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How digital businesses can measure their brand performance

By Magda Adamska / 1 August 2018 How digital businesses can measure their brand performance

A few months ago, we wrote a post about the most important metrics and KPIs measuring brand performance, which was later followed by a piece on the most effective brand research studies. These two articles were directed mostly at brands with a physical presence, (e.g., retail brands) and brands which have a budget big enough to allow investment in external research.

Recently, we have started working with a number of companies operating only in a digital space. Most of them already have a lot of data related to the performance of their website and as a result, are reluctant to spend money on additional brand research. Instead, they look for ways to make more sense out of the numbers they already have.

With this post, we are making an attempt to translate some of the digital metrics into brand KPIs. We will focus on data measuring brand performance at each stage of a consumer’s decision-making process. The advantage of this approach is that it’s a practical and cost-effective solution. The disadvantage, however, is that it doesn’t include the entire target audience but only people who have visited your website.

Stage 1: Awareness

a) What you want to find out

Do your (potential) customers remember your brand?

b) Key performance indicators (KPIs):

– Top of mind (TOM) brand awareness
– Spontaneous brand awareness
– Prompted brand awareness

c) How can these KPIs be measured using the digital data you already have?

There are two metrics which can help you find out whether awareness of your brand is high or low. The first one is the direct traffic to your website, expressed both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of your total traffic.

The number of people who have visited your website by entering your URL into their browser (and not, for example, by clicking on your ad or finding you through searching) can be a good estimate of how strong your brand is. Big digital brands such as Amazon or Airbnb have more than 50% of their traffic coming from direct hits. For younger and smaller brands this number is much lower; for BrandStruck, for example, it’s still around 20%.

The second metric that is a good proxy for brand awareness is how many people come to your website from searching for the name of your brand. Again, for the greatest digital brands, most of their traffic from searches arises as a result of people looking for this particular brand. It’s not the case for smaller brands.

d) Caveats

It is important to measure your brand’s performance over time, to be able to track whether you’re making progress. However, it’s also worth checking your biggest competitors’ numbers, (e.g., using Alexa or SimilarWeb) to see whether their brands are stronger than yours. You will never be able to compare “apples to apples”, as you will be using different data sources (real data vs estimated data) but if you do it on a regular basis you will learn how to make sense out of these comparisons.

Stage 2: Familiarity

a) What you want to find out

Do your (potential) customers know what your brand stands for?

b) KPIs:

– Self-declared knowledge about the brand

– Brand profile

c) How can these KPIs be measured using the digital data you already have?

One way to analyse whether people who are aware of your brand know what it actually stands for, is to track their behaviour on the website once they get there. Two metrics could be of use in this case: time on site and bounce rate. If people go to your website directly but then leave within seconds, it might mean that they thought your brand was offering something different. If they spend a significant amount of time, it can be a sign that they came to the website intentionally and received what they expected.

d) Caveats

For the purpose of measuring the brand performance (and not necessarily the sales-funnel effectiveness), these metrics should be analysed among a group of people identified as being aware of your brand, that is, those who either entered it directly or searched for your brand name.

Stage 3: Consideration

a) What you want to find out

Do your (potential) customers want to buy your brand?

b) KPIs:

– Purchase intent

c) How can these KPIs be measured using the digital data you already have?

This is where digital data might be more helpful than the more traditional purchase-intent numbers. Depending on the specifics of your website, you can track a number of metrics that could be interpreted as a user’s willingness to buy your product/brand/service. Each company can define their approach in a slightly different way, but the behaviours that are recommended for tracking include visits to your pricing page and clicking the “buy” or “add to cart” button.

d) Caveats

It’s crucial to track what percentage of people indicate purchase intent compared with how many finalize the purchase. If the discrepancy is big, it’s worth doing a more detailed analysis, particularly of your pricing strategy.

Stage 4: Purchase

a) What you want to find out

Do people buy your brand?

b) KPIs:

– Sales volume

– Sales value

c) How can these KPIs be measured using the digital data you already have?

Probably the most straightforward metric is tracking how many items have been bought on your website, and of what value. However, because we are analysing the brand’s performance, it’s worth checking how important the brand factor was in the purchase decision. Comparing sales conversion rates from various traffic sources will tell you whether your brand plays a significant role in the process. This is the case when people defined as aware of your brand are more likely to buy from your brand than those who found your website by accident.

d) Caveats

Some strong brands find it difficult to turn the brand love into sales that are proportionate to the strength of the brand, (e.g., Guinness). Digital brands often have the opposite problem. Neither of these situations is good for business. The most sustainable businesses manage to translate higher brand performance into higher sales.

Stage 5: Advocacy

a) What you want to find out

Would your customers recommend your brand to their friends?

b) KPIs:

– Net Promoter Score (NPS)

c) How can these KPIs be measured using the digital data you already have?

This is probably the only metric you don’t have at the moment, unless you already started tracking it. It’s relatively simple to measure, as it is one question only and you can ask it of all your customers: “how likely are you, on a scale from 0 to 10, to recommend our brand to a friend?”. We have already explained how to calculate NPS in the previous article about brand KPIs, but we will include this information again here.

Customers giving your brand a score of 9 or 10 are your promoters, those rating you at 7 or 8 are called passives and those choosing 0-6 are detractors. To calculate the final result, you need to subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. If you have 10% distractors, 70% passives and 20% promoters, your NPS is 10 (20-10).

It is also possible to have a negative NPS.

d) Caveats

It’s important to ask the NPS question at the right moment. If you ask it before customers have had a chance to test your product or service properly, you will not get real data. If you ask it too late, they might simply forget what their experience was and will not give you an adequate answer.

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If you need help with research or want to hire Magda for a brand strategy-related project, email her at:

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Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck.

BrandStruck ithe only online database of brand strategy case studies.
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