How To Measure and Increase
Brand Awareness and Attraction
Many brands struggle to measure, much less improve, awareness and visibility of their brand. Before you can assess your own strategy, you need a clear definition of brand awareness to use as a foundation for building realistic goals, meaningful measurements and performance benchmarks, and a strategy for achieving those important brand-centric goals.
What Is Brand Awareness?
We must begin by answering the question, what is brand awareness? It’s not as easy to define as you might think, and the glut of so-called digital gurus spouting marketing material masquerading as thought leadership online today does not help. We’ll turn to a single authoritative source. Cambridge Dictionary defines brand awareness as, “knowledge of the name of a company and the products it sells”, but also as “the degree to which people are familiar with or prefer a particular brand”.
Brand awareness is built both in digital and physical spaces, but online elements have become paramount in creating awareness of your company’s name, what you do, your products within your target audience, and then embedding your brand into your customers’ lifestyle. Case in point, a company’s website has become central to how the brand is represented and how engagement is measured in the digital age.
How To Measure Brand Awareness
Understanding the definition of brand awareness is not enough. You also need to measure the effectiveness of your brand-building efforts. How you measure brand awareness will define success and allow you to measure ROI, so choosing meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) is critical. In the digital age, a lot of the KPIs we use are focused around web traffic, but that’s not the only metric that matters.
–1. Direct Website Traffic
Direct website traffic is actually a very good measure of brand awareness and can help you track the effectiveness of a brand awareness campaign over time. According to Google Analytics, the search engine giant considers “direct” website traffic as visits to your website from anyone who types your company’s URL directly into their browser bar, or who reaches your website from a saved bookmark.
There is no middleman in this scenario – they’re not reaching you because they saw an ad on Facebook, or because of a link in a blog post on an affiliate site. There are no extraneous “clicks”. They initiated the visit intentionally, which shows that they actively remember your company’s name and products, and want to explore your offerings or find more information. Direct website traffic is one of the more easily measured brand awareness KPIs and can be accessed through Google Analytics (and other analytics tools, of course).
–2. Brand Searches
Brand searches constitute another important means of measuring brand awareness. These are similar to direct traffic, although it does involve clicking a link in the SERPs. Despite that, it demonstrates active brand awareness and intentionality – the searcher knows where they want to go, they are just not certain how to get there. They know your company name and have an understanding of your products, but they need Google’s help in locating your brand online.
Measuring brand searches is not all that difficult, either. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner, as well as the information in Google Trends to determine the number of searches conducted using your company’s name or a derivative, or your brand’s products or services. Obviously, the more specific your brand name is, the cleaner and more accurate these results will be. For instance, a company named Salt would have trouble using this method. The less generic your company’s name, the easier it will be to track and measure brand searches.
–3. Social Mentions, Shares, and Referrals
It’s tempting to think of social media as being a “gold mine” of direct traffic, but that is not always the case. However, it is a powerful tool that can help you build brand awareness and should play a central role in your brand awareness strategy. It can also be a useful window into how your brand gets contextualized and engaged with.
There are three primary metrics that you’ll want to watch within your social channels; social mentions, shares, and referrals. Each is different but no less relevant. Social mentions are simply those times that consumers mention your brand online within their own posts, shares, or comments, with or without tagging your company directly.
Shares are easier to track and understand. These are posts, photos, updates, etc. shared by consumers that relate to your company and/or its products. These may be shares of your own branded posts, or they could be shares of posts created by other consumers that focus on your company. Finally, there are referrals. These are similar to social mentions but differ in that they are basically recommendations from one consumer to another recommending your company or its products or services.
–4. Mentions, Referrals, and Backlinks on the Web
Similar to social, these KPIs are located on other websites and go beyond Facebook, Instagram and the rest. Think of sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, or Zomato, or even industry publications, or local news organizations. These include things like backlinks from sites and posts, referral traffic, unlinked brand mentions, reviews, and even traditional media references. You’ll find a number of tools on the market that allow you to measure each of these elements, and even respond to and manage reviews.
Surveys remain a vital tool for measuring brand awareness and they can be delivered to consumers in any number of ways. Phone-based surveys are still around, but they have fallen out of favor, largely replaced by email surveys and even surveys directly on your website. Social platform-based surveys are also gaining popularity.
Surveying existing customers about how they heard of your brand helps you understand how your brand awareness is being spread while asking random people if they have heard of your brand helps you gauge brand recall.
How To Increase Brand Awareness And Attraction
How you define and measure brand awareness is directly relevant to the strategies you use to build and grow that awareness, as well as how you can assess and adjust your campaign. Building and growing a brand requires an inclusive, comprehensive strategy built for the modern marketing landscape.
–1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is perhaps the single most important step in building brand awareness in the digital environment. However, there are several subtopics that tie into this larger metric, all related yet with their own reasoning, KPIs, and strategic value. These include:
- Improving Web Content – It’s imperative that you create useful, creative content that delivers value to your visitors in order to make your website more engaging and user-centric. It also provides you with material to promote through social channels, via strategic partnerships, and in other ways. Text and photo-based content are both important and can be very valuable additions, but video content is the most powerful, engaging, and strategically useful type of content a brand can create, both online and offline.
- Targeting Non-Branded Search Queries and Keywords – Create content and develop resources that help you go beyond your brand name. While brand awareness certainly requires knowledge of your company’s name, it is just as important that your audience know what your brand is associated with. Make your brand relevant to more keywords that resonate with your audience as well as your company’s focus. This is related to content creation, but the focus is slightly different.
- Earning Backlinks – Backlinks remain an essential ingredient of good SEO. To earn more, you can use several different tactics. For instance, find unlinked brand mentions. Promote your content and resources on relevant websites and pages. You can also create more content that is designed to earn links. Don’t forget to promote your content on social media, as well.
For all of your SEO efforts, it is important that you measure your ROI over time. It is also important to remember that your ROI compounds, building your success exponentially.
–2. Use Data To Drive a Creative Marketing Campaign
Your creative marketing campaign should be based on accurate data. It should also entail multi-channel, multi-modal strategies and components, and should not be limited to the digital environment. Take a holistic view here and realize that online and offline efforts build brand awareness. Promote your brand through social channels, as well as other traditional platforms.
- Integrate Emotion – Your creative marketing campaign cannot be purely data-driven. Humans can use logic, but we are ultimately emotional creatures. Your marketing creative needs to integrate emotion, as well. Define what emotions you want to engender in relation to your brand and then build your creative to match.
- Customer Journey Mapping – You cannot afford to use a scattergun approach with your creative marketing campaign. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach here. You must create marketing material aimed at different stages of the customer journey in order to support your audience within the customer lifecycle and move them further down the sales funnel.
- Content Types – Make use of a wide range of creative collateral in your marketing campaigns, but pay attention to the types that resonate most with your audience and how each type ties in with your overall strategy. Video marketing is essential to any modern campaign, but it will hinge on the creative leveraging of data, as well as integration with other elements of your larger strategy.
As with SEO, measure your brand building efforts over time and track ROI compounding to ensure you are seeing the results you should.
–3. Leverage Influencers and Build Creative Partnerships
You cannot go it alone in the brand-building process, nor should you feel that you are required to do so. There are others out there who can help increase your reach. By leveraging influencers and building creative partnerships, your reach is multiplied many times over.
Influencers are thought leaders, industry experts, celebrities, and others with large followings within the digital environment. Depending on the influencer or partner in question, these arrangements can be anything from reciprocal partnership agreements where each party shares mentions of the other to paid promotions and even highly structured, long-term partnerships.
It is important that these promotions align correctly with both your SEO efforts and your creative marketing campaigns. Disconnects here can lead to a loss of ROI and less traction than you should receive.
It may seem obvious, but advertising can mean a lot more than you think when accounting for different options in terms of platform, medium, and strategy. It’s not just about offline advertising through magazine ads and billboards, or just about online advertising methods. It’s also not just about how one type of advertising delivers ROI. You must look at it all as a single whole.
For instance, PPC ads provide excellent traction when used correctly, and these campaigns can and should dovetail with your SEO efforts. Social advertising through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can and should tie into your influencer campaigns and creative partnerships. Your traditional and offline media ads should tie into your online efforts.
The goal here is to create a cohesive whole that is more than merely the sum of its parts. It’s about creating continuity between all of your advertising platforms and mediums that resonates with your brand message and identity.
–5. Understand and Improve the Customer Journey
Finally, it is important that you have a solid understanding of the customer journey and that you are able to make important improvements to that journey. How do you do that, though? Chances are good that you have a rough idea of what your customers go through based on your sales funnel outline, but you must go further.
Start by mapping the customer journey from awareness, through conversion, to receipt of the product or service being purchased, and then encouraging referrals and reviews. Your larger branding and marketing strategy should also account for other elements in the process, such as integrating branded packaging, the overall sales process, and customer service, too.
Your goal should be to thoroughly analyze each stage of the customer journey, identify breakdowns, repair them, and then make other important improvements to deliver the best possible overall experience for each customer, while simultaneously tethering that to business goals and growth goals:
In the end, brand awareness hinges on all of your marketing efforts. There is no silver bullet, no magic wand to wave. Establishing a positive brand image, increasing brand awareness, and maintaining your edge will require a combination of the right tactics, the realization that measuring brand awareness never truly stops, and an evolving, adaptable, over-arching marketing strategy designed to reach your mission-critical goals.