Jessica Barker

You’re pouring a lot of energy into building your brand through digital marketing tactics. But what do people think about the brand you’re presenting? And are your messages really reaching the right people — or are you shouting into the void?

You can figure all of this out by measuring brand awareness, or the extent to which people know about and recognize your brand and business. Let’s cover why this matters before jumping into 5 surefire strategies for how to measure brand awareness.

Why is it important to monitor brand awareness as you grow your business?

Growing brand awareness can directly help grow your business. It follows a snowball effect: When more people know about your company, you have more opportunities for conversions and word-of-mouth referrals. With more brand equity, more customers and more social proof, you can reach an even wider audience with your messages and offerings. And it keeps on going.

But there’s another more nuanced benefit to measuring brand awareness as you scale your business: Understanding how to measure brand awareness — and following through by actually tracking key brand awareness metrics — will allow you to make data-driven decisions.

This can be critical whether you’re starting from scratch, entering a new market or rolling out a new product. Having access to data that shows what’s furthering your growth goals and what’s not really working will allow you to adapt with each new marketing campaign.

With brand awareness data at your disposal, you can take a more informed approach to:

  • Fine-tuning your brand strategy.
  • Cultivating a positive brand perception.
  • Ensuring your target audience hears about your business.
  • Building brand loyalty with existing customers.

How does content marketing help improve brand awareness?

A potential customer will gather a lot of information about a lot of brands from a lot of different sources. Sometimes, this is passive. For instance, they’ll come across ads, read recommendations from friends on Facebook and learn about new brands in their favorite media outlets.

Other times, the process is more intentional. A consumer might search Google for the type of product they want, peruse a specific hashtag on Instagram or seek out articles that discuss the offerings they’re interested in.

But there’s a pattern here. Your target audience gains brand recognition by consuming content.

Naturally, then, a proactive content marketing strategy can help bolster your brand awareness efforts. If you create branded content for your ideal customer to find and engage with, you’ll have a better chance of standing out and achieving top-of-mind awareness.

Whether or not you realize it, every content marketing campaign operates as a brand awareness campaign. The key is to get ahead of this when developing your marketing strategy. If every piece of content you push out expresses your brand’s personality, core values and unique qualities, you can attract the right people and ensure your message really resonates.

Now, let’s take a look at how to measure brand awareness from several different angles:

1. Analyze website traffic

The number of people who land on your website can clue you in to how well you’re doing in terms of brand awareness.

Direct traffic will reveal how many web users are familiar enough with your business to simply type in your URL and go straight to your website. While it won’t necessarily tell you how these users came to learn about your brand, direct traffic signals a high level of awareness and brand recall.

Referral traffic will shed light on how your brand is being presented in other corners of the internet and how inclined potential customers are to click through to your website. For instance, an article you’re quoted in might include a link directly to your website, or social media users may end up on a landing page after following a call to action.

As you carry out a new promotion or brand campaign, analyze the sources of your referral traffic as well as the increase in traffic overall. This can tell you whether these targeted marketing initiatives are producing the results you expected.

2. Track social media engagement

It’s likely that your target audience is active on social media in some way. But are they talking about your brand? Are they engaging with your content?

It’s not too difficult to find out, since social media platforms offer a wealth of brand awareness metrics. You can use various analytics and tools to:

  • Monitor social media engagement metrics, such as the volume of likes, comments, views, tags, reposts, shares and other actions taken from your posts.
  • Conduct social listening to get a sense of what people are talking about and how much of the conversation revolves around your brand.
  • Analyze your brand’s share of voice in comparison to your competitors’ social share.

3. Evaluate branded search volume

You might be targeting non-branded keywords in your content marketing strategy to grab the attention of people who are searching for solutions like yours. However, when it comes to brand awareness, shift your focus to brand-specific keywords.

It’s important to track how frequently people are searching for branded keywords, like your company name or proprietary offerings. If you recently launched a new product, use keyword research tools to keep tabs on how frequently people are directly looking for it. You can get a clearer picture of the total search volume by analyzing keyword searches with homonyms and misspellings, too.

If the search volume seems low, it might mean that your message isn’t reaching the right people — or they’re not retaining the specific brand details. In that case, you can work to find more user-friendly brand messages, like product names that are easier to spell and remember.

Combine this branded keyword approach with referral traffic analysis for a clearer picture of your audience’s journey. You’ll be able to see which searches are producing the best results and bringing the most users to your site.

4. Assess earned media

You shouldn’t limit your brand tracking to just your audience and how they’re engaging with your brand. It’s also helpful to step into the public relations realm and evaluate your earned media.

Earned media would be any sort of media coverage by an outside party, such as a news outlet, online magazine or well-known blog. If your latest marketing campaign is getting picked up in the media, these brand mentions could be reaching a vast audience.

Examine the types of outlets you’re being featured in. Are they industry publications that will give you exposure to a valuable niche audience? Are they big publications with millions of readers around the globe? And what does this mean in terms of increasing awareness?

You can also draw connections between earned media and other brand awareness tracking methods. For instance, you can look at the level of engagement those pieces of coverage are seeing and whether you’re experiencing a spike in referral or direct web traffic.

5. Conduct a brand awareness survey

When considering how to measure brand awareness, keep in mind that you can also approach it proactively by surveying your audience. A brand awareness survey, conducted in tandem with a specific ad or marketing campaign, can show how well your message is spreading and, more importantly, how well it’s settling into the minds of your target audience.

When creating a brand awareness survey, you can include questions that measure brand recall in general, gauge your audience’s familiarity with certain offerings and even uncover the channels through which your brand is being seen. Sample brand awareness survey questions include:

  • What brands come to mind when you think of [industry, product category, etc.]?
  • What brands have you heard of in [industry, product category, etc.]?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how favorably do you view [brand name]?
  • Which of the following qualities do you associate with [brand name]?
  • Through which channels have you heard about [brand name]?
  • Were you aware that [brand name] offers [product or service]?

Measuring brand awareness isn’t a one-and-done activity

It’s important to remember that brand awareness is constantly in flux.

One day, you might be a locally known business, and the next day your brand is making national headlines after a piece of viral news coverage. Or, perhaps more likely, you’re gradually expanding your reach with each new campaign and brand awareness effort, thereby increasing brand awareness.

But if you stay quiet for too long, your target audience could very well forget about your brand.

No matter what happens, your brand awareness metrics will look different from one season to the next. So, keep one eye on awareness and let the ebb and flow guide your next steps.