How to Measure Brand Equity with Web Analytics – Part 2

Search engine strategies in San Jose (SES) is coming up next week already where I am on the hook to describe in just a few minutes during one of the panel discussions what web analytics can contribute for measuring brand equity. Recently, in the first part of this blog post I dove into the aspect that is about measuring your audience’s ability to recall your brand name. But brand is much more than just awareness/recollection of your band names.Two other aspects that ought to be measured are positivity (thumb up or down?) and features/functionality. For example, what do you think of when you see the following sign?

Ahh… FRESH ingredients! And smiling kids behind the counter. If web analytics can contribute to an understanding what kinds of features/benefits your audience associates with your brand it would be helpful. (There are other ways to find out what customers are thinking, but the question was how much web analytics could contribute.)

Now web analytics is great for measuring customers’ behavior, but not great at all for figuring out their attitudes. But one way in which site behavior reveals attitudes or predispositions that customers may have is through the use of local site search. That is one case where site visitors are typing into the web site search box what is on their minds. For example, if In-n-out burger found that most people come to the site and typed in “calories” into the search box, that would say one thing. If they typed in “fresh ingredients” or “friendly staff” that would say another.   Or instead of In-n-out think of a car manufacturer. Will more people search for “maintenance issues” or “10 year warranty” for example.

Further, instead of looking at the general population the web analyst can use A/B analysis to compare the keywords typed in by brand visitors vs. category visitors. I call brand visitros those who typed in the URL of the site directly or search for branded terms on search engines. Likewise, category visitors are those who didn’t know they want to come to in-n-out burger’s web site. Yet, then they may have performed a web search for “burger joints” in their neighborhood and through that found the restaurant. How do you think site search would differ? We wouldn’t be surprised for those non-fans to search for calories whereas fans are in awe with watching their burgers prepared freshly by Santa’s friendly helpers.

On the final installment of this topic, we will look at measuring the financial value of brand visitors using web analytics. Your ideas and comments are always helpful.

How to Measure Brand Equity with Web Analytics

Search Engine Strategies in San Jose is coming up in about two weeks time. Representing Unica’s web analytics solutions, I will have the pleasure of joining Omniture, Webtrends, and Google Analytics in staffing a panel discussion on measuring success. This time, moderator Allan Dick from VintageTub has asked each of the panelists to prepare a short presentation on a specific topic of interest. The topic I drew is how to measure the impact of Search on the advertiser’s brand equity. Oh boy. Tough question. Web analytics is not ideal for this purpose. But as I dove in, it turned out to be a very interesting one! And it is somewhat reminiscent of many other kinds of multichannel marketing measurements, actually.

The main reason we do SEO and pay-per-click advertising is, of course … to get clickthroughs and conversions. Doh! However, come to think of it, we do not actually want everyone to click. For example, we at Unica want buyers who search for “web analytics solutions” to click. But we would rather not pay for non-buyers to click on our paid search ads, really. We just would very much like for them to remember that Unica’s is one of the top listed web analytics solutions that they saw in the search results. So, next time somebody asks them what the top web analytics solutions are that they should look at, we would hope they might remember the impression that Unica’s ad left and mention our brand.

When people search for “web analytics solutions” and clicktrough to a web site, that is really easy to measure with web analytics. However, what measurable effect would this kind of word of mouth referral have? Well, as a result of the referral the recipient would either type in www.unica.com directly which is something that we can measure and trend. Or, they might not remember exactly and go to a search engine and type in something like “Unica web analytics”, our listing would appear and hopefully get clicked. That is another thing we can measure with web analytics. (In the latter case, you can also use tools like Google Trends just to see the search volume for your branded keywords)

So web analytics can give us an idea about our brand name recognition/recollection. But now the hard part. How are we going to prove that the reason why there is an increased search for our brand name keywords is because of preceding Search marketing impressions on product category keywords (and/or word of mouth marketing? After all, we are constantly in a gazillion marketing initiatives trying to bring our name in front of everybody at tradeshows, PR, direct mail, cold calling, broadcast and outdoor advertiisng.

I am not aware that there is a good answer for this question unfortunately. For display ads, there is at least the concept of a viewthrough. You see an ad banner somewhere, unknown to you, Doubleclick or Atlas or Trueffect set a cookie. Then two weeks later when you visit that advertiser’s web site your cookie is reconciled with the ad impression and your visit counted as a viewthrough. Well, the same just does not exist for search marketing, as far as I know. You can’t set a cookie on your search result listing that shows up on Google, Yahoo, etc. Even if one could set a cookie we would still fall down in the word-of-mouth part. It is one person who sees the ad, passes the referral, and somebody else who visits the site. Oh boy.

There is one trick that you can try however. You can use Hitwise, Google Trends, and similar tools from Yahoo! and MSN to plot the trend of search on your category keywords, say “web analytics solutions”.

You know that everybody who searched for your high ranked search terms probably saw your ad or organic listing. Now, if you plot the trend of direct and brand keyword visitors and find that trend to follow the first trend, then you can try an argue that there is a correlation. Ok, tough. But I am not aware that web analytics can do any better to prove the impact of search ads on your brand when there is no clickthrough nor view through. What we are looking for would ideally be something similar to the following:

By the way, brand equity is of course not just about recollection. It is also about positivity (thumb up or down?), functionality (e.g. is a Ford Escape an awesome hybrid SUV or an awesome offroad vehicle?), and actionability (i.e. hgow much do these customers ultimately buy over life time?). Web analytics can contribute measurements for some of these as well. But this blog post is already way too long to dive into that! So next time.

How to Achieve Customer-Centricity in a Multichannel World?

Oh great. Akin is starting the umpteenth million blog. Just what everyone needed. More information! We can barely keep out all the marketing messages that are trying to reach us every day. The ads may seem like bloodhounds chasing after us wherever we go.  As consumers, we have to come up with increasingly smart devices to tune the irrelevant noise out, i.e. spam filters, TiVo, Caller ID, Do-not-call lists, or pay-for-no-adds. Yadda, yadda, nada.

As marketers though, the problem is ours too. Our tricky job is to implement customer-centric strategies so that we can fashion our communications so relevant that our prospects and customers will hear our voice despite all the noise. Our communications are supposed to seem like a service rather than a nuisance. So, instead of being big bad marketers, we are trying to be more like good sales people, as the Eisenberg brothers explain in their bestselling book “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?”.
By that they mean that good sales people actually listen to their customers, aim to anticipate their needs and answer in a meaningful fashion. That is something that most marketers unfortunately rarely do, as the Eisenberg brothers brilliantly point out. This is something that marketers have to fix. Many of us genuinely want to fix this asap. But how can we listen to our customers given that their relationships with our companies span multiple channels? How can we be a good conversation partner to them unless we are able to pick up the conversation on one channel just where the conversation stopped on another channel?  In order for customer-centricity to be possible today we need to do our best to solve the multichannel marketing puzzle. Reconnecting the online with the offline is the required puzzle piece without which customer-centricity would have to depend on miracles.
This blog is meant as a meeting place for likeminded marketers to discuss that missing puzzle piece. Namely, metrics and methods for reconnecting the online and offline and enabling business success across channels.