What is Share of Voice and Why Is It Important?

the ultimate guide to share of voice marketing

Share of voice is a term that every marketer should know.

But what does Share of Voice actually mean?

In essence, it refers to the share of your market that your brand owns. Pre-digital era, this meant the share of advertising in a market that your brand owned, compared to your competitors’.

Take a global, well-known brand like Kleenex. They have a massive Share of Voice (SOV). Nike? Also a huge SOV.

Now that we’re in the digital era, the definition of Share of Voice has expanded to include everything from digital PR, to digital advertising, to social media mentions, to website traffic—in other words, every form of measurable brand awareness in your particular market, whether that’s an industry or a geographical region.

So how do you go about measuring your Share of Voice and, once that’s done, increasing your Share of Voice?

Here’s our guide.

First, what is SOV, and why does SOV matter?

Share of voice matters because it’s a measure of how many people know, or are aware of, your brand.

Therefore, it’s one of the best ways to see where your brand currently stands in the market. Once you know where you are, it’s much easier to figure out how to get where you want to be.

To use the above examples again, take Kleenex. Their Share of Voice is so overwhelming that many of us use their brand name to refer to the product they sell, even if the product is made by a competitor, like Puffs.

Before digital marketing, when brands were using print, radio, and TV advertising, Share of Voice and Share of Voice marketing were important because they would influence which brand a customer reached for when they were out at a grocery store, looking at shelf after shelf of the same product.

It influenced which brand a customer might go out of their way to ask for when they were at a department store or hardware store.

It influenced which car dealership a customer would choose to visit first, or which real estate agency they’d call when it was time to shop for a new home.

And now, in the digital era, Share of Voice influences those things still—but it also makes a difference in whether a customer will scroll right past your ad on Instagram or Facebook, or give you a fraction of their attention.

This is why Share of Voice matters now more than ever before: Because brands are competing with each other to grab even two seconds of a customer’s attention. And they’re not just competing with others in their market or industry. They’re competing with every other brand that’s represented on a customer’s social media feed or on the Google search results page they see.

Without a significant Share of Voice, your brand won’t be able to break through the online noise and reach new customers.

Practically, knowing your Share of Voice will tell you things like:

  • Which platforms you’re doing well on, and which you can improve upon
  • How well a specific digital campaign did
  • Your ROI from a particular PR campaign
  • Which advertising efforts are working, and which aren’t

Now that we know why Share of Voice matters, let’s look at how you begin calculating your Share of Voice.

How to Measure Share of Voice

When you start thinking about all the pieces of digital data that go into your Share of Voice, from online mentions to PPC ads, to B2B SEO, it can feel daunting trying to figure out how all of that fits together to create your Share of Voice metric.

But it’s actually not as hard as it seems.

The basic equation to use to calculate Share of Voice, or your Share of Voice formula, is:

Your brand’s advertising / The total advertising in the market *100 = your Share of Voice

So you can see how, as long as you have the right tools, you can actually figure this out. Some tools even offer Share of Voice calculators. In the PR world, tools like Cision and Meltwater can be helpful.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at what tools you need and how you can calculate Share of Voice for PR, social media, PPC, and organic search.

Calculating PR Share of Voice (SOV)

If you’re not using a PR analytics tool like Cision or Meltwater, it can be challenging to get an exact calculation of your SOV.

However, a good indicator of whether your Share of Voice increased or not—in other words, how well your campaign did—is to check your social media mentions and determine your SOV that way.

In order to calculate this, you’ll need to be using some kind of social media listening tool, like Hootsuite or Brandwatch Analytics. It is possible to do so manually, but the process will be cumbersome.

The calculation for social media Share of Voice will look like this:

Your brand’s mentions / total industry mentions (*100) = social media Share of Voice

Here’s an example using hashtags.

Say you sell coffee.

“Industry mentions” would be the number of times #coffee was used on a particular platform in a given time period. Let’s say that number is 3,000.

“Your brand’s mentions” would, of course, be your branded hashtag—#coffeebrand. If that number is 1,500, this is what your equation would look like:

1,500 / 3,000 (*100) = 50%

So your brand’s Share of Voice is 50 percent.

The basic equation stays the same whether you’re calculating Share of Voice for organic search or PPC.

To calculate organic search Share of Voice (SOV):

This is much easier to do with an SEO tool, like Sycara or Pi Datametrics.

What you’ll need to do is select the keywords you’re interested in finding out your SOV for. This will tell you where your brand stands in comparison to your competitors when it comes to Search Engine Result Pages or SERPs.

Using the previous coffee example, we could choose the keyword “organic coffee” (although, especially if you’re using a tool, you’ll want to choose 3-5 keywords to identify SOV for when you do this).

Once you have your keyword(s), you need to pick the competitors you want to compare yourself with. You needn’t choose every single other brand in the market—start by picking the top 3 or so of your closest competitors.

Then, you’ll record the rankings for each brand for each keyword. Make sure you have a spreadsheet ready to hold all this data if you’re not using an SEO tool to do this for you.

So, you’d search “organic coffee” and see what brands came up in the first 20 results. Then you’ll record each ranking for each brand—meaning that if X brand was #3 in the search results for “organic coffee,” you’d record that in your spreadsheet. Y brand might be #7, while your brand is #8.

Now it’s time to calculate Share of Voice.

This is where you’ll have to do a bit of research—you’ll need average Click-Through-Rates (CTRs) for each keyword you’re using. There are no industry-standard CTRs per keyword, but you can find good ones to use from various studies—Moz suggests these.

Once you’ve got the standard CTR information ready, you’ll add up the standard CTR for every position that your site ranked.

So, if one of your blog posts ranked #5 and your product page ranked #12, you’d add up the CTRs for those two positions—in the below example, that would be 6.1 and 1.5. So the result would be 7.6—that’s your Share of Voice, 7.6%.

To calculate your brand’s SOV for PPC:

Calculating SOV for PPC is quite simple if you have a Google AdWords account. In AdWords, Share of Voice is referred to as Impression Share, and it’s defined by Google as the percentage of impressions your ads actually get, as compared to the number they could get.

Their SOV equation looks like this:

Impressions / total eligible impressions = Impression share

To see your brand’s impression share, you’ll log into AdWords, click on Campaigns, and then choose Modify Columns. Click on Competitive Metrics, and from there, you’ll be able to add Impression Share to your display.

Increasing your brand’s SOV

Here are a few ways to increase your brand’s Share of Voice:

Digital PR

One of the most effective ways to increase your brand’s SOV is through PR.

By getting your brand mentioned in respected outlets like trade publications, magazines, journals, newspapers, and leading blogs, you’ll increase the number of people who are aware of and talking about your brand.

Every time that PR mentions are shared, it increases your SOV. The more people see your brand, the more people will talk about it, and as you increase your PR efforts, that growth will continue—and that leads to better SOV marketing.

Another important result of B2B PR is that it can increase your organic traffic. When people see your brand’s name in the press, they’re more likely to type your brand’s name directly into the search bar.

Of course, you should calculate your SOV for PR efforts as well, and that can be done using a tool like Cision. You can use the same tool to calculate your competitors’ Share of Voice, which, just like with organic search, can be helpful in establishing where your brand currently is, so you can get to where you want to be.

Improve Your Site’s SEO

Improving your SEO can help increase your Share of Voice, as it makes it easier for users to find your content.

When you focus on using the right keywords—keywords that your customers are using to search for products, services, and information in your industry—you’ll show up higher in your customers’ search results, increasing your brand awareness and site traffic.

Get More Active on Social Media

Engage with your followers regularly and shake up your content. Try posting questions, joining in trending conversations, or asking users to post their own content—user-generated content, or UGC—using a branded hashtag.

UGC can be a highly effective way to increase your SOV because it means people outside of your company are talking about your brand. Their followers and connections will see their UGC about your brand, and they may even engage in the conversation.

Publish Your Own Opinion Pieces and Articles

CMOs and other C-level executives can raise their brand’s reputation and status by sharing their own insights through columns in industry magazines, websites, or on their brand’s own blog.

By publishing valuable content regularly, you’ll become a thought leader in your industry, increasing your brand awareness and SOV naturally.

Publishing content on your own will also help greatly with your brand’s PR efforts, as you’ll come to be seen as a reputable source when journalists or bloggers need commentary from an industry expert.

SOV marketing can be a powerful metric to help guide your PR efforts and digital marketing campaigns.

But there is one thing to remember: SOV measurements only track the number of your mentions online—not the quality. If you’re getting mentioned frequently in small blogs with few readers, that’s not going to propel you into the first couple of results on Google. Likewise, if you’re getting mentioned everywhere because of a crisis or a scandal, your Share of Voice may be huge—but it sure won’t be great for your brand.

If you’re interested in increasing your brand’s Share of Voice and Share of Voice marketing, digital PR may be exactly what you need. Get in touch—we’d love to talk!


Don’t miss!

Expert-level insights direct from our CEO’s desk.


Explore the latest in B2B PR and marketing

Let’s talk.

Our clients are smart, thoughtful, & forward-thinking.

Sound like you? Get in touch.