Marketing managers often find themselves wondering what to do to improve the results of their brand campaigns, relying on gut feeling and unrepresentative samples of consumer feedback to steer their decision-making.
However, decisions like resource allocation, budget direction, and channel selection all rely on wisdom gained from data. But how do you get specific, useful metrics about your brand performance?
Brand monitoring tools are the answer. It’s important that marketing managers use a variety of these methods to get an accurate picture of what’s happening with their brand.
Here’s a rundown on the types of various brand metrics you should be tracking using brand monitoring tools, plus how the data gathered can improve your brand performance.
Why is it important to measure brand metrics?
According to brand strategist Carol Emert, to drive brand success, “the most powerful insights are the ones that triangulate powerful core truths about the brand itself, its target audience, the competitive landscape, and the broader cultural context.”
Those ‘core truths’ come out best when there’s a combination of classic techniques and new technologies.
It’s not that the traditional approach to strategy should be replaced by smart tools; instead, they work better to enhance it. Brands need to be examined in context: history, culture, values, and mission are all important attributes that don’t immediately translate into quantifiable data.
The insights you get from proper data collection are a kind of “aha!” moments, where a hunch can suddenly become a discovery. Feelings might be justified with statistics, or you might find trends and patterns you’d never previously thought of.
But when it gets down to real numbers, you need to know both how your brand is perceived by the wider world, and how you’re performing against the competition.
Below, we’ll cover some of the most important metrics you can track using brand monitoring tools, and what sort of insights you might gain from them. Then we’ll list some of the tools you can use to obtain and measure this all-important data.
Which brand metrics should you be tracking?
1 ) Brand awareness
Brand awareness is one of the most important things you need to know about your brand. In fact, 89% of B2B marketers say brand awareness is their most important goal, ahead of sales and lead generation.
It’s both a single figure and a wider family of metrics that all link to one another.
In simple terms, brand awareness is the measure of how many people are aware that your brand exists. It’s discovered mainly through surveys (manual or automated) and frequently appears as the percentage of a given population who recognize your brand name or its other attributes.
This form of brand awareness is important to measure because the more people there are that know about you, the more people there are likely to become customers, fans, and potentially evangelists. It sits at the core of strategic decision-making and helps you plan the scope and targeting of your marketing campaigns, product development, distribution plans, and more.
But brand awareness also looks at a wider scope of your brand’s market presence. In a holistic sense, it concerns factors like your reputation, perception, market niche, and so on.
Brand sentiment is one aspect of this: the general attitude towards your brand. Brand monitoring tools are crucial for discovering this (see below for our recommendations), and will help you find out how your brand is perceived. That could be with an axis of positivity or negativity, or it could go into specific emotional ties (which we’ll cover below in ‘brand associations’).
By using these metrics to figure out where your brand stands with certain groups, you’ll be able to make more focused decisions, especially when you’re targeting niche audiences.
2 ) Brand usage
This is the measurement of how people interact directly with your brand.
Most brands have multiple customer touchpoints, so this includes usage of the product or service itself, customer service interactions, and pre-sale conversations.
It’s important to measure brand usage because it directly impacts the direction of your product development and company operations, but also ripples outwards through word-of-mouth. A brand is only as good as its customers say it is—and if their experience interacting with yours isn’t positive, that’s a bad sign.
In fact, 32% of customers say they’ll leave a brand after just a single bad experience, according to a survey done by PwC.
The insight you’ll gain from brand usage will depend on what your product is.
You use direct customer feedback tools and usage monitors that integrate with your product (if it’s software-based) or use post-sale follow-up surveys asking for feedback (if it’s online retail).
The important things to track are things like whether your customers are using your product in the way it’s designed to be used, how many times they return for a repeat purchase, churn rates for ongoing subscriptions, and the portion of purchases that are returned for a refund.
Your website, being the interactive digital face of your brand, can provide some amazing insight into the decision-making of your customers and prospects.
Website tracking tools can tell you about the customer journey and give you better insight into why visitor conversions happen (or don’t). Where do your visitors come from? What pages do they visit? What are they trying to find, but can’t?
Analytics plugins and heat-map software can show you where people are looking and clicking on your web pages. They’ll help you identify what they care about the most, and what parts are being skimmed through or ignored. By using these insights to inform the design and layout of your web presence, you can make serious gains in your conversion rates—whether that’s purchases, email signups, or other trackable interactions.
While this metric can include product usage, it also encompasses the broader points of interacting with your organization. You might have a killer product, but if your customer service agents are rude or your shipping is frequently delayed, your brand is still going to suffer.
Customer satisfaction is a good indicator of how you’re performing against competitors, too—do customers have more positive things to say about them? Do they feel like you treat them better in some way? If so, what exactly sets you apart from everyone else? What does this mean for future campaigns and strategies as well as customer loyalty and retention rates?
Review sites like G2 (for software), TripAdvisor (for destinations), and Trustpilot (for products) are a goldmine for the customer insights you might not get from direct feedback, and you can easily plot reviews over time to see what you’re doing right and wrong.
3 ) Brand associations
Brand association measures the specific characteristics and qualities that people link to your brand. They can be positive, negative, or neutral.
They’re the descriptors that come up when you ask someone, “What comes to mind when you think of brand x?”
So your brand might be fun, trendy, utilitarian, minimalist, mysterious, friendly, or something else.
Brand association is shaped by a combination of intentional actions and factors outside your control. Why track it as a metric? Well, you don’t want the primary emotion people that feel when exposed to your brand to be boredom, or disgust, or apathy. You want to shape public opinion of your brand into something positive that people identify with—in fact, customers that have a positive emotional connection with a brand are 50% more valuable than ‘highly satisfied’ customers.
Knowing how your brand is perceived on a deeper psychological basis is crucial for making key decisions in how you present it to the world. What you discover about your associations will inform the direction for your visual identity, communication tone of voice, and customer personas.
There are a few ways to measure brand associations and the emotional triggers that your brand causes.
One way is through surveys and focus groups—by speaking directly to groups that represent your target audience, you can ask about the primary associations they have with your brand.
Another is through search engine data—you can look at which keywords overlap with searches for your brand name, and see what kind of sentiment comes up when people write about you.
Finally, you can measure brand association with brand tracking tools, which might analyze large datasets including online surveys and social listening to examine how your brand is positioned within the thoughts of a certain demographic.
4 ) Brand preference
Out of the options they know about, which one do your customers prefer?
It’s as simple as that. Brand preference tells you how likely a customer is to choose you over your competitors. It’s an important metric because pretty much all the other metrics influence it. The higher their brand preference for you, the more sales you’ll get.
There are all kinds of insights you can gain from brand preference because there are plenty of factors that influence it.
If you’re suffering from low brand preference when set against a competitor, it might mean you need to do a better job highlighting your unique benefits in comparison to them, or that your positioning and messaging isn’t quite right.
You can also use it to develop a strategy around improving customer loyalty or generating higher sales through cross-promotion of related products.
Each person goes through a different decision process when comparing you to others, based on all sorts of criteria that might include familiarity level, similarity between product attributes, personal values they want you to share, or others.
Brand preference can be a bit of a limited engagement metric—its effectiveness depends on how the information is gained. Surveys can be useful, but there’s a difference between customers saying, “Yes, I’d choose you over others,” and them actually doing it when it’s time to purchase. So you can measure it by looking at certain transactional data under the right circumstances.
Either way, it’s important to keep track of. To stay competitive in your market, you need to be able to beat the competition—and that means making your offering clear, relevant, and irresistible.
Which tools should you use to track brand metrics?
These are the main types of tools you can use for tracking brand metrics. Some are focused on a single metric, while others are broad platforms that keep track of multiple streams of data.
Not all of these will be relevant or appropriate to your brand—what works best for you depends on multiple factors. If you’ve not used them before, it might be a good time to do some experimenting and find out.
1 ) Brand tracking
Brand tracking tools are capable of monitoring brand awareness, preference, and associations throughout certain groups of people.
Latana is one leading example, using smart AI alongside mobile customer surveys to give you super-useful insights into the performance of your brand. You can measure a wide range of standard brand metrics, or even create your own.
Brand tracking tools are best suited to the task of understanding your brand’s impact on consumers. While other tools might have a wide range of uses, these are targeted at brand and marketing managers that don’t want to organize complex surveys themselves, and want to see their brand info displayed in a visually intuitive way.
2 ) Social listening
Social listening tools are designed to monitor social media conversations around your brand, competitors, and industry topics. That might be Twitter mentions or posts on Facebook groups—anything that people are talking about online can be analyzed. The data you might look at could include sentiment (positive, negative, neutral), the volume of brand mentions over time, the demographics of the audience mentioning you, and so on.
You can set up social listening tools to alert you when certain keywords are mentioned alongside your brand, and they usually have analytics dashboards that let you see things at a glance.
Some of the most popular social listening tools are Brandwatch, Sprout Social, and Mention. It’s important to bear in mind that these tools only capture information on what people are saying; they don’t measure what the majority of people are thinking, because most people consume social content a lot more than they create it. So make sure you use these solutions as part of a wider brand tracking toolkit.
3 ) SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Most SEO tools look at how your brand (and your competitors) appear in search results, and what people are searching for to find you.
There’s a ton of insight you can gain from smart SEO analytics. High-quality, well-targeted content can drive traffic to your website in the thousands each month. But you can only target it well by understanding who’s searching for it in the first place.
There’s also lots to discover about your competitors, including where they’re getting traffic from, what keywords they’re targeting, and what content you can publish to climb higher up the search results than them.
You might even find new customer groups to serve by using tools that look at the way keywords overlap. You might be a grocery retailer that sells vinegar, but would you really think of the 1800 people per month searching for “how much vinegar to clean a coffee pot?” when planning your content? That might leave a lot of potential customers unserved.
The world of SEO is an entire industry in itself, but there are plenty of tools that are easy to get started with, and can give you crucial insights at the click of a button.
Google Analytics is a free tool that integrates with your website and will show you who’s visiting, where they come from and how they find you.
There are also SEO tools out there that also track brand mentions across different search engines, like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Spyfu.
4 ) Website tracking
There are two main forms of tracking tools that provide useful insights into how people use your website.
Google Analytics will show you where visitors are coming from (i.e., are they following links from elsewhere, or are they typing your web address in directly?), and will visually map out the typical journey of a visitor.
So if you’re running an online shoe store and you notice lots of visitors to your blog who don’t click through to the product pages, it might mean the design isn’t very good at pointing them towards the store after reading your articles. If you’re not tracking user journeys like this, you might be missing out on crucial insights into their behavior.
The other format is heat map tools, which plug into your site to show you where people are scrolling, clicking, and hovering. They’re optimization tools that literally illuminate the parts of your site that visitors like and dislike. Crazyegg and Hotjar are two of the best-known heat-map tools—they’re easy to use, but offer a lot of depth in the insights you can gain from them.
5 ) Feedback platforms
Your final option for brand tracking tools is customer feedback, which you can gain from platforms like Zendesk, Helpscout, and Freshdesk. These tools let you set up easy systems to collect direct feedback from your customers through a number of channels, helping you see what they think of your brand and highlighting common issues.
Chatbots in particular are becoming more prevalent as a user-friendly method for solving customer queries. Most customer service platforms include them now, and they can easily offer short surveys to users at the end of an interaction, which is a great opportunity to gather more useful insights about your brand.
Tracking your brand performance is crucial for keeping it healthy, thriving, and able to drive business outcomes. The tools that help you do this have improved tremendously over the last few years, so try them out and see what works best for you.
By using a variety of different listening methods together over time, you can build up a comprehensive picture of how well (or poorly) your brand is doing—providing invaluable insights that’ll help you make wise strategic decisions.
Michael Metcalf is a content writer with Latana Brand Tracking. He writes about marketing, psychology, and productivity for B2B, SaaS, and technology brands.