Joy Corkery is a content marketer with 8+ years experience in B2C and B2B companies.
How well do you know your target audience? It was Lewis Carroll who famously said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” While this is a romantic saying, it’s not a realist marketing strategy in this day and age.
When it comes to branding, you need to know exactly where you’re going.
As the world gets more digital and the lines between different demographics continue to blur, how do you refine your target audience effectively? Your target audience is dynamic. It’s always changing, shifting, and growing. Your audience won’t look exactly the same in a month. How can you keep up? It all comes down to brand tracking.
We live in a world where it takes 5 to 7 impressions for users to remember a brand. Measuring this progress over time is tricky. Brand tracking empowers you to not only refine your audience but to also make smarter decisions about your marketing campaigns.
Before we get started, we need to define what is brand tracking exactly. Brand tracking is a means of measuring the health of your brand continuously over time. It shows you what your target audience thinks of your brand and how they use it. Brand tracking can include various metrics from brand awareness, associations and preference, to usage and loyalty. The insights from all metrics tracked allows you to compare brand health across various audiences, as well as competitor brands.
By tracking brand health for your target audience and the general public, it’s possible to determine exactly what your customers need and how to market to them effectively. Brand tracking is traditionally done by analyzing surveys, focus groups, and engagement statistics.
Today, new research tools have welcomed a new era of brand tracking. Modern brand tracking is commonly done through software and platforms. These new tools allow real-time brand awareness insights, leading to stronger campaigns.
Now that you know what brand tracking is, let’s talk about how it works. While 77% of marketing leaders agree branding is critical to growth, how do you assign your brand any real metrics? It’s hard to say your brand is “growing” or that your audience is responding to your marketing without actually asking your audience directly.
That’s what brand tracking is — a way to gain insight into what your audience is thinking.
Brand tracking works by measuring these factors:
Awareness - Does your target audience know about your brand?
Preference - Does your target audience prefer your brand over your competitors?
Associations - What feelings or characteristics does your audience associate with your brand?
Usage - How frequently does your target audience buy from your brand?
Loyalty - How loyal is your target audience to your brand?
It can also be broken down even further:
Competitor analysis - How do you compare to competitors?
Audience analysis - What are your audience demographics?
If you’ve ever answered a survey before watching a YouTube video or interacting with an app, this was likely part of their Brand Think tracking campaign.
Simiarly, survey websites like Swagbucks pictured below help identify which brands different consumers are loyal to. In the survey below, the survey identifies which pizza restaurants the user frequents.This helps the included brands understand how they compare to the competition, as well as which users’ demographics are most interested in their product.
As we already mentioned, brand tracking is a way to measure changes in brand perception over time. By using surveys, marketers can learn key information about their perception and brand health. How does this translate to real-world results?
This is where it pays to have clear key performance metrics (KPIs) that matter for your brand.
What metrics should you measure in your brand tracking campaign?
Quality - Are customers choosing you over the competition? If so, that’s a sign that you have a high-quality, reliable product.
Service - Customer service is tied to loyalty. If your customers aren’t loyal to your brand, you could be facing issues with your service and customer satisfaction.
Reach - Is your marketing actually reaching your audience? Do they recognize your brand?
Associations - Finally, what do your customers associate with your brand? Do these associations match your values and goals?
All of these metrics matter, but they’re impossible to measure without a brand tracker. However, it doesn’t stop here. You also need the best technique in order to dig deeper than the general public. Remember, we only really care about our target audience’s perception.
The secret is in using the latest MRP technique. MRP, or Multilevel Regression and Poststratification, is a statistical method for guaranteeing precise results and data. It sounds a bit complicated, but it’s seriously powerful.
To understand MRP, let’s look at an example. Blinkist is a digital reading app that connects millions of readers with text and audio that’s consumable in 15 minutes. This brand needed to measure how their audience responded to their brand using the KPIs above.
In a traditional brand tracking setting (without MRP), researchers review a sample of 1000+ respondents to zoom in on those who match all of their audience characteristics. In the case of Blinkist, the audience they’re focusing on is productive professionals who like reading. This can be broken into 3 groups:
Of their 500 people sample, only 20 people fall into all three categories. With traditional brand tracking methods, it could be determined that amongst this small group, they have a brand awareness of 25-45%. That is a big margin of error and not one reliable enough to make decisions based on it.
What’s wrong with this process?
Mainly, the margin of error is just too big to be reliable. With such a niche audience, there is no reliable change detection.
The MRP approach is different. Instead, researchers look at respondents’ individual characteristics to see how that affects their perception of the brand. Using the same example, but with a bigger sample size of 1000, we can identify 100 who are productivity enthusiasts, 300 who are working professionals, and 150 who like to read. Then, we determine the “effect” being any of these characteristics has on brand awareness:
In the case of Blinkist, they learned that their highest brand awareness (18%) is amongst 46-55-year-olds who work at start-ups and like to be productive. They also were surprised to learn that those with higher levels of education responded better to their marketing. Ultimately, Blinkist was left with more accurate, usable results after brand tracking.
Their results translate into a real-life marketing campaign. Below, Blinkist markets to professionals and productivity enthusiasts with these Twitter ads.
Now that you see why brand tracking is one of the most effective ways to grow your business, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty real-life process.
What are the steps to tracking your brand effectively?
Determine your target segment and brand message: What message are you trying to convey? Who are you trying to convey it to? This might change over time, but you need a starting point. This will be the foundation for your KPIs.
Name your competition: You’ll also need to know who you’re measuring up against, and how their brand awareness compared to yours.
Choose your brand tracking platform - How will you collect data? By choosing a brand tracking platform, you have freedom in how your data will be authenticated and collected.
Watch your results - Keep a close eye on results to see how your brand stacks up against others. Do your results match your expectations?
Repeat - One brand tracking campaign isn’t enough. This is a long-term process, so don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy and repeat.
The MRP technique is one side of the brand tracking equation, but you also need to know how to use it to refine your audience. As we saw in the Blinkist example above, brand tracking can be used to determine if you truly are marketing your brand to the right group.
This is done through the survey process. You refine your audience by asking the right questions.
How often do you use X product?
When you think of X, what brand do you consider?
How likely will you purchase from X again?
Which of X campaigns have you seen in the past month?
On the surface, these seem like simple questions. If you dig deeper, you’ll see how they reflect your audience. If your ideal user isn’t a repeat customer and isn’t responding to your marketing campaigns, they might not be your ideal user after all.
Let’s look at another real-world example to see how asking these questions can lead to a greater insight into your audience. AirHelp is one of the largest air passenger rights platforms. AirHelp uses the Latana brand tracking platform once they realized only 13% of people globally were aware of their air travel rights and that they wanted to secure greater awareness in their market.
By using a brand tracking platform that launched targeted surveys, AirHelp determined that their perception was higher for frequent travelers (2+ trips per year). They also learned that gender did not affect the brand’s perception. They used these insights to launch their first TV campaign in 2019, and they’re focusing on the frustrations and concerns of frequent travelers as a way to evoke a response from their audience.
Airhelp German TV campaign August 2019
Brand tracking is far from a one-and-done process. You’ll need to keep an eye on your results and adjust your strategies as needed. The effects of branding and marketing don’t reveal themselves overnight. Some campaigns can take months to even start to show in your target audience.
Because your brand is always evolving, it’s smart to conduct brand tracking analysis every month to every year in order to keep up with your results. Having long-term data will give your marketing team more to rely on when it comes to creating stronger campaigns that drive results.
While the specific answer will depend on your brand’s marketing goals, conducting a brand tracking analysis campaign at least once a year is a smart idea.
Brand managers can use brand tracking platforms to drive more results in their campaigns. While metrics like website traffic and engagement rate are important, they’re only one side of the story.
It’s time to pull back the curtain on your audience. You need unbiased, accurate data about how your users react to your brand in real-time. This is achieved through brand tracking.
Welcome to the new era of brand awareness. You don’t have the time or money to waste on campaigns that don’t hit their mark. Remember what Lewis Carroll said about knowing where you’re going? Brand tracking will get you there. With people spending an average of 135 minutes per day on social media alone, you need a way to stand out from the crowd when it comes to your marketing.
With brand tracking, you can refine your audience, learn how your users react to your brand, and make smarter decisions. That’s how you get ahead in 2020 and beyond, so what are you waiting for?
Thanks for reading, feel free to drop your comments below, love to connect!
Joy Corkery is a content marketing lead at Latana with over 7 years of marketing experience, helping brands grow by sharing tech and marketing insights. Aside from being a skilled writer, Joy is also a vivid book lover. Connect with her on Twitter.