When you build out a marketing plan for a particular product or service, chances are you are going to be focused on measurable results. For many, this comes in the form of clicks,  leads, or conversions to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts.

If your marketing impact is being measured in such a way, it’s not surprising why some marketers would be uneasy about allocating budget to awareness efforts. However, if you aren’t investing in top-of-funnel efforts, the truth is you are limiting your ability to cost-effectively add new prospects. Mid- and lower-funnel tactics are only reaching consumers who are already familiar with a brand, who’ve already purchased, or who have entered the funnel by accident (and aren’t truly qualified customers). It’s simple but obvious: you have to get out there and spread the word, and programmatic advertising offers a simple way to reach prospective customers across channels at scale.

Rather than shying away from investing in the top of the funnel, turning to programmatic advertising can help achieve your goals and build your brand. Here are five tactics to help build brand awareness with programmatic advertising. 

Cast a wide net, then narrow your targeting

Top-of-funnel marketing in the age of data is far more targeted than it’s ever been, and consumers don’t even necessarily have to click through their first exposure to an ad to begin their journey through the funnel. So, not only can marketers gain the opportunity to encourage new leads to become customers, but they’ll also have a larger and more meaningful sample to measure their marketing efforts against. At last, marketers at smaller enterprises can begin to understand who their various audiences are, what resonates with each one and — most importantly — what drives each to convert. Once you see which targeting tactics are working best, you can begin to narrow down your audience and drive only the most qualified leads further along the path to conversion.

Refresh your creative

Take a step back if your past campaigns haven’t been performing as well as you’d like. Could your creative use some fresh visuals or messaging? Generally it is recommended to run several sets of ad creative at any given time, and replace the weaker ones with newer, stronger sets as soon as you get performance data. Depending on the platform you are advertising on, more refreshes may be advisable. For example, Facebook recommends refreshing your creative every two weeks to keep engagement highest. While that is not realistic for most brands, keeping your messaging and visuals fresh is important if you want them to continue to resonate. 

Personalize with DCO

Dynamic creative optimisation, or DCO, allows you to personalise the ads or messages a particular viewer or audience sees. This is a particularly strong strategy for retailers with multiple locations, or anyone who wants to show different messaging to different audiences. If you have a strong product feed, matching your recommended products with the audience who will be seeing the ad is a simple way to increase engagement, and hopefully sales. 

Expand Your Channels

Getting in front of consumers on multiple channels helps increase your chances of engagement and drives them further down the funnel. Consider adding audio, video, or CTV to existing display campaigns to reach audiences in a new way. Remember to look at device mix and leverage cross-device targeting and tracking for a seamless cross-channel experience to reach consumers with a consistent message across screens.

Know When to Sell and When to Help

Throughout the customer journey, there are times when consumers just need your sales team to answer a question. And there are other times when they are just looking for strategy, advice, or ideas. Many companies see every single interaction as a sales opportunity, but that’s simply not the case.

You can use educational materials, webinars and gated content to gather leads, and promote these materials programmatically to increase visibility. But keep in mind that sometimes people are just looking for tips, and don’t want to get barraged by a sales rep as soon as they download.

At the end of the day, when the top of the funnel is fed, the health of the entire marketing operation is elevated, as is the health of the organistion. Marketing at the top of the funnel fills the funnel with tons of new prospects, which, with the right technology and strategies to support the journey will almost certainly lead to more sales.