How to Measure Brand Awareness and Prove ROI

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Marketers across all industries are trying to figure out how to measure brand awareness for their company, while simultaneously having to justify their budgets with ROI.

These two tasks don’t always compliment each other. Why? Because it’s incredibly challenging to connect an investment in brand awareness to business revenue. But by learning how to measure brand awareness the right way, marketers can finally prove the ROI of brand equity.

Here’s the situation.

The Leapfrog 2016 Digital Benchmark Study found that proving return on investment is twice as important as brand awareness for marketers. However, the same study revealed that only one-quarter of executives say the C-suite views customer-centric strategies as extremely important.

So let’s imagine this:

You’re a VP of marketing of an outdoors apparel company. You know that the more you improve brand recognition and recall, the more likely consumers are to purchase your products. However, you have no way of proving how your brand awareness campaigns contribute to sales and your company’s bottom line.

Or, in another scenario, you’re the CMO for a business software company, and are getting a lot of pressure from your CEO and board members to increase the reputation of your brand within your industry. However, you’re also up against a strict sales goal, and you need to concentrate on campaigns and tactics you know will drive revenue.

How do you uncover the ROI of your brand awareness campaigns and prove which ones are working and which ones are not, so you can get the board off your back and prove the value of your marketing strategy?

That’s exactly what you’re going to learn here.

First, I’ll explain how to measure brand awareness with the right metrics. Then I’ll explain how to prove whether or not branding campaigns are contributing to marketing revenue. That way, you can eliminate or improve upon activities as you see fit, and justify your marketing decisions to stakeholders.

How to measure brand awareness with key metrics

  1. Direct traffic to your website.
    Direct traffic comes from users who typed a link directly into their browser to get to your website. This means that users remembered your the URL for your brand specifically, in order to find your website.

    Brand recall is a part of what makes up brand awareness, and direct traffic is a good metric to keep an eye on in order to measure the impact of recall on your audience.

    Here’s how to find direct traffic in Google Analytics:

  2. Earned media.
    When your company gets mentioned by the press in an article about a new product launch or report, you’re getting earned media. Earned media gets the word out about your brand, boosting brand awareness.

    Tracking the number of articles your brand earns and the number of shares those articles drive gives you an idea of the number of people your earned media efforts are reaching. You can track these two metrics in a platform like TrackMaven.

    Take a look at this example for Patagonia:

    You can take your earned media measurement to the next level by analyzing your share of earned media interactions against competitors.

    Here’s another example from TrackMaven, which shows that Patagonia dominated the majority of earned media attention during this year’s Black Friday shopping frenzy thanks to coverage of its commitment to donate all Black Friday sales to charity:

  3. External links.
    Link building is an important part of improving your website’s SEO. It can improve your company’s search ranking, bring in new audiences to your website, and contribute to conversions.

    When it comes to brand awareness, external links can improve your brand’s visibility and recognition of your website and offerings. To measure your brand’s external link performance, you’ll want to keep an eye on two things.

    First, keep track of how many links you’re earning for your website. In this example from TrackMaven, you can see data from Alexa and Moz on external links that Ralph Lauren has earned in the past three months:

    Second, you’ll want to watch your referral traffic. More referral traffic means that not only are you getting links to your website, but those links are driving website visitors.

    Here’s how to find referral traffic in Google Analytics:

  4. Blog shares.
    Your blog content can serve as a center of organic brand awareness through a share bar. A share bar allows readers to share your content on social networks, spreading awareness about your content and your brand through the amplifying effect of social media.

    Measure your average number of shares per blog post to keep an eye on how well you’re building community through your blog.

    Here’s an example for REI:

  5. Social engagement.
    Measure the impact your brand has on social through engagement metrics. Engagement on social media gives you an idea of how your brand’s content is reaching your community and being amplified on individual networks.

    Take a look at this example, which shows total social interactions for Columbia Sportswear over the past three months by channel:

  6. Community reach.
    Community growth is another key metric for measuring brand awareness on social.Track changes in your social media following over time, as in this example for Dior:
  7. Search volume.
    One of the main sources of organic traffic is through search. If people are searching for your company, brand, and products, that’s a good indicator of brand awareness.

    Using Google Adwords, Moz, or another search ranking platform, track changes in the number of searches for your brand’s name, and variations of the name, your products, your blog, and anything else that might indicate brand awareness.

How to prove brand ROI

Now that you’ve learned how to measure brand awareness, let’s look at the best way to prove brand ROI when reporting to your boss and other stakeholders.

  1. Track goal conversions, opportunities, purchases, and revenue from direct traffic.
    In Google Analytics, you can set up goals to measure practically any action users take on your website. B2B marketers may want to look at MQLs and opportunities, while B2C marketers may want to track ecommerce activities, such as cart activity and number of purchases.

    Create goals that track conversions by visitors that arrive via direct traffic. These goals will allow you to demonstrate the ROI of brand recall using your direct traffic indicator.

    In TrackMaven, you can actually track goals created in Google Analytics, and measure how campaigns and channels influence the buyer’s journey, and, ultimately, purchases and revenue.

  2. Create and track goals for referral traffic.
    Create goals to measure on-site actions by users for referral traffic, just as you did for direct traffic. Measuring the impact of referral traffic on business outcomes helps you to prove the ROI of brand awareness from earned media and other external links.

    By becoming even more targeted in your link-building efforts, you can drill down your direct traffic to find out which external links and websites are sending you qualified leads.

    Is your CEO hung up on getting more mentions in the LA Times or the New York Times, while you want to focus on industry publications? Prove your marketing strategy by finding out which websites send you traffic that’s likely to convert into customers.

  3. Use social attribution to track how your community building efforts contribute to conversions throughout the marketing funnel.

    Can you prove that social engagement and community building drive revenue? If you can connect top-of-funnel activities to bottom-of-funnel conversions, the answer is yes.

    You can prove the value of each piece of content with a platform like TrackMaven, which shows how all individual social posts contribute to customer conversions and purchases.

    Here is an example based on web analytics:

    And an example based on funnel conversion metrics:

Proving the value of social media and content is difficult — but not impossible. We created The Marketer’s Field Guide to Social and Content Marketing Attribution to show you how to prove your impact. Get your free copy now!

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