As marketers we spend a great deal of time and money attempting to make consumers aware of our products and services, essentially creating a niche in the clutter of the market. Creating awareness in the minds of the consumers is step one in the long process of filling the sales pipeline. As such it needs its own measurement in order to benchmark our success and provide insight for improvements.
Consumer and B2B marketing researchers measure awareness using a two-step process incorporating measures of ‘unaided’ and ‘aided’ awareness. This allows the survey author to assess what options are embedded in the consumer’s mindset. Do not be surprised if you see a high percentage of respondents unable to mention any firm, either yours or a competitor. This percentage serves as a benchmark in itself. A second metric is the percentage of times your firm, or a competitor, is mentioned in the first slot. This is known as ‘top of mind’ awareness.
Unaided awareness is typically reached by asking respondents to write-in up to three companies. This type of data requires cleaning before analysis, as respondents are known to use abbreviations, miss-spell company names, or write-in gibberish. Exporting this open-ended data to a spreadsheet program will facilitate data hygiene, via the platform’s sorting functions. If you are using a statistical package then you may wish to create dummy variables before importing the data into said program. These variables should include a count of the number of times your company was mentioned first and in total.
In aided awareness the respondent is presented a list of firms, with yours included, and is asked if they have used any or all of the firms listed, if they are aware (but have not used), or if they are unaware of any or all firms. Use of randomization is critical to minimize order bias. Expect the aided percentage of awareness (have used or aware, but have not used) to be significantly higher than the unaided percentage.
A few other caveats to consider when creating surveys to measure awareness: these studies must be conducted in a blind fashion so the respondent does not suspect who is behind the study. Awareness of the author could influence a respondent’s assessment. Second, expect respondents from your house files to have higher unaided and aided awareness. This is why it is best practice to acquire sample from outside of your customer and prospect files to get a picture of the broader market.