valuable metrics ecommerce brands should monitor.

Does the software show how you’re doing in search results?

Your target audience should be able to find your products anytime they search for your category. There are many different terms and phrases they might use to find products like yours. 

Without software, the only way to know how discoverable your products are is by manually searching the queries your customers use and noting where yours show up. To make matters more complicated, every retailer has its own search engine, so you’d have to repeat the process for every product on every website on which you’re sold.

An ecommerce brand monitoring solution should show you what percentage of relevant searches your products appear in. For every term you want to track, it should measure your share of search — organic and sponsored — for every retailer. You’ll also want to see what percent of searches your brand appears on the first page of results and what percent your products show up in the top 10 results.

It’s also valuable to monitor which competitors are showing up in relevant searches, too. The most advanced brand monitoring software gives you similar insights into how your competitors perform in each category as well.

Now you have a single place to explore relevant data about your catalog’s search performance, which helps you identify opportunities to improve and terms you should scale your spend up or down. 

For example, if your brand is winning organic search for key terms on one retailer’s site, but you’re not having the same success on another, it might indicate that you or your competitors are doing something differently on that site. It could also mean that the retailer’s algorithm relies on different factors or has different requirements. To win the same traffic on the other retailer’s website, you need to analyze what’s working for your competitors at this particular retailer and adjust your product page accordingly.

Can it show you when retailers don’t use your product content?

Imagine playing “spot the differences” on thousands of product pages. Worse yet, most of these product pages are completely identical, but you don’t know which ones. That’s what it’s like trying to keep your product titles and descriptions consistent across distribution channels. 

Sometimes differences may be intentional, like if you’re optimizing for a particular retailer’s search engine, or experimenting with new copy, keywords, or content types. But outdated product titles or descriptions can confuse or even mislead consumers. Your copy shapes people’s expectations about what they’re getting and what your product is capable of.

You don’t want someone to open a package and think, “Oh, this is different than what I ordered.” And depending on your product category, consumers may rely on your title and description to confirm your product has the specs they need.

Ensuring your product titles and descriptions are consistent isn’t just about preventing confusion or frustration. It’s also about optimizing your product pages. You want to put your best foot forward everywhere your products are explored. That means using your best, most up-to-date titles and descriptions.

A human can use standardized copy to manually check and compare each product page, but software is much more suited to this tedious, time-intensive process. Brand monitoring software can compare your product titles and descriptions at regular intervals, flag inconsistencies, and even assign a “compliance score” to help you quickly identify the pages that need the most updates.

If a retailer has given you access to a Product Information Management (PIM) system, you can simply make the changes yourself. But for retailers that have to approve changes to content, you may need to demonstrate why the update is important. In this case, you’ll want to compare the outdated page’s performance to an updated version on another retailer’s site, or tell the retailer that you’ll have to deprioritize sending traffic to them until the page meets your standards.

Does it track product page images?

Similarly, your images show potential customers what your products look like, use cases they’re well-suited for, the lifestyle they contribute to, and the outcomes customers should expect. Your images tell a story. Using the wrong images tells the wrong story. It may simply be a less compelling story, but if your product has changed, outdated images could tell a misleading story.

This goes well beyond your hero image. You work hard to optimize the best selection of images to represent your product and your brand as favorably as possible. Perhaps you’ve created infographics highlighting your product’s most important specs or features. Maybe you took high-quality photos in the field to showcase your product in action. Each image shapes a potential customer’s perception and contributes to the narrative you’re telling. It’s essential that all of your retailers use these images.

You can manually check for missing or outdated images, but software does this faster and with fewer errors. With a brand monitoring solution designed for ecommerce, you can designate a standard set of images, and the software can find everywhere they appear, recognize when they’re out of order, and identify which ones are missing from your product pages.

The best solutions will also flag incorrect or unapproved images and verify whether product images match the product you’re actually selling.

Can it monitor your stock availability? Your competitors?

When your products run out of stock, that’s a problem. Retailers don’t want to send customers to product pages where they can’t buy, so your rankings and your share of search will quickly fall. If a seller regularly runs out of stock, that’s a huge signal that there’s a distribution problem you need to solve. 

Unfortunately, the only way you’ll notice that is if you constantly check your product pages and make a note of when each seller is out of stock. Again, it’s possible to do this manually, but it’s not very efficient. Look for a brand monitoring software that can track your stock availability by retailer, third-party seller, and marketplace over time.

When your competitors run out of stock, it’s a golden opportunity — a window in which no one who wants their product can buy it and the next best choice becomes more appealing. It’s the perfect time to ramp up your ad spend on your competitor’s branded keywords and any product category keywords they outrank you for.

During this time, anyone who hits your product page is also a lot less likely to wind up buying from a competitor. If you have store locator software or other promotions in place, seize the opportunity to drive all your traffic to this channel.

Ecommerce brands should look for brand monitoring solutions that can track stock availability over time for their own products and their competitors.

Will it monitor your ratings and reviews?

What are your customers saying about your products? How do your product ratings compare to your competitors? Each of your products has separate ratings and reviews on every retailer’s website and every online marketplace. And while it’s easy to periodically check your ratings and reviews on each site, it’s also easy to miss patterns and trends.

Ratings and reviews are one of the most crucial signals of a product’s quality and customer satisfaction. They influence search results, affect how your product looks in relation to your competitors, and ultimately impact how well your product pages convert. Maintaining an adequate number of reviews and a high rating is vital.

A robust ecommerce brand monitoring solution should be able to track and display your ratings on each product page, display aggregate ratings from every page for a given SKU, and show your ratings over time.

This lets you see if there’s a sudden drop in ratings through a specific retailer (potentially indicating an isolated problem) or throughout all of your distribution channels, which could be a sign of a widespread problem with the SKU. You should also be able to monitor whether you have enough recent reviews to make your products look like the most relevant choice in your category.

Does it track your price across sellers?

Consistent pricing has a direct relationship with your brand integrity. Wild variations in pricing from one seller to another creates confusion about the value of your products and the authenticity of your sellers.

While MAP monitoring software is a whole other solution, a good brand monitoring solution should have some price monitoring capabilities. It all ties into how your brand is presented across distribution channels.

Make sure your brand monitoring software can at least track an established price (such as the one defined in your MAP policy) and alert you when a seller goes lower.

How can you explore the data?

Once you’re aware of what types of data a brand monitoring software solution can track and measure, consider what the tool lets you do with that data. How is it organized? Is it a simple spreadsheet? A dashboard with graphs, filters, and other helpful visualizations? What are some of the ways you can explore and examine the data available to you?

More advanced solutions let you explore data from specific date ranges, look at granular pieces of data connected to a specific page at a specific time, and examine a holistic view of the all-time data as well. This is key to recognizing recent trends and patterns, and analyzing how particular changes to your page, product, or brand may have impacted performance.

The more ways you can isolate, aggregate, and filter data, the more insights you can draw from your brand monitoring software.

What countries can it monitor?

If your business is international, you must find a solution that monitors your product pages on all the websites you sell on. Some brand monitoring software can only collect data from US retailers, so if some of your main retailers are in the UK, China, or elsewhere, you’ll be missing crucial data.

PriceSpider’s Brand Monitor part of the PriceSpider Brand Commerce Platform, offers global reach with local precision. Our solutions track, measure, and analyze your brand across more than 30,000 retailers in over 77 countries.

How often can you pull data?

Yesterday’s data won’t show you today’s performance. With data like stock availability, your window is short to capitalize on a competitor’s lack of inventory. Every hour you exploit their out-of-stock products with advertising is a boon to your business. Every hour you overlook the opportunity, your competitor gets closer to being back in stock.

And if a seller is playing games with your prices, you don’t have a moment to waste. The sooner you identify pricing violations, the sooner you can enforce your policy.

Some brand monitoring software solutions only pull data from ecommerce sites once a day, or on certain days of the week. This cadence significantly hinders your ability to analyze data from the digital shelf and take decisive action.

Brand Monitor crawls retailer’s websites like a consumer, collecting data about which brands appear in the results, who’s out of stock, how current your product pages are, what the price is, and more.

Does it give recommendations?

Digital shelf analytics is only useful if you know what to do with the data you collect. You need to turn information into insights, and insights into action. And sometimes it’s hard to read between the lines until you’ve become familiar with the data and learned to recognize what it’s telling you.

An advanced brand monitoring solution for ecommerce should help fill in the blanks with helpful recommendations based on the data it collects.

Take a closer look at Brand Monitor

The best way to decide which brand monitoring software has the capabilities you need is to see them in action. Brand Monitor is a unique solution for ecommerce brands that provides high-level dashboards for a bird’s eye view of the digital shelf and advanced tools for exploring granular data.

Want to see what Brand Monitor can do for your brand?
Schedule a demo today.

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