Performance marketing has become every digital marketers’ buzzword but more than that, an increasingly popular marketing strategy. The main reason being, it provides us with confidence to spend budget on measurable consumer actions, such as downloading your app or making a purchase. This has contributed to the growth in digital media spend versus traditional media, reaching $336 billion in the US in 2020, an 8% increase from 2019 (Forbes).
However, with this growth in digital spend, are marketers becoming too reliant on performance alone to hit their KPI goals? Perhaps they are forgetting about the bigger picture on what informs a user to make purchase decisions in the first place… Every marketer understands the importance of the brand however it may be unjustifiable to direct media spend to it where measurable outcomes are hard to come by.
So how can you justify brand awareness in your marketing mix? Well, there is a way to embed brand campaigns in your performance marketing strategy impacting not only your awareness but also bottom-line conversions.
How can brand awareness improve performance outcomes?
When an ad is shown, the memory decay drops very steeply (by more than 50%) in the first 24 hours of viewing and levels off over time (Nielsen). So how can we prevent this large drop off in remembering your ad or brand?
Running brand awareness campaigns have shown to have a major impact on the likelihood of remembering a brand. This is because brand campaigns usually have a high frequency cap and therefore the message and associations of the brand through the ad reaches the consumer multiple times. This repeated exposure can help memory endure over time. This is extremely important for performance outcomes – if the user has not been previously exposed to the brand and aren’t familiar with it, they are less likely to purchase. Nielsen found this to be as high as 60% of global consumers who prefer to buy new products from a familiar brand rather than switching to a new one.
To test this, we measured the uplift in installs and post install conversions of a group of users who saw a brand ad against those who hadn’t (a control). We found that for the group exposed to the brand ad, there was a 97% uplift in install and post install conversions compared to the control. On top of this, when another group of users were exposed to both a brand and direct response ad, there was a 99% uplift compared to the control group. This is more evidence to show that brand campaigns do have an impact on those lower funnel conversions and when used in conjunction with performance, we experienced even better results.
Tips for planning a brand awareness campaign through a performance lens:
- Ensure the imagery drives emotion and aligns with brand values and associations. This will increase the likelihood of it being remembered whether that’s subconsciously or consciously.
- Has a clear message allowing the user to understand who you are and your USP without requiring a high cognitive load. A 15-30 second video ad can work well here as it provides more information than a static ad but can be engaging and concise.
- Keep targeting broad to ensure you are reaching a large and new audience. Applying only specific target groups will limit scale and make it difficult to find new audience segments interested in your business.
- If you know the interests and behaviours of your engaged consumers, test these specific behavioural and contextual audiences separately to find more people like them. This can help find new high value customers that are yet to be introduced to your business.
- Keep in mind where the user is in the user journey when they have seen your brand ad. As they are unlikely to know much about your business, direct them to a relevant page that will provide them with more information and get to know you more.
How to execute and measure brand awareness for success
This is where a performance mindset can really be a game changer for measuring the success of your brand campaign. Ensure from the get-go that tracking of key metrics are in place outside of the standard brand metrics. For example, instead of just measuring reach, frequency, views, and clicks, have the landing page tagged up to track site lands. This will show how many users are being brought to your site, directly from the ad. It can also be used as an optimisation lever for your campaign, just as you would use installs or purchases as optimisation metrics for a performance campaign.
Using Google Analytics, you can look at other important metrics during the time the campaign is live like overall number of site visits and where your brand campaign sits within the path to conversion. This will also highlight the halo effect it has on the other channels. Any metrics should be compared to the same time window before the campaign was introduced allowing you to measure the incremental value of your brand campaign.
The users brought to your site from BA, can then later be re-targeted with a performance-led ad to push them down the funnel (ensuring you have the opt-ins in place to do so). Relevancy is key so if you know a user has browsed a particular area of your site, for example, watches on a jewellery site, personalise the performance ad to include these items. Dynamic ads are a great way to do this and will further increase the likelihood of conversion.
Performance strategies need brand campaigns
We can no longer rely on performance campaigns alone to reach our KPI goals. BA campaigns add value and should not be siloed. They both work in tandem and without brand, performance campaigns will never reach their full potential. With the right measurement framework in place, the value of brand campaigns can be quantified. This will rationalise budget spent on it and allow your customer base to really grow. Brand campaigns also allow you to be more creative and attract a new audience you may have never previously discovered. So now it is your turn, plan a brand campaign with a performance lens and it will allow you to feed the upper funnel and unlock user acquisition growth never seen before.