When you hear the phrase “brand tracking,” what comes to mind — A vital piece of your marketing strategy? A useless and expensive endeavor? A gigantic headache?
Many brand managers struggle with accurately tracking their brand activity, having previously used subpar tools or gut feelings alone to decide how well a brand campaign performs. And with ever-increasing importance placed on data-driven marketing decisions, it can be all too easy to fall behind.
But that doesn’t have to be the case — modern, easy-to-use brand tracking tools that present a realistic solution to your brand performance nightmare are emerging onto the scene. And we’ll explore them thoroughly in this article.
No matter where you currently stand on the importance or viability of brand tracking, we’re confident that when you’re done reading, you’ll better grasp not only the concept of brand tracking but also how important it is to your overall marketing strategy.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into all things brand tracking!
What is Brand Tracking?
In short, brand tracking is the continuous monitoring of your brand’s health over a period of time. It provides a means to understand what your target audiences think of your brand and how they respond to your brand messaging.
But brand tracking provides more than just data on consumer response to your brand — it allows you to compare your brand performance across markets, track competitor brands, identify new audiences or areas to focus on, and even pinpoint ones that aren’t working out.
In the past, brand performance has been somewhat tricky to quantify accurately. However, with the right tools and KPIs now available, it’s 100% possible (and highly advised) to easily track your brand health and performance.
What are Your Brand Tracking Options?
Though brand tracking software definitely provides the most reliable and comprehensive data, there are other options to consider, such as DIY surveys and social listening.
Setting up DIY surveys with software like SurveyMonkey or Google Surveys is an easy, low-cost way to track general brand performance. While it’s more labor-intensive for the brand manager (as they have to set up and write the survey themselves), they can gather relatively insightful data with the right questions and a large enough sample size.
However, many brand managers aren’t 100% equipped to translate brand goals into insightful survey questions that will elicit the right kind of response. Plus, with arguably less control over question customization and how segmented your audiences can be, the data may not be as helpful as you’d like.
Brands that need more precise, reliable data that provides better quality insights should consider advanced brand tracking software.
Social listening allows brands to track online mentions, analyze consumers’ perceptions, and even respond to conversations. When fed with relevant brand keywords identified via keyword research, social listening software will monitor and analyze online discussions that mention your brand and sort all data into three categories: positive, negative, and neutral sentiments.
Though using social listening software is straightforward and provides loads of data, it’s important to note that what’s gathered only represents a tiny portion of the population. The Nielsen Norman Group reports that only 1% of online users actively contribute, with a staggering 90% simply lurking and the remaining 9% contributing a little to online communities. Therefore, market research indicates that the insights obtained from social listening tools cannot be relied upon for a high level of accuracy.
However, for smaller brands that cannot spend the time and money on more advanced brand tracking software, social listening tools can serve as an excellent in-between solution.
Advanced Brand Tracking Software
The data that advanced brand tracking software supplies is invaluable to building a solid brand marketing strategy and uniquely equips brand managers to succeed.
When looking for the correct brand tracking tool, consider your short-term and long-term branding goals, available budget, and overall needs to pinpoint which option makes the most sense for your brand. Different brand tracking solutions offer varied usability and features, so make sure you explore every facet of each tools’ offerings.
There are a few great solutions available on the market for brands that desire reliable, accurate brand tracking data. Download our comprehensive brand tracking ebook to gain a more detailed overview of our brand tracking solution and see if it’s the right option for you and your team.
Why is Brand Tracking So Important?
Now that we’re all on the same page about what brand tracking is, let’s jump into why it’s so essential for a robust marketing strategy.
Other marketing managers have access to a plethora of tools within your average marketing team — such as Google Analytics, Ahrefs, or SEMRush — which they use to precisely quantify their marketing efforts. Such software allows them to accurately plan, analyze, and justify their marketing campaigns, leaving little room for guesswork.
On the other hand, brand managers are often left with little more than gut feelings and crossed fingers when it comes to tracking their brand campaign efforts, making it increasingly difficult to justify budgets and time spent on brand marketing.
That’s where brand tracking tools come in handy. In addition to helping you learn about your overall brand health, brand tracking tools also:
1. Provide Solid Data for an Abstract Activity
As many brand managers will tell you, accurately tracking brand campaigns and brand marketing efforts can be a study in frustration. Unlike other marketing campaigns, branding efforts can prove challenging to quantify.
However, when you use a tool designed to track your brand’s overall health and performance, you’ll be able to better understand your brand equity and performance through the use of reliable data.
2. Allow You To Track Target Audiences
When creating brand messaging and campaigns, it’s essential to identify, define, and craft communication for your specific target audiences. Why waste money trying to advertise to the general population when you can speak directly to the consumers who are most interested in your brand?
Brand tracking software allows you to not only define your niche target audiences but also collect data on how they’re responding to your brand messaging. This data can be further segmented by audience attributes to generate more nuanced insights, helping brand managers refine future brand marketing communications.
3. Prove Brand Activities are Worth their Budget
With actual data that allows you to quantify Return on Investment (ROI), you’ll be able to prove that the brand marketing budget is going to a worthy cause.
Instead of guessing if the latest uptick in traffic can be attributed to your most recent brand campaign, brand tracking allows you to accurately measure your brand campaign performance and overall success.
4. Allow You to Track Vital KPIs
Brand tracking makes it easy to track core KPIs such as brand awareness, brand perception, brand consideration, brand associations, brand usage, and more. This data allows brand managers to understand how target audiences feel about their brand — their general knowledge, preferences, and use habits.
Some brand tracking tools also allow for KPI tracking customization, making it possible for brands to monitor the key metrics that actually matter to their marketing strategy. With this kind of data on hand, brand managers can derive meaningful insights that make it easier to efficiently communicate with target audiences and prove brand campaign effectiveness to management.
5. Allow You to Track Your Competitors
Many brand tracking tools also allow you to monitor the performance of your top competitors, making it easier to see where you’re over- or underperforming.
With reliable data on how well the competition is appealing to your target audiences, you can plan better, more effective brand campaigns and work on increasing brand loyalty.
What Can You Do With Your Brand Tracking Data?
Now that you understand the “why” and “what” of brand tracking, it begs the question: What should I do with my shiny, new brand tracking data?
First, you’ll want to spend some time analyzing your data and identifying critical insights. To do this, you can ask yourself the following types of questions:
Is there anything new or unexpected within the data that you didn't know about your brand?
For example, when we surveyed the US general population, it became clear that although beauty brand Sephora boasts high brand usage from female millennials (41.47%), a surprising 24% of men reported usage as well.
As Sephora sells a wide variety of makeup, haircare, and skincare products, for years, many traditionally considered it a “women’s brand.” However, as times change and gender norms evolve, more men have become comfortable using products from stores like Sephora.
With this kind of data at hand, it’s clear that Sephora brand managers were able to spot opportunities for growth into new target audiences, with holiday campaigns back in 2017 that starred both men and women.
Source: Glamour Magazine
Which audiences are the most aware of my brand and would consider using my brand over the competition?
When considering the general population in the US, we found that the apparel company Free People has its highest level of brand consideration with rural-based females aged 26-35. This means that they are most likely to consider purchasing from this brand compared to all other age groups and genders surveyed.
On the other hand, urban-based men aged 56-65 have the lowest brand consideration for Free People. Based on their advertising visuals and offered products, it’s quite clear that Free People knows precisely who their strongest target audience is.
Source: Free People
What are the strong audiences for your brand? What are the weak ones?
When looking at the online marketplace Etsy, we found that — while it generally performs well with women of all education levels and locations — their strongest audience is females aged 36-45, living in rural areas with a high education level.
Alternatively, Etsy’s weakest audience is urban males aged 18-35 with a low level of education. With this knowledge, a company like Etsy is aware of who will be most receptive to their branding efforts and where their trouble areas are. Depending on their overall marketing strategy, brand campaigns can be targeted to traditionally strong audiences or tested on weaker ones to see if they could gain a foothold.
Asking yourself these types of questions makes it possible to better analyze and interpret your data — which will, in turn, allow you to identify important brand insights and make a plan for actionable steps to grow your brand.
While brand tracking may seem tricky, we hope you’ll agree that with the correct tools and a better understanding of how it fits into your overall marketing strategy, brand tracking is easy to set up and well worth the effort.
While methods such as DIY surveys and social listening tools can be somewhat helpful, companies that require detailed, nuanced insights into their brand performance need to invest in an advanced brand tracking solution. And remember — with more reliable data, you’re sure to make better marketing decisions.