Top of Mind Awareness: Why This Metric is Important for eCommerce Brands

When most people think of cola, they think of Coca-Cola. Thanks to this top of mind awareness, the company has consistently remained the top soft drink brand in the world. 

Find out how eCommerce brands can achieve this kind of top of mind awareness too. 

What is top of mind awareness? 

Top of mind awareness – or TOMA – is a key concept in market research. It is a measure of how high brands rank in the consciousness of consumers. 

The first brand that comes to mind when consumers think of a certain niche, product or industry has achieved top of mind awareness. Not all consumers will think of the same brand, but the results offer a clear indication of which companies are most popular within an industry. 

It’s worth noting that sometimes the first brand people think of is one they dislike or one that was recently embroiled in a scandal. So TOMA can have negative associations. However, being ‘top of mind’ is usually a big plus for brands. 

The importance of top of mind awareness 

The main benefit of achieving top of mind awareness is fairly obvious. If your brand is the first one people think of, they will instinctively seek out your products when they need them. 

But the importance of top of mind awareness doesn’t end there. This primary perk has lots of other knock-on benefits: 

  • Marketing becomes more effective: Because the public is already familiar with your brand, your campaigns will be more memorable and meaningful. Plus, when competitors advertise their products, consumers may even think of yours. 
  • PR is painless: When your brand is a household name, it’s easier to attract media coverage. 
  • Search rankings will soar: If lots of people are Googling your brand, the search engine will hold your site in high regard and boost your site’s position for related keywords. 
  • Enhanced brand value and integrity: Brands that achieve top of mind awareness often command more trust and can charge higher prices. 
  • More prospects: The more people that are aware of your products, the easier it is to bring them through the eCommerce funnel toward conversion. 

How to increase top of mind awareness 

Often, top of mind awareness belongs to the brand that has the largest market share. However, there are plenty of ways to increase top of mind awareness and challenge dominant competitors – especially in the world of eCommerce. 

D2C brands, like Dollar Shave Club, Casper and Bonobos, have all done it successfully. But you don’t need a disruptive business model to build awareness – these four tactics will also help launch your eCommerce brand into the public consciousness. 

1. Build brand visibility 

Any kind of eCommerce marketing is sure to boost the visibility of your brand, but social media and SEO are particularly helpful. 

Showing up in search results is key to increasing discoverability. So be sure to do some keyword research and create lots of blog posts, videos and other resources. 

If you can establish yourself as a thought leader within your niche, not only will this build brand awareness, but consumers are also more likely to turn to your products in the future. 

You can increase the impact of your content by sharing it on social media too. As more consumers increase the time they spend on social platforms, it makes sense for brands to broaden their reach here. 

eCommerce companies like the Dollar Shave Club have seen their top of mind awareness skyrocket thanks to viral videos. While this isn’t easy to do, brands can also use the likes of hashtags, influencer partnerships, paid advertising and competitions to expand their visibility. 

2. An optimised digital shelf presence 

Consumers often discover products through the digital shelf of an online retailer. So, it’s important that eCommerce brands expand and manage their presence across these sites. 

It’s easy to add your products to marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, but you should try to get prominent retailers to stock your products too. 

To improve brand awareness on these sites, you can then optimise your product pages to include keywords, product categories and engaging images. As a result, these products will be more likely to appear in search results, product recommendations and category pages. 

To boost visibility, brands should also consider investing in retail media ads. A digital shelf solution will provide oversight of your presence across these sites too. 

3. Provide an exceptional customer experience 

If someone has a memorable experience with your brand, they’re more likely to recall it. Best of all, there are endless ways to create great experiences. 

eCommerce retailer Zappos delights consumers with its extremely flexible returns policy. Beauty brand Sephora, on the other hand, wows customers with free gifts redeemable through its online store. 

To stand out, you could offer anything from industry-leading technical support through to top-notch customer service. If you do enough, consumers may even spread the word. 

4. Omnichannel advertising 

If someone hasn’t interacted with your brand, you can still achieve ‘top of mind’ status through advertising. 

Social media ads are a great way to promote products, but they can also extend the reach of your content and increase your social followers. Similarly, PPC advertising can push your content across various websites and search engines. 

40% of marketers also use shoppable media. While its biggest benefit is that shoppers can directly purchase products, it also provides a memorable experience that can make your brand stand out. 

Traditional channels, like print media and TV advertising, remain important for building brand awareness too. They offer exposure to large audiences and TV advertising is known to increase branded searches. 

What metrics are used to measure top of mind awareness? 

Top of mind awareness is usually measured through market research surveys. But Google Analytics, media monitoring software and SEO tools offer lots of metrics that can help too. 

Brand recall 

To assess brand recall, interviewers simply ask consumers open-ended questions about the first brand that comes to mind for a particular niche. Your TOMA score is determined by whatever percentage mentions your brand first. 

Next, respondents are usually asked to identify other brands within the same category. Without any prompts, they recall as many brands as possible. 

If your business is mentioned, you can delve deeper and ask what they remember about your brand. This may reveal traits, campaigns or experiences that tend to increase awareness. If your company isn’t mentioned at all, you’ll need to work much harder to increase top of mind awareness. 

Share of Search 

It’s a good idea to take survey results and combine them with some key digital KPIs, such as Share of Search

This metric compares the number of organic searches your brand receives as a proportion of all the searches brands within your industry receive. To calculate your Share of Search, you simply need access to a keyword research tool, such as Google’s Keyword Planner. 

Other brand awareness metrics 

Other digital KPIs for tracking top of mind awareness include: 

  • Branded search volume 
  • Brand mentions 
  • Social media followers 
  • Social media reach 
  • Paid media reach 
  • Direct traffic 

Final thoughts 

The importance of top of mind awareness is unquestionable. So, eCommerce companies that want to stay on the minds of consumers need to have a brand awareness strategy in place – even if they’re already the most dominant player in their market. But as you reach out to new consumers, don’t forget to touch base with loyal customers and email subscribers too. 

Future-proof your eCommerce brand