Originally published on August 5, 2011 and continues to be relevant. Enjoy!

As a service provider, we often have clients ask us to help them “increase awareness.” As one of the people responsible for wrapping this often undefined goal in some metrics, I’ve had to figure out what this really means. Often clients aren’t able to distill this goal down into something measurable. But, to gauge our effectiveness, it’s critical that we work together to do so. I’ll attempt to reveal some of the measures that CAN be used. However, as with all things like this, before adopting them for your awareness metrics, make sure these are really measuring what your specific goals are.

When speaking of “awareness” what we usually mean is brand awareness. We want people to think of us when doing something related to our cause, our company, or our product. When defined in this way, it becomes a little clearer what things are important to measure.

Visitor Metrics

When measuring brand awareness, the most obvious metrics to track are visits and visitors. You want to see these numbers going up as you work to increase awareness. Pay attention not only to visits but also to unique visitors. One unique visitor can trigger several visits so you want to make sure the number of unique visitors is increasing.

Along these same lines, you’ll want to take a look at your traffic mix and ensure that the percentage of new visitors is increasing. If the percentage isn’t increasing, but the number of unique visitors is, that’s also a good sign – especially if you already have a high percentage of new visitors. The importance of new visitors is even more important if you’re running a PPC campaign. You want to make sure that you’re not simply attracting the same people over and over again.

Engagement Metrics

To ensure that the traffic you’re driving to your site is valuable, you’ll want to measure some elements of engagement. Pay attention to bounce rate here, especially of your important pages. Again, this is even more important if you’re paying for traffic. You never want to buy a visit that results in a bounce.

You’ll also want to take a look at time on site and pages per visit. These two metrics give you an indication of how much the visitor looked around on the site. Remember, bounces aren’t calculated in these values. Someone who bounces will have a time on-site of zero seconds – even if they read your page for 5 minutes. That’s why it’s really important to have clear paths “paved” for visitors so that they click into other areas of your site to learn more.

If you’re trying to build up brand loyalty and you have content that changes often or a reason for visitors to come back, you’ll also want to look at frequency and recency. In other words, you’ll want to see how many times people come back to your site and how many days lapse between their visits. Most people aren’t too concerned about this but I did want to mention these two often-overlooked metrics.

Search Metrics

If you’re building brand awareness and have identified some specific keywords that you’re trying to optimize, it’s important that you measure the effectiveness of those keywords. Simply view the organic keyword list and see if traffic from your specific keywords is increasing.

You’ll also want take a look at branded searches. How many visitors found you by searching for your brand, product, or cause? If that traffic is increasing, you’re doing a good job of increasing your awareness.

Social Metrics

Finally, a large part of today’s awareness campaigns comes from social referrals. How many times did you get mentioned or shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

For this number, just check out the traffic sources report and look for Facebook.com, twitter.com, etc. Obviously, the more you’re present and participating in these social networks, the more referrals you’ll get. If you don’t yet have a presence on twitter and/or Facebook, you should really consider them, as they are great tools for helping to raise awareness.

Clear as a Bell Summary

Awareness can be a tricky thing to measure so it’s important that you define exactly what “awareness” means. Typically though, measuring your efforts through a mixture of visitor metrics, engagement metrics, search traffic analysis, and social mentions should help you get a handle on how effective you are with your awareness campaign.

Is your website raising the level of awareness that you want? If not, we can help you use your website to its maximum potential.

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