How To Measure Brand Authority For Performance Metrics

Measure Brand Authority

The idea of brand authority is so elusive that it’s sometimes hard to know how to measure it. One way to calculate brand authority is to look at the tactical results of brand content.

But brand authority needs more strategic measurement. Indirect metrics may often be better to tell if a brand has authority.

Let’s look at brand authority more from a distance. What do we want to achieve from acquiring brand authority? Do we seek more level of trust from customers? Or more respect, and status as an industry leader? More comments on our thought-leadership content? More mentions in the press? More backlinks … or more quotations created out of our thoughts?

There is also a more interesting angle to brand authority. Things that seem counterproductive to your business may give you better brand authority.

For example, confidence in giving away some of your brand secrets could be a form of brand authority. Or confidence in hiding what’s special about you may also add to brand authority. It’s a complex conundrum but not unsolvable …

Contents ...

To find a special gift waiting for you on this page, click the button below to take a peek, before you read on … 

Why should you regularly measure your digital brand authority?

It’s an axiom in marketing that if you can set a goal, there must be a way to measure if you are achieving it. Otherwise, goals remain wishful thinking.
Some goals are simple to measure because they involve straightforward calculations. Some other goals are more top-level than others (like brand authority). They depend on disparate factors to see if they are working.

"Buyers are looking for trust. They want to feel confident they can trust the brand they're doing business with. Brand authority will matter now more than ever. It comes from centering your company around people, and painting them as authoritative experts in their field. The more customers that can relate to your brand as trustworthy people who know what they’re doing, the faster your business will grow."

Brand authority is not a fancy metric. It is the foundation of a brand’s presence and performance. If a brand builds authority, it implies many things: trust, loyalty, followership, customer bonding, industry recognition, expertise, experience, being at the top of the heap, setting the standards …
Most small brands think worrying about brand authority should come later. The more important initial things to go after are traffic generation, conversions, or sales. But, if brand authority is the only goal a small brand has, it would do very well for itself on all other counts.
In the digital sphere, trust is the basis of all success, monetary or otherwise. Without trust, there is no digital business. And without brand authority build-up, there is no trust.
ShaDrena Simon

"What's the one thing separates successful digital marketing initiatives from those that seem never to deliver a significant ROI? Brand authority. You can increase the level of trust your client (and potential) base has in your business with brand authority. With the right mix of online brand building strategies, you can then carry your company to its next growth target."

The 8 ways to measure strong brand authority despite its complexity

Here is my list of 8 indirect but invaluable ways to measure your digital brand authority. It’s a plan I have used for several clients to their satisfaction.
(Please use this infographic with credits intact.)

1. Industry-specific keywords used in connection with your brand

Some keywords may be significant to your niche or industry as a whole. Are you a specific brand searched for in Google with those keywords? If yes, you are scoring on brand authority.

Let’s take an example. Many brands may cater to fitness watches and fewer to runners’ watches. There may even be some huge electronics and digital brands in this space.

But are people Googling specifically for “Garmin’s runner watches”? If yes, a clear link exists between Garmin and runners’ watches. Garmin’s USP is runners’ watches. So this type of specific online search underscores Garmin’s brand authority.

There must be the desired search for a brand-related unique result. It then is a clear example of “industry-specific keywords used for your brand.”

A great example of collections of thousands of industry-specific keywords ...

Wordstream has one of the popular keyword research tools, but they’ve gone one step further to bring you collections of thousands of keywords that may be specific to various industries. At least 100 different sectors or business areas are covered in these collections, which you can receive by email. 

Here’s a quick sampler of the first twenty-five business spheres for which they have banks of industry-specific keywords. 

Wordstream's Industry-specific Keywords Collections

2. Brand awareness, branded searches, branded impressions

You’d want to measure brand awareness per se as an important component of brand authority. But what’s the best way to know if you have enough brand awareness to escalate into brand authority?

Brand name searches on Google or other search engines could be one way to know if your name recognition has hit some highs. For example, let’s say you’re running a business called “Athletica” sportswear. Are people searching for “Athletica” (but not for sportswear) … yet the search returns your brand among the top rankers on sportswear? Your brand has earned authority in its niche.

It may help to dig deeper into analytics. See how many branded searches you got as against non-branded searches. Or check the volumes of brand searches you racked up against your own marketing goals.

What if people search for “sportswear” and Athletica is among the results? That, too, is a good score of brand authority. You can count it as a brand impression.

A great example of how to improve your branded search optimization ...

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media, the SEO guru, has a great tutorial video on YouTube that explains precisely why and how to optimize your site for Branded Search Queries. As Andy says, “Most SEOs focus on information and transaction intent key phrases. But what about the brand-related keyphrases? Even expert search engine optimization pros often miss these.” His seven-step exercise teaches you the fastest, easiest, most effective search optimization, affecting branding, local SEO, traffic, and reputation. 

Watch the video below and absorb every word because it comes from one who knows the game. Andy believes you have a right to rank for every phrase that includes your brand name. You should claim that right. 

3. Big compelling ideas mushrooming regularly from your brand

Many of us in content marketing may know of the “Skyscraper Technique” of Brian Dean (of Backlinko). He got a simple idea after reading the book “Contagious” by Jonah Berger. The book said if you want your blog posts for business to go viral, they must be “awe-inspiring.” That’s what people like to share or link to.

Brian cottoned on to the concept fast and began building “expanded lists posts.” There were the classic listicles like “10 ways to do this” or “8 ways to avoid that.” But he expanded each of the sub-points to include several sub-sub-points. In other words, he packed more into each article than the competition ever had.

He believed in building topics that are “an inch wide and a mile deep high than an inch high and a mile wide.” When it started working, he called his proprietary framework the “Skyscraper technique.” Amidst competitive blog posts two stories high, why not build a blog post that would be 35 stories high?

Brian Dean’s brand authority galloped. Millions of marketers started referring to all long-form content marketing examples as “skyscrapers.” Brian’s brand authority has since arrogated many more “coined ideas” unique to him. He has created his own “genres” of online writing.

A great example of an opinion that challenges Brian Dean's Skyscraper Technique ...

Ross Hudgens is the CEO of Seige Media and he has an contra-opinion to Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique. He has an article titled, “When the Skyscraper Technique Comes Up Short”. But as you’ll notice in the video attached to the article, Ross doesn’t quite trash the Skyscraper Technique. He suggests that it has its uses, but it’s now the time to try another framework that he calls the “2X Content vs. 10X Content”. See the video below if you agree with his point of view …

… but I hope you’ll also notice that the Skyscraper Technique of Brian Dean has done (and continues to do) its job of getting Brian Dean spoken about! Ross may have a better plan, but his framework would only make sense with the comparison with Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique! That’s the power of a branded proprietary framework!

4. Media coverage, mentions, share of voice, message pull-throughs

Media mentions are a good reflection of brand-and-customer trust … because reputed opinion-makers are showing esteem for your brand. Marketers often ask: can we ask for media mentions for brand authority? Or do they have to be spontaneous without any press releases to the media?

Organic brand mentions in the media are of a higher value to brand authority. They are better than seeding the media with press releases. But even so, the media’s readiness to mention your brand signals interest. They believe it would add value to their reading public. So that too is a brownie point earned.

Within the ambit of media coverage, we can analyze various factors of brand authority. Your brand authority is good if the media pulls through your press releases in volumes. The share of voice your brand has in the media versus competition also helps.

A question people often ask is whether all media is good. What about media that is not as flattering to your brand as you’d want? What if you get a mention among a list of brands that you don’t want to belong with. Well, media coverage is a double-edged sword. It can work in your favor or against you. A little self-promotion is good. Too much of it backfires. Use media coverage to learn how much push works and how much it doesn’t.

A great example of how a brand created news to grab the press ...

To answer the question of whether it’s okay to invent newsworthy moments to use press releases for, one brand Modcloth decided to forget Black Friday deals to give its staff a break –but it simultaneously also included a small charity initiative for the day. Not much of significant news, you’d say? But their press release twists the story in the headline and makes it intriguing enough …

Creating a “cause” like feel to their missing out on Black Friday for deals, they even had a hashtag to match on social media as #BlackFridayBreakup!

Modcloth Press Release

To find a special gift waiting for you on this page, click the button below to take a peek, before you read on … 

5. Online listening as a form of brand authority insight extraction

Online listening is rather different than monitoring social activity … or responding to the people who engage with your brand online. Sprout Social says it helps if you analyze conversations and trends happening. Listen beyond your brand, about your industry as a whole. You needn’t be a participant. But you can use insights gained from listening to make better marketing decisions or take better marketing efforts.

Good online listening helps you understand what people are saying about your brand. You also understand why, where, and how these conversations are happening.

There is a great audience insights tool for this called “Sparktoro” from Rand Fishkin. You type in your brand authority keywords and see what the social media channels, social media posts or forums are “also talking about”. You can see the correlation between discussions that interest your brand … and other topics that interest the same audience. You may be able to see how new concepts get associated with your brand authority as a result of customer experiences.

Online listening on social media networks also helps you get to the core of what people think of your brand. It helps you optimize campaigns, improve content strategy, and outpace competitive messaging.

A great example of how Sparktoro works for social listening ...

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that Sparktoro is an excellent tool for brand name listening. Here’s how it works. Type in a keyword (your brand name?) that you want to know what your audience is saying … Sparktoro will tell you exactly how many people are talking about it, what the audience is explicitly saying about your brand, where this audience hangs out, what else they are interested in following or engaging with online, and what they usually watch, listen to or read …

Sparktoro is free to use for a trial, so go ahead … test it out!

Sparktoro Screenshot

6. Analyzing web traffic, blog traffic, blog conversions, backlinks

To see how target audiences are appreciative of our brand authority, our blog and web traffic data help. For starters, are we getting the traffic we want or the traffic that is useless to us?

For brand awareness, quantity matters more than quality of traffic, conversions, and engagement. But for brand authority, the traffic quality and site usage depth are worth a keener study.

On the quality of traffic, we must be able to cream the top percentile of the audiences we covet. How are we then converting that traffic into subscribers and loyal audiences on our mailing lists? Are we aiming to build people we convert into potential customers, loyal customers, and brand ambassadors? These are the questions to ask.

Remember, people don’t always have to buy from you to become sold on you … and only after that recommend you to their friends and networks. Even non-buyers who think your brand authority is high may like to promote your brand. They may want to imply familiarity with your brand because it also rubs off on their authority.

A great example of how a brand built its brand via its About Page ...

Having an unusual brand name has excellent advantages. We have so many coined words as famous brand names now, including Yahoo, Google, and Bing. But when Cotopaxi, a brand making travel and outdoor gear for trekkers, chose to name itself after a famous volcano in its native mountain ranges (the Cotopaxi volcano in the Andes), it used its About Page to heighten the mystique of its brand name.

The brand always was, and still is, all about sustainability, hence its tagline of “Gear For Good.”

Cotopaxi's About Page

7. Social reach, influence, referrals, hashtag usage with brand

It’s easier to judge brand authority with honest feedback from social media. Social reach, social counts, social engagement, referrals, and conversions … all these are suitable parameters to measure. They offer small but significant signals of growing brand authority.

One crucial area of social media to watch is the use of hashtags along with your brand mentions. Let’s take an example. Let’s say you have a restaurant for Italian food. When people share tweets or social posts about your restaurant, what hashtags do they tend to use? Do they restrict themselves to your brand name and type of food or one or two of your best dishes? Or do they have “descriptor” hashtags that add something about your reputation?

Would it not make a big difference if the hashtags were like “#PastaPlace” #italianoriginals #ReeseWitherspoonFavorite” … versus “#PastaPlace” #italianbestsellers #6minutetakeaway”? Who eats there as a hashtag could have a brand authority rub off. In contrast, the food and speed of service may not be as significant for brand authority building.

Remember, people don’t always give you their “hashtags” (though, if they do, it’s excellent!). But you could also seed ideas by hashtagging brand posts with names of celeb patrons – or other social proof. If you get a great hashtag that can work for your brand authority long-term, be sure to trademark it.

A great example of how hashtags can become a farce if you aren't careful ...

Especially on Instagram, the mania for using as many hashtags as possible has spun out some hilarious memes and videos. In the video below (from the Tonight Show), Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake show you what a hashtag-filled conversation would sound like when spoken instead of written as text. Remember this when you’re next tempted to crowd your brand’s posts with a crazy number of hashtags …

Watch this video and see how ridiculous we all would sound if we spoke as we wrote on social media … are we going crazy? Save your brand from this disease!

8. "Tribal subscription marketing" – followings for your opinions

Customer surveys are invaluable tools of direct feedback from the people who matter. You can capture what they have to say about your brand authority before and after profitable customer actions. The words they use to describe your authority factors can be a fascinating exercise.

The Financial Times discovered people could be ardent followers of your brand’s thought-leadership. They may be willing to follow you and hold you in high esteem for your opinions, as much as your business values. “Thought-leadership following” has become an essential criterion for measuring brand authority. It’s referred to as “tribal subscription marketing strategy.”

Pursuing this idea, FT launched a new plan. The aim was to inspire business leaders to think about “responsible capitalism.” Articles included the theme … “the future of free enterprise and wealth creation by pursuing profit with purpose.”

Thought-leadership content, more than other types of content, by the purpose it espouses, can rally “tribal subscription.” Subscribers appear to gain from and give back to your brand authority.

A great example of how a brand grew big by micro marketing ...

Seth Godin, to me, is the absolute ultimate marketing expert. When he talks, I stop everything to listen. I devoured his book “Tribe: We Need You to Lead” when it hit the market in 2008. Godin described a tribe as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” He can say a lot in a few words; that’s his power over his tribe!

In this TED Talk from Seth Godin, you can listen to him explain how tribes give ordinary people – and ordinary brands – the power to lead and make a significant change. It’s a video worth its weight in gold.

Pro tips to take away in summary ...

1. Brand authority needs more strategic measurement. Indirect metrics may be better than direct metrics to tell if a brand has authority.

2. Some tactics counterproductive to your business may actually give you better brand authority. Contrary examples include giving away chargeable information freely … or withholding vital information to command authority.

3. Feel free to use my list of 8 ways to measure your brand authority. If you have more ideas, I’m always eager to hear them.

Brand authority is an elusive concept to capture in quantitative parameters of measurement. Three big directions I would try to measure would include: media and public interest; thought-leadership generated following; and, the association of industry keywords with the brand.

BONUS: How to get help with your branding and content marketing

Branding and content marketing are tough because they require a deep understanding of the target audience, a commitment to delivering high-quality content consistently, and ongoing optimization to remain effective. This is where an expert hand can be invaluable.

With cutting-edge knowledge of the latest industry trends and best practices, an expert can help provide the guidance and support needed to achieve the desired results.

Rather than slog at it yourself and spend time and money on trial-and-error, make it simple … let me help you.
Let’s have a free, no-obligations Zoom chat. We can locate the potential to power up your branding and content marketing. Let me know your goals and budgets, and I will offer you some readily implementable suggestions. 
If we’re a good fit for each other, you could consider outsourcing your branding and content marketing projects to me. I am confident I can take your business to an enviable position. 
Click the button below to book a free 30-45 minute online ZOOM meeting; we’ll take it from there!
Shobha Ponnappa

"I am committed to elevating my clients' branding and content marketing to a dominant position because I believe that a strong and distinctive brand identity, coupled with high-quality content, can be a game-changer for businesses. I've done it over and over for 40+ years and 125+ clients."

More related posts on the nuances of brand leadership...

Join My Community!

Give yourself truly big benefits.

Get my weekly newsletter packed with cutting edge brand content tips, tricks, tactics, techniques, and trends. I scour the Net for you.

Use my Privilege Discount on all my products and services – at any time, without limit – as long as you’re uninterruptedly subscribed.

Privilege Discount

Just fill in the form to join my community … we have big and small brands for company. You’ll stay on the speedway to growth.

Join My Community!

Give yourself truly big benefits.

Get my weekly newsletter packed with cutting edge brand content tips, tricks, tactics, techniques, and trends. I scour the Net for you.

Use my Privilege Discount on all my products and services – at any time, without limit – as long as you’re uninterruptedly subscribed.

Privilege Discount

Just fill in the form to join my community … we have big and small brands for company. You’ll stay on the speedway to growth.