MotiveQuest Develops First Metric to Correlate Online Brand Advocacy with Real-World Sales

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Online Promoter Score predicts changes in buying behavior.

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In the past, brand awareness and salience were key measures of marketing success, but the goalposts have moved

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Marketers be forewarned: you are what you measure, and in the Internet age, metrics can be minefields for businesses that choose to track the wrong data. Fortunately for every chief marketing officer overwhelmed by minutiae such as clicks, page views, and buzz, MotiveQuest, in conjunction with researchers from Northwestern University, has developed the Online Promoter™ Score, the first statistical measurement that correlates online brand advocacy to sales.

"In the past, brand awareness and salience were key measures of marketing success, but the goalposts have moved," said David Rabjohns, CEO of MotiveQuest. "Now what people say to each other is more important. That’s why brand advocacy matters most, and, with our tools, we can measure brand advocacy in a natural and unprompted way."

Building on MotiveQuest’s industry-leading sentiment and motivation tools, the Online Promoter Score measures the net frequency of individuals recommending a particular brand online. This new marketing metric was designed by MotiveQuest and researchers from Northwestern University, and is part of an ongoing process that seeks insights from consumer conversations online and their link to real-world sales. Such a correlation was notably revealed during a study completed for Mini USA, the American division of BMW’s Mini Cooper brand.

"We co-created this methodology with MotiveQuest, and we are very intrigued by the strength of the statistical relationship between the Online Promoter Score and sales results," said Jacquelyn Thomas, Professor of Marketing Communications, Northwestern University.

Proving the value of the Online Promoter Score required time, rigor, and empirical data from a variety of industries and brands. As part of the overall development process, MotiveQuest worked with Mini USA and their agency Butler Shine Stern & Partners (BSSP) to collect and analyze 16 months of data from January, 2006 through April of 2007. Employing the model developed with Northwestern University and the aggregated conversations surrounding the Mini Cooper brand, MotiveQuest proved, with 99.8% confidence, the positive correlation between online brand advocacy and sales. These results make the Online Promotor Score the only metric that correlates the relationship between marketing activity, brand advocacy, and sales.

This remarkable evolution in measuring online word of mouth has been recently featured in Groundswell, the best-selling business book from Forrester Resarch authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.

"In today’s world, measures like buzz, sentiment, and influence are all interesting, but they are not sufficient," added Rabjohns. "People's recommendations, or brand advocacy, is a much more effective way to predict changes in buyer behavior because it takes place in a real setting, between people who trust each other."

The Online Promoter Score also captures multi-dimensional aspects of a brand, and can be used to track organizational performance, uncover competitive opportunities and determine the return on investment (ROI) of online and offline campaigns.

Founded in 2003, MotiveQuest is the leading global social computing strategy consultancy. Equipped with experience and specialized tools that unlock insights and reveal emerging trends from online word of mouth (OWOM), it consults with leading global brands, including Citibank, MINI, NIKE. Learn more about the relationship of brand advocacy to sales at

Tom O’Brien
Chief Marketing Officer


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