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."
Using web content to educate and inform visitors until they see the value of products and services is what leads through the buyer's journey. But, before we enter these teaching moments with our prospects, we have to somehow attract their attention.
A Common Marketing Goal: Increase Brand Awareness
Just because marketers may have the same goal doesn't mean that the details are the same for each company. Some are hoping to expand their reach to new networks of people, while others want to attract their target personas to start looking around on their website or blog, sharing their social posts, or engaging with their video content.
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 ways to attract attention and generate brand awareness, the best way to improve and grow is to set SMART goals and strategize the best way to achieve them.
Most goal-savvy business people know how to track conversion rates and sales, but how are you tracking 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, tracking ROI became quite the task.
Tracking Brand Awareness in the Digital Age
When tracking brand awareness, here are the top five most compelling metrics your team can shape their SMART goals around.
1. Website Traffic
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.
By using Google Analytics or your marketing automation platform to track visits to your blog posts, you'll be able to see what blogs your target audience is reading, and can shape your marketing strategy around content that your audience is looking to consume.
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, while understanding what channels your audience is engaging with will help you to put efforts towards those channels to raise awareness, instead of spending time on channels were your brand cannot have as big of an impact.
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.
When it comes to YouTube, remember that it is a search engine. When uploading videos, do your best to optimize the post so it will become searchable and relevant.
5. Document Views
Like video, if you are using documents like ebooks, white papers, case studies, 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.