When consumers choose to make a purchase, they can generally choose from a range of options and alternatives. Brand Performance is about making them choose your product in a world of plenty.
Emotional and rational
In his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman describes how the human mind is constantly making “rational” decisions that are in fact deeply rooted in emotional bias and opinions. In a commercial context, customers are constantly bombarded with messaging about price and functionality - but decisions are more often than not driven by the emotional connections we have with brands. Context, values and image plays a massive role in creating the deep rooted (“Slow”) basis for snap decision making (“fast”). It’s what enables us to choose Nike sneakers over Adidas without hesitation, feel good about the decision and somehow rationalize that it’s a better shoe.
Since these deeper, underlying emotions govern so much of our decision making, why do marketing metrics focus predominantly on harder metrics like conversions, sales or customer acquisitions? Soft metrics like likeability, association or emotion are both harder to capture and difficult to attribute to performance.
The KPI’s that matter
Consider the following scenario: Your campaign is live. The strategy is great, the creatives are crisp and the distribution budget is massive. Great!
But something is wrong. You’re not getting the sign ups / downloads / engagement / sales you set as goals and the ads you are running aren’t seen by the audience you outlined in the brief.
Let’s assume there’s nothing technical preventing your messaging from getting out there. Looking at metrics like impressions and bounce rates will (should) tell you something about the quality of traffic to your properties, but beyond that its anybody’s guess why the campaign is underperforming.
Most of the traditional marketing approach: Attention, Interest, Desire Action is influenced by factors outside the Key Performance Indicators most widely used to measure success.
If we measure the wrong parameters, we are wasting valuable time and money.
Brand + Performance
What metrics should we use to assign a brand value? How do we quantify the “slow” relationships we must cultivate to drive the “fast” decisions of our customers? Think about your favorite band or musician.
Record sales are not a good indicator of a band's performance when it comes to keeping an audience entertained live or the loyalty of their fans. It’s absolutely a metric of the commercial success of the release, but says nothing about what kind of following the band has or the zealousness of their fans.
The complexity of brand performance can be reduced by adding some new KPIs to your marketing and then analyzing how well you create engagement. The magic sauce however is your ability to identify the most important factor for you and then build from there.
Here are some examples of the “soft” metrics that can help you:
The time spent on your website, app or property is a good place to start. We are very much living in an attention economy and the measurement of time is a good indicator of how your messaging and presentation resonates with consumers.
If the focus of your marketing efforts are limited to hard metrics, you are potentially missing out on a lot of customer feedback. By creating multiple parameters for interaction you can learn a lot from your customers. Here are few examples:
Read depth / Scrolling
Sign ups / downloads
Dwell time inview / in screen
Simple feedback emoticons
Click-outs to content / sites you link to or refer to
Pages per visit
Number of followers, reactions on posts and Net Promoter Score measurements tell you about the attention, sentiment and general attitudes to your brand. In sum they give you an idea of the Engagement you create and your impact on your followers.
A loyal audience that is maintained and cultivated will become fans and ambassadors for your brand. This increases the lifetime value of your customer relationships and enables you to build your following and create a community around your brand.
The term “Brand Performance” is the sum of the hard / fast metrics of conversions and sales and the soft / slow metrics of brand loyalty and emotional connection.
From purpose to purchase
The canon on purpose driven marketing is long and plentiful. If you don’t have the time or energy to pick up a book on the subject, I suggest you watch this. However, purpose and values are just the beginning. Understanding the following is key to creating engagement:
- What problem does your product solve for it’s buyers?
- When do your audience start thinking about this problem?
- How many people have the same problem?
With these simple topics in mind you should relatively quickly be able to say something about the unique qualities of your solution, what channels and context that are relevant to your audience and what channels and formats you can use to create engagement. The answers to these questions form the foundation of your marketing strategy.
From strategic to operational marketing
At the heart of successful brand performance lies creating engagement, and the key to engagement is a feeling of belonging. Affiliation is a human instinct that is both powerful and fundamental. It promotes well being and a feeling of security, stability and community. The drivers of engagement are not pricing or discounts, they are purpose and relevance. Your message must resonate with my values to get my attention - otherwise I will look elsewhere.
Brand performance starts with what matters to your consumers.
From here on the sky's the limit. By focusing not on the quick and hard metrics of purchases or conversions but Brand Performance, your marketing will work to build a long term competitive advantage. Remember: Brand recognition, affiliation and equity are in the eyes of the consumer. Focusing on your customers perspective and needs will give you lasting emotional connections and over time give your advertising more impact and effect.