Many advertisers operate under the assumption that an effective accountability model cannot be applied to campaigns geared toward branding.
When it comes to campaign goals, it’s not uncommon to hear talk of “soft” metrics such as sessions, impressions, and view-thru-conversions. This does not have to be the case. As long as you’re clear about the objectives of your branding campaign, there are better ways to make them accountable.
While it’s true that results are often more easily measurable with direct response campaigns, you can apply the same measurement approach to branding by identifying your objectives and assigning the right KPIs.
1.) Measure Brand Lift with Google Analytics
In your analytics tool, set a date range spanning the entirety of your branding campaign, and measure against the previous period. Then, segment to exclude the direct traffic from the campaign. If you see a strong lift in traffic, you can attribute this to your branding effort.
The reason you must exclude direct campaign traffic is because you are measuring brand lift, not simply traffic lift. The difference is significant. Presumably, your goal is to attract users who will continue to engage with your brand beyond the first touchpoint. The term brand lift refers to the number of users who now have your brand on their minds beyond that first touchpoint. Return visits via alternate sources is a great proxy for this measurement. You can also take this a step further by measuring loyalty metrics such as frequency and recency reports to get greater insight into depth of engagement.
2.) Set Micro Conversions and Assign Value
While it might not be effective to gauge branding success by your macro conversions such as product subscriptions and purchases, you can use micro conversions to better measure engagement from brand segments and even assign direct economic value to those segments by assigning values to your conversions. In many cases, branding is about making an introduction, but don’t shrink from the challenge of attempting to activate the user as well based on the assumption that conversion metrics are useless for the segment. Just make sure the conversions are reasonable for context in which the user has found you. Perhaps they won’t complete a purchase right away. That’s ok. Measure a brochure download, mailing list registration, even an ambitious time on site or pages per visit goal as a conversion.
3.) Use your Social Channels
Your social channels can be useful for this purpose because they give you quick and current insight into what your customers are thinking. This applies more to brand sentiment than reach but the two are obviously equally important. After all, reach isn’t useful if you’re not giving users a positive impression.
Use the conversations on your social platforms to understand your sentiment ratio (negative posts/positive posts), the user profiles associated with each, and specifically which components of your business they are satisfied or unsatisfied with such as products, customer service, price, etc.
4.) Leverage Google Trends for Performance over Time
Google Trends gives you powerful insight into the search trends related to your brand, and those of your competitors over time. You can segment by date range, location with state-by-state drill down, and even various Google platforms such as web vs. YouTube vs. Google Shopping. Use this information to measure your performance trends and cross reference them with the timing of your branding campaigns to better understand to impact of the your campaigns on user search behavior.
In addition to Google Trends, paid solutions such as Compete.com give you even more insight into the competitive landscape showing the number of visits to your competitor’s sites vs. yours, and other important competitive insights.
- These are a just a few examples of how to make your branding efforts more accountable.
- By clarifying the objectives of your branding projects, you’ll be in a position to measure and optimize to those objectives.
- Far too many advertisers don’t adopt adequate measurement models because they don’t know their own goals. This is never more true than with branding. Don’t let your business fall into this trap!
- Establish clear goals and the means for measuring them will come.
Resources and References:
- Avinash Kaushik – Measuring Brand Strength
- Avinash Kaushik – Analytics and Metrics for Branding Campaigns
Neal Mohan, Google, on Digital Brand Measurement Revolution & Transparency