How to Measure Brand Awareness Online

Discover the most useful metrics and tactics for measuring the success of your brand awareness campaigns, and what they can tell you.

Marketing design
November 5, 2021

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Discover 9 effective ways to measure brand awareness and what metrics tell you about your marketing efforts.

Brand awareness (sometimes also called brand recall) is the extent to which a target audience can remember your brand: its products and services, visual identity, messaging and values.

We don’t ask for an adhesive bandage, but a “bandaid”, and we don’t search for things online, we “google” them. If your brand name has replaced the name of the product or service itself, then you can be sure you’ve made it, but how can you determine the level of your brand awareness before this stage?

In this article, we’ll look at why you should regularly measure the awareness of your brand and some of the most useful metrics to look at in determining whether your marketing efforts are yielding results.


Why measure brand awareness?

It’s a valid question: after all, if the sales are keeping your business afloat, do you even need to know what people think of your brand?

The answer, of course, is yes, since brand awareness suggests the potential for long-term success of your brand. If people make a one-off purchase but fail to remember your brand, they’re unlikely to become returning customers.

In the SaaS industry, this is called churn, and it indicates the number of customers that stop paying for whatever reason. Even if your marketing campaigns manage to pull in more new customers, with high churn rates your business won’t be able to grow (at best you’ll be at ground zero).

On the other hand, if you provide them with a positive brand experience, which will encompass positive feelings and associations tied to your brand, it’s much more likely that they will remain loyal to your brand.

So, understanding what people think about your brand and whether they recognize it amongst the competitors is essential for building long-term client relationships.

How to measure brand awareness

Now that you know why you do it, here are 10 simple tactics that will tell you whether you’re creating the right brand image in your customer’s minds.


Website traffic

In many cases, your website is the first point of contact between your brand and customers. They might stumble upon it searching for a particular product or service, or landing on your blog or FAQ section after googling a common query.

In that respect, website traffic is the metric that most accurately tells you how many people have heard of your brand name at least once.

For a more qualitative look into these numbers, be sure to check out the specific pages that are most popular (is it your homepage or a blog article that answers a popular search query), as well as your website heatmap. This is a visual representation of people’s behavior on your website, e.g. which sections of the site do they spend the most time on, which elements of the search bar are most relevant and which buttons get the most clicks.

Google Analytics is a free tool you can use to measure some of the key metrics such as:

  • Number of users: unique visitors on your site over a given time
  • Number of sessions: how many times the users engaged with your site
  • Session duration
  • Bounce rate: number of people who visit a page only once before leaving the site
  • Average time on page
  • Top landing pages

All of these will give you a good idea of the level of your brand awareness. If the bounce rate is high and the average time on your site is low, then it’s likely people aren’t really interested in your brand and have simply landed there by accident (or looking for a quick answer to a related on unrelated search query).

If, on the other hand, you keep attracting high levels of new users with increasing sessions and a long average time on pages such as your homepage or pricing, then you can assume these people have a genuine interest in your brand and are at the brand awareness stage.

Branded search volume

Most often when we look for a company or product we don’t immediately type in the URL, but rather search for the brand name. This is called branded search and its volume is one of the key indicators of brand awareness.

The reason why that is, is obvious: if people search for your brand specifically that means they know about your brand.

You can measure branded search volume with Google Analytics as well as paid analytics tools such as AHRefs or SEMrush.

One possible con in taking branded search volume as a direct indicator of your brand awareness, is seasonality. For example, if you sell Christmas decorations it makes sense that you’ll experience higher search volumes in this period. But if you have additional products (e.g. general decoration) it doesn’t necessarily mean your company will be the go-to brand for those Christmas buyers.

Referral traffic

On the other side, people might also land on your website through other channels and sites. This is called referral traffic.

Luckily, this is yet another metric that you can easily measure with Google Analytics. Simply go to Acquisition, select All traffic and choose Referrals.

This number will tell you how many people have landed on your site from another website, as well as other metrics such as conversion rate and engagement.

When factoring in referral traffic into your brand awareness campaign metrics, be sure to check the average session duration. This will tell you if the referrals actually had time to develop brand awareness (get enough information about your brand to remember it), or if they clicked on the affiliate link and immediately left your site.

Share of voice

Every business will have a number of relevant keywords that they should try to rank for in search engine results. You can try to compile a list of these yourself or hire an SEO agency to do that for you.

Share of voice represents your success in ranking for these keywords compared to your competitors. Most commonly SOV refers to paid advertising (see PPC below), but sometimes it can also encompass organic traffic and social mentions of your brand.

You can calculate your SOV by dividing it by the number of keywords that represent your brand by the total number in your market. For example, the keyword “[your brand name] marketing agency” appears 25 times and the keyword “marketing agency” appears 50, you have 50% of SOV and can consider yourself a leader in this industry.

You can also do this with general keywords to calculate what share of the mentions is connected to your brand. Generally speaking, SOV represents the percentage of media spending of a single company compared to the total expenditure of advertising expenditure for a particular product or industry.

PPC and display ads

Pay-per-click advertising is one of the most effective tactics for boosting brand awareness. Even though organic search results get more clicks than ads, it’s still better to appear on the first page of Google than not to: one study found that over 90% of people stick to the first page of Google search results, and just 4.8% actually click through results on the second page.

Similarly, the power of Google’s display network is indisputable: it reaches over 90% of internet users worldwide.

So, if you want people to know about your brand, PPC and display ads are a must. When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of these types of advertising for increasing brand awareness, the metrics are also very reliable. Usually, if people click on your ads, it means they want to learn more about your business and are more likely to remember it.

Social media engagement & mentions

Social media is a game-changing marketing and advertising platform because it allows you to communicate directly with clients and prospects. So, not only does social media allow you to build brand awareness by running ad campaigns, it also provides qualitative insight into what people think about your brand.

When creating an ad campaign with Facebook Ads Manager, you can choose different objectives, such as engagement or brand awareness. The latter means your ads will be seen by more people, while the former will target a more narrow audience that is more likely to engage with your posts.

If you’re simply looking to get your brand name out there, the metrics from an awareness campaign can be a good indicator of the potential market you can reach. On the other hand, an engagement campaign can help you determine the scope and definition of your target audience. It’s also a more reliable source of information on your brand awareness success: seeing your ad doesn’t necessarily mean people will remember your brand while clicking on it or commenting will definitely increase your chances there.

So while social media reach is an important metric to incorporate into your marketing strategy analysis, be sure to deep dive into the quality of the leads you’re getting.

Earned media value

Earned (or free) media is all the mentions you get without paying for them. It includes both backlinks and social mentions.

While brand awareness necessarily requires paid advertising as well, you also need to focus on building a strong and reputable brand on the inside, which will help you drive organic interest.

Measuring your earned media value helps you assess the quality of these internal efforts. Although often backlinks and social mentions are a result of partnerships (e.g. link exchange), so not solely based on merit alone, it’s very unlikely that serious businesses and media outlets will want to partner with a brand they deem untrustworthy or unprofessional.

Customer reviews

Most of the aforementioned tactics concerned quantitative data, however if you want to deep dive into people’s perception of your brand, customer reviews are a great place to start.

Head over to platforms such as TrustPilot, Feefo or ProductHunt which are all common places where folks leave their reviews of digital products and services.  Take time to respond to reviews, good as well as bad ones. Research shows that 80% of customers will forgive a bad experience if the customer service is good, so taking time to address and, if possible, resolve their issues will have a positive impact on your brand image.

You can also send out a survey to your contact list asking them questions like:

  • How they hear about your brand
  • Why they chose it/didn’t choose it
  • What was the biggest value proposition for them
  • What was their biggest problem

Funnel attribution

Brand awareness is a stage at the top of your sales funnel. Although it’s hugely important, brand awareness is not the ultimate goal, rather it’s the conversion of leads into customers.

Tracking the progress of each lead through the different stages of your funnel is essential for helping you understand what makes your marketing efforts more/less successful.

A good tactic for this is to create an email automation track or a drip campaign, which will allow you to gradually provide leads with more information about your business and increase their brand awareness. Emails data such as open and click-through rates or unsubscriptions are all critical metrics to observe.

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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