About 15 years ago, if you were to ask a brand manager or a business owner to define what a “digital business profile” was, they’d have likely said something like, “Our brand’s logo, name, address, and phone number information on our website and/or other sources”. However, digital business profiles mean something else entirely today.
Your brand’s digital profile today is no longer just restricted to your NAP information or customer reviews. In fact, it’s not even limited to just the content and information that your brand creates and controls. Today’s digital brand profile is an amalgamation of all your digital presence, digital content, and digital reputation.
All of these things affect your customers’ perception of your brand, and that’s why search engines like Google or Bing want this information to show up in a consolidated “knowledge panel” when customers are trying to find you. Customers want to explore all aspects of your business before they make a purchase decision, and this is a critical part of your customer’s journey—especially considering how there are several competitors that they can choose from (another little something that appears right on Google’s knowledge panel).
Now, this poses a lot of challenges for brands, but it creates some opportunities too. Let’s look at the challenges first.
Digital Business Profiles: The Challenges
The challenge for brands is managing their digital profiles. Brands across the board have an overwhelming gap in maintaining their profile to be reflected accurately to their consumers. As businesses grow in location counts, the harder it becomes for them to manage their listings information at scale. Imagine having to manually review, edit and measure business information on over 40 different websites for every single brand location that you own or manage, especially when you need to make sure it’s brand-focused all the time!
It becomes even harder to manage all types of content that appears digitally to customers and refers to the brand—and this includes (among others) your brand’s basic information, photos, videos, reviews, star ratings, promotions, social media presence, and even user-generated content (including blog posts, media files shared by customers, interactions on social media, etc.).
The need to maintain a high star-rating to stand out from the competition is essential to your brand’s reputation. Brands need to provide rich and contextual information to grab their (potential) customers’ attention in the small window of time available. Failing to deliver on any of these areas leads to lost customers, and consequently, lost revenue.
Various digital business profiles usually provide a lot of valuable information for brands—and they’re mostly centered around actions that customers take upon viewing your profile. For example, you can view:
- The number of times your profile was viewed by users and customers
- Phone calls you received over a certain period of time from your digital profiles
- Visits to your website that originated from your profiles
- Driving directions customers requested from your profiles
- Other interactions that were made on your digital profiles
Access to these metrics is usually restricted to profiles that your business owns or manages (you probably knew this already, but I just want to elaborate on this a bit). As a brand, you only have access to data about customer search behavior and interactions on your digital profiles, which means that you might not get a 360-degree view of what your customers really want, or other information that is beyond the scope of your digital profiles.
Actionable Insights from Digital Business Profiles
“With great data comes great insights”, that’s how the Spiderman quote goes, doesn’t it? No? Anyways. Understanding how and why consumers are interacting with your digital business profiles can help you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and allow you to give them what they want. But it’s easier said than done. The metrics and data that is collected on your business profiles are just numbers. Extrapolating insights from these numbers and pulling insightful context from the content is on you! And more importantly, these insights need to be actionable. If you’re wondering what actionable insights are, check out this blog post.
Before you start diving into the numbers and drawing conclusions, ask yourself:
- Is the data available on my digital profiles error-free and validated? If not, how can I clean this data up?
- What problems do I want to solve for my business today? Will the data I have give answers to the challenges that my brand is facing right now? Or are they irrelevant to my brand’s goals?
- Will insights from this data (directly or indirectly) impact customer experience, sales, brand image, or revenue positively?
If the answer to all these three questions is a resounding “yes”, then you’re looking at the right kind of data from your digital profiles. You need to now focus on three steps to make the most out of this data:
- Understanding the extent to which the data you have at hand can help build insights
- Zeroing in on the areas of your business that you want to impact using these insights
- Setting objectives that you want to achieve using actionable insights that you derive from this data
Let’s break this down one by one.
- Centralizing your digital profile data
- Overlaying additional data set (e.g. trends, KWs, census and more)
- Analyzing the data
- Asking the right questions (what are you looking to do)
- Connecting the dots
- Taking action
To start with, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of how consumers make their local purchase decisions from these sources:
- Google Ads Keyword Planner – This tool was originally built for Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), but it can give you a pretty good idea of monthly Google searches that customers and users run. You can use another free tool, Ubersuggest, to get this information, alongside some other metrics like search difficulty, etc.
- Google Trends – Google Trends helps you understand how customer searches change over time. This tool can be especially helpful if you manage a brand that sells products/services that are greatly affected by seasonality (travel, hospitality, consumer retail, HVAC, etc.)
- Synup – Synup consolidates the information that you manage on all major platforms and allows you to get a bird’s eye view of how your digital business profiles are performing across the internet. You can also track how your search engine rankings improve over time alongside customer review and star-rating metrics. Synup will soon provide industry-specific content suggestions and metrics that will help you understand customer intent and path to purchase better.
There are other sources of reliable information that you can follow as well, like Think with Google that uses user search data to build reports and insights.
A combination of data that you collect combined with the information from these sources can help you gather the right kind of metrics from which you can build insights.
Actionable Insights and the Business Areas They Can Impact
Every area of your business can be impacted by actionable insights, really.
For example, digital profiles can impact your brand recognition. You might identify your business in a certain way, but your customers’ perception of the brand might be completely different. Digital profiles and insights from them—and understanding which terms customers associate your brand with the most—can greatly help you understand your brand’s identity in the eyes of the consumer, and help change that as well.
Digital profiles can directly impact revenue and sales numbers as well. Bad reputation and a poor understanding of your brand’s story, product, or service might ward off customers and negatively impact discovery to conversion. As a result, your business’ growth and performance will get impacted as well. Analyzing reviews can also help you understand the factors that contributed to an unsatisfactory business experience and can ultimately help you improve and grow as an organization.
Keep in mind that no two customer reviews are the same, truly. A customer in the Northeast region might be having a completely different experience than a customer in the Northwest. In a nutshell, considering how that can impact different areas of your business, you need to have a list of impact areas noted down before you set out to build actionable insights.
Once you have that figured out, it’s just a matter of setting objectives and getting deriving those insights from the data and metrics you have.
Setting Objectives for Insights
The objectives that you set for your insights totally depends on your brand and the pain points that you’re hoping to solve.
For example, if the problem that you’re facing right now is to do with brand recall and awareness, then the objectives that you set for your insights need to be centered around just that. Take McDonald’s and their McCafe stores, for instance. If McDonald’s wants customers to identify McCafe stores as a cafe as opposed to a fast-food restaurant, they need to develop actionable insights around understanding how their new brand is being perceived. They can analyze whether their online presence and content is built around them showing up when a customer searches for “coffee shop” or “wifi-enabled cafes”, for instance. Seeing whether they’re showing up for these searches, and working on showing up here if they’re not is a great place to start. Actionable insights can help McDonald’s end-to-end, here—it can help identify the problem, metricize it, and track improvement after the brand makes an effort to fix it.
If the objective was to start showing up for these keywords, and if the brand successfully achieves that objective using the insights they developed around the problem statement, then that’s a great example of how an actionable insight can help solve a brand’s real-world problem.
Connecting the Dots!
And once you’re done with all of this, it’s just a matter of connecting the dots. There is some spectacular software available out there that will help you visualize how these numbers are affecting your business, Tableau is one of them. We also spoke about some other tools that you can use for this earlier in this post.
As a brand manager, marketer, or data scientist that is tasked with finding out how consumers behave and react to your business profiles, your process needs to involve everything we just discussed if you want to obtain actionable data insights from raw metrics.
Finally, for the sales pitch: choosing the right intent marketing software that will centralize, augment, analyze, surface the insights and allow taking actions is a critical path in helping brands manage modern day digital profiles. Synup allows all that and more, giving a brand the opportunity to both manage their Presence, Content, and Reputation under one platform, as well as take these to the next step with Insights and suggestions on how to amplify your content to drive better performance.