It isn’t easy being the CMO in any company. While each wave of marketing innovation creates new capabilities and possibilities for interacting with audiences, the same tide also brings a longer and more complicated list of expectations for proving the impact on the business. And nowhere is this paradox better illustrated than in the world of performance measurement.
Once upon a time, CMOs could easily divide their activities into two camps: those that could be clearly linked to the bottom line, and those that could not. In the measureable camp were direct-response campaigns, and in the intangible camp was everything else—including brand marketing.
But as the availability of granular user-level data increased, and new marketing measurement tools arose to analyse and utilise this information, the landscape changed. The more insights these advanced analytics platforms were able to provide about the impact of direct marketing efforts, the more others in the C-Suite—namely chief executives and financial officers—began to request a similar level of accountability for brand marketing campaigns.
So what can CMOs do to prove the value of their branding efforts to their C-level colleagues? While conventional measurement methods, such as brand surveys and reach analysis, may serve as good proxies for awareness, they do little when it comes to understanding consideration and purchase intent.
An engagement score, on the other hand, offers a much better way to understand future behaviours such as intention to buy. Based on actual user interactions with a brand, an engagement score offers new levels of brand marketing accountability by enabling marketers to quantify the impact of their branding efforts. Moreover, it can be calculated in just four steps:
Although they may not be directly attributable to concrete conversions—such as sales, orders, or leads—brand-building campaigns do inspire specific behaviours that can be measured. Engagement actions such as first-time website visits, video views, content downloads, and store locator searches are all strong indicators that a marketing message has sparked consumer interest. Whether they will result in a sale is uncertain, but identifying these pre-cursors to more desired downstream activities is a necessary first step for quantifying the impact of brand marketing campaigns.
While you may identify numerous brand engagement types, not all of these activities should be considered equal. For example, you may consider store locator searches to be three times more valuable to your brand than a first-time site visit. Therefore, it’s essential to assign weights to each type of brand engagement activity based on its relative importance to your business. Leveraging historical data that shows the conversion propensity of each activity, or the correlations between sales and engagement, is the ideal way to determine the appropriate weight for each brand engagement type.
Once your brand engagement activities have been identified and weighted, it’s necessary to determine how many times each brand engagement activity occurred over a defined look-back window. Look-back window refers to the time frame from media exposure to subsequent user action. While look-back periods will vary by organisation, a default 30-day look-back window is standard practice.
The final step is to calculate an overall engagement score, the single currency that can be used to measure and optimise brand media more effectively. Simply multiply the number of times each brand engagement activity occurred over your defined look-back period by its assigned weight, then add the resulting numbers to create a single engagement score metric. The higher the engagement score, the better your marketing channels and tactics are performing at driving brand engagement and positive brand lift. Moreover, increases in brand engagement scores should translate directly into increases in downstream metrics like sales.
While engagement scores will provide a clearer picture of branding performance, manual calculations are tedious, prone to human error, and don’t provide the granular-level insight needed to measure and optimise brand engagement.
For a truly accurate view of branding performance, more advanced measurement approaches must be utilised. These technologies not only save time by automating the engagement score calculation process, but are also able to fractionally assign credit to every touch point across all branding channels. The output is a clear understanding of the impact that each branding tactic has on driving brand engagement, and where to make changes at the channel, placement, keyword, and creative level in order to maximise brand lift.
If you’re a CMO looking for greater control over your branding efforts, following these steps will put you on the path to better measurement, better results, and better accountability with your C-suite peers.