Brand Brother Is Watching You

Last week, I began discussing ways you can measure your return on investment (ROI) and promised that this week I’d look at ways of monitoring your brand’s relationship with your consumers. The connection? Understanding your brand’s relationship with its consumers gives you a foundation for measuring your ROI.

It is possible to measure the real value of online brand building, as long as you have something to measure against. This is where most marketers fail. They don’t establish appropriate performance criteria that over time become the foundation for a measurement matrix. The trick is, of course, determining what these criteria should be. But don’t despair: Here are a couple of suggestions.

Brands are driven by values, and values are, surprisingly enough, measurable. So establish a value-measuring process. Start by mapping out your Web site’s value centers. Some pages might focus on financial and trust values. Some pages might aim to be engaging and entertaining. Some pages might be provocative, explorative, and innovative. Now, your job is to map out the various values represented by each of these pages. You can do this yourself, but the best and most accurate way to identify these values is to invite a sample group of your target audience to evaluate your site. Ask your sample members to visit every page and describe what values they feel each represents.

I promise you that you’ll be shocked by the resulting revelations. Not only because your respondents will seem to miss the intended relevance of your content but also because they’ll mention values that have nothing to do with your brand — they may even be attributable to your key competitor’s brand. Such feedback is invaluable. It should inspire you to change your pages or alter entire sections of your site.

But the most valuable part of that exercise is that it creates a foundation for your online brand-building measurement tool. These days, it’s easy to establish a system that measures visitors’ paths through your site’s pages — to see how long visitors spend on each page and from what page to what page they move. By mapping visitor movements, you’ll gain an indication of the values that your site is exposing to its audience. Let me give you an example of how this monitoring can work.

Some years ago, I developed a site for a major international car brand. During their launch of a new model, the media revealed some major safety faults. The interesting thing is that more than 80 percent of the brand’s Web site traffic suddenly changed direction, with visitors shifting their concentration from the site’s entertainment- and styling-focused areas to its safety-focused areas. This mapped change in direction enabled the brand to determine how it should handle its offline communications: The consumers’ concerns were reflected by the values to which site visitors were exposed. The car brand managed to establish an entire communication center within five days, a maneuver based on the detected change in visitor response to brand-value centers on the Web site.

Techniques such as this not only measure brand-building performance but also direct the brand’s evolution. Brand builders can see how their brands are evolving over years, weeks, days, and even hours, giving them an insight into the values the consumer is being exposed to, right here and now. What more could you ask for? This much more: How do you convert this data into a measurement of ROI?

Stay tuned for a couple of suggestions next week. And remember: I’m watching you.

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