Marketing: How to Measure Brand Awareness Guide

Guide By Kit Smith on October 5th 2015

Measuring brand awareness divides marketing. It is viewed by some as a pointless exercise, an accumulation of vanity metrics that bears no relation to marketing ROI.

The other school of thought, advocated by Bryan Sharp, contends that one of the strongest drivers in making consumers buy is simply the ability to recall that product. Sharp states that brand recall is improved with a consistent and ubiquitous logo and tagline, by celebrity endorsements and traditional mass marketing.

This helps to explain why brands push so much money into sponsorship: by partnering with another global brand they increase their exposure to a wider audience.

man-utd

Nobody expects Manchester United fans to rush out and buy a Chevrolet purely because the brand appears on the players’ shirts, yet the car manufacturer pays $71.4 million a year for the privilege.

The advantage for Chevrolet is that when a potential customer thinks about buying a car, the Manchester United deal increases the likelihood they can recall the brand and therefore consider purchasing one of its vehicles.

As Chevrolet’s CMO Tim Mahoney states, “Manchester United provides us with a global stage, including here in the U.S. That’s rare.”


Read more: Which Football Sponsors are Getting the Best ROI?


coca-cola-ad

According to Ad Age Datacenter Coca-Cola spent $3.3 billion worldwide on advertising in 2013 alone. Their brand is so strong Coke is one of a handful of generic trademarks. Without thinking consumers often ask for a Coke when they mean any brand of cola.

So increasing awareness is important, which means measuring brand awareness to see what works for your brand and what doesn’t. However, brand awareness has always been one of the hardest things to measure. We take a look at the different ways you can monitor awareness below.


Tactics for measuring brand awareness

1. Surveys

Whether you conduct a survey by email, website or telephone, you can either ask existing customers how they heard of you or ask a random selection of people if they are familiar with your brand. The first approach will give you an understanding of how people hear about you, the second will give you an insight into the number of people that can recall your brand.

2. Look at website traffic

Measuring your website traffic over time can reveal insights into brand awareness, but it’s important you are looking in the right places. The direct channel in Google Analytics tracks the number of people who typed your URL into their address bar, used a browser bookmark, or clicked a link in an untracked email or offline document. Monitoring this over time will give you an indication of changes in brand awareness.

direct-traffic

In the past, Google Analytics users were able to easily track the number of people using branded keywords to arrive on website.

Since Google moved to secure search in October 2011, measuring keyword traffic has become more difficult with the vast majority of keyword data hidden behind ‘(not provided)’ in the name of privacy.

This means you won’t know what proportion of people arrived through search knowing your brand, compared to those who have searched for non-brand keywords and happening upon you by chance.

Of course, not every brand will rely on a website to sell their products. Consumer goods is one example of an industry that is less reliant on direct-to-consumer sales.

The majority of Tide sales are likely to come via supermarkets as opposed to tide.com, meaning that website data might not reveal much insight into how brand awareness is driving sales.

3. Look at search volume data

Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to check the volume of searches for your brand name, and to track it over time to see if search volumes are increasing.

This can be a simple but useful tool, but the data will be too dirty to use if your brand name is a generic term such as ‘Shell’ or ‘Seat’.

4. Use social listening

Perhaps the most effective tactic is to look at where people are already talking – social media and other websites.

Social listening allows you to listen into online, organic conversations about your brand across social media and the web. Listening to these unsolicited opinions allows you to hear consumer’s thoughts as they are naturally expressed.

This also overcomes one of the problems with surveys, response bias, where people may not give natural answers simply because of the format in which they are being asked.

query-apple

Social listening tools, like Brandwatch, allow you to write your own refined searches that can overcome the problem of a generic brand name, allowing you to filter out all irrelevant mentions.


Which metrics should you measure?

Volume of Mentions

Simply by tallying the number of times your brand has been mentioned online you can discover the number of the conversations involving your brand, and track any changes over time.

Importantly, you can track conversations that do not include @mentions or happen outside the official, owned channels of your brand.

Our analysis shows that up to 96% of conversations are outside these media. If you only use inbuilt analytics platforms (such as Facebook Insights), you can only see the tip of the iceberg.

Reach

Reach is the potential number of people that those mentions will be seen by. It takes into account the number of followers of each author who mentions you. So if someone with a million followers tweets about your brand it will spread brand awareness much more than a share from somebody who has 100 friends.

brand-reach

This is one of the reasons influencers are often courted during marketing campaigns; their large audience means anything shared by them has the potential to be seen by a lot of eyes.

Engagement

For some, engagement is beyond the remit of awareness – yet it can be important to track as it will provide an indicator of the effectiveness of awareness. The two do not exist independently of each other.

You want to know if people are actively digesting your content rather than watching it slip by on their news feed.


What should you be measuring against?

Benchmark

In order to track changes in brand awareness you need to benchmark against your baseline metrics, looking at a long enough time period to spot any natural peaks and troughs, as well as any anomalies.

Brandwatch provides historical data so you can easily measure and benchmark awareness over time from your very first login.

Share of Voice

Benchmarking your metrics will tell you if your awareness of your brand has increased, but you will not be getting the full picture.

The mentions of your brand could be a drop in the ocean compared to your competitors.

coca-cola-share-of-voice

You need to establish the proportion of conversations concerning your industry that are centered around your brand. By tracking share of voice and the changes over time you gain context for the data.


The foundation of success

Brand awareness can be the foundation on which to build your marketing strategy.

Increasing the number of consumers that can recall your brand is usually integral to success.

In the past, the challenge was gaining an accurate insight into the level of awareness, but social listening has simplified the process while supplying richer data. Using Brandwatch Analytics to track brand awareness provides you with the tools you need to both monitor and grow the buzz around your brand.

Find out how Brandwatch Analytics can help you measure and understand brand awareness by booking a free demo.


Brandwatch Analytics

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Kit Smith

@Kit_Smith

Kit is a writer and marketing expert. When he's not researching ways to make you better at said marketing, he's often lost in foreign countries, or making pottery (or both).

  • Gábor Bui

    Thank you very much for sharing this article, it helped me to gain new insights into brand awareness :)

  • I have two things to add. First is a question :) Do you look at sentiment analysis when doing social listening? Think it’s an important metric, to get an idea of what customers think of your brand – negative mentions don’t have the same effect as positive ones.

    The other was just to add my 2 cents on using “direct” as source on Google Analytics. Think this is quite an unreliable metric, as in some cases marketing campaigns will produce them by direct promotion – if they use a channel and content without a direct link to the website.

  • Kit Smith

    Hi Ratko, thanks for the comment. We do look at sentiment analysis, we’ve written about it on the blog in the past. Some people would include it in an analysis of brand awareness, others would simply want to measure the size of the conversation, regardless of sentiment. I chose not to include it here, but it definitely can be added to your strategy.

    Regarding your point about ‘direct’, I agree that it can be unreliable and where possible you should be trying to ensure that as little traffic as possible falls into this category in Google Analytics by implementing campaign tracking. Overall, I’d say ‘direct’ is more of an indicator than a measure of brand awareness.

  • Yeah, wasn’t sure if you use it or not from the article. Glad to hear you do :)

    Agree with you there on the “direct” part, it can be more like one of the symptoms, rather than a direct metric.

    Great post by the way!

  • Kit Smith

    Thanks, glad you liked it :)

  • joanne

    Thanks for the article. Very informative. Question: am wondering about the source for this statement (i.e., which analysis?): “Our analysis shows that up to 96% of conversations are outside these media. If you only use inbuilt analytics platforms (such as Facebook Insights), you can only see the tip of the iceberg.”

  • Gemma Joyce