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3 Ways To Know If Brand Awareness Gets Your Marketing on Base

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3 Ways To Know If Brand Awareness Gets Your Marketing on Base

How should you measure the value of brand awareness?

I’m asked that frequently by B2B marketers, but they aren’t really asking how to measure it. That answer, of course, involves analytics.

What they want to know is how to connect brand awareness efforts to business value. (And they equate value with more revenue or lower costs.)

It’s tricky.

Connecting brand awareness to revenue or expenses is not unlike figuring out how a baseball player’s statistics relate to the team’s wins. So many other things must happen that pinning wins on a player’s batting average involves a tenuous connection at best.

The value of brand awareness comes from influencing the customer’s perception of your brand. To measure the impact, you’d need to track how your efforts improve that perception over time. And then, even more specifically, you’d need to connect how that improved perception translates into actual business value (e.g., cost savings or revenue).

Connecting brand awareness to the bottom line is like figuring out how a baseball player’s statistics relate to the team’s wins. It’s tricky, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Getting up to bat comes first

The very nature of “brand value” presents a challenge. “Brand” is your idealized version of what your company stands for. You hope “brand value” marks an important waypoint on the customer’s journey. However, “awareness” only begins the path to that destination.

Your natural inclination is to connect the starting point with the endpoint. You want people to know about, engage with, and believe in what your brand stands for. However, becoming aware of a brand doesn’t immediately change people’s perception of how trusted or valuable the brand is to them.

It’s not that you can’t connect brand awareness to cost savings or revenue (brand value). It would be easy to do the math: X number of new website visitors = Y amount of increased revenue.

However, that simple equation gives too much power to the initial investment in achieving awareness – and too little to any other experience between awareness and purchase.

More realistically, at the highest level, more positive brand awareness equals a greater probability of cost savings or revenue. Brand awareness, following the baseball metaphor, gets you more times at bat. That increased frequency will probably equate to more hits. And more hits provide a greater probability of more wins.

Brand awareness gets your company more times at bat, and that increases the likeliness of more hits, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

So the question becomes, “OK, then how do we measure that greater probability?”

Now, you can architect useful measurements.

Setting objectives is first base

Start with an objective – a goal. Agreement on the objectives matters (e.g., increased leads, higher quality leads) more than the accuracy of the analytics.  You also must agree on what will define progress toward that objective. I’m a huge fan of OKRs (objectives and key results) as a designed way of setting marketing objectives and measuring success.

However, at this point, you may throw up your hands. “But, yeah, that’s the problem, Robert. You just told me that connecting revenue to brand awareness is problematic. Clearly, I don’t want to start with that as my objective. But what objectives will help me show a greater probability of achieving more revenue or savings?”

Good question. Let’s work backward. Instead of setting objectives, start with pragmatic things you can (or at least should be able to) measure around brand awareness value. Then, consider the objectives that might be supported by those methods of measurement. Finally, see if you can connect them to a higher probability of revenue or savings.

Instead of setting objectives first, start with pragmatic things you can measure around brand awareness value, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

I’ve seen these three simple measurements for brand awareness value work with my clients.

Growth in traffic and engagement

To measure brand awareness, look at the traffic to your website, thought leadership content hub, or both. You also can distinguish and segment between organic and paid traffic, campaign ID, or distributed content channels.

Perhaps, you value traffic that comes organically higher than branded search times. Or maybe you only count traffic from branded advertising. Or it could be traffic from content, thought leadership, your brand name, etc. To pick the right metric, refer to what agreed-upon success looks like for your company.

You can see how arguing (and mutually agreeing on) an objective with those measurements becomes easy. The metrics might be time on site, bounce rate, pages viewed, or (my favorite) the best next action from this traffic (e.g., newsletter subscription, more content viewed, shares with social networks).

You can see how it becomes easy to argue (and mutually agree on) an objective with those measurements. For example, it could be:

“Our efforts demonstrably increased searches for our brand name, more organic traffic to our website, and an increase in subscribers to our thought leadership newsletter. So, yes, we are achieving greater brand awareness.”

These measurements fit nicely into an overall objective of driving greater brand awareness of the company and its share of voice of its new approach to X solution. The key results might include:

  • Quantity of traffic (or increase) as a percentage of our total addressable audience/market
  • Quantity of conversions to known audiences (e.g., newsletter subscribers). This is a great metric to assess if you’re making your target audience aware.
  • Increased engagement on the content platform

But with that demonstrable measurement in hand, you must answer the final “So what?” You still haven’t connected brand awareness directly to revenue. But should you? If all anybody cares about is increased revenue, then what’s the worth of spending money to increase brand awareness and/or perception? Here’s the correlation where you might get agreement from the teams: If you increase brand awareness of the company and its share of voice, you create a greater probability that those audiences will become leads.

That’s when you connect your brand-awareness OKR to a sales-enablement OKR of creating more leads from those audiences.

Surveys, research, and polls

You also can measure the quality (as well as the quantity) of brand awareness efforts by asking people what they think. It’s especially helpful when you have an existing audience (subscribers to thought leadership), existing customers (people who know and like your products), and new, lesser-known audiences.

You can measure classic things like brand recall – how well your target audiences can remember who you are or what you stand for.  Or you can measure things like how much your brand is trusted by various audiences. In this measurement exercise, you regularly measure the brand’s “lift” over time as you execute activities like content marketing, brand advertising, or paid and organic search optimization.

A large number of objectives can connect to this measurement approach. For example, an objective could be to “markedly increase the level of trust in new prospective customers who have just become aware of what we do.”

Among the metrics to execute that objective:

  • The number of subscribers who increased their trust in the brand since signing up for your content marketing compared to existing customers or those who don’t know the brand.
  • The number of “unknown” people who increase their trust in the brand after exposure to its messaging or content.
  • Ranked trust of your brand vs. competitors or others in your space among audiences, prospects, leads, and customers.

You may not directly correlate better results to revenue or cost savings, but you can connect that those results (if positive) increase the likelihood of meeting those objectives.

For example, you may notice email subscribers who give a higher trust score convert at a higher rate into customers. You may find trust in your brand goes up in advertising that focuses on thought leadership rather than sales offers. Thus, you can find it easier to get to an agreed-upon OKR that says greater brand awareness and trust in all audiences connect to easier opportunities to sell or customers who convert at a higher rate.

Media listening and analysis

I saved the broadest measurement of brand awareness value for last because it’s probably the most debated topic in brand marketing efforts. The question is, literally, just awareness: How many people did you make aware of what your company does?

This approach, inherently, doesn’t measure the subsequent actions. It’s the 50,000-foot view of awareness. Clearly, brands think they get value in throwing their name on the jerseys of soccer teams, the sides of Formula 1 cars, billboards, stadiums, or (at a smaller level) sponsoring conferences and events.

However, you can measure these big-picture efforts. Research tools and services allow marketers to measure consumer intelligence and sentiment. You also can monitor Google search volumes, social media trends, and even earned media mentions. These tools show the quantity and, in some cases, the quality of the impact of reaching them.

For example, a new brand might have an objective to “reach at least 25% of our total addressable market to increase recognition of our brand and what it means.” Among the key measurements to assess that objective:

  • Increase the Google search volume of the brand name and/or key benefit statement by X percent.
  • Create a disproportionate share of voice across social media of mentions or unsolicited opinions of the company’s key benefits or its thought leadership.
  • Create an effective CPM (cost-per-thousand) paid media strategy to efficiently reach your target market with the brand message.

Once again, correlating these metrics to revenue is tough. However, they could work as a key performance indicator (KPI) related to helping you achieve other objectives. For example, you may equate that reaching more people presents more opportunities to drive subscribers to build deeper trust. You may also conclude a broader, simpler reach helps establish your brand as a legitimate competitor in sales conversations.

Getting on base equals wins

In the end, measuring brand awareness as a valuable activity of marketing really requires connecting it to other measurements that benefit from its success.

To bring it back to baseball, it’s not unlike the real-life story played out in the movie Moneyball. The Oakland Athletics figured out – and ultimately agreed among team leadership – the metric of on-base percentage connected to wins better than just about any other metric. They couldn’t draw a direct line from on-base percentage to wins. However, they could use on-base percentage as a foundational measurement because it connected perfectly to an increased winning percentage.

Brand awareness is the “getting on base” of marketing. Of course, plenty of other things can happen that optimize or ruin your scoring chance after you’re on base. But you can’t score unless you get on base.

Batter up. It’s your story. Tell it well.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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