How to Increase Brand Awareness Without a Large Advertising Budget
As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
Regardless of what you’ve heard, it doesn’t take a huge advertising or marketing budget to increase brand awareness. Some of the most effective brand awareness tactics just take ingenuity and hustle.
For organizations who need to see ROI without a large ad spend, there are alternative channels and methods that work well. Marketing initiatives such as podcasting, YouTube channels, frequent blogging, and social media can all bridge budget gaps.
How to Increase Brand Awareness
To strategically spend a smaller budget, all it takes is a solid understanding of which tactics don’t entirely rely on paid spend. It may not be as easy or as quick as throwing a large budget behind an AdWords campaign, but over time, hustle and muscle prove to be a more fruitful use of your time.
#1. Optimize Ad Spend
If you don’t have a strategy to allocate your ad budget, you can spend it irresponsibly and actually lose money. You would be surprised how many businesses have a negative ROI on ad spend, but secretly think their ads are working well.
There’s no point in spending money on ads that aren’t working.
Implement these paid search budget tactics to help optimize your ad spend:
- Send ad clicks to specific landing pages. When you send users to a home page, there's no context between the ad and the page.
- Narrow down paid search keywords. Don’t bid on everything. Focus on exact-match keywords of highly relevant terms. Your paid traffic will decrease, but relevancy increases.
- Try retargeting. As only 2 percent of visitors will become leads on their first visit, retargeting is essential. Use lead magnets specific to the reason they first came to your site website. For example, traffic that is interested in inbound marketing can be retargeted on Facebook with an inbound marketing lead magnet.
#2. Launch a Podcast
With Gartner predicting that 30 percent of web-browsing sessions will take place with “voice first interactions,” it’s time to get on board with audio content and podcasting for your business.
Starting a podcast takes strategy and commitment.
Using a combination of inexpensive tools (Skype, GarageBand, etc.), you can easily start a podcast from scratch, implementing best practices like:
- Playing the long game.
- Podcasting isn’t a short-term play. The content builds up value over time.
- A focus on quality.
- Podcasts have a smaller, but more engaged audience. Use this to your advantage and cover niche content and themes to really provide value.
- Pushing out a few podcasts at a time.
- Let them binge. Podcast listeners desire on-demand content, meaning they want to listen to them whenever they want.
Podcasts can also be incorporated into your digital ad strategy. In fact, a poll of 2,000 U.S. consumers revealed that if having to see a digital ad, the consumer preferred it to be through a podcast.
#3. Launch a YouTube Channel
This year, video was also responsible for 74 percent of all online traffic.
In a single month alone, 8 out of 10 people, 18-49 years old, watch YouTube. With the platform reaching over a billion users, it’s already an extremely trusted source of video content. In fact, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world.
Start creating videos for your business with these principles in mind:
- How often will you post? Top brands publish around 78 videos per month, so frequency is key for a successful channel.
- Your videos shouldn’t be overly promotional, but featuring a watermark or logo, along with an end screen, are effective, yet minimal branding tactics.
- The Overall Marketing Plan.
- Your YouTube channel shouldn’t be an island. Combine your videos into your overall marketing strategy, including your social media channels, your blog, and even on your landing pages.
#4. Blog Incessantly
In as little as three months, companies can see a positive increase in traffic just from doubling their content production every week.
The more valuable content you create, the more opportunities potential customers have to find you. The most effective companies create steady streams of great content by:
- Answering questions.
- Any and every question that your personas could have. If you can’t answer it, address it and give advice. Work with your sales team to get customer FAQs.
- Looping in other marketing collateral.
- Even posting a blog with an embedded YouTube video, or a recording of your podcast can be valuable content. Plus, it can get visitors to check out your other channels.
- Planning everything.
- Even shorter, concise posts should be planned out ahead of time. Don’t rush through your content just for the sake of posting something.
Need help putting together your editorial calendar? Nail down the key components using our Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain guide.
#5. Be Active On Social Media
To properly leverage social channels, and see a healthy ROI, it’s important to engage.
Don’t just maintain social media channels, or try to have a presence on every single channel. Use our go-to methods to make it easier to be active and successful on social:
- Pick 2-3 platforms.
- Focus on the channels your personas prefer. Forget about the others.
- Cherry pick topics.
- The tweets, posts, and other content that your competitors produce can be revelatory. Run with subjects that seem to perform well for them.
- Join user groups.
- While being active in groups on Facebook and LinkedIn can be time-consuming, you can actually talk to your customers and gain authentic insights about your industry.
#6. Diversify Where Your Content Lives
By posting excerpts of your blog posts on other sites, such as Medium and LinkedIn, you can get your message out to a different audience, and drive them back to your content. Aside from the crafty content distribution, you can also increase brand awareness and present yourself as a subject matter expert.
Slide and dice those blog posts, ebooks, and white papers to create high-quality content and messaging on platforms like Facebook, Quora, and YouTube.
No need to reinvent the wheel.
If you can find opportunities to answer questions that fit in with your industry, grab an excerpt that answers their question, and include a link back to that post.
#7. Help a Reporter Out
Help a Reporter Out, or HARO, is a service that connects journalists, reporters, and PR managers to influencers. When you join this service, you can lend your knowledge and insight to reporters, who in turn give you publicity.
While HARO reports can get thousands of responses a day, you can successfully pitch a few with some effort and consistency. When pitching a HARO reporter, keep responses short and to the point. Work within the HARO platform, and make sure you’re answering each question included in the initial request.
Increase Brand Awareness Without Advertising
When it comes to great advertising, don’t rely on ad spend and take the easy (expensive) way out.
Do something different.
When brands are remarkable, people notice. Memorable content, videos, podcasts, and authentic presence on digital platforms can have a huge impact on your brand awareness. Sometimes, without you even seeing the results right away.
Use what little ad spend to support and seed that effort. By not letting budget dictate your course, your team can focus on creating quality content with long-term benefits.