In today’s digital landscape, brands typically (and ideally) pursue a full-funnel strategy, connecting with consumers from the initial research stages through to the actual moment of purchase. In the reality of the current economy, there isn’t always enough to realistically fund a full-funnel strategy. When that happens and budgets get cut, branding efforts are usually the first to go as brands strive for bottom-line growth.
Despite their best efforts to consider the bigger picture, business leaders are typically most concerned with immediate sales and conversions – and brand marketing doesn’t materialize into those KPIs as quickly as lower-funnel tactics do. However, branding is critically important to performance media for several reasons and should remain as part of an always-on strategy.
Performance Media Depends on Traffic from Brand Efforts
Though it may not turn into revenue overnight, brand growth is what will ultimately expand your pool of potential customers. Performance media can’t be a solo workhorse. Consider a lower-funnel channel like search that relies on the consumer to actively raise their hand with interest. For a non-branded query, that ping of recognition may be what sways the searcher to click on your ad instead of a competitor’s; meanwhile, brand queries simply don’t exist without investment in awareness. Always-on branding is key to delivering the consistent messaging that will inspire consumers to take action when they’re looking to meet a need that your product or service can fulfill.
Branding efforts aren’t only important in the consideration stage; they also play a role in pushing transactions across the finish line. Purchase decisions often require more than one touchpoint, especially when the item or service is of high value. Branding helps build the remarketing pools that enable repeat interactions across certain performance media channels and help brands keep the conversation going with a customer.
Without branding, performance media will feel an even greater strain. In situations where budgets are being cut due to soft sales or orders, this creates a vicious cycle – sales decline, so budgets get cut further, meaning even less investment in marketing, and so on.
Branding Helps Create Loyal Customers
Beyond building new customer relationships, branding is also critical to strengthening relationships with existing customers. Branding presents an opportunity to communicate your company’s or product’s promises. Whether your brand promotes sustainability, customer satisfaction, or diversity, branding efforts allow you to reinforce the aspects of your business the customer already knows and loves to create a stronger connection.
Repeated, consistent branding builds trust and brand equity, which opens potential for cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Even in the rare instances where a person would never need to make another purchase, a strong brand connection can turn a customer into an advocate when it comes to recommendations for friends and family.
How to Maximize Branding Efforts to Drive Performance
While you may understand the importance of branding, we know you may be stuck with small branding budgets. Here are a few tips to make the most of your brand advertising efforts:
- Focus on channels that maximize reach while minimizing costs. It may be tempting to throw your entire budget at a big media buy, but certain channels can be more effective than others at lower spend levels. Social video and digital out-of-home can typically accommodate budgets of varying sizes while reaching a sizeable audience, at scale. Within these opportunity channels, there are also unique targeting capabilities to stretch your budget further, such as zip code targeting.
- Leverage existing partnerships to test and learn in new channels. Your current media partners are already familiar with your brand, your customers, your goals, etc. Building on current relationships instead of starting fresh with new partners can create efficiencies. If you’re already running display with a DSP partner, try expanding into connected TV or online video. If your current audiences are limited, look to expand into more prospecting or create lookalike audiences to scale.
- Measure your success. An important part of securing more brand funding is proving its value. If you’re just starting out, simply measuring the lift in branded search volume can be insightful. If your branding strategy is more mature, use multi-touch attribution to clearly demonstrate how branding interactions are driving sales and conversions.
Neglecting branding efforts can have long-lasting, detrimental effects on performance media. Thankfully, today’s multitude of platforms and technology make activating, optimizing, and measuring brand marketing more seamless than ever, regardless of your budgets. With the right approach, your branding campaigns can fuel performance media, strengthen your customer base, and demonstrate value to make branding a greater priority for your organization.