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Digital PR: How to measure brand awareness online

By . Posted 26 October 2021

Measuring changes in online brand awareness with your target audience can be one of the trickier types of KPI to track. However, if this is an objective of your marketing strategy, and specifically for your digital PR activity, it’s important that you find a way to accurately measure whether it’s having the impact you intended so you can ensure that your marketing resources are going in the right places. So, how do you measure brand awareness levels?

How is brand awareness measured online?

If a primary objective of your digital PR and other marketing activity is to help boost brand awareness online, you need to make sure that you benchmark brand awareness before you start any new activity.

There are a number of different KPIs that you can use which can indicate a growth in awareness of your brand, so while you are building a new strategy, it’s important to have a good view of what your starting point is so that any uplifts are obvious.

Checking these same metrics again after your PR activity has launched and had some pickup will help to show if your campaign has had the desired effect

Some of the metrics that you can use for this include:

  • Brand impressions and clicks
  • Levels of direct traffic
  • Earned media tracking (including links)
  • Levels and types of referral traffic
  • Social media listening

Brand impressions and clicks

Using Google Search Console (GSC), you can see how many searches people have done in Google that include a brand term, and how many people have clicked through on results that appeared. The higher the click-through-rate (CTR) in GSC for results in which your brand appeared, the more likely that people were actually searching for your brand specifically. This is why an increase in impressions and/or clicks can indicate that more people are looking for information about your brand as a result of your digital PR activity.

To filter a view that only shows brand-related searches, you can easily display only queries that include your brand name (but watch out for partial brand searches or misspellings too).

search console brand

Levels of direct traffic

While there is some ambiguity around direct traffic and what it actually means, a certain number of users who land on your website via this source so do because they type your website into the address bar. If your digital PR activity pushed your website address as part of the campaign, you might see an increase in direct traffic that indicates more people are going directly to your website than before, which could well mean that they are more aware of you and what you do/sell now.

A drop in bounce rate for direct traffic can also indicate that the person landing on the site found what they were expecting with you and therefore stayed around the site for longer, which can be a sign of increased brand awareness.

Direct traffic brand

Earned media tracking

Tracking any online media coverage that you have earned as a result of your digital PR activity is a standard part of reporting on any PR campaign and it’s important to include any sites that pick up the story, even if they did so indirectly. Any media title that is relevant to your audience has the potential to generate an uplift in brand awareness, so keeping a record of the online coverage is important, especially if it also comes with a backlink to your website. Not only can backlinks contribute positively to your site’s SEO performance, they can also potentially send highly relevant referral traffic to your site if someone clicks on the link.

Levels and types of referral traffic

An increase in referral traffic alone doesn’t necessarily indicate that brand awareness amongst the target audience is growing, because the site referring visitors may not be relevant to who you’re trying to reach. However, if the site quality is good, the chances are that it’s sending through visitors who are already qualified to a degree, and anyone who clicks on a brand link is likely to have become more aware of who the brand is and what you have to offer.

Social media listening

Keeping an eye on how many people are mentioning your brand on social media and in what context can be a good way of measuring any changes in the wake of digital PR activity. Tools such as Social Mention can be a good way to do this. It’s not just whether people are talking about your brand or not, it’s what they are saying and what the sentiment is that also matters, especially if you’re looking at measuring brand awareness specifically.

How do you measure brand awareness on social?

If you look at the quantity and sentiment of those talking about your brand on social media, you can also do the same for your competitors and calculate your brand’s social share of voice in comparison. An increase in your follower count in the aftermath of digital PR activity can be a good indication of increased brand awareness, and increases in engagement on your brand posts can also be a positive sign, because comments and shares will increase the organic reach of your social media content naturally.

It’s important with any measurement related to brand awareness that you bear the target audience firmly in mind, as otherwise the metrics aren’t as meaningful to your business and your marketing objectives. Reaching more people doesn’t necessarily mean you are reaching the right people – which is why it’s so important to plan bespoke digital PR activity that is designed to bring tangible results for your business or organisation.

If you want to know more about our approach to digital PR or campaign measurement, get in touch with the team below.