What Do People Measure When They Measure Branding Awareness

Branding

This blog explores the most important KPIs to measure the success of branding campaigns, how to measure them reliably, and what tools are available.

“If you do not know where you’re going, you might not get there.”

— Yogi Berra.

You’ve probably heard a lot that the first step to a successful marketing campaign is to design key performance indicators (KPIs).

KPIs serve as the beacons to navigate you through different opportunities and ideas to maximize the cost-effectiveness of your campaigns. The alignment of KPIs and campaign goals is the best combo since sashimi and wasabi. But what are the best KPIs to put in place for a branding awareness campaign? Are you overwhelmed by the amount of data, including reach, page views, unique visitors, impressions, and share of voice? In today’s blog, I will help you sift the KPIs in the first stage of the buyer’s journey: Awareness.

What is happening at the top of the funnel?

A typical buyer’s funnel starts with the “awareness” stage, reflecting how familiar people are with your brand, specifically your product or service. Marketers are competing for the attention of your target audience and convincing them that your brand brings the best value to them.

If that all sounds like gobbledygook, try to think of electric vehicles; what brands come to mind? The first names that pop up in your head are doing great in terms of branding.

Branding can be further broken down into three stages:

  • Awareness of your brand name ( i.e., can your target audience think of your brand name as a thought leader in certain areas)
  • Awareness of your product offering (i.e., are they familiar with your solutions when they meet a problem)
  • Awareness of your brand attributes (i.e., what distinguishes you from competitors)

The three layers represent different levels of value exchange, and the primary goal of top-of-funnel content is to drive that exchange smoothly.

Can we reliably measure awareness?

Branding awareness used to be notoriously difficult to measure because the following reasons:

  • It is vague, so everybody is guessing its actual impact. Being well-known by accident or negative publicity amongst people who aren’t relevant to your brand doesn’t help sales.
  • It is far from revenue generation activities, making it hard to attribute monetary value to a particular strategy.
  • Definitions of particular metrics vary among platforms or vendors. And it is not transparent.

The good news is, with advancements in marketing analytics tools and the ongoing digital transformation across various industries, we can reliably measure brand awareness now. The bad news is there’s SO MUCH DATA available to measure awareness. There are A LOT of excellent sources and platforms. How to decide which metrics matter, what to measure, and what sources to trust.

What to Look At and Where

Please note that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this, and you’ll have to pick up and combine the ones that fit your campaign context. Now, here is a primer to get started:

Website Traffic

Some might consider this a vanity metric, but your web traffic gives you a sense of how many visitors you get every month? What pages are most read by which cohort of audience? These questions can help you get a good hold of your audience’s demographics and what they are looking for on your website.

Remember to dive into your referral traffic stats. Whether it’s a partner website or media publication, you need to keep a close relationship with them and be willing to share your name with their followers actively by guest blog, byline, or a comprehensive joint campaign.

You can gather such information through Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or HubSpot.

Analyzing your brand awareness is not just counting the people who know your brand; it’s also about knowing what content works effectively and how it contributed to lifting the brand. Another great insight from those tools to consider is engagement. Are the visitors spending enough time on your content? Are they look through multiple pages per visit? What do they do on your website — download a white paper, check out blogs, or watch videos? This will help you refine your content planning and implement on-page conversion optimization for the next stage of the buyer’s journey.

YouTube isn’t just for cat videos, Twitter isn’t just for celebrities, Instagram isn’t just for pictures of your high school crushes, and LinkedIn isn’t just for recruiting. Social media are one of the most valuable (and cost-effective) marketing channels, but only if you have a “social-first” strategy and track your success. It is essential to keep an eye on:

  • How many people see your posts every month?
  • The reach of your posts and the number of eyeballs your content gets in front of (see the graph below).
  • How many people engage with your channels, including comments, shares, likes, or clicks?
  • Are there channels that are performing better than others?
  • How many followers do you have on each channel? What are their demographics, and how fast the follower base is growing each month?
  • How many mentions do you get monthly, and who’s talking about you with what kind of sentiment?

Where do you gather the above data?

Well, most social media platforms offer them for the curious. Besides, social media management platforms like Hootsuite and Sprout Social can integrate all the info you need in one place and provide additional insights like recommended time to post, suggested topics, and post frequencies. You can also rely on content research platforms like Brandwatch or BuzzSumo to tap into trends, influencers, and competitive analysis. There are so many opportunities to use social media for your branding, and they are constantly changing. Get granular with it!

Search/SEO

Search data is an important one to measure brand awareness. You will have to look at the amount of traffic driving into your website and pay attention to what keywords are helping drive traffic your way. In particular, branded search volume gives you a good picture of your brand awareness. The more people directly type in your brand’s name, the better.

Your old good Google Analytics will do a site crawl to determine if your site suffers from SEO issues. In the meantime, Google Trends competitive analysis tool roams the internet looking for mentions of your brand, so you can examine whether those mentions are increasing or decreasing over time. You can also benchmark this data against your competitors.

Paid/Social Advertising

If you’ve leaped to paid or social media advertising, there are analytics you should keep tabs on. For instance, what are the reach, cost per impression, cost-per-click (CPC), and engagements? Is paid advertising resulting in more NEW visitors to your site? What do they do once they get there?

Your ads platform will supply the performance data of each campaign. Both Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics can assist you in evaluating the effectiveness of paid campaigns.

Look beyond your website and channels to get the big picture of your brand awareness. Meanwhile, your brand awareness should always be benchmarked against your competitors. Share of voice is a great metric to measure how well your media presences, ads, mentions, and website traffic compared to the competition, according to the definition by HubSpot. To put it simply, you shall not only focus on how many people are talking about you but also consider those who are talking about your competitors.

A good monitoring tool for SOV is MeltWater. Based on the industry’s most extensive inventory of social media and online content, it provides valuable insights on how well you’re covering your market globally and where to improve your marketing strategy to win the competition for SOV.

What To Do With All That Data

So. You’ve got a big heap of data, just about the Awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. What now?

  1. Work on Your SEO: This is the low-hanging fruit but may take up to 6 months to see an impact. Take the content ideas and trending keywords you’ve gleaned from social media and search, and improve the SEO of your site, i.e., adding meta keywords, optimizing meta title, structuring internal links.
  2. Create Keyword-Rich Content: Whether it’s an article on your blog or just general web content, be mindful of including the keywords that your audiences genuinely relate to your brand.
  3. MVPs (Most Valuable Platforms): With your data, you’ve determined which of the social media platforms is performing best from reach to engagement. That’s probably where most of your prospects are. With restricted resources, prioritize your posting on the channels that can be considered MVPs.
  4. Improve the Paid vs. Organic balance: Does your paid/social advertising complement your organic content? Or are you just repeating the same message? Consider diversifying your messages and content types for different targets on different channels. Additionally, evaluate the visual branding. Is it appealing, eye-catching, and matching your audience persona?
  5. Employee Brand Advocacy: Employee brand advocacy can amplify both employer branding efforts and increase general brand awareness. Find out which type of content interests your own people, keeping them engaged and up to date with your marketing messages.

Summary

I recently read John Doerr’s book Measure What Matters again. There is a nice quote from W. Edwards Deming, “ In God we trust; all others must bring data.” Measuring brand awareness is a challenging but vital part of brand awareness success. If you have more ideas on how to measure brand awareness, please let me know.

Originally published at https://marketing4introvert.ghost.io on April 10, 2022.

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Branding Manager in the B2B tech industry. Interested in AI and data. Environmentalist. Accordion player. Personal site: https://marketing4introvert.ghost.io/

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