One of the concepts that Joanne O'Connell and I teach in our Marketing Metrics course at the University of Calgary is Leading Indicators.
The box above is a screen capture from section of our Mx3 Marketing Metrics Handbook. The full page is called Acquisition Measures and Metrics. This box comes from the top left corner under the Measures section and is titled, Leading Indicators.
The idea behind Leading Indicators is to identify a variety of measures that happen at some point before a sale is made. In the olden days of traditional advertising and marketing it was fairly onerous to measure brand awareness or brand strength. Typically, a market researcher would have to conduct a survey. The survey could be in person interviews or sent out by mail.
Now-a-days, in an online digital world, measuring brand strength is significantly easier. I'll give you some examples of websites that I use on a regular basis to measure brand awareness for our companies and our clients.
Alexa, now owned by Amazon, has been around forever or at least is seems that way. The site is easy to use: all you do is paste in the URL of a website a company that you are researching. One of our website is www.SEO-Browser.com. It has a Global Rank of 40,750. This score is like a golf score - the lower the better. The score means that of all the websites that Alexa knows, this one is ranked, based on visitor traffic, to be 40,750th down on the list. Facebook, Google and YouTube are the top 3 ranked sites.
From a branding point of view the lower your rank the better.
SimilarWeb is .... similar. It has a Global Rank but when compared to Alexa the interface is wonderful - I prefer it to Alexa. If we enter SEO-Browser.com the Global Rank is 211,315. This is less than (lower down) the rank as measured by Alexa.
And the information from a marketer's perspective is fantastic. Just scroll down the page and you will see:
- Monthly Visits
- Traffic Sources
- Referring Sites
- Search Traffic
- Display Advertising
- Audience Interests
- And more
Which brings me to the point of how to use ranking scores like this. There are 2 ways:
a) Compared to competitors
b) Compared to historical data captured on a yearly or quarterly basis
From a branding point of view, if your website has a better score than your competitors then your brand is stronger. It's that simple.
10 years ago Yahoo had a tool called SiteExplorer. With this tool you could enter a company's domain name and find out what websites were linking to that domain. It was a great tool but Yahoo, in its finite wisdom, stopped supporting it and it faded from view. Moz (formerly SEOMoz) capitalized on the vacuum and created a similar (and better) tool.
From a branding point of view, more links that are pointing to your website is better. If you have more links pointing from other websites to your site then your brand awareness is stronger.
About 7 years ago everyone in our industry was talking about Google PageRank. I would go to conferences and people would ask me the following questions:
- What is your name?
- Who do you work for?
- What is the PageRank of your website?
It was ridiculous. A website with a score of 7 or 8 (on a 10 point scale) is fantastic but you have to be a university or a very large corporation to have a PR that is that high. And the scale is exponential. The home page of most companies will have a PR of 2,3 or maybe 4. SEO-Browser.com has 15,000 visitors per month. It has a PR of 4.
Regardless, from a branding point of view, the higher the PR the better.
Marketing Grader was developed by Hubspot. It is an excellent tool but it is different from some of the other brand measurement sites. This took incorporates website functionality to give a percentage score.
Using this tool, SEO-Browser.com obtains a score of 53%. This is okay but lots of room for improvement. According to the tool, we are doing well with SEO and Social Media but not so well with Blogging, mobility and lead generation.
Typically we use this tool to track the performance of a website rather than as a measure for brand awareness. We still, however, compare our target site to competitors to see who is doing better at what function. We have been using this tool for years - it is excellent.
In summary, figuring out the the awareness and strength of a brand is much easier than it has been in the past. There are many other ways to measure brand awareness but these measures are a good place to start.