Paid media pros similarly need to be adept as to when they should use awareness or lead generation campaign approaches. Unless you’re the Nolan Ryan of your industry (Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, for example), you can’t rely on a constant stream of lead generation fastballs. You need to build awareness to develop a steady pipeline of prospective customers to keep your sales team busy and nurture your loyal and new customers.
To make sure we’re all in the same ballpark, here’s what I mean by brand awareness vs. lead generation:
- Brand awareness. A campaign focused on expanding your audience of potential customers.
- Lead generation. Also known as direct response advertising, a campaign that creates interest around a certain product or service, usually through form fills for gated content or a direct call to action from an advertisement.
Here’s why you should prioritize both brand awareness and lead gen campaigns, plus what you should determine ahead of time to set your strategy up for success.
The Customer Acquisition Lifecycle
Out-of-market customers can account for 95% of your buyers at any given time. If that’s not a ringing endorsement for investing in awareness campaigns, I’m not sure what is. While you hope that your latest clever campaign was unforgettable, you have to constantly remind prospective customers that you exist. A lack of brand awareness is a bigger barrier to new customer acquisition than non-customer brand rejection. Awareness campaigns ensure that you have a sustainable lead source. People need to know about you first to be willing to give you their contact information in a form fill, for example. Plus, when you convert your awareness campaign audience into customers during lead generation campaigns, you need to start the whole customer acquisition lifecycle all over again. The more prospective customers you turn into paying customers during lead generation campaigns, the better for you! But also, it dwindles your pool of quality leads, meaning it’s time to cycle back to promoting your brand through paid media.
Combining brand and activation marketing harvests short-term demand from in-market customers, while building long-term demand among out-of-market customers. Brand building reaches your out-of-market customers and sets you up nicely for future growth. Lead gen seems more rewarding because it’s directly tied to a conversion, but there’s still legwork that needs to be done to nurture those leads, move them through the funnel, and then keep them as repeat customers.
What You Need to Determine Before Strategizing
There’s no one set-and-forget formula to how you should split your awareness and lead gen media funds. Researchers have calculated that allocating 46% of the budget to brand and 54% toward activation tended to be an efficient balance for B2B companies. However, keep in mind that every business and industry is different.
So, while I’d love to sketch out the perfect awareness/lead gen campaign strategy for you, you’ll be more successful if you customize it to your business, industry, and goals. Be sure to clearly define the following characteristics central to any dual awareness/lead gen campaign:
- Your story. Think of the clothing companies that advertise primarily through D2C ads on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, etc. When their ads disappear from your feed, do you remember anything about them? Probably not. That’s because they don’t spend time building their brand awareness and telling their audience a cohesive story about their company. They rely solely on “Here’s a nice T-shirt. Buy now!” While this may work for the short term, it’s a surefire way to make yourself forgettable.
Solidifying your brand story and voice falls into the brand awareness category. What makes your company unique? Are you sustainable? Committed to sourcing local materials? Have a team of inspiring employees? For long-term success and brand recognition, you must stand out from your competitors and fight your way to the front of your shared audience’s mind when it comes time to buy.
Bonus points: One study shows that 58% of potential employees are more likely to respond to a message from a recruiter when they’ve seen a message from the recruiting brand before.
- Target audience. It is crucial that you conduct research to define your target audience. Part of this research will naturally be dictated by your product or service and your brand story, but you need to be as granular as possible. If you’re advertising to the wrong people or too wide an audience, you’ll run out of campaign funds quickly with little to show for it.
- Desired action. Success looks different to everyone. Before embarking on a campaign, you need to clearly define what success means to you. A measurement framework exercise may help you here. Whatever your goal is, make sure that it is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound). Do you want people to fill out a form to download an eBook? Sign up for a newsletter? Follow you on social media? Make sure that your specific campaign “success” outcome ladders up to fulfilling a larger business goal.
Brand Building and Generating Leads: The Perfect Lineup
You need brand awareness campaigns to get off the bench and into the game and lead gen to get the fans off their feet and strike out your competition. When you pair the two, you can capitalize on moments in time and provide a clear customer journey to purchase, engage, or activate. Have a clear view of your goals before you begin strategizing, and then make sure your efforts are focused, creative, and inspiring to delight the right audience and keep your sales team happy.