Measuring brand awareness is an important part of your overall marketing metrics and health. Having strong awareness ties into better conversion rates and better sales. Why? Because whether it's B2B or B2C, any purchase requires some consumer trust — trust that you'll deliver a solution to their problem, trust that your product works, trust that they're spending their money wisely. People don't buy from brands they deem untrustworthy, and people don't trust what they don't know. That's why brand awareness is so important.
What is brand awareness?
According to Oxford brand awareness is, "the extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services."
How to measure brand awareness
But how do you go about measuring your brand awareness? The most accurate way to do this is by hiring a research partner and conducting a quantitative market study. When doing this, it’s best to test for both unaided (a measure of the number of people who express knowledge of a brand or product without prompting) and aided awareness (a measure of the number of people who express knowledge of a brand or product when prompted).
When testing for unaided awareness, you get an understanding of where your brand sits in the hierarchy of a consumers’ mind as well as if they think of you at all when they think of the category. Unaided awareness can tell you a lot about your brand’s position in the market. When testing for aided awareness, you get an understanding of whether your brand makes the list at all. Aided awareness asks consumers if they’ve heard of you at all; if you’re not making this list, you need to seriously look at your marketing efforts.
Combined, these two measures, conducted on a regular basis, provide a good understanding of where you sit in the market and help to inform where you need to invest in your marketing. These studies can also tell you where the competition sits in the market and what that means for your marketing efforts. The downside is that these studies can be costly to conduct and may not fit within your marketing budget.
Not to worry, there are other options that cost far less but can still provide a measure and insight into your brand’s overall awareness in the market. Besides, it's always helpful to keep an eye on these numbers anyhow.
3 DIY metrics to measure brand awareness
The direct traffic volume to your site is a good way to understand your overall brand awareness. Direct traffic indicates everyone coming to your website by typing in your URL, not using a search engine. If the public is seeking you out by typing in your exact URL, it's safe to assume that they know who you are and are actively looking for you. This is a solid indication that you have some brand awareness in the market.
When measuring your direct traffic, make sure to compare year-over-year to identify growth and trends. We encourage measuring a particular month in comparison to that same month in the previous year, but not month-to-month traffic growth. Every industry/business/audience type has its own ebbs and flows in monthly traffic. For instance, the month of August in advertising seems to be a pretty universal traffic dip. If you compare one month to the next month, you might not be seeing anything other than your slow months.
With this method, you can’t compare your awareness levels to the competition, but you are able to compare your own levels over time. This will help you understand if your plan is working or if you need to add more fuel to the fire.
Organic traffic includes anyone coming to your site through an unpaid search engine result. This measure is far from perfect but seeing as a good chunk of most website traffic comes from organic search, it’s still a good one to monitor. It’s less about the overall number and more about trends over time. Same as with direct traffic, make sure you are monitoring your organic search volume year-over-year to get a good measure of awareness growth.
People don't buy from brands they deem untrustworthy, and people don't trust what they don't know.
Search keywords are the third piece of the puzzle and an important one. When reviewing your direct and organic traffic, you should also look at your search keywords. This is a list of common words that are used to find your website and they break down into two categories, branded and non-branded.
The branded keywords are what you want to focus on. If people are searching for your brand by name, that means you have healthy brand awareness. These results can come in many forms, for example here are some branded keywords used to find the ZGM website: ZGM, Zero Gravity Marketing, ZGM Calgary, ZGM Edmonton, ZGM marketing, ZGM agency.
It’s good to look at your non-branded search terms as well, but this is less of an indication of brand awareness, more of the strength of your website and content. For ZGM, some of our non-branded search terms are Calgary agency, marketing agency, Edmonton ad agency, ad agency. Your branded search terms are something you should monitor quarterly and year-over-year to find the trends and see how you're performing. Do you have more branded searches coming to your site than last year? Do you have less? Either way, it will help inform your marketing decisions and whether you need to ramp up your efforts.
Don't undervalue the brand awareness indicators you can't quantify
These measures are a great place to start monitoring your brand awareness as part of your overall brand health and metrics. One we haven't discussed yet though is sales interactions and while it's the least quantifiable, it's one of the most important. Have your prospects heard of you before? Have they seen or interacted with your content or ads? Did they hear of you from a friend? Asking those questions (or listening for the conversation points) in sales interactions is important. You might not always see the numbers in your metrics, but if the audience you want to sell to knows who you are, that's a win. If you have a sales team, keep in touch with them on a regular basis and if you handle the sales, start to ask those questions.
By combining all these together you can start to see how well your brand is performing which will better inform you on what to do next. Do the trends point towards lower direct traffic, lower organic searches, fewer branded keyword searches? If so, you need to seriously consider taking some action to correct this course. If you don’t you could start to see a decline in conversions, an increase in cost per conversion, lower quality conversions, and lower overall sales. Monitoring your brand awareness using these measurements is a critical metric in understanding the success of your marketing, and there is no time like to present to get started.