Web Analytics and Online Branding Metrics, Part 2

A few weeks back, I wrote a column focused on the Web analytics branding metrics companies should consider. I asked for feedback on other branding metrics people are using to evaluate Web sites.

Often when I ask for feedback like this I get a lot of emails with a number of different suggestions. Interestingly enough this time most of the emails I received focused on the same two or three branding metrics. I also received a lot of comments from people that they were really struggling with coming up with branding metrics for their sites.

The branding metrics I outlined in Part 1 included:

  • Direct Visitor Traffic

  • Perception Studies
  • Depth of Exploration
  • Repeat Buyers

Based on the emails I’ve received and conversations I had with people at eMetrics last week, I wanted to share a few more potential branding metrics.

Branded Searches: By understanding the number of times branded search terms are searched on the Web and changes in those searches, you can get an idea of changing brand strength. An example for a client like Converse may be the total times “Converse” or “Chuck Taylor” is searched online during a given timeframe.

This is an easy measure to confuse. We aren’t looking at the number of times someone searches for this term and comes to your site. We’re looking at the total number of times it’s being searched on the Web, whether or not they click through and visit your site. There are a number of tools available that can provide data on the number of searches. This is not the search data found in your analytics tool.

I’ve worked with a number of companies that boast 90 percent of search traffic referred to their site is from branded search terms, so their “brand is strong.” In most cases, it’s just poor SEO and/or SEM that only focuses on branded terms, often missing people looking for like products or services without having the brand-top-of-mind.

Survey of Offline Purchasers: Another way to evaluate the impact of the Web site offline (and potentially a measurement of the brand) is to survey people when they buy offline and determine what percentage interacted with the brand via other means: visited Web site, seen TV spot, etc. Look at how this changes over time and it can help you understand the impact of the site on the brand and on overall customer or prospect experience.

Referral Actions by Visitors: This is a really good one. I should have included it in Part 1. It’s the use of “refer a friend” or special offers to “friends.” There are two interesting measures here: how much is “refer a friend” communication initiated, and how often does the friend interact?

Offline Campaign Offers & Coupons: By setting up special landing pages or offers promoted in the offline space, you can get a better view into how people interact between different media.

Blog Buzz: This is one of the new ones in the mix, but blogs can have a very powerful impact on a brand, both positive and negative. Blogs are filling up search results, blogs can respond quickly to news and experiences, and blogs can be influenced by unhappy customers as well as by competitors. For that matter, companies can plant seeds in blogs for new releases, etc. Tools are emerging to report on mention of companies or products within the blogging world. This can be a great measure of buzz, or talk about the brand or product. Again, it’s important to understand more mentions in the blog space don’t always translate into good things from a brand perspective.

Now, depending on your industry, business and client base, some of these can be used as branding metrics. Others will simply measure the offline impact of your site, and vice versa.

Whenever talking about branding metrics, I feel it is necessary to warn of the trap of basing all your KPIs on branding metrics and taking the “easy way out”. Don’t let “Branding” be an easy way for you to not define other performance metrics for your site. For a vast majority of sites on the web branding is only a component of KPIs for the site. It can too often be the easy way out to rely on branding or content as the primary goals of a site ignoring commerce, lead generation, customer service or other areas.

Thank you all that emailed me for your contribution. I’ll ask again, send me some of the other metrics you’re using to evaluate the impact your site has on your branding efforts.

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