John Lincoln

How To Build Brand Awareness Online In 2018 (What Works)

You want to build your brand awareness?

In this article, we will cover how to do just that.

how to build brand awareness

What is Brand Awareness?

By definition, brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services. It’s generally the first step in the marketing process. After all, customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist. Ultimately, you want customers to think of your brand first when they go to make a related purchase. Think of the Nike swoosh. The company doesn’t even need to include its name in its products – the swoosh is recognizable enough all on its own. The name and symbol are synonymous with athletics, the same way the golden arches of McDonald’s are synonymous with fast food. Building awareness will help separate you from the competition and develop a strong reputation in your industry.
  1. Use Remarketing Ads to Build Brand Awareness

Remarketing (also called retargeting) is an insanely popular strategy to reclaim lost traffic. It works like this: When someone visits your site, you cookie them, meaning that you can track where else they go online. That way, you can serve them ads on the sites they visit in the future. It’s so effective because it specifically targets an audience that’s already shown interest in your brand. You can choose where on your site you’d like to place the cookie – on your product listings or checkout pages, for example – to better target those most likely to make a purchase in the future. It’s also a great way to keep your brand fresh and relevant to those prospects and encourage them to revisit your site.

For the best brand recall, you can retarget in the following ways:
  • Retarget individuals with a preliminary brand awareness
  • Retarget people who have previously visited your site
  • Focus on people who have opened an email
  • Track users who have searched for your product by name
Remarketing ads can be used on a variety of networks, including social channels like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as the Google Search and Display Network.
  1. Use Social Media for Customer Engagement

It’s not exactly a secret that a social presence is pretty crucial to success these days. But using it to build positive brand awareness requires a few steps. First, you’ll want to perform a social media competitor analysis. Doing so will give you insight into how your competitors’ are using social media — which channels work best, what content they share and how it performs. Based on the information you collect, you can select which channels are best suited to your audience, and focus your efforts there. For example, if you run a B2B you’ll likely start with a LinkedIn and Twitter strategy to engage and build awareness. And while it may seem like social media is a sea of brands, there’s plenty of ways to set yourself apart. Mainly, take a proactive approach. Did you know that the average response time for a brand to reply on social media to a user is 10 hours, while the average user will only wait 4? On top of that, 89% of social media messages to brands go ignored. Don’t be that brand. Be the brand that responds quickly and thoroughly. Be the brand that creates engaging posts, asks questions, and interacts with followers. Social media is an ideal avenue for gaining a good reputation among the masses, so make sure your social strategy caters to your brand identity and creates a positive experience for your followers. It will help you build a better brand for customers, improve their engagement levels, and eventually turn leads into sales.
  1. Guest Posting For Brand Awareness

This one’s an absolute gem, trust me. Or, trust Buffer. The social management platform used this strategy to great success and was able to grow from 0 to 100,000+ members in just 9 months by writing and distributing 150 guest posts. The key here is, of course, to produce high-quality content and distribute it to sites that already cater to your target audience. Average content isn’t enough. You want each piece to be great enough to leave a lasting impression. And remember, it’s okay to start small. You can’t enter the wedding industry and expect to start posting for David’s Bridal, but you can target a few smaller sites and slowly work your way up to the bigger names in the industry. By exposing yourself to your audience early, you’ll begin to build the trust and expertise needed to grow an engaged following. Once they’re familiar with your brand and know the quality of your work, they’ll be more susceptible to your own website and products.
  1. Run Contests and Giveaways to Build Brand Awareness

People love free stuff. In fact, in the face of some sort of giveaway, they’re likely to ask few questions. So use it to both your advantages by offering a giveaway or running a contest, in exchange for an email address or a social share. The key to success is here making sure the item you’re offering is something sought after by your target audience and represents your brand well. Whether or not they initially convert into a paying customer, they’ll be at least be left with a positive impression of your brand. For a successful contest, make sure cover any requirements to enter or specific rules, what the prize is and when the deadline is, and when the winner will be announced. Also make sure you include a clear CTA: comment, share, or like. The more people that engage with your contest, the more people will ultimately see it.
Run a Contest for Brand Awareness
Run a Contest for Brand Awareness
  1. Paid Advertising on Social Networks

Social ads have come a long way. And now, they’re more necessary than ever. As social networks continue to make it increasingly hard for brands to reach followers organically, they have to turn to ads to build awareness. This isn’t such a bad thing, really. With the incredible amount of ad formats and targeting options available, advertising is easier and more effective than ever. First, you’ll need to decide which channels are best suited for your business. If you’re a B2B, LinkedIn and it’s highly targeted capabilities – including remarketing – will almost certainly help you reach professionals in your niche (but beware; LinkedIn ads are some of the priciest). Or when in doubt, give Facebook a try. It’s the top ad channel for both B2C and B2B marketers; it’s the #1 choice for 72% of B2C’s, and 43% of B2B’s. It also allows you to set an ad objective specifically for brand awareness. It’s designed to put your brand in front of your target audience and will be shown to those most likely to be receptive to your brand. Facebook states that “When using the brand awareness objective, your ads will reach your audience up to 2 times every 5 days by default. Over a 4-week campaign that means people will see your ads around 10 times.” You also have the options to boost any posts you feel are particularly relevant and well-crafted to make them more likely appear in your audience’s news feeds.
  1. Influencer Marketing Builds Brand Awareness

Influencer marketing is the process of using influencers to expose your brand and message to a much larger audience. When used correctly, It’s an incredibly effective tactic. In fact, 74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions, and 49% of people say they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions. According to Simply Measured, you want social influencers to create BEAR content for your brand:
  • Brand-Specific: It should be clear that the influencer is using your product or associated with your brand
  • Engaging: This content should increase engagement performance on your brand’s owned content
  • Authentic: This content should be authentic, meaning influencer-created and in line with the influencer’s typical tone and style
  • Relevant: Influencer content should be relevant to your target audience’s interests, desires, and outlooks. Having trouble determining what these are? Listening is a great way to solve this.
It works so well because the product recommendation or endorsement is coming directly from someone your audience already trusts. It doesn’t come off as spammy like ads often can, and it doesn’t come from a nobody (for now, that’s your brand). Getting it right depends, of course, on finding the right influencers to target. While it may be tempting to simply look for those with the largest following, that’s not really the metric you need to be focusing on. Instead, you want to look for an engaged following. If their audience is commenting, liking, and otherwise interacting, you’ll know you’ve found the right one. Because your objective is to build brand awareness, your best bet is to provide the influencer with a discount code or special link for your product. Or, encourage to post photos or videos of them using or interacting with your product. Take Stride Gum’s partnership with (mega)influencer DJ Khaled on Snapchat. He’s had a string of success on Snapchat and often takes part in full brand takeovers where snaps on behalf of the brand. With Stride, he used the platform to promote the brand’s new Mad Intense gum. Using his influencer status, a much wider, relevant audience was exposed to the brand’s new product.
Influencer Marketing for Brand Awareness
Influencer Marketing for Brand Awareness
  1. Refer a Friend

It’s the oldest trick in the book, and likely one of the most effective. People will much more readily take product advice from friends over brands. Not surprisingly, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising. Your job is to make sure your customers are spreading the word by creating an incentive. Take it from Dropbox. They gave users more space in exchange for referring a friend to the service – and increased their sign ups by 60%. The key is here figuring out what it is your customers want. Dropbox knew more space would spur its customers to spread the word, and that’s exactly what your company needs to do. Ask yourself what you can provide that will motivate your customers to make the referral, and they’ll do half the work for you.
  1. Create Demand and Scarcity For Better Brand Awareness

It’s a fact of life: people want what they can’t have. So make them think they can’t have your product. Spotify used this principle to great effect when it first launched by initially making the service invite-only: “if your name’s not down, you’re not coming in.”
Create Demand for Brand Awareness
Create Demand for Brand Awareness
Spoiler alert: It worked, and Spotify is now one of the top streaming services available. The principle works so well because it plays on human psychology and the phenomenon we now know as FOMO: fear of missing out. If you can create the feeling of exclusivity, people will be drawn to your product simply because it’s hard to obtain. Even better? Your brand will be well known before your product even hits the table. Using limited or exclusive offers is one of the most effective ways to put the scarcity principle to use.
  1. Create a Unique Brand Voice

Heard of the app What the Forecast?!! It’s a relatively new app that, like many before it, tells users the forecast. Only it doesn’t just tell you when a snowstorm is coming, it provides a brutally honest description about how it feels outside. It’s funny, and provides a little much needed levity to your morning routine.
Create a Unique Voice for Brand Awareness
Create a Unique Voice for Brand Awareness
For our purposes, it proves that separating yourself from the pack is a wonderful way to build awareness. It’s been a while since a weather app generated significant buzz, but What the Forecast?!! managed to do it. The app uses a unique, refreshing (and sometimes vulgar) voice to deliver something as simple as the weather. So take their strategy and apply it to yours. Again, this will take a solid knowledge of your target audience and the kind of voice or tone they’ll respond best to. Then, use your blog, social media channels, chatbots, etc. to bring your brand voice to life. Add humor, sarcasm, or simply heavy professionalism, and your audience will begin to associate your brand with that particular voice.
  1. Use Videos and Infographics to Build Brand Awareness

Don’t just stick to traditional means to deliver your brand message; instead, experiment with different formats to see which resonates best. Video is a great place to start. In emails alone, studies show that using the word “video” in the subject line increases open rates by 19 percent, click-through rates by 65 percent and reduces un-subscribers by 26 percent. Because we’re going for brand awareness, it’s best to stick to top of the funnel tactics like incorporating explainer videos. An effective explainer video highlights the benefits of your product or service. It also builds brand-name awareness so people know where to look when they decide to make a purchase. Take a look at Amazon’s explainer video for its new service Amazon Go. I know what you’re thinking – does a company as big as Amazon really need any explanation? In this case, the answer’s yes. Because their new service was revolutionary in the space, it warranted an explanation of how it works and how consumers can easily use it. As you create your own, keep the following in mind:
  • Keep it short and simple
  • Emphasize the benefits of your product or service
  • Be entertaining
  • Show your product or service in action
  • Make it look good
Another extremely popular content format are infographics. They combine striking images with powerful content, making them easy and interesting for prospects to absorb. They’re so effective because:
  • They’re shareable – Visual content is 40x more likely to be shared in social media compared to other types of content, and
  • They’re retainable – Information recall of a visual is 65% after three days compared to 10% for auditory information
To make one of your own, make sure you’ve chosen a relevant, compelling topic and combined it with high quality visuals. Tools like Canva,, and Piktochart can help.
  1. Host a Facebook Group to Build Brand Awareness

Facebook for business goes beyond the Business Page. In fact, one of the best ways to grow an engaged, loyal following is through Facebook Groups. Facebook Groups allow you to hone in and invite only those interested in your particular niche, and interact with them on a consistent basis. In your Group, you can share exclusive tips and information to build trust and a feeling of inclusion among your audience. Remember, a group is different from a Page. A Facebook Group is more focused on specific interests and topics related to an industry. It relies on customer interaction and feedback, making it easier to create lasting connections. For example, if you run a digital marketing company, you might form a Group that focuses on beginner marketing tips for entrepreneurs. Followers can use it to ask questions and gain valuable insight straight from the source. It will still be connected to your company, but your followers will feel like they’re interacting with you, not your brand. Remember, if you do choose to start a Group, you’ll be responsible for managing it correctly, providing customer support, and spurring conversation.

Wrapping Up Brand Awareness

There are plenty of ways to expose an audience to your brand. The important part is picking the ones that work best for you, and creating a strategy that outlines how you’ll achieve your objective. Remember, it’s okay to start simple. Create an infographic and share it wherever possible, tagging influencers and other relevant brands or people to increase its reach. As you begin to gain a little traction, try identifying and reaching out to influencers on your preferred social network. Work with them to create contests and giveaways, or create your own referral program to maximize word of mouth advertising. Whatever methods you choose, make sure to stay true to your brand identity and core message.

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John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Ignite Visibility is a 4x  Inc. 5,000 company. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the books “Digital Influencer” and “The Forecaster Method.” Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketers in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. Lincoln has also made “SEO: The Movie” and “Social Media Marketing: The Movie.” His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.

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