Brand awareness is one thing businesses of all sizes pay a premium for. And for good reason; when prospective consumers recall your brand, they are more than likely to purchase your product or service. For small businesses, measuring brand awareness can be a tricky subject.
You can’t rely on aggregate industry reports or large-scale surveys published by research giants like Nielsen or Qualtrics. Let’s look at some relevant KPIs that can help you track brand awareness without adding unnecessary cost.
Track Brand Mentions Online
If you can track people talking about your brand online, you’ll have a fair picture of brand awareness in the market. People discuss brands across social media channels, blog posts, discussion forums, product review blogs, and other online platforms.
With the help of a brand mention tracking tool, you can keep track of the frequency of brand mentions on the internet and how it is shaping up.
There are three core KPIs to track here:
1. Volume of Brand Mentions
Tracking the number of mentions across online sites and social platforms gives you a fair idea about how frequently your brand is finding a place amongst user conversations. It is important to track how the frequency of conversions is changing across different time periods.
With the help of a suitable tool, you can quickly identify the frequency of brand mentions (Figure 1) and you can even split them according to their sources. This can also help you gauge the impact of any marketing campaigns that you might be running at a certain point in time. For example, if mentions of your brand have suddenly gone up on news sites, it means your PR campaign had a positive impact.
Image source: https://mention.com/
2. Total Reach
While it’s great to find a number of brand mentions online, it would not help if these mentions were confined to a very limited audience. For example, you may offer a SaaS product for business users, but most mentions about the brand could be limited to a technical forum with limited reach.
The total reach of your brand mentions is a significant KPI that showcases the expanse of your brand awareness. If your brand is mentioned by popular websites or social media influencers with a significant following, it invariably will show up before a larger audience.
Image source: https://mention.com/
3. Brand Sentiment
On social channels, people tend to talk about brands freely, seek recommendations and share their experiences, and this offers you a chance to track the sentiment associated with a brand guideline.
Sentiment analysis can help you understand whether your brand is making a favorable impression in the minds of the consumer as it would have a direct impact on their purchase decisions. In case your brand is affected by significant negative sentiment, it means that its products or services are failing to meet consumer expectations.
With the help of tools like Social Baker, Sprout Social, or Mention.com you can check the sentiment associated with a brand in a given time frame.
Image source: https://mention.com/
Track Customer Reviews
As opposed to a general sentiment analysis that attempts to provide a holistic view, tracking customer reviews can give you a more nuanced picture. The kind of reviews your company receives from users and other stakeholders can have a direct impact on the purchase decision of your prospective customers.
For some businesses, customer reviews can make the difference between success and failure. Take the example of a restaurant that has been hit by a spate of negative reviews on Yelp or Google. It can bring down business in the short term and negatively impact the overall sentiment associated with the brand.
While there are tools to track reviews on the internet, and most of them are invariably tracked by social listening tools, it is still better to go through them separately. In some cases, you may need to actively figure out which review sites matter most for your business and focus on them. It is critical to address the concerns shared in negative reviews and improve the overall brand image.
If you are running a local business, managing the impact of reviews would be a primary concern. As you are likely aware, a significant portion of users check user reviews before their first visit.
Review sites also allow you to gain valuable insights into any shortcomings associated with your product or service. It is possible that you are offering a great product, but an unsupportive customer care team is ruining the overall customer experience.
If you unexpectedly find bad reviews, you should consider implementing a chatbot to help engage with your customers and reduce potential churn while lowering your bounce rate.
Measure Website Traffic
The volume of traffic you receive on your website is an important indicator for tracing brand awareness. However one needs to carefully focus on the source of the traffic and consider tracking those visitors who directly landed on your website.
Google Analytics is the obvious choice for tracking website visits, especially to see the sources of traffic coming to your website. The Direct channel gives you an indication of brand recall and how it is shaping up over a period of time. If people are directly landing up on your website either through a bookmark or directly typing your URL it’s a clear indicator that the awareness of your brand is increasing.
It is important to compare direct traffic over different time periods and understand how it’s trending. With Google Analytics you can easily track the variance in direct traffic and link it to brand awareness.
Image source: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/
It is possible to figure out which set of users are connecting with your brand by further analyzing the direct traffic and understanding its demographics and interests. This will give you significant pointers to customize your branding outreach efforts.
Consider doing active outreach to more people who are similar to the section of the target audience which is readily connecting with the brand. Such an approach goes a long way in improving brand awareness marketing goals by getting the maximum results out of your outreach efforts.
Search Volume of Branded Keywords
One of the most overlooked KPIs for tracking brand awareness is the search volume of branded keywords. Many marketers and business owners simply steer clear of tracking this data and leave it to their SEO teams to go through it. However, it makes sense to continuously track the search volume for branded keywords and any positive shift in it gives a clear indication of brand awareness growth.
To track search volume of branded keywords, you can use the Google Keyword Planner tool and identify your core brand keywords. Once you have identified them, try tracking the trend over different time periods to understand how search volume is getting affected. Any shift in branded keyword search volume can be associated with brand recall and can provide valuable insights.
If you have a fairly unique brand name, you can also use Google Trends to check the growth of interest in your brand which has a direct correlation to Brand Awareness. However, it will not work effectively if your brand name is generic.
Image source: https://trends.google.com/trends/
Referral Traffic and Backlinks
The amount of traffic you are receiving from other sites can be used to ascertain the growth in brand awareness. In case over time you notice a significant increase in traffic from referral sites, it gives you a very definitive indication that people are increasingly getting aware of your brand. However, you would have to be cautious about weeding out websites that host irrelevant content and are sending low-quality traffic.
In Google Analytics, you can create custom reports to analyze your referral traffic along with metrics like bounce rate. If you are noticing a high bounce rate from certain referring websites, you are probably looking at irrelevant visitors that do not contribute toward brand awareness.
Backlinks are also a very important indicator of brand awareness, provided you are receiving them from relevant websites. If reputed sites are linking back to your content, not only does it help you increase your SEO score, it also indicates that people are discovering your brand and tend to find value in your website content or products.
There are several tools available to analyze the websites linking back to your site. Amongst them, the Google Search console is a crucial tool that every business should strive to use and it showcases valuable inputs such as top linking domains and top linked pages etc. For a company that has multiple products, like e-commerce brands, evaluating the top linked pages can give an indication as to which products are moving up the popularity charts.
While it is very common for enterprises to conduct surveys with random people both online and offline to gauge brand awareness; yet for small businesses, it can be a challenging endeavor. Often you may not have the budget to engage a research agency to conduct a survey with your ideal target audience. However, with a little bit of effort, surveys can be done in-house too.
Small firms can initially start with online surveys and use online survey tools to reach out to their target audience and try to gauge their awareness about the brand and its products. To reach the right kind of audiences, one can use the Lookalike audiences feature in Facebook ads and reach out to people whose interest and demographics are close to your existing followers. For mid-sized firms with significant ad budgets, Facebook offers the option to conduct brand survey tests to ascertain how brand awareness has been impacted as a result of Facebook advertising.
Additionally it might make sense for small businesses, especially those who are focused on a specific region, to participate in events and conferences and conduct random surveys to ascertain brand awareness in local markets. Surveys offer businesses the chance to obtain qualitative inputs which other KPIs cannot offer. They are essential for obtaining inputs related to customer pain points, their preferences, and what they are looking for in a product or service similar to what your firm may be offering.
Track Social Media Growth and Engagement
Most businesses are active on a variety of social channels. If you are a B2C brand, you likely have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and possibly even TikTok. The content you share on these channels receives a certain degree of organic engagement which includes comments, likes, shares, etc.
The engagement rate on content shared on social channels gives a clear indication of brand awareness, especially when you promote posts. If consumers are already aware of your brand, they are more likely to engage with your promoted posts.
While most social channels offer analytics features to measure engagement, it is best to use a professional tool like Sprout Social (Figure 6) to understand the engagement rate across different social accounts. You get the efficiency of analyzing how multiple handles are performing from a single tool and gain insights into how specific content and messaging are received by your audience.
Image source: https://sproutsocial.com
The last critical aspect that you need to look at is the increase in your social follower base, especially during time periods where you are not promoting your social handles. Any brand that is experiencing an increase in brand awareness typically notices a decent increase in its social media follower base.
At times businesses need to evaluate which brand awareness related KPIs would best suit their requirements. It is perfectly fine to choose a set of KPIs from the ones we have discussed above or add more custom KPIs based on your business needs.
However, tracking the KPIs consistently is the key. Regular measurement of brand awareness KPIs can provide you with insights to quickly tailor your marketing initiatives to better target your prospects and improve brand recall.