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Business Insights

How to measure brand awareness

How do you measure brand awareness?

Many businesses treat brand awareness as something intangible; a metric without a rubric. They know it’s important to be a recognised name, trusted by customers and respected by competitors, but establishing just how trusted and respected they are remains something of a mystery. 

Digital marketing specialists don’t always help: they see success on their own terms rather than on those of the business as a whole. If they’ve made a video and it’s had a million views, a thousand shares, and half a dozen influencers have talked about it on LinkedIn, they’re happy. But you’re not just making content for the sake of putting it out there. It’s there to do some good for your business: to make some demonstrable impact on the bottom line.

Building brand awareness and perception should be a major business objective, if it isn’t already. And as a major business objective, it needs the right measurements. You need to know if you’re getting the all-important Return On Marketing Investment, or if you’re just chasing vanity metrics that make you king of the social media molehill. And to do that, you need to know and quantify what you’re trying to achieve.

What are brand awareness metrics?

Ways to measure brand awareness fall into three major categories; each corresponds to a specific area in which you might be trying to achieve growth. Those categories are reach, engagement, and audience size, and each is best measured by a specific set of metrics. By tracking the right figures you’ll know how each marketing activity, each specific asset you’ve created, is helping to achieve the business goal it was created to meet.

1. Marketing reach

Reach refers to the number of users who’ve come across a particular asset: the number of eyeballs and/or earholes who’ve received the message you’ve put out. Reach has different metrics depending on the kind of marketing content asset you’re talking about.

How to measure marketing reach
  • Website sessions - a user session is one set of clicks and reads and rummages on the site; the number of user sessions per day indicates how much traffic your web page is bringing in.
  • Social media impressions - the number of times a post from your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. page is displayed to users.
  • Email opens - if people are opening your emails, they have the chance to make an impact.
  • Video views - the number of times your video has been played for more than a few seconds.
  • Podcast listeners - as above, for audio-only content.
  • Magazine circulation - the number of copies of a magazine usually distributed for each issue, including free copies.

You’ll notice that all these metrics only measure whether your content has been seen and heard - not whether it’s been read, listened to, understood, acted upon, and converted into a meaningful perception of your brand. That’s where the next category comes in.

2. Brand engagement

Engagement metrics measure the effectiveness of your marketing in building brand perception. They all track specific responses people have made to your marketing assets. The difference between reach and engagement is the difference between hearing a bird sing and saying “hey, listen to that”.

How to measure brand engagement
    • Pages per session - by digging a little deeper into the website sessions metric and counting how many pages people view during their time on your site, you can see how engaged they are - the more they’re looking at your site, the more they care about what you’re offering.
    • Mentions - every time someone mentions your brand or your target keywords, you should know about it. A social listening tool like Awario, Brandwatch, or the helpfully-named Mention will be useful here.
    • Shares - if people think your message is worth hearing, they’ll pass it on.
    • Comments - both on the content itself and on social media posts and shares.
    • Reviews of the content or the offering it’s about. If The Drum runs a piece on your marketing, they think there’s something worth discussing in its own right.
    • Survey completions / feedback. Often, you’ll make a specific call to action: “tell us what you think” or “suggest a topic for an article.” If that’s answered, you know people were paying attention.

Engagement metrics can be a double-edged sword. High pages/session counts can suggest people are really into your site, or that your site is badly designed and they have to go through three pages to reach what they want. Shares aren’t always positive - sometimes people will share your content to provide context for a critical takedown. And you only need to spend five minutes scrolling down the comments on any YouTube video to see that not all engagement is helpful.

3. Audience size

Audience size, in and of itself, is a bit of a vanity metric, but it gives context to your reach and engagement metrics by showing how many people you can expect to reach or engage. The more social media followers, newsletter sign-ups and blog subscribers you have, the more eyes and ears your message can potentially reach. You can work out the percentage of your audience who actually engage with your marketing, setting benchmarks and targets for improvement. Subscriptions, sign-ups and follows also indicate brand loyalty - these people are sufficiently invested in you that they want to be kept up to date, so keep them up to date!

How to start measuring brand awareness

Once you know what metrics you’re measuring and why, the actual measuring becomes straightforward. 

First, get the foundations right. Set a business goal for each element of your marketing mix and a key performance indicator based on what you want the customer to do when they’ve seen each asset. You want this many email opens, leading to that many pages per session, and the other amount of survey completions. 

Set a business goal for each element of your marketing mix and a key performance indicator based on what you want the customer to do when they’ve seen each asset

Remember to keep an eye on the key ROMI metrics - cost per acquisition, customer lifetime value, and marketing as a percentage of sales - which will tell you if you’re spending enough or too much to secure actual customers from all this brand building.

Second, pick the right tools for measuring each metric. Social listening tools can handle tracking your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram presence, but they won’t do everything; you need to think about the overall marketing mix and how best to track and collate your data.

Third and last: remember to do something with this data! The point of tracking these metrics is to make improvements, tweaks and adjustments to your marketing strategy. If a particular article is popular, try and spin off a series, or at least a “six months later” reflection. If a video does well, look at making more like it, and appropriate content to embed them in.

Brand awareness isn’t as nebulous as it sounds, as long as you’re clear about what you’re trying to do with it. Knowing what you want to achieve will determine your most crucial metrics, and the strategies you’ll need to achieve them and change them as your business develops. You should not only be consistently measuring your performance, but what scores you’re keeping as well, to ensure that your brand building is in line with your overall business objectives.

If you’re after a deeper dive into measuring marketing ROI, download our marketing ROI ebook, and learn how to make marketing work for your business.New call-to-action

Image credit: By OpturaDesign

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