Chat bubbles image representing share of voice
Marketing Intelligence

How to Calculate Share of Voice for SEO, PPC, Social

by Yael Klass , VP of Corporate Marketing 12 Min.
December 15, 2021 | Updated June 22, 2022

If you’ve been struggling to analyze your campaigns in a broader context, share of voice is the measurement you’ve been missing.

Share of voice (SOV) has been around for a while. It was historically used to determine advertising budgets and can be applied in the same way today to determine digital marketing budgets.

The share of voice metric combines both paid and organic marketing efforts and opens the door for effective competitive analysis as well. It’s the ultimate data point for company stakeholders of all levels.

Share of voice pie chart

There are many ways to segment and use SOV data points to:
1. Evaluate where you stand in comparison to competitors
2. Make a strategy to reach short and long term business goals
3. Assess the efficacy of those strategies

It’s actually really simple to capture. In this quick guide. you’ll gain an understanding of the definition of share of voice, how to measure it, and how to increase your marketing reach with it.

Let’s dive in.

What is share of voice?

You’re thinking about SOV if you’re asking the following questions:

  • Do people have more negative or positive things to say about my brand?
  • How can I find customer feedback to refine my offering and bring something new to the market?
  • Where should I focus my PR efforts to get more media mentions?
  • And the obvious, what is share of voice? (hehe)

Share of voice definition

The definition of share of voice boils down to the extent of your reach in your advertising and organic campaign efforts.

Simply put, it’s a metric that tells you what percentage of people you find with your messaging.

Share of voice definition

For example, here’s a recent, bold campaign by Carlsberg that got people talking:

Carlsberg rebrand example for share of voice

This ad was a part of Carlsberg’s rebrand to a more premium positioning, but by the looks of it, the message could have easily backfired. According to the brand, however, it was “overwhelmed” by the response. Awareness of Carlsberg’s advertising among British consumers doubled to 10.5 on YouGov BrandIndex during the campaign’s first four months.

‘Probably NOT the best beer in the world’ helped Carlsberg double its brand awareness in the U.K. Tweet this

Cheerios’ Bring Back the Bees campaign bagged a similar share of voice success. The cereal seller successfully generated buzz around the issue of bees disappearing in the world. The results were astounding: Cheerios not only succeeded in distributing 400 million seeds, it also gained 214+ million PR impressions from the launch alone, scored high-value TV spots, and increased sales by 10%. A sweet victory indeed.

Cheerios bring back the bees ad example for share of voice

Source: Cheerios

However, the deeper meaning of share of voice goes beyond a plain engagement or impression metric. It’s also a way to quantify how visible and popular your brand is compared to your competition.

Share of voice meaning

Share of voice benefits illustration

Digital marketers talk a lot about share of voice, speaking to the measure of brand exposure and customer engagement. Share of voice means you’re:

  • Hearing customers
  • Protecting your brand reputation
  • Finding market share
  • Smashing the competition

Why is SOV important?

Share of voice is a market metric that can be segmented in so many useful ways. It can put all your other marketing efforts into context because it paints a bigger picture. As a brand, it shows you where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there.

SOV is also a strong indicator of a brand’s market share and revenue.

But to fully understand why SOV is so essential, familiarize yourself with the three uses of share of voice:

Use 1: Benchmark against your competitors

Competitive benchmarking metrics show which marketing channels work better for your competition than for you and vice versa. A benchmark helps you decide where to invest your budget based on what’s working for your competition.

Marketing channels feature available within Similarweb Digital Marketing Intelligence

Use 2: Gain revenue

More SOV, or excess share of voice (eSOV), equates to a successive increase in sales and revenue. If you strive towards greater share of voice, expect market share to follow.

Greater share of voice can help you leverage and lock in your momentum for the long term. Lidl is a great example of a brand that rode the waves of excess SOV and increased its incremental sales to £2.7 billion.

To grow quickly, SaaS companies, especially those backed by equity, tend to spend a lot on marketing – as much as 20% of their ARR (annual recurring revenue). At the same time, established brands need to only spend as much money on ads and campaigns as they’ll get back in shares because their bigger budgets will generally secure them more awareness, too.

This is called an equilibrium.

If a brand is significantly underspending compared to others, its shares are expected to fall. This is true even for big brands. For example, on Black Friday, if you run into Apple’s ads on street banners, in bus stops, on TV, and online, it’s more likely that you’ll look into Apple products than another brand that has underspent on ads during the same time.

Use 3: Assess your digital preparedness

Understanding where you talk to your customers (SOV) is essential to digital maturity. Digital maturity is a method of risk management adopted by Google and Deloitte to prepare for digital disruptions.

Digital maturity model framework

Share of voice formula

Regardless of the marketing area you’re trying to measure, the basis of your share of voice formula always remains the same:

Overall Share of voice percentage formula

To get the initial values for each measure, you’ll need to use some digital marketing tools to find mentions of your brand or pick a tool that does the calculation for you.

How to measure share of voice

  1. Pick your analytics tool
  2. Identify your competition correctly (it might not be who you think it is)
  3. Collect your measurements
  4. Benchmark your results against your competition

If you’re looking for a simple and snappy way to measure SOV, tap into our platform’s version of a share of voice calculators, simply turn Traffic Share (our SOV metric of choice) into strategies for success against your chosen competitors.

With the share of voice calculator, you also get a customizable and shareable dashboard that automatically updates on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, so you can plug and produce only the most precise calculations.

Organic SOV

You can calculate your organic search’s SOV by collecting the data manually. There is a freebee way that’s cost-effective, but very time-consuming. We recommend using Similarweb Digital Marketing Intelligence to get the job done.

Analytics Tool: Similarweb Keywords Tool
Measurement: Organic Traffic Share
Use: Evaluate content marketing strategy
With this tool, you can see your traffic share per keyword in a line graph directly on the results page.
How:

  1. Go to Competitive Analysis > Keywords or Keyword Phrases.
  2. Choose “non-branded keywords” and “organic” filters within Keywords or Keyword Phrases. Competitive Traffic Share represents your organic keyword share of voice.
  3. You can filter to show different keywords, competitors, time frame, and region.

Organic keyword generator available with Similarweb Digital Intelligence

A bonus feature in the Keyword Phrases tool in our dashboard allows you to see changes in share of voice over time for each keyword:

Keyword phrases available with Similarweb Digital Intelligence

Ads SOV

Share of voice is readily available on some ad platforms, such as Google Ads. On this platform, the metric is called Impression Share.

Impression share tells you how many times your ads were shown versus the number of times your ads could have been shown.

Share of voice formula for ads

An easier and faster way to do this is to use Similarweb, just like you did for organic SOV, but trade organic keywords for their paid counterparts.

Analytics Tool: Similarweb Keywords Tool
Measurement: Paid Traffic Share
Use: Evaluate marketing campaigns and PPC parameters
How:

  1. Go to Competitive Analysis > Keywords or Keyword Phrases.
  2. Choose “non-branded keywords” and “paid” filters within Keywords or Keyword Phrases. Competitive Traffic Share represents your organic keyword share of voice.
  3. You can filter to show different keywords, competitors, time frame, and region.

Paid keyword generator available with Similarweb Digital Intelligence

Pro tip: You can also create a dashboard within Similarweb to monitor your top paid competitors.)

Social Media SOV

Social media is a vast medium that allows brands to engage with users and remain top of mind. In fact, a study showed that a 10% increase in brand conversations on Twitter could lead to a 3% increase in sales.

Share of voice formula for social medaia

This SOV will give you a general idea of your popularity on social media. If you’re looking to dive deeper into social insights, look for a paid social listening tool that has:

  • Sentiment analysis
  • Web mentions
  • Industry trends
  • Influencer information
  • Alerts

To measure share of voice on social media, you can opt to use a free tool (limited in functionality) or utilize your social media listening tool (some social scheduling tools have it built-in). For this example, we’ve used SproutSocial, which is the tool we use in-house at Similarweb.

Analytics Tool: SproutSocial Social Media Listening Tool
Measurement: Social media brand mentions (i.e. tags, branded hashtags, and non-tagged mentions)
Use: Platforms to target

  1. Within the social media monitoring tool, create a Topic that tracks the number of mentions of your brand on different social media platforms. In the Performance section, you’ll find an already calculated social media share of voice.

Sproutsocial share of voice feature

Other helpful tools: BrandMentions, Mention, Social Searcher (free)

Mass media SOV

How much coverage you get in the news can be your ticket to a bigger slice of the pie.

Calculate your mass media SOV with the following formula (It’s best to use this at the end of each month):

Mass media share of voice formula

You can hop on Google Alerts for a free SOV workaround.

  1. Open Google Alerts
  2. Type in your brand name
  3. Select Blogs and News as sources
  4. Select Deliver to: RSS feed
  5. Specify the rest of the filters as you prefer (frequency of alerts, etc.)
  6. Hit Create Alert
  7. Do the same for your competitors

In this case, it’s a good idea to set up a Zapier automation and send the alerts from your RSS feeds straight into Google Sheets.

You can also check out our platform to get a look at which publishers are sending you traffic and your specific SOV for each. See how:

Analytics Tool: Similarweb Referral Traffic
Measurement: Total Traffic percentage
Use: Data-driven PR strategy
How:

  1. Within Competitive Analysis > Incoming Traffic, the percentage of Total Competitive Traffic Share is your total share of voice.
  2. Continue to the Referring websites table. Look at your Total Competitive Traffic Share of each referring website to see share of voice per site.

Incoming Traffic feature available with Similarweb Digital Intelligence

How can you boost your share of voice?

The key to not losing your rank in the market is consistency.

Nicole Dunn, Forbes Councils Member, writes: “I have worked with many brands that think that one article in the right publication – say in the New York Times – will change the dynamics for their business, investors, sales and more, but they forget about the foundation and how much work it takes to get that “one great story.”

There are a lot of ways you can increase your share of voice – both paid and free. Some of them you’re already doing, such as being active on social media or getting PR coverage.

Check out the below ideas to see how you can improve your current SOV with advanced techniques.

Lead industry conversations

Your brand can push your industry forward, provide context to industry decisions, and/or educate your target audience.

The Instagram handle @HerFirst100k is a good example of how to do it. The brand provides services for financial literacy to women and uses social media to challenge traditional thought leaders in personal finance.

Herfirst100k Instagram screenshot for share of voice

For your organic and paid SOV, use the Keywords by Industry tool to generate new trending keywords specific to your work. When making your outreach goals, find publishing sites by industry to speak on reputable blogs.

Create shareable content

Focus on creating content with so much value that people have to share it.

To make something shareable, it has to be in the trending format of your platform of choice and in your brand voice.

Think of the ALS ice bucket challenge, which raised $220 million for the ALSA organization. There was nothing educational about that content, but it certainly made a splash. This is because it fit the format of the platform had a distinct brand voice, and was intended for sharing.

Lean into storytelling

According to a study, consumers are 4x more likely to purchase from a company when they feel that the brand has a strong purpose. Start by creating a company mission, displaying it on your website, and showcasing it with storytelling techniques in most of your following campaigns.

Engage your audience

One of the best ways to engage your audience is to reply to their brand mentions of you.

In 2014, I wrote an embarrassing fangirl post to the king of convenience stores called Wawa. I posted it directly on the brand’s Facebook page. (Prepare yourself for a cringy read.)

Wawa conversation example for share of voice

What’s worse? Wawa never responded. No lifetime supply of sandwiches, honorary retweet, or even a sassy social media response came my way – as so many other brands do. I was officially ghosted.

While I still love Wawa (a brand so popular in the northeast that even Kate Winslet visited in her research for Mare of Easttown), the lack of response definitely turned me off.

Lesson: Don’t forget there’s a real person on the other side of every brand mention.

Track your competitors

You can use the SOV insight you have to find gaps in your competition’s strategy. Then, exploit that. You can use the Keyword Gap Analysis tool to see exactly where you have:

  • Opportunities to grow against your competition [keyword opportunities and keyword losses]
  • Advantages to defend [keyword wins]

Keyword Gap feature available with Similarweb Digital Intelligence

Focus on new search engine features

As search engines continue to innovate, so does the search engine results page (SERP). Now, result formats like video, image, business, product, etc. populate above webpage results. Expand your brand visibility exponentially by making content for these SERP features.

SERP features available with Similarweb Digital Intelligence

Optimize your ads

Use our tools to drill down Paid SOV. Scope out the competitions’ successful strategies for PPC and fine-tune your share of advertising in the market. When you’re creating your next marketing campaign, you can use these insights:

  1. See the copy, landing pages, and keywords of top-ranking paid advertisements
  2. Review competitors’ display ads, size, format, copy, and design
  3. View the video content and the ad networks collaborating with your competitors

gif of paid, display, and video ads available with Similarweb Digital Intelligence

4. Poach your competition’s affiliate networks so you can place ads with them

Encourage user-generated content

Hack the internet by increasing social media share of voice and gaining social proof with user-generated content.

Spotify did this brilliantly with its Wrapped campaign by getting subscribers to advertise for it– music to our marketer ears.

So how did Spotify pull this off? It served subscribers with a round-up of their music history alongside tongue-in-cheek visuals. By keeping things catchy, creative, and most importantly, shareable, the streaming service was able to easily inspire subscribers to spread the word.

Spotify ad for share of voice

Suggest employee-generated content

Within your organization, you have an entire community of invested people – your employees. Create cohesive content that your employees can share while adding their own personal touch.

Employee advocacy stats - 72% of people feel connect to a brand whose employees share info on social from sproutsocial for share of voice

Push customer service on social media

When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers, on average, end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company.

If you handle issues correctly, you broadcast to any user that good customer service is inherent to your brand values.

SOV is the metric to rule all metrics

Share of voice is the Swiss Army knife of digital marketing metrics.

Swiss army knife with the share of voice benefits listed

You can use it for:

  • Executive-level reports
  • Management-level reports
  • Campaign-level reports
  • Overall brand awareness reports

By adding SOV to your regular analytics, you will:

  • Empower yourself with more opportunities to beat the competition
  • Emerge as the new go-to brand in your niche
  • Leverage excess share of voice in the long run

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Share of voice FAQs

What is share of voice?

Share of voice refers to the percentage of the market you are reaching compared to your competitors.

Why is share of voice important?

Share of voice is an indicator of a brands performance in terms of market share and revenue.

What is share of voice in SEO?

Share of voice for SEO (organic search) shows which sites are ranking for certain keywords or topics.

What is share of voice in ads?

Share of voice for ads can be calculated by dividing your impressions by the total eligible impressions.

What is share of voice in social media?

Share of voice on social media can be calculated by dividing the number of mentions of your brand mentions by the total number of brand mentions.

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