How much of your website traffic is branded? In other words, how many visitors to your website already knew you existed? And, perhaps more importantly, how many didn’t? If your spending big bucks on awareness campaigns both on and off-line, the effect will be measurable in your website analytics.
You just need to know where to look.
How To Calculate Brand Engagement
To calculate the effect your branding efforts are having on your website traffic we will use a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) called Percent Brand Engagement. Here’s the formula:
branded search visits + direct visits / all search visits + direct visits
First, a few definitions:
- Search visits – Any website visit originating from a search term typed into a search engine such as Google or Bing.
- Branded search visits – Any search visit originating from a branded search term. These visitors have typed some variation of your brand(s) into the search engine indicating that your branding has influenced them.
- Direct visits – Any visit that resulted from a visitor typing your exact URL into a web browser or using a browser bookmark. These visitors have typed (or bookmarked) your URL into their web browser indicating that your branding has influenced them.
As an example, Salesforce is known (among other things) for its world-class Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. As a result, in our website analytics we might see visits from search engines on terms like:
- Salesforce (branded search term)
- CRM (non-branded search term)
- Salesforce CRM (branded search term)
The first is an example of a branded search term because it includes the brand name, Salesforce. The second is an example of an unbranded search term describing a type of product, CRM. The third search term, Salesforce CRM, is categorized as a branded search term as well because the intent is to find a particular brand of CRM system.
Filling in the formula
Choose a time period in your website analytics tool of choice. Perhaps you would like an overall view of your brand engagement over the last fiscal year. Or, you may be interested in comparing brand engagement from the 1st quarter (when you ran a big ad campaign) to the brand engagement in the 2nd quarter.
Use your web analytics tool to fill in the variables in the formula. Here’s what it might look like for Salesforce,
- All search visits: 100,000
- Branded search visits: 30,000
- Direct visits: 20,000
As a result, the Salesforce formula would look like this,
30,000 + 20,000 / 100,000 + 20,000 = .42
The closer your resulting number is to ‘1’ the more reliant your website traffic is on your brand. The closer the number is to ‘0’ the less impact your brand is having on website visits.
You would, for example, expect this number to increase towards ‘1’ if you ran a big print ad campaign or made a large buy on television advertising.
Keep these in mind when measuring branding
As with all metrics, the numbers require interpretation and aren’t perfect. Here are some best practices when using this KPI to accurately measure brand engagement on your website.
- Exclude all that pesky traffic from your own offices or visitors that you’re not interested in measuring
- Communicate the details of big branding initiatives with your web analytics team so they can better measure the effect
- In your off-line advertising, use calls-to-action that drive visitors to your website
The real value of this exercise is to begin thinking of your direct and branded search visits differently from other visits. You can see how easily you could use this type of metric to determine the effect of your branding on sales, subscribers or other goals your website may have.
But above all, use this measurement to compare brand engagement over periods of time. Remember that insights are rarely gained without looking at trends over time.