A friend (a brand manager for a well-known consumer products brand) and I recently got into a debate regarding appropriate goals for specific online marketing activities. He insisted that brand awareness meant everything for his brand. He supported his argument with data showing unaided awareness among the brand’s target demographics consistently trailed the brand’s competitive set, albeit by a marginal amount.
My response: So what? Awareness doesn’t buy you anything, figuratively and literally. Show me your conversion rate and your revenues. Enron probably had fantastic unaided awareness. Fat lot of good it did them in terms of making money.
Awareness is just a stepping stone along the path to some larger goal, revenue and conversion rate primary among my favorites. Clearly, no harm comes from tracking awareness among consumers with a propensity to buy; however, if they don’t actually buy from you, now or in the future, awareness doesn’t amount to anything.
In the MeCommerce world, relevance beats awareness every time. Consumers, bless their hearts, are getting extremely good at finding those things relevant to them, either via search engines, word of mouth, or more traditional channels (Admittedly, it’s weird for me to think of “word of mouth” as non-traditional, but that’s a topic for another day). Know your customer first, live where they live second, then make it easy for them to accomplish their goals. Anything else is a distraction from real goals.