We’ve all heard “if you build it, they will come” applied to business, right? While it may have been relevant to a certain baseball-field-building farmer, it’s not for most businesses. In today’s world, customers’ attention is fragmented between different types of media, platforms, and activities — leaving brands and their competitors to fight over their attention and money.
One of the most effective ways to make customers aware of your brand is to launch a strategic, cohesive campaign. These campaigns start with efforts meant, not to immediately sell, but to tell your story, create a memorable connection, and keep your brand top of mind when your customers are ready to buy.
What is Brand Awareness?
Put simply, brand awareness is the practice of making as many people as possible familiar with your brand and products. Good brand awareness campaigns give meaning to what you’re selling and give your target audience a reason to purchase from you.
For example, think back to the last time you bought a car. You probably considered how many seats you wanted, your desired gas mileage, how you would use the car, and possibly even the color. Besides that, how did you know which exact make and model to choose? There were probably dozens of types of cars that would have worked.
Here’s where brand awareness comes in. Any of those cars would have met your needs, but we generally don’t just make purchases based on function alone. We purchase things based on the emotions that they elicit, the impression we hope we’ll make on others, or the status that they provide.
In short, we’re buying the story that the brand has told us about their product. You’re not just buying a Prius, you’re letting everyone who sees you driving your energy-efficient car know that you’re interested in being environmentally conscious (or at least saving money on gas).
As a business, your job is to tell the right story to the right people at the right time to boost brand awareness, long-term brand equity, and customer lifetime value (LTV). Talking to a young single professional about a minivan probably won’t resonate, but telling that same person about the latest sleek yet cost-efficient vehicle just might catch their attention.
Why Does it Matter?
One of the most common objections to dedicating resources to brand awareness campaigns is that these campaigns don’t usually show results right away. It’s tempting for businesses to stick with things that do show immediate results. After all, we have revenue goals to meet and return on investment (ROI) to prove. With the increasing appetite for up-to-the-minute campaign data analysis, we’re more able to see exactly what kind of impact our campaigns provide. While there is a place for those campaigns and immediate data analysis and optimization, relying solely on those efforts leaves out the long-term benefits that brand awareness efforts provide.
More specifically, brand awareness can lead to an increase in lifetime value and a decrease in overall customer acquisition costs (CAC). The key to brand awareness is to think about it in terms of telling a story that will create an emotional connection between you and your audience. That includes facilitating connections that are personal, creative, and memorable. While people may not buy from you initially, you want to help them remember your brand when they’re ready to buy — whatever it is that you’re selling.
Marketing Is Changing… or Is It?
The marketing landscape is more complicated than ever. Marketers are asked to fill many different roles spanning from creative thinking to deep data analysis and everything in between. Things are only becoming more complicated with new platforms to learn about, engage with, and measure. Audience attention is becoming more fragmented across platforms and devices, and there is more pressure to decrease costs and increase revenue.
When we get to the bottom of it, though, good marketing isn’t all that complicated. It’s still about what it’s always been about, which is telling engaging stories and creating meaningful connections with customers.
With this perspective, it’s easy to see that brand awareness is an irreplaceable part of your marketing strategy. It’s the practice of telling your story in a way that will resonate with the people who matter. To do this, you have to identify the right people, find out where they are, and then see how your efforts are resonating by watching the right metrics.
Identifying the Right People
You probably have, at least, a general idea of who is in the market for your offerings. Before you begin any type of marketing campaign, but particularly a brand awareness campaign, it’s helpful to formalize your thoughts about your target audience. You can do this by answering the following questions and documenting your answers:
- What are the traits that set my target audience apart?
- What motivates my target audience?
- What problem is my offering solving for them?
- Why is my offering different from my competitors?
- How does my target audience get information?
- Who does my target audience trust to give them the right information in my category
Once you have the answers to those questions, you’ll be able to see some trends materialize. These will guide everything from the type of people you should target when distributing your ads to the way you should message your campaigns. Don’t worry if you’re not sure on some of the answers or if you suspect your answers might change. Your target audience may pivot based on the message, campaign, or even season.
Meet Them Where They Are
As soon as you’ve determined your target audience, you can start to get a clearer picture of what are the best digital channels to reach them. There are three main types of targeting that can help you find the right people in the right places.
This form of targeting allows you to showcase your brand alongside content relevant to your brand and offerings and choose categories of sites or select/exclude specific sites. For example, if you’re selling luggage, you could target the Travel category of websites to show up alongside content that people use to plan their next trip. This allows you to protect your brand from displaying next to unflattering or undesirable content and helps you target people outside of their specific traits — an important consideration for privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA.
Demographic and Interest
Separating your campaign by different demographic features like gender, age, location, and more can help you better personalize your customer journeys. Demographic targeting allows you to deliver content, ad creative, and campaigns that speak directly to your target audiences’ needs, motivations, and pain points.
With this option, you’re able to identify groups of people who are interacting with your brand but who you may not have identified yet. This option unlocks opportunities for further interaction with these groups through specific campaigns, product messaging, and more.
Targeting your campaigns effectively is key to the success of your campaigns. This allows you to create campaigns that feel personal to a certain target audience. We know that customers respond best to personalized campaigns that call out their specific needs and desires.
Measuring Brand Awareness
You’ve identified your target audience, you’ve used specific targeting options to deploy a cohesive brand campaign, so what’s next? Now it’s time to dig into the data to find out what’s working and how you can optimize. We’ve mentioned LTV and CAC as ways to measure your brand awareness, but how do you get to those metrics and how else can you measure these efforts?
Lifetime value (LTV)
There’s no doubt that keeping customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones. Depending on your industry and the study you’re looking at, acquiring new customers can be anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining the ones you already have. Making a good impression on customers over and over again is an important part of brand awareness. After all, marketers are learning that the sales and marketing funnel is probably more accurately visualized as a loop, with customers moving from awareness to consideration to purchase to evangelism and back to awareness when they learn about new products or are exposed to a new aspect of the brand.
Lifetime value is the value of a single customer over their entire lifecycle with a brand. Effectively measuring LTV requires your organization to commit to gathering and analyzing your first-party customer data over a long period of time. You’ll need to know how often people purchase and the average order value for each purchase. A simple equation for lifetime value is:
(All purchases by a customer x gross margin) – costs related to the purchases = LTV.
Once you have an idea of the overall lifetime value, you can see how telling a cohesive, memorable story increases the number. This number will also be influenced by things like customer experience, ongoing customer communications, re-engagement campaigns, and more.
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
A key step of understanding and taking action with LTV is comparing that number to your customer acquisition costs. This is the amount that you spend per each new customer you acquire. Getting to this number is simple. All you have to do is divide the amount of money you spent on customer acquisition by the number of new customers you acquired in the same period.
It follows that if customers are aware of your brand it will cost you less to reach out to them. If they’re aware of you, they’re probably on your email list, following you on social media, or engaged with you in some other way. They’re also more likely to recognize and think about your brand when they’re ready to make a purchase — leading to an increase in in-store sales and organic traffic to your website.
New high-quality site traffic
When we talk to customers, one of the main things we hear from them is that they want more site traffic. Not just any traffic though, they want people coming to their site who are genuinely interested in what they have. Measuring new high-quality site traffic is just a matter of looking at your “new visitors” and “non-bounced visitors” metrics.
A “non-bounced visitor” is someone who comes to the site and proceeds to at least one other page. This gives you a good indication of someone’s initial interest in your brand. “New visitors” is a good indication of how many people who previously had not been to your site were brought to your site by your campaigns. Comparing the two will allow you to answer a few questions:
- How many new people came to my site?
- Of those people, how many went on to another page?
- How many didn’t go to another page?
This metric, like the others, has its limitations. The problem with using only this metric to judge your campaigns is that the “non-bounced visitors” metric can be heavily influenced by your landing page, the campaign creative, and other relevant factors. In short, new high-quality site traffic is a great place to start your brand awareness measurement journey, but don’t stop here!
Your social media channels are not only a great opportunity for you to communicate directly with people who have indicated interest in your brand, but they’re also one of the best ways you can get a direct window into your target audience’s thoughts. Here are a few ways to use social media engagement to measure awareness of your brand:
- Track followers on your pages. Even if you’re not driving people directly to your social presences, they may still find you and choose to follow you.
- Watch for an increase in likes, comments, and clicks. This indicates that people are seeing your posts and are interested enough to engage with you.
- Keep an eye on the tone and content of the comments on your posts and pages. What kinds of questions are people asking? What kinds of complaints do they have?
- Use some kind of tool to track mentions of your brand that aren’t connected with your actual page. People may recommend you to their friends, make comments about your products, or generally talk about your brand on their personal presence as well.
Overall, measuring your social engagement is another way to see how successful your brand awareness campaigns are by allowing you to see the conversations that are occurring about your brand and products.
Organic search traffic
This number refers to the number of people who come to your website by searching for you on a search engine. The best part about this type of traffic is that you don’t have to pay for it. In many analytical tools, you can dig deeper to look at “branded” vs. “non-branded” terms. Meaning, the terms that mention the brand name vs. those that don’t. This will tell you how many people are watching your videos, seeing your ads, hearing about your products, and remembering your brand name when they’re ready to take action.
This number will be heavily influenced by how friendly your website is to search engines. This is called search engine optimization (SEO), an important piece of your online marketing puzzle.
Overall organic site traffic
Beyond search traffic, you can also keep track of trends in your traffic to your site generally. This is particularly important if you’re doing offline brand awareness efforts like events, billboards, radio ads, etc. While this is not a precise measure of what exactly is driving brand awareness, it will still give you a vague idea of how many people are interested in your brand and engaged enough to visit your website.
Take Your Marketing Strategies to the Next Level
It’s important to remember that brand awareness is only the beginning of your customer’s journey with your brand. The next steps are where they take action, continue taking action, and tell others about your brand. Planning your marketing efforts with the entire customer journey in mind is key in planning for successful long-term strategies. Here’s how that might play out:
- Place ads targeting the people who will most likely be interested in your brand and products.
- Reengage people with ads mentioning complementary products, promotions, etc.
- Create a personalized experience on your site with customized product recommendations, top products, and more.
- Use email to reengage people who abandon carts or indicate interest without purchasing.
- Reengage people who have performed various actions, visited certain pages, or indicated interest.
- Create a personalized onsite experience for high-intent visitors.
- Use email to engage and reengage high-intent visitors.
- Reengage past customers with ads displaying new products, promotions, and more.
- Create a personalized onsite experience for past customers with complementary items, top products, and more.
- Reengage past customers with emails about new products, promotions, and more.
Creating opportunities for your customers to engage with you all along their journey, starting with brand awareness, will increase your ability to engage the right people at the right time and create a cohesive experience with your brand. This, in turn, will help increase traffic to your site, lifetime value and, of course, revenue.
Even though “if you build it they will come” may not be particularly applicable to your business, if you apply a strategic, full-funnel marketing approach with an emphasis on brand awareness, your customers will come. Not only will they come, but they’ll also be long-term customers who will recommend your brand and products over and over.
Are you looking to use brand awareness tactics for your upcoming holiday marketing campaign? Check out some of our other pieces of holiday-related content.
Megan is AdRoll’s Principal Product Marketing Manager who helps uncover and tell important stories to audiences inside and outside of the company. She pulls inspiration and expertise from her experience in marketing for a variety of different organizations, including agencies, technology, education and more. In her free time, she enjoys running (preferably in the beautiful Utah mountains), chasing her two kids and reading anything and everything.