Are your branding campaigns effective? Are they wasting money? Is it possible for a campaign to have fifty thousand impressions, absolutely no clicks and yet be successful?
It all depends on what you are measuring. If you are only measuring clicks, then the campaign looks like a failure. If you are looking at holistic metrics, this same campaign might be highly successful.
When measuring branding campaigns, you need to go beyond basic reach and frequency reports to understand if your campaigns are helping your overall marketing effectiveness, or whether these campaigns are just wasting money. Several metrics can help you develop a full picture of your targeting strategy to understand how well your money is being spent.
The focus of this post is on branding campaigns via search engine content networks, whether Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter or Yahoo Search Marketing. However, these exact same metrics apply to any campaigns you are running to increase branding, such as banner ads or even TV commercials.
Beyond clicks and impressions
There are generally two main reasons advertisers run content network campaigns:
- Clicks and conversions
If you are running a content campaign for clicks and conversions, your goal is to find content network sites that lead to conversions.
If your goal is branding, you need to approach your campaign with a completely different mindset, beginning with how you measure success. There are many metrics you should be considering to gain an accurate picture of your campaign’s effectiveness—and they are generally quite different than those you use when your goal is conversion.
The most common branding metrics are reach and frequency. However, all these numbers tell you is how many people saw your ad and how often they saw it. These metrics do not give you insight into engagement with your brand. They do not tell you if most users are looking at your site for less than 5 seconds and then clicking the back button.
Metrics for measuring branding campaigns
Changes in brand searches. Everyone is short on time. It’s hard to find a single person who will tell you they want fewer hours in a day. Often when someone sees your ad, they do not have the time to click on your ad and read your offer.
However, after they see your ad several times, they may start to associate your offer with a solution. This association is more common for image and video ads than text ads. Text ads have a lower recall value than rich media ads.
When someone needs your solution, they most likely will not try to find one of your ads again. Instead, they will search for the brand displayed in the ad.
To see if your branding campaigns are successful, measure the changes to branded searches while your ads are running. If your banner ads do not have any clicks while they are running, but you see a 12% lift in brand searches, your banners might be very effective.
Changes in total website visitors. Some consumers will see your ad and then later will type your URL directly into the browser. Others will see your ad a few times, and then later search for the solution and reach your website using non-branded keywords. Still others will tell an officemate about a possible solution, and the officemate will try to find your company.
These interactions occurred because of your branding campaign, yet none of their actions can be directly attributed to clicks from your ads.
While you are running branding campaigns, measure changes to total traffic on your website. If you see a 2% lift in total traffic, those branding ads might be very effective.
Changes to search CTR. It is pretty common to see more recognizable brand names achieve higher CTRs for their search ads than non-recognizable brands for the same keyword (even with the same ad copy). Most searchers are more likely to click on something that is familiar to them.
If that searcher has seen a few of your banner ads, your brand might becoming more familiar to them. It is not uncommon to see an increase in search ad clickthrough rates while you’re running branding campaigns. Therefore, while you are running branding campaigns, measure changes to your search ad CTRs.
Changes to conversion rates. Once a brand becomes familiar, many people are more likely to trust that brand. And the more someone trusts a website, the higher the chance that a conversion occurs.
While running branding campaigns, measure changes to the conversion rates of all your actions.
Conversion rate on branding campaign landing pages. Too many advertisers run a branding campaign that focuses on reach, frequency, clicks and impressions. None of those metrics puts money into your wallet.
Even if your goal is to measure increases in brand equity, you should put a conversion action on your branding campaigns’ landing pages. Conversion actions to focus on for branding campaigns are ones that allow you to interact with the visitor at a later date; such as social media or newsletter subscriptions.
Some examples of “non-purchase” conversion events:
- Watch a video
- Follow us on social media
- Subscribe to our free newsletter
- Send this to a friend
- Share on social media
- Play a branded game
If you are launching a new product, add a video on the landing page that showcases the product’s benefits. If consumers are watching less than 5 seconds of your video, your branding campaign is not working. Measure how far into the video people are watching.
Always add some conversion action to the branding campaign.
Time on site or pages per visit. These are two simple metrics that any analytics program can tell you. However, these two metrics will let you know if someone is actually interacting with your website or just bouncing away.
If you find your bounce rate is 95% you need a different ad or landing page. If your visitors are spending 5 minutes on your website, then they are engaged with your content.
These two simple metrics can help shape your message and landing pages so that the clicks your receive from your branding campaigns are leading to brand interaction.
Limit by geography. If you are running a branding campaign in only one geography, segment the above metrics into two sections:
- The region where your branding campaign is being run
- The rest of that particular country
Compare the two areas against one another. This is a quick way to see if your branding campaign is successful.
This is a particularly useful comparison if you are also running TV commercials, print or radio campaigns as you can quickly see the differences in your metrics where you have an increased brand presence versus everywhere else.
View-through tracking. Google offers view-through tracking. This will let you see who saw a display ad, did not click it, but converted on your website within thirty days. Using view-through conversions can be useful to see if your branding views are leading to conversions.
Complexity is unnecessary
You do not need overly complex measurements to measure the effectiveness of your branding campaigns. Simple Excel spreadsheets can provide you with adequate insight. However, you need the data to get the full picture.
If you are running more than one type of campaign, segment out your numbers by time frames for each campaign.
For instance, AdWords Seminars are one of our products. Our goal is to build additional revenue for this product through increased awareness of the actual seminars.
We knew our SEO conversion rate. We then added some PPC campaigns for a while and saw that our conversion rate went up. We added banner campaigns, and once again saw an increase in conversion rates.
Since the goal was revenue, we just made a simple chart that showed conversions, revenue and profit information:
These overall guidelines are meant to be altered to fit your branding campaign. In this chart, we examined only visitors who made it to a conversion event page. We did not use all of our website visitors in determining conversion rates; we only examined the pages that our branding was focused around.
If we examined profit and saw it decreasing when we ran banners we would have tried different banner ads or removed the campaign. However, that decision can only be made if you have enough data.
Every time you spend a single penny marketing your site, you should have a goal for what each of those pennies will do for your company. Some bring revenue, some bring brand equity, some bring changes to conversion rates.
If you do not have a goal for your spend, you do not know if your money is being wasted or helping you achieve your goals.
Branding campaigns should not be measured by themselves in terms of clicks, impressions, reach, and frequency. Only by taking a holistic look at your marketing can you see the effectiveness of your branding campaigns.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.