Dell measures 400+ variables to gauge brand – what do you do?

It’s been a full decade since Frederick Reichheld revealed “the one number you need to grow” to the business world in an article published in the December edition of Harvard Business Review.

The 2003 revelation was introduced with a case study from Enterprise Rent-A-Car that had a novel way to assess customer loyalty – it asked just two survey questions and then only counted the customers who gave either the most negative ratings possible or the most positive ratings possible. The calculation method was called “Net Promoter Score.” It was surprisingly simplistic at the time, and 10 years later, after the emergence of social media and growth in computing power available to do “big data” calculations based on loosely linked data, it seems almost quaint.

Net Promoter Scores are still a very popular method of measuring customer loyalty, and by extension, brand power. It’s used by Apple,  General Electric, Intuit, and American Express. But it has its problems, notes Natalie Kortum, marketing decision sciences manager at Dell.

“The problem you really start to run into is that it’s inconsistent,” she says. “Think of your brand measurements as a test, like a doctor would test on a patient to see if a patient is healthy. A doctor wouldn’t just take your blood pressure and deem you are healthy.”

Kortum really puts her money where her mouth is. She’s developed a different brand modelling score for Dell called Social Net Advocacy Pulse. It’s an aggregated metric combing analysis of social media properties (including sentiment analysis conducted by a third-party, naturally) and combining it with 400 other identified metrics across Dell that impact revenue and brand.

The resulting model resembles the neural network of the human brain when you map it out. But what about smaller organizations that might not have PhD-holders in mathematics available to calculate brand scores?

“Work with what you’ve got and do the best you can,” Kortum says.

Most companies don’t use a metric to score their brand, she says. Doing so will give your company an advantage by allowing it to be more flexible and address the things that need attention in order to improve your company’s image. There’s several options worth consideration to get started on measuring your brand and collecting data.

Net Promoter Score

Ten years old may seem ancient in Web years, but this is still seen as an industry standard and worthwhile way to measure brand. Companies focused on it are known as delivering great customer service.

The score is gleaned from surveys conducted with your customers. They are asked about the quality of their experience with your company and the likelihood they will recommend the brand to a friend or colleague. The customers rank this on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst possible experience and 10 the best possible. Only count the reviews that are either the most positive (9 or 10) or most negative (0 or 1) towards your overall metric score.

But keep in mind just because your Net Promoter Score comes out at 72 per cent doesn’t mean you’re akin to Apple (who scored this in 2011, the seventh highest score in the US). Kortum points out that while Google and Amazon both scored 73 NPS in 2008, the Interbrand rankings list put Google in 10th spot overall, and Amazon all the way down at 58.

Google Consumer Surveys

If you’re going to use surveys to gauge your brand’s impact, then the Web is the fastest and least expensive way to deploy them. Using Google’s service for surveys, business-to-consumer firms can create their surveys, pay per response received (as little as $0.10), and then use analytics tools to interpret the results. Also, Google will compare your score with others that have been received in your industry, so you’ll know where you stand comparatively.

Social media monitoring

You don’t need expensive enterprise grade software to get a basic handle on social media monitoring. Free tools and services like Hootsuite allow a sophisticated approach to social media publishing and even sentiment analysis features, so not only will you know when your brand gets mentioned, but how those people are feeling about you at the time.

Klout offers scores to those who register an account. Like Dell, it takes more than 400 variables into consideration when determining a score.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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