Just saying Hello or Trying to Be the Life of the Party?

By Nathan Janitz, Program Supervisor

I was in a meeting recently discussing Direct Response vs. Brand Awareness KPI’s. When discussing increasing Brand Awareness of a product, the statement was made, “We need to focus on more engagement based metrics.” My first thought was, “I thought we were talking Brand Awareness.” Then I realized that, like a lot of people I run into, they thought that the strategies surrounding Awareness and Engagement were one in the same. Guess what …they are DIFFERENT.

Since the debate over how to measure engagement is very well documented within the industry, I’m not going to go into the argument. My goal is to explain the difference in strategies.

I’ll start with a story to illustrate the difference between Awareness and Engagement; last weekend one of my closest friends turned 30, and like a good friend, I drove down to Louisville for the occasion. I only knew 2 other people going into the weekend. During the evening, I met at least 30 to 40 new people (counting the waiters and bar tenders).

If you count all of the people in the bar that I passed by, made eye contact with, bumped into, etc., then you can say that I made an “Impression” on even more (OK, that was WAY cheese…but it does emphasis a point). I interacted with dozens of people that night ….90% of which forgot that I existed ½ second after we “met.” Even out of the handful of people I actually had more than a 3 word conversation with, I’m sure only about 5 to 7 of them actually remember me (we can measure that by how many LinkedIn invitations are accepted).

The moral of the story is, just because you have an “impression” doesn’t mean you were engaged with the person….even if all signs say you should have been. Just because I said ‘hi’, shook someone’s hand, and talked for a few minutes doesn’t mean that I will remember them (ditto for the other person).

Ok, back to strategy. Some brands need to be introduced to the world while others need to control the conversation. Basically:

  • Awareness = Saying “hello” in enough places that people start to recognize you
  • Engagement = saying something long enough and interesting enough for people to remember you
While measuring impressions and clicks are great KPIs, remember that you are just saying hello. Awareness campaigns are built around that exact mentality: say hello to as many people as might be interested. This is a great strategy for new brands or products but please be careful because that the strategy is limited. Unless you can measure how people perceive your brand’s “hello” you can’t call it engagement.

Measuring the “conversation” or “engagement” of a campaign isn’t easy because it involves interpreting user intention and emotion with data. By using bounce rate, success events like email signups, time-on-site, and pages per visit, a brand can start to measure how effective it’s advertising/content is at maintaining the customer’s attention. Both strategies are highly effective given the goals of the brand…and thus the search campaign.

At the end of the day if you are looking at the wrong KPIs, you are going to spend a lot of money and time accomplishing nothing. Pick the right strategy, use the right terminology, and look at the right KPIs……do you want to say “Hello I’m Brand X and I’m New” and be recognized or do you want to be remembered as the life of the party. Both are highly effective at driving sales…if you are managing to the right KPIs.


CJeffCampbell said...

Very engaging post, Nate ;)

You mentioned consideration KPIs, here are a few potential "Awareness" KPIs: Share of Voice (from ComScore, Nielson, MSFT AdIntel), Impressions volume, & CPM (yes, with PPC)...among others depending on goals.

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