Brand metrics and how they help digital marketers
How to create synergy across different marketing functions
I used to work for a start-up where the head of digital marketing asked me to question customers how they found out about our service.
Despite being useful, asking our customers individually which keywords they typed on Google, or how they heard about us was not scalable.
The head of digital did a great job increasing traffic thanks to the feedback provided.
In parallel, we worked on increasing our brand image through positive reviews and advertisements but failed to measure the growth of brand and ads awareness.
We hadn’t combined digital marketing with brand marketing, and that left us distant from our goals.
My experience taught me one vital lesson. Despite having access to both tools to strategize and the budget to invest in a variety of advertisement channels, not measuring impact by combining different data sets was a costly mistake.
While digital marketers revolve around analytics and measurements, brand marketers tend to have a harder time proving results. The brand seems to be such a fuzzy concept, leading us to believe that it is immeasurable.
With mobile surveys, this is no longer the case 📲.
Key terms: skip this session if you know them all
This piece ought to be understood not only by folks who are familiar with digital marketing and branding but by any reader. Hence, this “glossary”:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): the process of ranking a website higher on search engine result pages (e.g. Google pages). Keywords are an important element of this process.
Organic traffic: website traffic you get when someone clicks on your website link as long as it is not an Ad.
Indexing: the process of adding web pages into a search engine (e.g. Google).
Inbound links: a link coming from another website to your website.
Search Engine Result Pages (SERP): the displayed pages by the search engines in response to a query by a searcher (e.g. you type “buy cookies” on Google search bar and press Enter).
Click-through-rate (CTR): a ratio of users who click on a link to the number of total users who view a page (e.g. there are 100 visitors who search “buy cookies”, but only 1 visitor clicks, therefore the CTR is 1%).
Dwell time: how much time users spend on a website.
Bounce rate: % of people who leave a webpage without moving past the first visited page.
Pay-per-click (PPC): advertising model where you pay whenever your ad is clicked (e.g. type “deliver food” on Google, the first result is probably an Ad — in green — if you click on it, then the advertiser will have to pay because you clicked).
Paid traffic: website traffic you get when someone clicks on your Ad, referring to the example above, if you click on the Ad link when you type “deliver food”, then that would count as part of the paid traffic.
Google Analytics (GA): a platform where you analyze website metrics.
Brand awareness: a metric that shows if people have heard of your brand (e.g. you survey 100 respondents, and only 1 respondent knows your brand, then your brand awareness is 1%).
Brand usage: a metric that shows if people have been using your brand (e.g. you survey 100 respondents, and only 1 respondent did use your brand, then your brand usage is 1%).
Brand values: values consumers associate with your brand (e.g. trustworthy, secure, fast).
Brand buzz: a consumer’s positive or negative perception of your brand (e.g. if you have a positive brand buzz of 50%, that would mean that half respondents think of your brand positively).
Ad awareness: a metric to evaluate if your ads have reached your audience (e.g. if out of 100 respondents who know your brand, 5 did see your brand, then that’s a 5% ad awareness).
Ad channels: a metric to show which ad channels are the most effective (e.g. social media, SEO, Google Ads, TV ads, radio ads).
Unaided awareness: reveals which brands do consumers think of in your category when you offer no hints such as logos (e.g. if someone asks you “Tell me the name of 3 fizzy drinks” and you respond “Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Schweppes”, then you got unaided awareness responses).
Enough of definitions. Let’s get to the meat of the topic 👺.
This piece is experimental and built on hypothesis (yet to be tested)
The goal of this article is to explore how brand marketers and digital marketers (in SEO for example) could work together, leveraging insights from brand health metrics.
The logic behind this is to not only boost your ranking on Google but also leave a positive impression of your brand on current and potential customers’ minds.
How is this beneficial though? If you do an online search right now to buy cookies, find Cookie Auntie and buy from them, forget the name because the brand isn’t memorable, then Cookie Auntie may lose returning customers and the opportunity to sell more.
If Cookie Baboon ranks well and does a great job at branding, then the consumer will remember the name, may refer it or buy again from that brand 🍪.
Extract keywords from your brand analysis to benefit your SEO work
As part of your brand analysis, you do ask respondents about their opinion. Since you are free to ask almost any question, why not use their responses as a source of keywords for your SEO strategy and branding plan?
Open-ended questions are a powerful tool.
Keyword research is predominantly conducted with Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console, Google Trends, Soovle, Ahrefs or other tools. Let’s explore an alternative: people’s responses.
With open-ended questions on mobile-surveys, we could know what people think when they are exposed to a certain brand name or term, and use those answers as a foundation for our blueprint.
Since mobile-first indexing seems to be one of the most important aspects in SEO in 2018 (and will probably keep being so in 2019), it seems reasonable to adopt such a mobile approach.
Let’s put this approach to practice. ⛏️
You manage Cookie Baboon and are unsure about which keywords to use in your advertising and brand. You do research with the mentioned tools, and come up with these 3 following terms:
To reinforce the belief (or ease it off), you survey people and discover:
- 60% responded “chocolate”
- 40% responded “crusty”
- 2% responded “delicious”
You realize that “delicious” is not such an important word, and “chocolate” and “crusty” are two keywords you have skipped.
Surveying people seems to be a direct and preventive method that could save you time, and strengthen your beliefs (or disbeliefs) 📿.
Alternatively, as part of your brand health metrics analysis, you could use the reported brand values in your copywriting and branding.
Let’s imagine that Cookie Baboon presents itself online as “the shop that ships cookies fast”. Following a mobile survey, Cookie Baboon discovers the following insights about perceived attributes:
- 65% associate the brand with “offers the best chocolate cookies”
- 56% associate the brand with “the shop is transparent about the ingredients”
- 35% associate the brand with “ships cookies fast”
The company realizes the way it describes itself is not the one that resonates the most with the audience and decides to make a change. Focusing on “fast shipping” instead of “best chocolate” results in a waste of time and efforts.
Such brand health metrics could be vital to your SEO. Use the correct words to increase your chances of ranking higher.
Leverage your brand awareness to drift away from generic terms
If your marketing efforts are paying off, and you see that your brand awareness is increasing, use it as part of your SEO strategy to catch people’s attention.
If they recognize your brand name, there is a higher chance they will click on your link (increase your CTR).
If you are looking for cookies online, and want a shop that offers the best chocolate cookie in town, you would probably click on the 3rd option below:
- Non-recognized brand name | Cheap and tasty
- Recognized brand name | Cheap and tasty
- Recognized brand name | Tastiest chocolate cookie in town
Another great advantage of using your brand name lies in the lower competition you will face.
If you are the only company called Cookie Baboon, you have stronger chances at ranking higher for your brand name than anyone else (you may compete against another shop that embeds yours, or a review website).
The idea is to work on your brand, measure the awareness and other metrics, place them strategically in your SEO strategy, and start to capture customers 🦋.
Brand buzz could increase your dwell time and grow inbound links
Assess your brand buzz (positive or negative sentiment) and see how much time users spend on your website.
If you focus on emitting a good vibe from your brand name, users will be less likely to drop out of your webpage because of lack of trust or suspicion.
Also, if you are perceived as a trustworthy brand, businesses and authoritative websites that are well ranked will not think twice before linking to your website.
If you increase your brand awareness, then focus on positive brand buzz, increase your CTR and dwell time, and lower the bounce rate, then that will positively impact your SEO.
SEO and brand measurements in tandem for competition analysis
The cool thing about brand measurements is that you analyze your competition’s as well.
You could write a list of competitors and have respondents say if they recognize them or not. This way you can benchmark yourself against the others, and see who is leading the race.
Through unaided awareness, if you send a survey and ask respondents which business is on their mind when they think about “cookies”, then you could assess who performs well in terms of branding, and subsequently if they are using that as part of their digital marketing or not.
If you see that the cookie company leading the race in SEO is the one leading the race in brand awareness (and other metrics), then you would probably correlate the success of one with the other.
If Cookie Baboon is a top performer in brand awareness but one of the poorest in SEO, that would mean that they are generating awareness through other channels than SEO.
If Cookie Baboon is instead a top performer in SEO but scores poorly in brand awareness, that could mean that they haven’t done a great job at making users remember their name.
Use brand awareness and benchmark yourself against leading firms in your sector to see what other companies do well in their digital marketing as a whole 🏎️.
Parallel analysis to untap new insights
Here are a few ideas a case study could be based on:
- Brand awareness + organic traffic: an increase in brand awareness increases organic traffic.
- Brand consideration + CTR: an increase in brand consideration would increase CTR.
- Brand buzz +organic traffic: an increase in positive outlook towards your brand increases organic traffic.
- Brand buzz + dwell time: an increase in positive outlook towards your brand increase time spent on your page.
- Brand usage + the number of visited pages per user: an upward trend in brand usage increases the number of visited pages per user.
- Brand awareness + new user versus returning user: an increase in brand awareness affects your new user / returning user ratio.
- Ad awareness/channels + organic traffic: an increase in ad awareness increases your organic traffic, and correlate your ad channels with your website visits.
- Brand consideration + conversion rate: an increasing brand consideration increases conversion rate (from visitor to customer).
Eventually, doing one single survey would not be enough, you would have to do multiple ones and keep track of the trend to be able to benchmark it and extract insights.
If you see that most people know about your brand (high awareness), but you have poor organic traffic, that would probably mean that your other ad channels are more effective.
This should push you to work on stronger strategies to capture more users ☝️.
Struggling with International SEO? Don’t just translate — ask the people directly
If you plan to launch your product or service in a new market (say you are established in Australia and wish to expand to Germany), analyze that market by surveying potential users to:
- Get insights about competitors — by asking them about brand awareness.
- Collect keywords and sentences — with the brand attributes and top of the mind awareness responses.
- Understand how they think — by asking custom questions.
Rather than translating your keywords (with DeepL or Google Translate), you could get some directly by asking your target group.
A question such as “What do you think about when you hear about Cookie Baboon?” could give you great insights 🧐.
Leverage your data and combine the different results you have gathered to improve your strategy and execution.
You can clear the fog and establish a stronger understanding of your competitors and your current situation.
I will be working more on the topic and put to test the concepts outlined in this piece, to shift this from experimental article to “done-and-proved” article.