Measuring brand attachment in search marketing
Many articles have been written about the move from traditional non-ROI based marketing and advertising to more measurable forms such as search engine marketing (SEM) over the past two years, with the mantra being that if you don't start measuring your sales you will lose your budget.
This concept has driven SEM to the forefront of most marketers' minds as a way to spend their advertising dollars more effectively. However, for companies that do not primarily sell through their Web site and who direct their customers to their brick-and-mortar locations for sales, the shift to search has put a limit on their sites' worth. Many companies in this situation have struggled to find a way to put a value on their Web site traffic, and how to measure its subsequent effect on offline sales channels.
This problem is not an easy one to solve. Think about what you would say if your boss were to ask you, “How much money does our search program drive for us?” If you didn't have a direct sales channel that you could measure resulting from your search spend, how would you answer? What do you measure? How do you sell your company on spending more in search if you can't show direct returns?
The answer, although complicated, resides in the actions that your visitors take once you have gotten them to your site that reflect their attachment to your brand. These actions can be anything from the number of pages viewed, the time spent on the site, or incremental value actions such as signing up for e-mail newsletters, requesting information on your product or visiting various categories of pages that exist within the site that show an increased interest in your product.
Identifying the actions that you want a user to take is the simplest part of this equation. If you built your site with your customer in mind, you most likely have included facts, statistics, data, etc. that you believe are of importance to them. However, what many sites overlook is information that potential customers want to know before making a decision on whether or not to buy the product offline. If you can identify these items and then track their influence on your customers, you will have a measurement that can be utilized to show the value of any spend.
One way to do this is by identifying the important pages of the site, then adding a value score to each page. The assumption is that you can measure your audience engagement by tallying the value points.
For example, assume two visitors were driven to your site by different keywords in a paid search campaign. Visitor No. 1 comes to the site and views the landing page that you placed for the ad. He then visits two pages of the site about the company's status as a “green” organization and its commitment to giving back to the community.
Visitor number two comes to the site and views a page on how your product is produced, then goes to a page on the materials used to create the product, followed by a page with customer testimonials and finally to a page that talks about where she can buy the product.
Which of these two visitors is more valuable to you and your brand? Does one of them have a higher likelihood of buying your product offline? If you can answer these questions for these two visitors, then you can answer them for every visitor to your site. This insight will enable you to manage your marketing campaigns, driving the actions that you feel have a higher value.
You can then begin to test and track these variables against your offline sales reports to see if you can make assumptions as to whether or not your online marketing is driving more customers to purchase your products.