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Professor John Henrik Clark once said, "A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience's attention, then he can teach his lesson."

As marketers and business people, we're teaching lessons every day - using our web content to educate and inform our visitors until they see the value of our products and services. But before we enter these teaching moments with our prospects, we have to somehow attract their attention.

Almost every marketing person I talk to shares one common goal: increase brand awareness.

I've started to notice that different people mean different things when they mention this goal. Some are hoping to expand their reach to new networks of people. Others want people to start looking around on their website or blog, sharing their social posts, or watching their YouTube videos.

Whether your definition is more about entering prospects' consciousness or getting them to take initial action, your goal is the same as Professor Clark's...get your audience's attention.

Once you've figured out a few ways to attract attention and generate brand awareness, the only way to improve and grow is to set measurable goals and then work to achieve them.

Most goal-savvy business people know how to track conversion rates and sales, but how do you track something as general and "fluffy" as awareness? In the traditional days of marketing and advertising, you just didn't. There was no way to know how many people paid attention to companies' radio ads, billboards, and press releases. Unless customers called up sales and mentioned these channels, there was no way to track ROI.

These days, things are different. With abundant digital channels, everything is trackable...even brand awareness.

Here, I've laid out the top five most compelling metrics your team can use to set SMART goals and start increasing brand awareness.

Increase Brand Awareness By Measuring These 5 Metrics

1. Website Traffic

If you only look at one number to determine your overall brand awareness, use your website traffic number.

Here's why:

If you want to turn your website into a lead generating machine (who doesn’t?), the first step is driving visitors.

The best way to start is to set SMART web traffic generation goals and introduce tactics that will drive traffic to your site. Whether you implement a social media plan, paid advertising tactics, an influencer marketing approach, or a little of each, you should track the number of visits you get by source and evaluate which methods are most successful.

If you focus on optimizing each approach or eliminating the tactics that are least effective, you'll improve your strategy over time and gain momentum as you build awareness.

2. Blog Visits from New Posts & Old

If you're using inbound marketing tactics to generate awareness, chances are you have a blog.

Use Google Analytics or your marketing automation platform to track visits to your newest blog posts (less than 1 month old) as well as visits to your older blog posts (more than 1 month old).

Tracking traffic progress for both old and new posts will help you create a blog plan that generates immediate and long-term traffic, which will add to the compounding nature of your online content.

3. Social Followers & Engagements

The number of people who follow your brand across social media channels can be a great indicator of overall awareness. Generally, brands with great social followings are larger and more successful.

That said, depending on the channel, it’s a pretty big commitment for someone to follow your brand on social media. That’s why it’s also important to track social engagements across channels.

Do people “like” your posts? Are they retweeting your tweets?

Tracking engagements on each network will help you measure progress, learn what social strategies work, build greater followings, and ultimately generate more site visits.

4. Video Views

There are (at least) two video strategies that work well for brand awareness:

The first is hosting videos on your own site and sharing them across social networks and other channels to drive traffic back to your site. You can use video analytics tools like Wistia to track how many views you get and even to host calls-to-action that deepen the viewer's engagement on your site.

The second is using video distribution sites like YouTube to tap into completely new networks of video viewers. Track view counts using the YouTube count on a regular basis and be sure to include a link back to your site in the video description.

5. Document Views

Like video, if you are using documents like ebooks, white papers, and reports to familiarize people with your company, you’ll want to track views both from inside your website and from alternative distribution channels.

If your documents are featured on your website and shared via social media, you can use a tool like Docalytics to track views and even engagements for each piece of content.

To build awareness among new networks, upload your presentations and infographics to SlideShare which, like Youtube, functions as its own distribution channel for driving strangers to your site. Measure the success of SlideShare content with view counts which are featured prominently on the lower right hand side of each presentation.

As former CEO & Chairman of General Electric, Jack Welch, once said, “an organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Use these key metrics to measure results and track progress toward your brand awareness goals. Once you’re consistently generating the kind of attention you’d like, you can streamline your marketing and sales funnels by optimizing for conversions and sales. Before you know it, you’ll be far out ahead of the competition, using your website as a lead generating, qualifying machine.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Image by Wackystuff via flickr, licensed under CC by-SA 2.0

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