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Social Media and UGC

The What, Why, and How of Brand Awareness

New businesses today have a huge opportunity in social media. Yet they have no shortage of competition from brands looking to be the leaders in their industries. Standing out in a crowded newsfeed is no easy feat, but with an understanding of audience, creativity, and investment in brand awareness initiatives, it is possible.

In fact, one of the most important marketing objectives throughout a brand’s lifecycle—but especially at its launch—is brand awareness. For new businesses, there’s really no way customers are going to support your products or service if they don’t know it exists or what it's for. And for established businesses, there’s also no way customers are going to continue supporting your product or service if they don’t connect with the story behind it, or understand the differentiators that separate it from other brands.

In this article, we’ll explore the what behind brand awareness, why it’s important to dedicate resources towards, and how to make efforts towards achieving brand awareness with your target customers.

The "What" of Brand Awareness

What is brand awareness? Brand awareness is the “extent to which a brand is recognized by potential customers, and is correctly associated with a particular product.”

Brand awareness is usually measured as a percentage of target market based on sales, repeat visitors, etc. At any stage, it requires a process of first understanding your potential consumers and what resonates with them. Then, it’s about narrowing in on the channels you’re most likely to reach your audience, through meaningful content and incentives.

Some businesses may assume this process is natural. That you can launch a product website, and everything else falls into place, thanks to the Internet. This is certainly not the case. The more time and thought put into awareness efforts up front, the more likely a business to be able to put it into auto-drive down the road.

The "Why" of Brand Awareness

The importance of building brand awareness is driven by a number of returns. First off, it helps increase customer loyalty. Some marketers focus heavily on acquiring new customers first and foremost. While this is certainly necessary, it’s a more costly process than encouraging the customers you currently have to purchase again. In fact, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% higher in success than when compared to selling to a new prospect at 5-20%.

Repeat businesses is bred off trust and consistency of visibility. When a consumer makes a purchase, make sure you create strategies with marketing efforts that help them remember you. This can be as simple as sending out newsletters with updates and promotions, SMS notifications, or inviting them to follow your brand’s social media channels.

In addition to customer loyalty, brand awareness also helps businesses drive their digital impact. Not only relevant to those in e-commerce, having a digital footprint in a screen-driven society is important for reaching those eyeballs. Social media of course plays a role in this arena, since people have been found to spend an average 1 hour and 40 minutes every day browsing these networks.

Working to develop your brand’s image and distribute messaging through the digital channels where you’re most likely to find audiences of interest helps encourage word-of-mouth.

How many times have you been drawn to a clever video in your Facebook feed, only to realize it’s a sponsored brand post? Or perhaps you’ve abandoned your online shopping, cart only to be followed around by those shopping cart items via ads on other websites? The more you build that customer relationship outside of the purchasing process, the more likely customers are to make it through to a completed purchase.Driving brand awareness also brings an overall increase in market leads. The more people know about your brand, the higher the market lead. And the higher the market lead, the greater potential is for sales. When customers have a positive purchase experience, they’re likely to then spread awareness themselves and serve as brand ambassadors.

The "How" of Brand Awareness

As is the case with any marketing initiative, sometimes the hardest part is understanding just how to execute on the objective at hand. When it comes to brand awareness in marketing, there are various methods to build strategies around.

Referral programs are an example of this. They essentially work to reward new and current customers for spreading the word. Many brands will offer money towards free product and/or services, or discounts in exchange for sharing out to friends on social media or through email.

Local/industry partnerships and influencer marketing programs also help drive awareness in a more organic way. It’s about gaining credibility through the credibility of another brand or thought leader in the industry. Host a contest or giveaway in conjunction with another brand, or invest in sponsored posts on the Instagram page(s) of an influencer with followers most similar to your target market. There are a number of ways to go about it. As this field grows, more and more tools exist to help manage these programs, and allow business to track the ROI achieved.

Consistency, flexibility, and creativity in content strategy through promotional materials like business cards, store signage, direct mail, etc. and via online updates makes all the difference against competitors. Explore various mediums whether that means a banner ad, Canvas ad on Facebook, or pre-roll on YouTube. At the beginning, the investment might be high with little return, but it’s about creating quality content that sticks rather than quantity that’s scrolled right on by.

From a PR perspective, building relationships with media reporters and digging into the data of your business to generate larger stories of interest also opens doors down the road. It takes time and networking, but with other people telling your story, generating backlinks, and driving people to your website, the awareness begins to breed on its own. Host an event or get involved in the community through charitable work and sponsorship. Or sift through customer data to determine trends that might speak towards a larger societal conclusion. Turn your brand into more than just a product/service—turn it into a story.

Even though not always immediate, driving brand awareness leads to sales when done effectively. And it’s much more cost effective and efficient to optimize for eyeballs, than it is direct conversions. Put time and faith into the process and as more and more people begin to recognize your brand, curiosity will naturally follow. Don’t let other brands steal the limelight—explore the resources available to start harnessing the power of your businesses’ and customer voices today.

What’s your best tip for creating positive brand awareness? Tweet your thoughts at @pixlee, and we’ll share our favorites!

Pixlee TurnTo Contributor

Pixlee TurnTo welcomes contributed content from leading marketers, influencers and ecommerce experts.

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