7 Market Research Strategies for Measuring Brand Awareness

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    Guest Blogger

  • Published

    May, 07, 2024

  • Reading time

    9 min

Brand awareness is about how relevant, top of mind, and visible your brand is to your target market.

Its success is measured by the extent to which your potential customers recognize and recall your brand and their sentiments about it.

💡 Read Creating a Marketing Strategy that Works: Benefits, Steps, Tools

Brand awareness determines the strength of your market presence. The more familiar you are to your target audience and the more positively they receive you, the higher your sales potential.

This makes measuring it important. If you regularly track awareness, you make informed business decisions, particularly around the resources used for marketing.

But the question remains: How is awareness measured?

After reading this blog, you’ll have a clearer idea, as we’ll cover seven tried-and-true market research strategies for measuring brand awareness.

1. Surveys

Measuring brand awareness doesn’t need to be fancy. Sometimes, good old-fashioned customer surveys will do the trick.

Conducting surveys is typically a way to assess someone’s ability to recognize and recall your brand, among other options.

Dairy Queen survey incentive
Screenshot provided by the author

For a survey to work, you need to:

  • Clearly define who the survey is for (the target customer). You can start by outlining the key characteristics of a typical shopper (known as the buyer persona). Analyzing your current customers helps in this exercise.
  • Outline what you want to learn from the survey (such as brand recall, awareness, and sentiment).
  • Offer an incentive to encourage user participation (as seen in the Dairy Queen example above). 

These factors determine the questions to include in the survey and where/how to disseminate them.

Questions to ask in surveys

This nicely leads us to the questions themselves. You want to ask a mix of closed and open-ended questions. Here are some examples:

  • What are the first three brands you think of when you hear [insert industry or product category]?
  • How likely will you recommend [insert brand name] to your friends and family?
  • Can you name three brands that you associate with [insert product feature]?
  • Where would you check first if you wanted to purchase [insert product]?
  • When you think of [product type], which brand comes to mind first?
  • Which brands have you seen advertised in the past week?
  • Look at this list of creative logos. Tick the ones you recognize.
  • Describe your perception of [insert brand name].

Such questions help you gauge:

  • How well they recognize your brand against competitors.
  • Their ability to recall your brand from memory.
  • How they feel about your brand.

The options you provide are as important as the questions you choose. If you’re a local brand measuring awareness, don’t use national and international brands as the other options. You want to know how well you rank among local competitors!

2. Social Listening

Social listening involves tracking online brand mentions. Thankfully, you don’t have to do this manually. There are a variety of social media ‌monitoring websites, but (depending on your industry) could also include analysis of online forums and third-party review sites like Trustpilot.

Use tools like Determ, Hootsuite, Brandwatch, or Sprout Social to track how often your brand (and related hashtags and terms) are mentioned and the sentiment behind them.

Why is this helpful? It allows you to look at data beyond the numbers and understand the context and emotions behind the mentions. 

Knowing your brand was mentioned 1,000 times in the last 30 days is great, but how do you make decisions based on that data unless you understand why it was mentioned?

Whereas surveys help make strategic long-term decisions, social listening permits micro-decision-making. 

Let’s say customers complain about your brand on X (formerly Twitter). You can immediately respond to the tweets and turn that negative into a positive, thus fixing a bad online reputation, which humanizes your brand.

Brand mention search in X
On X, you can do a detailed brand mention search. (Screenshot provided by the author)

This approach strikes a good balance between extinguishing immediate concerns and making decisions at a broader level to ensure they never happen again.

3. Website Analytics

Your website has a wealth of data. Here are some key metrics to measure and why they matter:

  • Unique visitors and page views: These directly indicate how many people are exposed to your brand.
  • Time spent on a page: Going beyond simple click data, the time spent indicates how engaging they found your content.
  • Bounce rate: Someone landing on your website and immediately exiting could signal a relevance problem. Your SEO, ads, and social media messaging may be attracting the wrong people, or your website may not be user-friendly. You can investigate this.
  • Traffic sources: Understanding how people discover your website (be it social media or a Google search) offers insights into the fruits of your marketing efforts.

As useful as web analytics are for continual monitoring and refining of strategies, pay particular attention to how campaign and product launches impact the metrics, as it’ll help you understand its success.

Read 5 Overlooked B2B Market Research Techniques

4. Media Coverage Analysis

When a brand is featured in news articles, television segments, podcasts, or online publications, it gains significant exposure to a broader audience, often beyond its existing customer base.

Such coverage can rapidly amplify awareness of the brand.

Furthermore, media mentions can lend a brand’s legitimacy and prestige, as third-party validation is perceived as more trustworthy than self-promotion.

By monitoring the frequency, reach, and sentiment of media coverage, brands can assess how effectively they penetrate public consciousness and align with their target audience’s interests and needs. 

A screenshot of Determ's media monitoring tool
Image Source

To effectively monitor media mentions, you can use a media monitoring tool that does the heavy lifting for you.

Such tools:

  • Give you an understanding of the authority of the mentions, i.e., how much the mention matters, regardless of its sentiment/frequency.
  • Aggregate the data to help brands understand the volume, reach, and sentiment behind each mention. 
  • Track mentions across print, online, digital, and analog media outlets.

When you set benchmarks and compare media mention metrics over time (or against competitors), you can evaluate the effectiveness of your public relations strategies. 

From there, you can adjust your approaches to maximize positive media exposure and enhance brand awareness.

5. Third-party Market Research

Using different types of market research allows you to gain an impartial and broader perspective on brand awareness.

To complement your internal efforts, consider using third-party sources.

Third-party market research uses studies, reports, and data from external organizations, offering valuable insights that enrich a brand’s understanding of market trends.

These resources, such as industry reports, market analysis studies, consumer behavior research, and competitive intelligence, are typically conducted by specialized market research firms or industry analysts.

Market research strategy used for measuring brand awareness across different channels
Image Source

The benefits of incorporating third-party market research include:

  • Revealing new opportunities, uncovering industry benchmarks, and providing an objective basis for strategic decisions.
  • Saving time and resources needed to conduct similar studies in-house.
  • Accessing high-quality data collected through rigorous methodologies.
  • Benefiting from the expertise of research professionals.

When selecting and interpreting third-party research, it’s crucial to consider:

  • The relevance of the research to the brand’s specific context.
  • The date of publication (to ensure data is current).
  • The transparency of the research methodology.
  • The source’s credibility.

You should critically assess the findings, considering how they align with or differ from internal data and insights.

6. Brand Search Volume

The concept is similar to social listening and media monitoring, but this focuses on how often people actively seek information about your brand and its products/services using search engines.

The higher the search volume, the stronger the brand awareness and interest in doing business with the brand.

Semrush global search volume for Nike, marketing research strategy for measuring brand awareness
Screenshot provided by the author

Apps like Google Keyword Planner and Semrush offer to track the volume of search trends that matter to you over time. You can use this to see how awareness fluctuates in response to marketing efforts, campaign launches, and seasonal trends.

You can also dive deeper into search query data to uncover the context in which people search for your brand. Through this process, you can discover related topics or questions that might inform content strategy or product development.

By continuously monitoring and analyzing search volume trends, you can service actionable insights and make informed decisions to:

  • Enhance your marketing strategies
  • Drive business growth
  • Improve brand recall

7. Competitor Benchmarking

To understand your market position, use competitor benchmarking to evaluate your brand’s awareness relative to your competitors.

Competitive analysis helps identify a brand’s strengths and opportunities for improvement by comparing its performance to industry standards and competitors’ achievements.

Competitive analysis for market research strategies
Image Source

Methods for gathering comparative data include monitoring competitors’ mentions on social media, search engines, and in the media (much like how we’ve discussed measuring your own).

When interpreting benchmarking data, it’s crucial to look at quantitative metrics (such as social media followers) and qualitative aspects (such as brand sentiment).

This analysis should consider market trends, seasonal variations, and external factors affecting the industry to ensure a fair comparison.

The goal is to identify areas where competitors excel or lag, providing actionable insights to inform strategic decisions or to present competitive landscape slides to an audience.

Effectively using benchmarking data involves: 

  • Setting realistic goals based on the competitive landscape
  • Aligning strategies to leverage your unique strengths
  • Addressing areas where your brand falls short

Regularly revisiting this benchmarking exercise can help your brand stay competitive, adapt to market changes, and continuously improve its approach to building and maintaining brand awareness.

Wrapping up

Monitoring brand awareness isn’t a one-time effort. Think of it as a continuous activity critical for sustaining and growing your brand’s market presence and increasing market size.

Regularly tracking and analyzing various indicators of brand awareness allows you to stay attuned to the brand’s health, adapt to evolving market dynamics, and make informed strategic decisions. 

Tools and practices like those offered by Determ are one of invaluable market research strategies for measuring brand awareness. With our cutting-edge media monitoring and data analytics tools, you can effortlessly keep track of your and competitors’ brand mentions and adapt your strategies with precision.

Author Bio Jeremy is co-founder & CEO at uSERP, a digital PR and SEO agency working with brands like Monday, ActiveCampaign, Hotjar, and more. He also buys and builds SaaS companies like Wordable.io and writes for publications like Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal.

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