Web Analytics and Online Branding Metrics


Do you consider branding a key goal for your site? More and more marketers do, and they’re spending big money to drive online branding. In fact, 66 percent of marketing executives said the Web is an effective or more effective branding medium relative to traditional channels, according to Forrester Research. And according to PointRoll, branding is now the leading online advertising goal. But how do you measure brand online? What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) to track branding effectiveness? Are they hidden in your Web analytics tools, and you just don’t know it?

Warning: Don’t let “branding” be a convenient excuse for you to not define other site performance metrics. For most sites, branding is only a component of site KPIs. Relying on branding or content as the primary site goal is the easy way out. It ignores commerce, lead generation, customer service, and other areas.

Branding metrics increasingly come up as a topic. People want to understand brand impact based on online experiences as we define goals, KPIs, and metrics for our clients. Yet branding metrics are often very difficult to both identify and measure.

Like everything else we do online, we must start by defining the business’s overall goals, then determine which goals can be influenced by increased branding. It’s a much bigger decision, but one that must be made to discuss how branding affects the bottom line over time for an individual company. This greatly depends on many factors.

Following, an outline of some metrics our clients look at to evaluate a site’s effect on overall branding. Some may or may not make sense for your business, and some may simply be a high-level view into the impact on branding. Bear in mind we’re looking at on-site branding influencers to metrics, not the influence of banners and other online advertising. Some metrics we’ve used to evaluate the impact of brand include:

  • Direct visitor traffic. This is a combination of looking at overall site traffic and the percentage of traffic that comes directly to the site. Rather than through search, links from other sites, or other campaigns, this indicates people came directly to the site by typing in the URL or using a bookmark.
  • Perception studies. Through our proprietary perception analysis software, we can analyze site experience impact on visitor perceptions. This is done through surveys on entry to and exit from the site (different users in each set), and looking at the lift (hopefully) in perception. Through scoring, we can quantify the lift and compare it based on different site behaviors.
  • Depth of exploration. This is how deep into the site visitors explore. Often, we look at the percentage of site visitors who view X or more pages on the site. We find this is a much better metric to use than time spent on the site.
  • Repeat buyers. What percentage of buyers return (site, store, catalog, phone, etc.) to make purchases after making a purchase online?

I deliberately excluded things like purchases, registration, lead generation, and email sign-ups, since we often look at the overall impact of those things outside of branding. Nevertheless, positive experiences with those things can add to overall brand value as well. Again, these examples are only a small sample. Shoot me an email and let me know some of the metrics you use to evaluate your site’s effect on your branding efforts. If I get enough feedback on this tough topic, I’ll publish a follow-up to this column.


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