A brand awareness strategy is crucial for advertisers who want to make sure that their brand and products are known and recognizable by their customers. With holiday shopping starting, this article explores how advertisers both big and small can leverage the affiliate channel in marketing to create a connection and build loyalty with customers.

Building a Brand Awareness Strategy in Affiliate

Shoppers will have countless holiday deals to go through this season, with many of them seeking the best deals possible. However, it’s not always the lowest discount or the biggest savings that get the attention of customers – it’s a great deal from a brand they’re familiar with. This recognition stems from a core concept: brand awareness and recognition.

However, not all brands have the same amount of bandwidth and resources to generate brand awareness. That’s why the affiliate channel is as unique as it is critical when it comes to building brand awareness and recognition – it offers a more even playing field for advertisers big and small alike. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore why brand awareness is so critical for an advertiser to have with consumers. We’ll also go in-depth with five expert insights that highlight how smaller brands can optimize their brand awareness strategy through the use of content publishers in the affiliate channel.

What Challenges do Small Advertisers Face Building Brand Awareness?

Why is brand awareness so important? A few reasons why brand awareness is important to both advertisers and customers is because:

Essentially, brand awareness is the foundation that any advertiser-customer relationship is built on. When your customer talks about your product, your product catalog, or your company, they’re speaking from what they know about you through researching your company and the personal experiences they may have had. The more a customer knows about you – the more awareness they have – the more likely they are to trust, purchase, and remain loyal to your product line.

Awareness can be built in a number of ways, from paid placement advertisements to being featured in content from content publishers and social influencers. While bigger advertisers have budgets for expansive campaigns that build brand awareness from multiple points, smaller advertisers struggle with getting the same amount of visibility because they don’t have the budget for the same opportunities.

However, digital media has created a more even playing field for smaller advertisers to compete for brand awareness opportunities. Leveraging content publishers and social influencers are key for smaller advertisers looking to build out their brand awareness because it enables them to target specific customers that would be interested in their products, highlight what makes their brand unique, and demonstrate what their brand can offer.

5 Insider Answers to Brand Awareness Questions for Small Advertisers

Even though smaller advertisers may have smaller budgets, they can still build a strong brand awareness through strategic planning with content publishers. The trick to accomplishing this is to work with content publishers to build a brand recognition plan. This raises a lot of questions, and Elizabeth Prendiville, a Strategic Account Manager for the Rakuten Affiliate Network, gave some expert insights and solutions.

1. How do smaller brands build awareness with so many big advertisers in the same space?

According to Elizabeth, you need to focus on what makes your brand unique. Being able to highlight what separates you from bigger brands not only makes you more recognizable, it also starts to build a relationship between your brand and your customers so that, when they think about you, they’ll recall something unique that identifies you from the rest of the advertisers out there.

The same goes for your product line. Elizabeth claimed that “publicizing your signature products is important to consumers” because those products are what they’ll associate with your brand. By showing off your top products and highlighting what separates you as an advertiser, customers will start to build associations and recognize your brand.

2. How can smaller advertisers make the most out of a smaller marketing budget?

“Focus on what your brand can offer and bring these factors in as bargaining chips when making deals with publishers,” Elizabeth advised. “Think beyond a flat fee.”

What Elizabeth is suggesting are ways to optimize your marketing budget by supplementing it with other, more creative opportunities. For example, say you’re an advertiser whose main product is a professional looking backpack. You may want to consider gifting some backpacks to fashion content publishers that focus on business apparel in exchange for having them review the product on their site. You could also incentivize content publishers by offering a gift with a purchase, CPA increases on key products, or doing social media crossovers.

Think beyond the flat fee and focus on what else you can offer for exposure. Sometimes (such as the case with product reviews) these can have an even larger impact on your target customers.

3. What are some of the benefits that content publishers provide smaller advertisers looking to build brand awareness?

Content publishers have an interesting solution for advertisers when it comes to building brand awareness because they’re able to provide context and perspectives in ways and formats that other publishing models may not be able to. For instance, a publisher could:

  • Provide a blog post
  • Feature the product alongside similar brands
  • Feature the product in a social media post
  • Create video content

It all comes down to the creative freedom that content creators have.

“Bloggers and content [publishers] are more likely to brainstorm creatively with a brand and think of new and innovative ways to discuss your products,” Elizabeth explained. This adds a three-dimensional feel to your product and your brand, which only helps further builds brand and product recognition.

4. What are some of the hesitations that smaller advertisers might have working with content publishers?

The biggest hesitation for any advertiser is rooted in the fundamental question of “will this generate sales?” Advertisers are looking for strong ROI in what they do, and historically coupon sites, cashback platforms, and loyalty/reward programs all tend to convert higher. However, when building brand awareness, advertisers need to consider the big picture.

“Throughout the year (and especially in Q4) I tell my brands that building a healthy publisher community for a program is a dovetail approach,” Elizabeth shared, “[coupon sites and others] are necessary to get the strong growth and consistent sales, [but] content bloggers and editorial-type publishers with native content are vital to growing brand awareness and personal brand loyalty.”

In other words, you need a good mixture of multiple publishing models. Focusing your energy only in coupon sites does little good if your customer base has never heard of you or isn’t thinking to look for your offers, and only leveraging content sites can result in less revenue.

“Both groups are essential for very different reasons!”

5. What are some strategies to get started?

When looking to build your brand awareness efforts, it’s essential to look at what your competitors have already done in the past and try to differentiate yourself. Make sure your brand and products are standing out for the unique aspects they have, and they’re not falling under a situation where customers are thinking they’ve heard this all before.

“Many midrange brands are competing against their own product within a reseller,” Elizabeth noted, citing that she’s seen this situation happen many times before. When faced with this scenario, she “always encourages them to tap into what makes the consumer’s experience more personal shopping with them directly.”

With Q4 here and the shopping season getting started, this is the perfect opportunity for small advertisers to make a giant push for the holidays. Leveraging these strategies can help build your brand for holiday success and extend well beyond the 2016 season through customer loyalty and continued recognition.