Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) in Marketing

Top of mind awareness is a concept in consumer behaviour, market research and marketing communications. Learn all about it in this article.

What is Top of Mind Awareness?

Top of mind awareness (TOMA) refers to a type of brand awareness when a specific brand pop’s into a customer’s mind when they think of a particular market or niche.

The first brand that pops into a persons mind while thinking about a category means that this particular brand is at the top of mind. 

Technically, it is a measurable metric which is also defined as “the percent of respondents who, without prompting, name a specific brand or product first when asked to list all the advertisements they recall seeing in a general product category.”

top of mind awareness

If a brand achieves top of mind awareness, that essentially that particular brand has the highest brand awareness in the market. Brand awareness is an important step to building higher customer lifetime value. Any brand development strategy has to focus on building strong brand awareness. 

Top of mind awareness also means that during a purchase consumers will automatically think of the brand at the top of their mind. Hence, directly contributing to a conversion. 

But how can companies achieve top of mind awareness? What metrics are used to achieve top of mind awareness? And factors directly affect the top of mind awareness metric?

We have explained it all in the corresponding sections in detail. 

Metrics used to measure TOMA

As the definition itself implies, top of mind awareness is measured directly through market research surveys. But there are other tools that can help measure TOMA. These tools include Google Analytics, SEO tools, or any media monitoring software. 

Below we have listed down a few metrics that are closely related to TOMA. 

1. Brand Recall

Brand Recall is defined as the likelihood of “instant recollection” of the name of a brand by a customer when prompted. As you can see, brand recall and TOMA are very closely related. 

Through surveys and focused customer interviews, you can calculate the TOMA score for your brand. Interviewers can ask customers simple open-ended questions about what comes to their mind when talking about a category. By calculating the percentage of the people who instantly recollect your brand name, you can then calculate your TOMA score. 

The goal here is to not nudge or prompt a customer in any particular direction. You can also ask them to recall any number of brands they can. And once your brand is mentioned you can further question particulars. 

2. Share of Search

Another metric that can effectively point to a firm’s brand awareness is the number of organic searches your brand receives. A simple SEO tool can help you with the number. The share search metric will tell you the number of people searching for your brand. But it doesn’t directly contribute to calculating the TOMA score. 

But considering all similar key performance indicators (KPIs) like brand mentions, social media metrics, direct traffic, etc can somewhat point to the relative brand awareness of your brand. 

Factors that affect Top of Mind Awareness

The question of why a customer would think of a brand first over any other brand in the market is quite interesting. There are bound to be factors that contribute to this effect. Learning more about these factors could reveal ways by which companies can improve their own brand awareness and maybe even achieve top of mind awareness. 

We have listed down some common factors that directly affect the TOMA metric. 

1. Discoverability

Discoverability is a practice where marketing teams strive to make their brand or product easily discoverable by customers. It is how easily a customer can find you. Consumers mostly turn to Google if they come across any problems. If your brand's content or webpage appears as one of the search results, you are essentially more discoverable in that case. 

So now the customers can find you instead of you approaching them. If the customer is interacting with your product more often or referring to your content, then your brand will probably be at the top of the mind of those users.   

2. Social Media Presence

Social media presence can also influence a brands TOMA score. Consider this - if a brand name constantly appears on your feed with relevant written or audio/video-based content, you are most likely to remember it. 

With how often people use social media, a consistent presence on the right platforms can do wonders for your brand awareness efforts. It is also an important channel to build a strong relationship with the customers - contributing to increasing brand loyalty as well. 

Many companies also provide customer support on social media - allowing them to periodically interact with their base. This effectively influences top of mind awareness. 

3. Market Penetration

Market penetration is a measure of a brands customer share when compared to the whole market. It's a common observation that companies with the most of top of mind awareness also have the largest market share. 

These are companies that have outperformed their competitors and have a large pool of customers. They also have an established brand name and a share of loyal customers. 

Since customers, in general, have more experience interacting with these brands they will most likely pop up first in a discussion about the related market. 

4. Advertising

The primary goal of advertisements is to leave an impression. Remember the number of times you couldn’t get rid of an ad tune or zinger from your head? Well, an effective ad can cement a brand in your customer's mind. It is a popular way to build brand awareness and expose your product to a larger audience.

5. Physical Presence

The physical impression is also another way to improve TOMA. You are more likely to remember the brands your locally Costco stocks since it is one of the options that are readily available to you. 

People, in general, have more awareness towards products they have physically interacted with. So having a physical presence can put your product at an advantage over the other products in the market. 

How to Increase and Maintain Top of Mind Awareness?

There are plenty of different ways brands can increase and maintain top of mind awareness. Countering contemporary belief, you don’t have to be a revolutionary brand to grab the attention of your customers. You can achieve it by investing in a few different efforts consistently. Here’s how you do it. 

1. Increase Visibility

The problem of increasing your brands' visibility can be approached in a few different ways. There are several different channels that can be used to become more discoverable by your customers. 

Using content marketing, SEO, social media outreach by creating relevant and helpful content can help you with this. Another way of marketing on social media is by writing about your personal experiences. This will establish you as a thought leader in your niche. This will also result in an engaged audience that is interested in your brand's niche.  

Brands can increase visibility through - 

  1. Investing in SEO
  2. Creating resources in their niche that also help their customers
  3. Building social media presence

2. Diversify your ad spend

Advertising is obviously a factor that influences top of mind awareness. Most digital advertising is extremely focused on customers to get more conversions. But to achieve top of mind awareness your ads need to influence not only your present customers but also those who are presently not interested in your brand. 

3. Increase physical presence

As mentioned earlier, customers are likely to remember a brand that they’ve physically encountered. So in order to increase TOMA, you can have more prominent retailers sell your products. 

Achieving top of mind awareness is extremely difficult and is a constant process of remaining relevant to your customers. So targeting all possible opportunities to increase brand awareness is the only plausible way of achieving it.


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