For brands that lack the ubiquity of the behemoths like Amazon and Google, the first step to earning a new customer is achieving brand awareness.
When you’re developing a brand awareness campaign, the value of focusing on digital marketing is undeniable. Seventy-seven percent of people now say they go online every day, and over a quarter of them say they’re “almost constantly” online. But the digital marketing field is vast. When working out a strategy for brand awareness, you have to make a decision about which digital marketing channels to use, and how much priority to give to each.
For marketing activities designed to get you onto a consumer’s radar—called top-of-the-funnel marketing in industry parlance—there are seven main digital marketing channels to consider.
Google processes over 3.5 billion searches every day. That probably doesn’t surprise you — online search has become our go-to solution for almost every question or problem we have. If your website is one of the first things to show up in search when someone’s looking for answers to a problem your products solve, it can translate into thousands of new people learning about you.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you get your website to show up on Google. It’s a competitive digital marketing channel and one that takes time to start seeing results with. But when you can get your website to show up on the first page of Google (and other search engines, but mostly Google), it pays significant dividends in brand awareness. More than that, it helps you achieve relevant brand awareness since SEO keyword targeting means you specifically reach people looking for what you do.
While SEO results can take a while to achieve, playing the long game brings its benefits. The more you build up your website’s authority, the more keywords you’ll be able to claim on Page 1. And once you get to Page 1, staying there is easier.
Stay ahead of the competition. Get your SEO checklist here.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is SEO’s paid brother. Both digital marketing channels are focused on gaining visibility in the search engines, but where SEO is focused on organic results, PPC is how you show up in the paid results. For some searches, those paid results dominate the search engine results page (SERP), requiring searchers to scroll down to even see the organic results.
PPC provides some distinct benefits from SEO. Because you pay directly for those top spots, rather than having to work to earn them, PPC raises brand awareness much faster than SEO does. You can start showing up on Page 1 of Google the first day you start running ads (if you follow best practices). And PPC campaigns give you the power to specify who your ads will reach based on factors like demographics, geography and search behavior.
You can also achieve an especially wide reach since Google’s PPC platform includes a display network that powers the ads you see on websites across the web, as well as on other Google properties like Gmail and YouTube. Google says its display network reaches 90 percent of all internet users.
A majority of people in the U.S. are on social media, and it’s the norm for social media users to visit a social media platform at least once a day. Social media has become a huge part of how people spend their time and where they get their information. Social media marketing is, therefore, another important digital marketing channel to include in any brand awareness strategy.
Social media marketing encompasses everything you do on social media for free—or at least, that you only pay for it in labor costs. It starts with researching the best channels to target, based on where your audience spends their time. And while it includes sharing content and promotions from your own website to raise brand awareness, it’s just as important to spend time on your social media platforms interacting with other accounts.
Social media marketing should be part self-promotion, part relationship-building. Use your platforms to share content from other blogs and influencers in your industry that are useful to your audience, and to participate in relevant conversations. By courting new relationships, you’ll start to build a following, which is crucial for using social media marketing for brand awareness.
A big challenge in social media marketing, especially for new accounts, is that the only people who see most of your updates are those who have already followed you. That makes using social media marketing for brand awareness a slow proposition. But you can earn visibility and followers faster by also investing in social media advertising.
Social media advertising is to social media marketing what PPC is to SEO. All of the main social media platforms include advertising options, and most of them are pay-per-click like search advertising is. They also include extensive targeting options so you can get your messaging in front of the specific social media users most likely to be interested in your brand.
In addition to advertising with the main social platforms, many brands are gaining traction on social media by identifying popular influencers in their niche and working with them to promote their brands. People with a large following on social media have already gained the trust and attention of your audience. If they post about your brand, it’s a quick way to gain more interest and followers.
Discover how to find the right social media influencers for your brand here.
Content marketing is both an important digital marketing channel in its own right, and one that supports many of the other channels on this list. When you consistently create high-quality content that’s relevant to your audience, it gives you the chance to target more keywords in SEO and keeps your website fresh, which Google likes. It also gives other websites more reasons to link to you, which is a key ranking factor for the search engines.
In addition, every piece of useful content that your audience will want to click on is something you can promote on social media and in your ads. If the only thing you have to promote on these channels is your products, then you’re hoping someone will convert the first time they hear about you. For B2B companies, that’s unrealistic. Buying cycles often take months or even years and involve multiple people. You should assume most people won’t be ready to buy the first time they learn about your brand.
Content marketing gives you the chance to reach prospects with helpful content when they’re first asking questions that relate to your products. You can achieve that first point of brand awareness and use it to build trust, so you’re more likely to be top of mind later when they’re closer to making a purchasing decision.
Public relations is another powerful digital marketing channel and one that often gets less attention than the others on the list. A good PR strategy will earn you mentions in publications your audience is reading, which both increases brand awareness and can result in authoritative links that boost your SEO.
Modern PR also includes pitching guest posts and thought leadership articles on relevant websites around the web. By writing on topics your audience cares about in high-profile industry publications, you build trust in the voices that represent your brand, even if the content isn’t directly about your products.
With more than 1.8 billion users, YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the internet, which goes to show just how much people like watching videos. Sure, some of that is cat videos, but consumers also partake in brand videos. Over one third of consumers said they prefer video to other types of brand content, and 53 percent have said they’re more likely to engage with a brand after viewing a video.
Video marketing overlaps with content marketing. It can be a useful form of content for providing helpful information and answers to common questions your customers have, and can be promoted on social media and in ads just like written content.
Choosing which digital marketing channels to include in a brand awareness campaign is less about choosing between the different channels and more about figuring out the right mix of using multiple channels. Most of these channels work better in tandem than alone. You’ll want to use most, if not all of them to successfully achieve brand awareness.
To determine the right mix for your company, follow these steps.
Your main goal is brand awareness, but how do you measure that? If your priority is building your company’s reputation, thought leadership tactics like PR should be given precedence. If increasing the volume of people learning about your brand is your main goal, then channels like PPC and SEO will help you reach bigger numbers.
Brand awareness campaigns aren’t one size fits all, because every brand has a distinct audience they need to reach. The channels you focus your time and money on should directly relate to how your audience spends their time online, and how they make their purchasing decisions. Use audience research to understand your customer’s online habits and the channels they use the most in learning about brands and deciding which ones to engage with.
You have to keep your choices within the budget you have. PPC and social media advertising can get costly, but they can also drive faster results. Strategies like SEO, social media marketing, and PR cost less, but you’ll still need to pay for the time the professionals you hire spend executing them. Carefully consider your budget and weigh how the costs of different marketing channels relate to your priorities.
Deciding which digital marketing channels to focus on is only one part of a strategy, you also need to determine how you’ll use each one. A good strategy involves thinking through how the different channels can support each other and connects your brand awareness activities to the marketing your team creates. After all, a good marketing strategy doesn’t end at awareness. You also want to drive conversions.
The choices you make on Day 1 of your brand awareness strategy won’t be perfect because you’re working with limited information. Every day your brand awareness campaign runs, you’ll gain valuable data that tells you more about what works. Use that information to tweak your digital marketing mix as needed so you can improve the number of relevant people you reach over time.
Every digital marketing channel has its unique strengths. To determine how well each one will pay off for your brand, you have to dive in and get started. Figuring out the right mix isn’t easy, so don’t be surprised if you have a hard time knowing where to start.
If figuring out which digital marketing channels to invest in most has you stressed, turning to someone with more experience can take the decision off your plate. A good inbound marketing agency will be well versed in all of the digital marketing channels and know how to use each to increase brand awareness with the particular audience you’re looking to reach.