We asked 129 SEOs to weigh in on the most important SEO KPIs for measuring success and search visibility. Here are the 49 SEO metrics they recommend.
Marketing | Oct 30
Belynda Cianci on January 28, 2020 (last modified on February 13, 2020) • 39 minute read
Cultivating your brand through good marketing is an important part of building longevity and loyalty for your product or service.
But good service and solid products aren’t enough.
A strong strategy based on solid data-driven decisions and well-structured goals. Establishing the right KPIs is the best way to achieve it, but there is a lot of data to sort through, and many possible metrics to pursue.
What’s the most valuable KPI to establish?
We asked 60+ brand marketers for their top KPIs to pursue in improving brand awareness and adoption. They had some great ideas on the best metrics to measure and why they are so effective.
These tips broke down into three major sections. We’ve organized our respondent’s insights here, based on:
P.S. Want to know the most important marketing KPIs to track across all functions (i.e. content, SEO, email, social, etc.)? Check out the definitive list of marketing KPIs all marketers should be tracking according to 400+ marketing professionals.
Feel free to check out each of the sections above by clicking on the links to jump ahead— or scroll on to get every great tip our respondents had to offer on this important topic.
Money talks; customer money speaks volumes. The data you can pull from customer behavior in terms of spending, renewals, loyalty, value, and retention can have a massive impact on how you acquire your next customer, and the marketing tactics you employ in getting and keeping them.
Says Jaime Laats of Jaime Laats Consulting, it all comes down to customer loyalty. “The success of a brand is measured by customer retention and loyalty. Brands that stand the test of time know this golden rule and have mastered this concept. Happy, informed, connected customers = the ultimate KPI.”
Dip Dhingani of Creole Studios agrees, even at the risk of sounding a bit traditional. “In fear of sounding orthodox, I still feel that brand is how people perceive my company. Being an SME, which most of the world’s entrepreneurs are involved with, we cannot look at branding KPIs like large corporations and follow them. That’d be a blunder.”
“The ratios of how many people out of 10 on an average would know of your company even though they haven’t ever been your customer, would be very different for an SME and a large corporation. Hence, Branding activities move at a glacial pace for small outfits even in today’s hyper-connected times.” Says Dhingani, “More than loyal customers, I need loyal teammates. Thus, the more fiercely they stand by the company and argue on its behalf, the bigger the brand value my company has. That’s how I judge the brand KPIs.”
This loyalty is often expressed in data in terms of retention rate— the number of customers who remain with your product or service over time. Says Alyssa Ege of Sail Away Media, “In my opinion, the most important KPI to measure brand success is customer retention rate. Unfortunately, this KPI also gets ignored frequently!” Why? Ege explains that while other KPIs like leads, conversion rate, sales, and cost per acquisition get attention, while they’re “numbers you need to know… once you bring on a new customer, are they sticking around? Even if you have a steady flow of leads and a high conversion rate, if your customers aren’t sticking around there’s a problem that needs to be fixed.”
Repeat business is also the name of the game for Brian Cairns of ProStrategix Consulting. “I know this might be controversial, but hear me out. Did you know that ‘only 6% of businesses focus on retaining customers.’? That’s a mistake. Why? [Because] 60 – 70% of existing customers are likely to buy from you again. In contrast, the success rate with new customers is 5 – 20%. Think about it.” Explains Cairns, “You are 3 to 15 times more likely to get a sale, and you have to spend nearly nothing to get it. Without a healthy repeat, the brand will be in a constant state of acquisition, which is costly and inefficient.”
This reasoning is right on track, says Sam White of Soul CBD. “Getting unbranded traffic is great but can be very expensive.” Says White, “Nurturing first-time buyers into second-time buyers and beyond can not only increase the lifetime value of your customers but also help convert them into brand promoters.”
Says Paige Arnof- Fenn of Mavens & Moguls “I started a global branding and marketing firm 18 years ago and for my business the top KPI is Customer Lifetime Value so that I can replicate my best clients, reduce churn and learn what makes them happy so I can increase the value.”
Marshal Carper of Carper Communications also looks to Total lifetime value (TLV) for best-practice reporting metrics. “In order to be the most competitive, you have to play on the scale of TLV. All of the metrics that add up to form TLV matter in their own way, but to make the smarter spends you have to not only understand what a long-term customer is worth but also make deliberate decisions around not just finding new customers but keeping them.”
This approach is also vital to Mandeep Kwatra of Kwatras, who says, “The one that actually gives you a strong insight into the health (consistent revenue & loyalty), power (recall value), success (revenue growth) for a brand is the Lifetime Value of the customer. It is a great way to calculate your brand’s ROI (from new and existing customers), and a systematic way to help strategize the future goals of your brand/ business. With the measurement of this metric, you are not just looking at a statistic measure, but it also gives you an opportunity to strategize how to keep your customers happy & reduce churn & grow your customer’s lifetime value.”
Pip Stocks of BrandHook also considers repeat business high-priority. “Our lifecycle of client relationships is usually around four years, and that changes if there is a change in guard. But when the relationship is strong, we work with clients on many ongoing projects.”
It’s not just about your own customer engagement; it’s how those customers encounter your brand in relation to the competition, says Hamna Amjad of Centriq. “In my opinion Brand Preference is one of the most important metrics of Brand Marketing. Why is it important? Because it is the most behavior-oriented KPI of all. It is the essence of all the brand marketing efforts! It affects both the short-term and long-term success of your brand. Once you nail it, your sales, new product adoption rates, and customer referrals increase.”
“What is Brand Preference?” asks Amjad? “It is the degree to which your brand is chosen over the competitors. It gives you an idea of the strength of your brand in the hearts and minds of your consumers. It helps you identify the primary drivers of the choice made by your customers. By focusing on those areas, you can scale your marketing program.
“How to measure it? By simply asking your customers, “Which brands do you prefer? Pro-tip: Always ask why they prefer the brand they selected to get insights into the reasons for their inclination towards certain brands. Utilizing these insights appropriately can certainly help you become a market leader!”
Those aforementioned referrals play front and center for Toni JV of JVT Media. The most powerful thing you could get in your business from a client acquisition perspective is referrals. And getting referrals is a damn good way to know that your brand is strong because it means that not only did people remember you, but they also loved whatever you offer so much that they’d tell a friend about it.”
Sometimes, it’s not who you attract, but who you lose that can tell you the most, says Polly Kay of Polly Kay Copywriting. “For me, the attrition rate is the most telling KPI when it comes to measuring the overall impact, health, and power a brand possesses. This is because once you’ve managed to get as far as winning a supporter, the hardest part should be over; retaining that customer or fan and nurturing that relationship is an ongoing process, but it is also much easier to achieve than winning over a new prospect from cold.”
Kay further explains: “If your brand is strong, well-positioned, and vitally, still relevant to the interests of your known buyer demographics, your attrition rate should be relatively low on a month-by-month basis, with a buffer factored in for a level of natural wastage in line with that of your niche or industry.”
“What makes this metric so useful, says Kay is that attrition is a “much more tangible and easily identifiable KPI than alternatives, such trying to assess a brand’s health and relevance to new prospects, or working with metrics such as ROI on ad spend.” This is because “attrition rate datasets possess far fewer variables to complicate things or that have the potential to send you down the wrong exploratory path; because at its simplest, attrition shows you that someone who liked or supported what you did, said, offered, or stood for before no longer does, or perhaps is just ambivalent about it to the point that they no longer identify with it.”
Hard numbers are often a marketer’s first go-to metric, and this was the case for many of our experts. Seth Coyne of Feennix LLC admits, “It’s a tough question, but I think I would have to say the answer is profit. Personally, I consider a brand to be something that is difficult to totally quantify. I think a big part of the strength of your brand is made up of the awareness, attitudes, emotions, loyalty, and goodwill among your target customers. A lot of these are just very difficult to scientifically measure. But a consistent, steady growth in your bottom line is a pretty good indicator that your branding efforts are working. This may not seem like the most helpful answer. We are often told how important it is to test things and look at the numbers. And I completely agree that doing so is crucial. But it’s also important to keep in mind that as important as the numbers are, they don’t tell you everything there is to know about a business. Numbers are incredibly important when it comes to things like accounting, budgeting and certain types of advertising, among others. But in order to build a world-class brand, I believe you need to also get good at learning to read between the balance sheet lines.”
Slisha Kankariya of With Clarity gets granular with this metric, “A valuable KPI that we like to track is the revenue per employee. This is a fairly unique KPI but it gives us a picture of the efficiency of our business as we scale up and add more team members. This also helps us directly understand if the work and contributions of our team are generally leading to more sales and growth for the company. KPI tracking is fairly effective as it keeps people on their A-game and ensures that all people within the company can be held accountable for progress instead of just a few.”
Editor’s Note: Want to understand how your website sessions are contributing to your brand and pipeline? You can find data on the HubSpot Marketing Marketer Drilldown (Sessions) dashboard, and get insight into how the numbers fit together.
Conversions and acquisition are perennial favorites in terms of brand metrics. They are easy to quantify, telling in terms of success, and widely accepted as good data for marketers looking for a strategic compass.
Aditya Sheth of Venngage, for example, explains “For me, it’s always sales (or conversions). But why? I personally like to track fewer metrics or metrics that directly/indirectly influence other metrics. Sales (or revenue or conversions) is the one metric that matters because it influences or is influenced by other metrics like organic traffic, brand awareness, etc etc. So if your sales are higher than the industry average you’re probably doing a lot of things better than your competitors be it from a marketing, customer service or even a branding perspective.”
This also applies to Avinash Chandra of BrandBloom. “The most important brand marketing KPI is sales revenue; this should include daily sales, leads that are being converted and the daily traffic that the business page receives. Thus once this is taken care of, one can align their KPIs with their ultimate business goals.”
Kevin Walker of Boardwalk takes a wider approach to the sales metric question, asking how those numbers fit into the overall value proposition and how customers encounter it. “If you’ve taken the time to establish a brand strategy, then you know your unique, differentiating brand promise. You need to measure your sales against that brand promise. If your sales are profitable but they don’t allow you to showcase your brand promise, then you have a problem. Either you’re not marketing properly or you have the wrong brand strategy to begin with. If your sales are not profitable but you’re crushing it on brand promise delivery, you have the opposite problem. But when all your sales are profitable and also allow you to spotlight your brand promise, you know your marketing is working at an optimum level.”
Khris Steven of Khrisdigital says, “When it comes to tracking KPI’s for my business, I will say that I’m not focused on one. There quite a few I track. But the most important is ACR – Average Conversion Rate, CPA – Cost Per Acquisition, AOV – Average Order Value and finally ALTV – Average Lifetime Value. I will strongly agree that keeping track and monitoring of these numbers is very important. But what’s more important is a good offer that brings in results.”
Although Michelle Segovia of JourneyPure admits that “Associating marketing decisions with non-bottom-line KPIs is tough,” there are some metrics that are useful to avoid. “We never want to get to a place where we justify silly spending by calling it ‘branding.’ At the end of the day, likes, shares, mentions, and impressions are vanity metrics. They can help guide your strategy, but they are not the measure of success.” These other metrics can’t compete with the one most telling metric. “For almost all companies, the health and success of a brand should be measured by sales.”
Tracking people moving down the pipeline is important, according to Michael Lowe of Car Passionate, who recommends click-through rate (CTR) as a metric. ”You can find this in the Google search console or website analytics that you have installed. Brand name searches are people who are already aware of your brand, having a high CTR means that they were not swayed by any other options that appear alongside your brand in the results – this also includes Google ads, which companies can use to actually bid on your brand name. The number of keyword searches for your brand will tell you how well known your brand is – in cities, reasons and countries. You can check all the locations in your analytics.” Says Lowe, “The CTR shows the power of your brand, as they are not distracted by others, which demonstrates their level of brand loyalty.”
Says Will Craig of LeaseFetcher, “For LeaseFetcher, traffic can be a bit of a vanity metric, but deals and leads indicate that we have caught the user at the right place at the right time. The more deals we facilitate, the more brokers get on board, the better LeaseFetcher becomes and the more users sign up.” Despite deals/leads being a quality metric for them, Craig reminds us,”I don’t think there’s one metric to rule them all, instead, it depends on your business.”
Getting people across the finish line is an effective metric for a variety of businesses, according to Dineen Wasylik of DPW Legal who recommends tracking sales conversions. “At the end of the day, branding is about making the sale. You can have all of the pretty graphics in the world, but if they are not selling your product, they are a waste of money!”
Where you acquire your customers from can be just as important as how, says Erica Eyerman of SyncShow. “Smartphones and mobile devices continue to reign supreme when it comes to users conducting quick searches on the internet. An important KPI to measure is lead conversions from mobile devices. Smartphones are not going anywhere with the continuing evolution of technology and we as marketers have to evolve with it!”
It’s not just about getting clients in the door; its the cost of getting them over the threshold that holds valuable data, according to several of our respondents. Emma Marcotte of Traktek Partners says cost per acquisition, “should never exceed your gross margin otherwise you’re giving your product/service away at a loss.”
Christopher Foust of Motus Creative Group calls CPA “my desert island KPI, the one metric that I can’t live without and subsequently affects every piece of a brand’s marketing and financial health. The CPA has the ability to provide both a snapshot of marketing effectiveness and budget planning for the next term. Take that CPA, multiply it by closing goals, and voila…you’ve got a fairly reliable indicator for future marketing needs. Measuring CPA also provides an opportunity to compare effectiveness from multiple channels. Comparing dollar amounts and ROI are the best indicators to know if a tactic is working or not. It’s also a great tool during Executive conversations where tactics are less important than dollars.”
Says Foust of using these tried-and-true metrics, “CPA and other KPIs can also be strong indicators of effective brand awareness, even with a concept so traditionally abstract as brand awareness. Using specific KPIs around content virality, media engagement, and demographic focused metrics can most definitely assist in painting an accurate picture of how the brand as a whole is engaging with the consumer.”
It’s not who you know— but who knows you, according to data from several of our experts, like Alana Mulligan of DigitalCRO who says that brand awareness “shows how well your audience knows your brand. Brand awareness is the building blocks for trust in your brand.”Rajat Chauhan of TutorEye Inc. adds, “It starts with brand recall (Awareness) and brand recognition (Consideration) with each and every communication. Ultimately, it’s the purchase intent (Action) of the user performed with your brand makes it effective to track the overall brand value and performance for your business.”
Kameron Jenkins of Botify puts a finger on the difficulty of tracking these soft KPIs. “Coming up with a measurable proxy for people’s feelings about your brand is no easy feat! Many people will tell you to look at the sheer quantity of branded impressions, mentions, traffic, etc. and see how that’s trending over time, but that only measures the awareness of your brand.” There’s a wide world of these types of metrics, and sticking to one doesn’t serve, says Jenkins. “[Impressions] comes up short on measuring things like brand sentiment (e.g. you could be popular for the wrong reasons) and positioning (e.g. you may be popular, but with the wrong audience).”
“So I’m going to be a rulebreaker,” explains Jenkins, “and say that there is no single metric that can accurately gauge the health, power, and success of your brand. Some brands spend years finding their north star metric, but that’s just it – it’s their north star metric, not everyone’s. My advice for anyone looking to better measure brand marketing is twofold: 1) Give your brand goals more granularity – brand awareness as one goal, brand sentiment as another, etc. and then pick goals to match. It’ll be a lot easier! 2) Don’t rule out qualitative! Send out surveys, talk to your customers, talk to non-customers in your target audience. Are they aware of your brand? Do they know what you do? How does your brand make them feel? Use that feedback to improve, then repeat.”
But awareness is what it all boils down to, according to Ollie Smith of CardAccounts. “In my experience, awareness is a critical KPI to track. Who knows about you or your product? One way this is achieved is by people linking directly to your website. That builds your credibility as an authority on the subject and builds brand awareness amongst your target audience. The more quality links that your website gets, the more visitors will frequent your website and the stronger your brand will get. It really is a good yardstick to see if you are on the right track or not. Give it a shot!”
Larissa Murillo of marketgoo agrees. “Brand awareness is where it starts. If there’s no awareness, there’s no sentiment or attitudes towards it either. Aided and unaided brand recognition gives strong indications on your positioning and signal where you should keep developing it.”
Speaking of sentiment, Micheal el Cre of Find Your Influence finds a lot of power in this metric. “The KPI that provides the most accurate insight into the overall health of a brand is brand sentiment. It’s the best way to measure brand awareness as well as having insight into the conversations about your brand.’
Jonas Sickler of ReputationManagement.com has a suggestion on how to get at the heart of sentiment. “An incredibly powerful metric for measuring brand sentiment, and one that’s frequently overlooked, is the percentage of positive content on the first page of Google for brand name searches.
“How much impact can negative content have on brand health and success?” asks Sickler? “Four negative listings on Google page one can cost a company 70% of their business. 69% of job seekers won’t apply to companies with reputation issues. [see above link for statistics]. So it’s vital to monitor the top 10 – 20 results for brand name searches, including reviews and product names, and report against these monthly. You could keep it simple by reporting the percentages of positive, neutral and negative content in the SERPs each month for your most important keywords.”
Hardik Gohil of Simform also relies on sentiment analysis. “ I think one of the most important KPIs that a brand should be monitoring is the customer’s opinions and attitudes using ‘sentiment analysis.’ This gives you deep insights into the emotion behind customer engagement and also helps businesses to improve marketing campaigns and product messaging. A brand can pull this off by different outreach campaigns, e.g., 1) Asking about willingness to recommend (you can Net Promoter Score) 2) Take customer reviews 3) Monitor engagement and reactions across social media channels. “Explains Gohil, “These are some of the important areas that give you a proper idea of what people feel about your brand.”
Sentiment and perception go hand in hand. Giselle Baardwell of Kiwi Creative uses perception as a barometer for brand strength. “Brand ROI has been typically hard to measure. At Kiwi Creative, we believe that your brand is a business multiplier –– this means that your marketing and sales efforts are often augmented or made easier by your brand. If you have a great brand, whatever you are selling will sell itself. If your brand is not-so-great, marketing and sales have to work that much harder to provide tangible results. To measure the effectiveness of your brand, the KPI to track and measure is your brand’s perception in the market. There are two main metrics to help you measure your brand’s perception: Recognition and Reputation.”
This sentiment starts before buyers are making purchases, says Doug Fox of Brand Fox, who admits “There is no silver bullet when it comes to brand KPI’s.” Fox says, “If forced to choose a single metric, I would say consideration by prospective customers across the most important criteria they judge vendors by. And how that consideration compares to competitors. If you are moving the needle there, that is a good sign of brand strength and growth of brand equity.”
Angela Betancourt believes that observing how users interact with your brand can give strong clues about its health. “Engagement is the one KPI that provides a window into the overall health power and success of your brand. Is your target audience engaging with your brand online? On social media channels? Are they sharing, commenting, retweeting, liking? Are they talking about your brand on other platforms? No engagement is also very telling. Additionally, the type of engagement can provide insight into your brand’s reputation. Engagement is as much about tone as it is about data. Who is engaging and why are they engaging is a treasure trove of information about your audience.”
Says Betancourt, “Brand recognition, or how recognizable your company name is in the market should be measured relative to your competitor’s company name. Brand reputation, or word-of-mouth aka online reviews, should be measured from the perspective of your customers and employees. Online reviews are used by both prospective customers and employees to make decisions between brands. Therefore, knowing what a prospective customer will see when researching your company is imperative!”
Editor’s Note: Want to know if your audience is responding to your brand marketing efforts on Insta? Check out the Instagram Business Post Performance dashboard to understand how your viewers and followers are receiving the messages you’re sharing through Instagram.
If you’re giving them something to talk about, it’s going to show up online. Many of our experts look to metrics like social mentions and engagement in determining brand strength.
Alexandra Kaschuta of Fundsquire says, “The most useful way we’ve found to [measure brand awareness] is by looking at two KPIs – mentions & traffic. The first one measures active, enthusiastic engagement with the brand and the second covers the less vocal, but not less important end of the engagement spectrum. Additionally, looking at metrics such as bounce rate & scroll depth give the traffic numbers a bit more context. Overall, measuring murky concepts like brand awareness is more like waking up on Christmas morning, seeing presents, a half-empty glass of milk and cookie crumbs and inferring Santa’s been around. You don’t have proof, but there’s always some evidence to point you in the right direction.
Eric Melillo of COFORGE agrees with both the difficulties and the method. “Brand marketing can be tricky especially when tracking its ROI. A good metric we use to measure the effectiveness of brand efforts is brand mentions. Start by listening to the channels where your ideal customers are and start tracking your brand KPIs.”
This also works for Chris Zook of Impulse Creative. “You can measure the social proliferation of your brand by searching how many people are talking about it — or even IF they’re talking about it in the first place. Repeated brand mentions can mean a lot of things. They can be comments, reviews, criticisms, praise, recommendations, and more. They can tag your account on a network or include your plaintext name.
“Regardless,” says Zook, “the idea is that you’re becoming a bigger part of individuals’ lives and your niche’s culture. It’s like people talking about Coke vs. Pepsi — the conversation isn’t nearly as important as the fact that people are freely discussing brands as an impactful part of their lives”
“Social mentions may not show you what people say out loud — although that may be coming as voice search becomes more sophisticated and Google products penetrate households more — but they’ll show you what people bother to type. For now, it’s as close as you can get to verifying your brand’s cultural relevance.” To track this metric, Zook recommends using Mention.
Katie White of Relaxation Company acknowledges the power of social in discussing these types of word-of-mouth metrics. “Social media is a valuable marketing tool that allows you to build relationships with your customers. Every business should be tracking social media mentions as this gives insight into the conversation surrounding your brand. Following and reading mentions will give you insight into the wants and needs of your audience. This is beneficial when you need feedback regarding new products or when you need new content ideas. Tracking social media mentions is crucial for businesses that want to improve their business based on the needs of their customers.”
Sashka Hanna-Rappl of BrandSashka reminds us that it’s not just what people are saying, but how they’re interacting. “Hands down— Engagement,” says Hanna-Rappl when asked about the most valuable KPI to track. “No matter what marketing outbound is implemented, if the audience doesn’t engage, then the ROI on that marketing initiative has bombed. Engagement leads to conversations, both personal and positive WOM, which leads to “know-like-trust”, which leads to a lead, referral and possibly a sale.” Plus, “You get immediate feedback, and engagement is what the human DNA craves! COMMUNICATION.”
Another commonly mentioned metric our experts swear is Share of voice. It refers to “your visibility, and how much you dominate the conversation, according to Sprout Social. Rajesh Kadam of GrowthFusion says “Share of Voice is a great metric for measuring brand awareness. Gives a sense of how your brand stacks up against your competitors.”
Cayley Vos of Netpaths elaborates, “Share of voice is the best way to measure how your brand is performing in the marketplace. Measuring SOV with a social tool such as buzz sumo will show you how your branded content is performing compared to your competitors. This is also a great tool to research the kind of content your audience is looking for. For example, If you see a competitor with a successful infographic then you would want to create something similar but better.”
Shauna Ward of Matcha agrees. “It’s one thing to sell a product people like, but it’s another thing entirely to sell a product people want to talk about. That’s why every brand should be tracking their share of voice (SOV) on social media. I’ve heard people liken share of voice to market share, but that’s a false analogy. Market share is about revenue, while Share of Voice is about perception and how much of the conversation you dominate in your industry. Both are important, but they serve different purposes.”
Says Ward, “It’s especially important to understand how your share of voice is changing over time. If your SOV is growing but your competitors’ are growing faster, you’ll know who to look out for. Then, you can borrow the tactics they’re using to increase awareness, visibility, and share of voice.”
Peter Watson-Wailes of Tough & Competent takes a slightly different take on this KPI. Our major KPI for most of our clients is ESOV – Excess Share of Voice. For those who haven’t come across ESOV before, it’s your brand’s share of voice (SOV) less its Share of Market (SOM). We measure SOV in three different ways: 1. Search positions across a representative batch of keywords (plus their search volumes) for the client, to understand their reach in SEO, and the likelihood of discovery for their brand against their competitors, 2. Mentions for the brand, its website, and any key assets or digital channels they own on social channels and external websites, and 3. Views and visits from paid media on digital channels (AdWords, social media ads, video ads etc.).
Says Watson-Wailes of the practice, “Share of Market can be measured in many ways, but we do it through looking at revenue and volume of customers per quarter and year for our client and each competitor we care about, and what percentage that is of the total sum of the competitor group. We also look at Share of Growth, which is the delta on that number each year, to understand how each player in the market is moving. Those figures give us a good understanding of both what’s driving awareness, attention, growth and customer disloyalty in the market, and to adjust the marketing strategy as a result of what occurs to best take effective action against the rest of the market’s players.”
Lots of data can be gleaned from this common metric, which made it important for a few of our experts. “ Dan Mahoney of Communications Strategy Group said of NPS. ”Ultimately, it is the most telling, particularly today when being a promoter has become a source of currency—both in terms of influence and financially. Some of the most vibrant brands came from a marketing phenomenon based on a small targeted influential group feeling passionate enough about a brand to promote it and then it blossomed out in concentric circles. People today are often defined by what they promote, and NPS is fundamentally the established metric.”
Antonella Pisani of Eyeful Media agrees. “One of the KPIs that provides the most insight into the health, power, and success of your brand is the net promoter (NPS) score. This one fairly common metric helps provide insight into the health of your brand. However, Pisani cautions, “it’s important to ensure that you have a high enough sample size. While my first instinct is to say that the number of searches or social media mentions your brand gets is a great indicator of the power of your brand, I don’t think that those necessarily indicate health. People may be searching or mentioning something because it’s gone viral for all the wrong reasons, so this doesn’t necessarily correlate with health or success.”
“Understanding brand performance is not a piece of cake,” says Alberto Carniel, and we couldn’t agree more. “There are many factors that a company can consider. Above all, KPIs in general depend on a company’s specific objectives. So, it’s not possible to talk about ‘the best’ KPI or ‘the only’ KPI.”
Says Carniel, “With my clients, I usually check branded queries on search engines (Google, Amazon, eBay, YouTube, Facebook…), because it means consumers know the brand and want exactly that specific product/service. Another factor that I consider important is brand reputation. There are some paid tools that allow you to monitor online brand reputation (e.g. Social Mention), but they are effective only for already established brands: brands that have a lot of data to analyze (interactions, mentions…).”
“A free alternative is Google Alerts: very basic, but free. For new brands, I suggest a different approach. Since they don’t have many data to feed web reputation tools, SMEs and startups should consider more qualitative factors. For example, they can interview their customers and ask for feedback: companies can use offline interviews or online tools like Google Form.”
“Marketers can also check online reviews and comments to see whether they are positive or not, and then, take action accordingly. An alternative to the classic and boring feedback form is using quizzes. Marketers can make funny quizzes or polls to understand customers’ preferences. There are many tools to do so, I am an official partner of Interact.
Search is an important barometer for success, especially when users are searching specifically for you. Pawel Kijko of Heraldbee recommends looking at the “number of clients from brand keywords on Google.” This works well, according to Bruce Hogan of SoftwarePundit, “The one KPI that provides the most accurate insight into a company’s brand is branded search volume.
Any business with access to Google Search Console can see a near-realtime view of branded search volume. Even better, accessing this metric is 100% free and requires no effort. For most businesses, it also includes enough data points to be statistically reliable.
For example, Wix could log into Google Search Console and see the impression volume for ‘Wix’ over any given period of time. This is a great indicator of how many people are aware of the company and interested in engaging with it. In addition, Wix could use other SEO tools to get similar metrics for its competitors. Using this data, Wix could monitor the health, power, and success of its brand over time.”
This metric also holds power for Josh Krakauer of Sculpt. “Brand Search Volume and Traffic: The number of times that people have typed in your exact name or brand on search engines AND clicked through to your website. When you’re running large-scale advertising campaigns or your brand reputation is growing and generating word-of-mouth, you may see an effect in the number of online searches for your brand. You can measure search volume and brand keyword CTR through Google Search Console. A complementary metric that measures the effect of brand effect would be direct traffic in Google Analytics.”
Keyword volume is also key to understanding for Edward Sturm of Speek, who gave us some tips on tracking. “I use the Moz Keyword Explorer to measure keyword volume. This tool can be especially useful if you have a generalized brand name, and you want to see what modifiers are being used. Your brand name may be ‘Sweet Design’ but because the name is so general, everybody is searching ‘sweet design vector graphics.’ Moz will tell you this.
“Then to see brand growth, I recommend looking at this volume over time compared to competitors. Are your searches increases, decreasing, or stagnating? How about searches for your competitors?”
“Also, can you see a line up in volume increase for special promotions? If you can’t, this may mean the promotion could have been better optimized. If you see a spike in a competitor search during a specific week or month, try to figure out what caused it. The same goes for your business.”
What happens outside of your website can also give clues to your brand strength according to Bryan Ng of Bryan Digital “The most accurate insight into the overall health, power, and success of your brand is off-page SEO. You see, only if your brand is credible or the top in the industry, people will only mention your brand. This includes social sharing, articles mentioning, podcast interviewing, etc. “Says Ng, “Natural off-page SEO/backlinks speak everything.”
This rings true for Jovan Miljevic of Nifty. “Brand keywords are the search attributes we’re mostly focusing on nowadays. Tracking trends and volumes of keyword phrases associated with a brand name are among the key metrics to every online or SaaS business.
For instance, we’re determined to take the top position on Google for keyword Nifty, which is a brand name for Project Management Tool we develop. Coincidentally, ‘nifty’ is also a common expression in the economic and financial markets. Thus, it’s only natural and logical, not to mention nifty, to position our brand as a top SERP for business people.
Be careful to understand the search terms that apply solely to you, says Milijevic. “By ferreting out search demands for this particular word—as well as other related queries such as ‘nifty website’ or ‘nifty price’—we can improve the chances of achieving our goal. In doing so, we’ll positively impact our selling structure cycle in terms of brand awareness, website traffic, demand generation, and leads’ conversion, which will ultimately increase our customer base and reflect positively on our revenue.
“In terms of KPIs,” says Milijevic, “this equation is quite simple. Give your best to improve search rankings for keywords you’ve already analyzed—the examination enables you to know the search demand and origins of visitors who undertake queries—and you can put yourself in a better position to achieve your business goals. To track search demand for your brand keywords is not an optional but fundamental activity and a true reflection of your market position. If queries interest increases steadily every month, your marketing activities are heading in the right direction. After all, people are looking to inform themselves only about things they consider relevant; to position your brand on that list is always a nifty move.”
Search is also a high priority metric for Jane Prizer of Hausera “It’s hard to say which one provides THE most accurate insight, but I think a big thing to always monitor is how much traffic stems from organic search. It gives you an idea as to whether your brand’s site is being discovered naturally, which if it is, will save you an extraordinary amount of time and effort figuring out how to get people to find your site organically. By doing that, you’re minimizing your cost when it comes to SEO strategy.”
Editor’s Note: Need to know how customers are finding your site, and if your organic numbers are where they need to be? Check out our Google Analytics New User Organic Search dashboard for solid data on the customers that have come looking for you.
Maria Pergolino of ActiveCampaign likes Google Trends for this purpose, for its effectiveness relative to other possible metrics. “The answer is easily Google Trends. Share of Voice and other measurables are not seen as objective. With Google Trends, you can put in a brand name and see if people are saying it more or less. Tech brands, especially those with a recurring revenue model, are valued much higher than their revenue not only because of the future revenue expected and their intellectual property but also because of their brand; brand is a multiplier. Facebook and many other companies IPO’d at a multiple much higher than others because of their brand. KPIs have to be important because companies have to value that brand.”
One behavior that can be extremely telling is departure, according to several of our experts.
Aled Nelmes of Diploma MSc says. “The one KPI for me that provides the most accurate insight into the overall health, power, and success of our brand is Bounce Rate. It’s not one I imagine every marketer would first think of but for me, it encapsulates the initial psychological and emotional response to a brand… Are they going to spend their time here or not. As the western population becomes increasingly time-poor, if you have a brand, a website and a value proposition that can capture your ideal customers’ attention in seconds then you will always not just thrive but survive. Bounce rate gives you that.”
Time-on-page can always reveal a lot, says Charlie Worrall of Imaginaire Digital. “This is a metric that can tell you have much time your users are spending on your pages. This will tell you exactly how well your pages are put together and how effective they are. If they aren’t effective, the time spent on that page is going to be very low. This could be for a number of reasons, the copy might be bad, the design might play a part too. In any case, if the average time spent on page is too low, you’ll know that you need to make a change.
Your content might take around 4 minutes to read, but if the majority of users are leaving the pages after 2 minutes and 13 seconds, this would indicate that they aren’t reading the content in its entirety.”
The number of people searching for and visiting your site is important to track and understand, say several respondents.
“John Breese of Happysleepyhead says “Search volume of your brand and its variations. More people google your brand, the higher its awareness.” This goes for Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers as well. “We track a lot of KPIs (Leads, Cost per lead, sales, cost per acquisition, etc.). However, when it comes to brand marketing, the main KPI we measure is our website organic traffic (SEO + Social Media without ads). If our website traffic increases without us paying for advertising, we know that our brand becomes stronger as it becomes easier to find our website online.”
The same holds true for Sanya Aru of Makewebbetter. “I’ve been in this marketing field for not so long, but I surely realized that it’s not a single KPI that makes a change. The set of KPIs that I advise to monitor regularly is the Traffic-to-Lead Ratio. As Traffic-to-Lead Ratio is a logical extension of measuring traffic that is converting into your potential leads. But, to track this you need to be sure of what you consider ‘a lead’ is?”
Jeff Kupietzky of PowerInbox wants to know exactly who is coming to the site, as well. “One of the most critical brand marketing KPIs to track is: what portion of your visitors are known to you? If it’s not 50% or more (through email, Push, web app login, etc.) then you’re dealing with anonymous browsers versus known customers. That makes it extremely difficult to customize content to make it relevant for their interests and behavior.”
“Without the ability to identify a visitor as a known user,” says Kupietzky, “it’s a bit of a shot in the dark. Cookies can help, but they’re also not very accurate. In the case of a shared device, for example, the search and click behavior of each user would be rolled up into one, making for very inaccurate targeting. But, by using email as the unique identifier, you can track each user’s specific likes, dislikes, interests, and behaviors, and serve up personalized experiences that cater directly to their preferences.”
“Users are increasingly demanding this precise personalization for both the convenience and the fact that they just expect brands and publishers to meet a high standard for customization. Without a high level of known visitors, most will have a random experience, which can hurt your reputation and detract from your relevance in their lives.”
No matter what numbers or behaviors you choose to focus on, employing one or more of these KPIs into your brand marketing strategy can have immediate and positive effects on your awareness, engagement, adoption, and ROI for your products and services. Depending on what you’re looking to achieve in your next sprint or quarter, we hope you’ve found some of these tips and metrics useful for application to your goals.
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