Thanking the Marketing Science Institute for giving its Best Paper award to this work, I’d like to hear your ideas on how to improve it. If you have yet to read it, the paper is available for free now at: http://www.msi.org/reports/do-online-behavior-tracking-or-attitude-survey-metrics-drive-brand-sales-an/
What we KNOW NOW:
ONLINE consumer behavior metrics, such as click-through, website visits and social media posts, excel at explaining short-term sales changes in many product and service categories. Key benefits to managers include the real-time monitoring of actual behavior of prospective customers. However, online metrics are incomplete as they do not cover the full potential market (especially for fast moving consumer goods) and they typically do not reveal WHY a particular person clicked on your ad or visited your website (she may have already decided to buy your competitor’s product and is now validating her choice).
OFFLINE survey-based attitude metrics, such as advertising awareness, brand awareness, consideration and liking, excel at predicting brand fortunes several months out. Key benefits to managers include representativeness and answers to WHY questions. However, such representative metrics are rather costly and they rely on consumers remembering and vocalizing their attitudes and motivations.
INTEGRATING both types of metrics is key to a complete ‘Road to Purchase’: the research shows that online metrics can drive later changes in representative attitude metrics (if you get more positive social media sharing, your preference in the market will also increase) and that better attitudes increase online metrics (if you get more general awareness, you obtain a higher click-through on your paid online ads).
What we DO NOT YET KNOW: WHICH online metrics are good proxies for WHICH survey-based attitude metrics?
1) Organic, direct visits to your website (i.e. consumers typing in the URL) should be a good proxy for unaided brand awareness.
2) Click-through on your organic search results, paid search ads and banner ads could be good proxies for aided brand awareness.
3) Typing in your products/services in a price comparison site or following your brand on social media should be a good proxies for consideration
4) Liking your Facebook page or participating in your LinkedIn forum could be proxies for brand liking
But is there any evidence for these points? Please share with us!