How to Build Brand Awareness: A Comprehensive Guide for eCommerce Businesses

These five steps to building brand awareness can help your ecommerce business attract more top-of-funnel interest—and turn that interest into sales. Investing in brand awareness and market presence can also help strengthen your brand and its relationships with every customer.

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Brand awareness may seem like a fuzzy, nebulous buzzword, but brand awareness makes a huge difference when it comes to boosting your business’s bottom line. And, the truth is, it doesn't have to be something you can't measure or test our work toward. The best companies have thorough strategies to increase brand awareness and turn that brand awareness into sales.

In this article, we’ll zero in on how to build brand awareness for your e-commerce company in five steps. Once we get to the bottom of why brand awareness matters, we’ll help you:

  1. Understand the conversion funnel
  2. Discover some great ways to boost brand awareness
  3. Determine what data matters to your company when tapping into brand awareness
  4. Create new ways to measure brand awareness
  5. Carve out a strategy to turn awareness into actual sales

Let's get into it!

Why brand awareness matters

Brand awareness comes hand-in-hand with brand value. By raising your brand's profile, potential customers become familiar with what products your business sells and what makes your brand unique. 

And brand awareness seriously matters. After all, a customer is 46% more likely to spend more to shop with a brand they trust. Brand awareness gives you an edge over the competition, helping you draw in customers who are more likely to make a first-time purchase from a brand they feel familiar with over one they’ve never heard of.

Take, for example, the ecommerce brand Our Place, which sells luxury cookware and dinnerware that look as good as they cook. The brand’s strategy is all about showcasing its products in action, using lifestyle photography in all sorts of scenarios so potential customers can imagine what it might feel like (and taste like, and smell like, and look like) to cook with the best-selling “Always Pan.” 

From countless UGC TikTok and YouTube videos to Selena Gomez’s hand-picked gift guide, there’s brand-building and community-nurturing content everywhere. And, slowly but surely, when a customer is ready to invest in a pan, or a friend is looking for a new one, or it’s time to buy a housewarming present for their brother who just got a new apartment, they’re going to think of Our Place, likely without having seen the brand’s products in person.

Step 1: Understand the conversion funnel, then personalize it

The first step in building brand awareness is understanding how potential customers move through the conversion funnel. While the conversion funnel  for every brand is unique, there is a consensus on the four stages of the funnel, from top to bottom: awareness, interest, desire, and action.

Here's a bit more about each stage.

Awareness happens when someone learns about your brand. After all, someone can't become a customer until they know you exist. This can happen in a myriad of ways, including paid ads,  word of mouth, a pop-up event, and influencer marketing. The opportunities to spread the word about your brand are unlimited.

Next comes interest, that moment when the now–aware customer becomes interested in what your brand has to offer. They've heard of you, but now they have that first moment where they realize, hey, maybe this is something I would want, or maybe my kid would like, or this would make a pretty cool gift, wouldn't it?

Next up is desire. At this point, that general interest escalates into something more tangible: the customer is starting to want the product, weighing it against competitors, or more carefully perusing the website. They may even add an item to the cart… they're almost there.In a perfect world, desire would always turn into a conversion. But, as you know, it doesn't always work that way. Everything from slow website load times to the doorbell ringing can stop a customer's desire from transforming into a purchase.

While there are plenty of tips and tricks to help boost conversion rates, one of the best things you can do to increase the number of conversions is to invite more customers into your funnel. And that starts at the very top…with awareness.

So, in a nutshell, that's why awareness is so important. Even if your brand didn't change anything other than boosting awareness, It would almost certainly see an increase in sales simply by casting a wider net. (But you're smarter than that… You're going to cast a wider net and do all the things to boost conversion, too.)

The importance of personalized CX

To ensure your customer journey is as effective and offers you the best ROI possible, prioritize personalization at every stage. Jess Cervellon, a Fractional CX/Retention Leader and Vice President of Customer Experience at Feastables, discusses the need for personalization at every touchpoint at lengths in our Retention Rundown.

The TLDR? Personalization creates a thrilling adventure that’s just right for every unique customer, leading to higher conversion rates, increased AOV, and boosted LTV. 

Use all the data and analytics at your disposal to start offering personalized twists to every customer’s journey as soon as possible. Tailor ads by segment, create carousels of recommended products likely to resonate with certain cohorts and do whatever you can to align your brand with your unique customer’s values, wants, and needs

Step 2: Lean into strategies that drive reach and engagement

There are many ways to raise brand awareness, but above all else, prioritize consistency in whatever strategy or strategies you select. Some ways to get your brand name out there include:

  • Omnichannel marketing — from SMS to podcast to Reddit to Quora
  • Collaborating with influencers aligned with your brand
  • Creating content that builds community while boosting organic search.
  • Collaborating with other brands

Tapcart customer BÉIS, for example, was highly successful in its collaboration with Barbie. The collaboration not only cashed in on 2023’s favorite movie (and corresponding pop-culture phenomenon) but also served as a case study in top-notch omnichannel marketing. Shay Mitchell, the actress-turned-influencer who founded BÉIS, starred in a Barbie-themed campaign for the fuchia luggage, which not only created a social media frenzy but also caught the attention of key media outlets already attuned to the all-things-Barbie craze. 

To keep the demand high, the BÉIS team allowed shoppers to buy only one of each item from the limited-edition, sold-out collaboration. 

Step 3: Determine what data matters to your company

Next, it's time to determine what types of brand awareness your business should measure. Fortunately, tracking many aspects of your brand impact over digital platforms is relatively easy, especially over social media or contact management systems. Facebook, in particular, is quite good at this, offering organizations critical insights into what's happening on their pages. Shopify also provides this information.

Some of the most important data to track include

  • Mentions — the number of times your brand is mentioned
  • Reach — how many people are exposed to your brand’s posts via social media
  • Engagement — how many people engaged with your social post

Many businesses have a social media manager or other marketing number to track this data in a spreadsheet over time. The best data is a blend of numbers and intelligently analyzed context.

Step 4: Create new ways to measure brand awareness

You’ll also need to figure out a few more ways to learn more about your brand awareness efforts. One of the best ways to learn about what people are saying about your brand off the Internet is through analyzing website traffic. Tools like Google Analytics make it easy to understand who’s coming to your website and what those visitors are up to, but there’s so much more out there to help you, too. Hootsuite Insights, for example, lets you track brand mentions across all the top social media platforms — it’s like eavesdropping, but for work. Brandwatch Audience is also a great resource, using AI and image analysis to gauge who’s talking about your company and who’s driving the conversations at the very top. 

Pay special attention to data about how users land on your website and whether their visit stems from search, social, organic, direct, or referral sources. Keep track of changes over time and whether you can connect any of these changes to brand activations and awareness campaigns, including collaborations, influencer marketing, and more.

Additional Google tools, including the AdWords keyword planner and Google Trends, can help you target new customers via paid search and better understand search interest in your brand and its competitors over time.

Another option is conducting surveys, which can gauge brand recall — when someone remembers your brand name independently- and brand recognition — when someone remembers your brand name when listed with other brand name options. 

Brand awareness and brand recall surveys may pose questions such as:

  • Have you heard of [brand name]?
  • What brand or brands are top of mind when you think of [particular product]?
  • Which of the following brands have you heard of before?
  • How did you hear about [brand name?]

You’ll also sometimes see quick questions like these pop up on websites or even social feeds. 

Finally, you may consider social listening to better understand what people are saying about your company. Certain companies offer technology that allows you to search comments, conversations, and articles all over the internet to ascertain the level of buzz (and whether it’s good or bad). 

Companies such as Mention, Brandwatch, and even Google Alerts (free) can help your marketing team “eavesdrop” on what people say about your business. 

Step 5: Carve out a strategy to turn awareness into actual sales

Now that you understand the conversion funnel and how to measure awareness in various ways, it’s time to strengthen it so you can encourage more customers to go from aware to converted. 

Here are some of the best ways to encourage conversion:

1. Leverage top search results

Remember all that keyword research you did during step 3? Put it to good use by shaping your website (and its landing pages) to respond to what potential customers are searching for. You have essential information about what high-volume keywords are bringing traffic to your website. How can you ensure those customers convert at the highest rate possible? 

You can also use this information to inform an SEO strategy that will shape your content calendar. 

2. Consider new sales channels

If your website is your company’s only sales platform, it may be time to consider selling elsewhere. After all, websites don’t always have the best conversion rates, and many don’t offer a truly optimized customer experience on smartphones.

A bare minimum is a mobile-friendly website. An even better idea is a mobile app — and an incentive to get customers (and potential customers) onto that app ASAP. Think pop-up promos, emails, and SMS marketing that offers a discount or a gift with the first purchase, but only if the sale occurs on the app.

Apps tend to convert better than websites, and communicating with customers via push notifications, unlike SMS, is free. Tapcart customer INH Hair’s customers spend 25% more on the app, and beauty brand Glamnetic relies on push notifications to secure a 90% open rate from its app customers. 

3. A/B test those CTAs

You know those calls to action all over your website? If you haven’t toyed with them in a while, now’s the time. By A/B testing your CTAs, your business can ensure it’s using the best possible language (and colors, shapes, and checkout flows) to move customers from the “desire” stage of the funnel to the “converted” one. 

4. Use email and SMS for marketing 

Yes, push notifications land in your customers’ palms…but you can’t use them until they download your app. As customers move farther and farther down your funnel, you can ask for their emails and phone numbers in exchange for a discount, promo code, or gift. Once they opt into SMS and email marketing, nurture them carefully until they’ve converted. 

5. Create a little FOMO

Seasonal products? A sure-to-sell-out collection? Limited-time offers? Leverage scarcity into the little nudge “browsers” may need to convert. Creating a sense of urgency around a purchase — whether it's a free shipping cutoff for the holiday season, a BFCM promotion, or a ticker on your website until a sale or promotional event ends — FOMO works.

6. Zero in on retargeting

So, a customer interacted with your brand. They saw a post, clicked an ad, or visited your website… Now what? Try retargeting them. Pixel-based retargeting allows you to serve content to audiences already aware of your brand, hopefully nudging them further down your funnel.

Bonus points if you’ve got a great, smartly segmented, and highly targeted ad or piece of content to push their way — and a meaningful promo and CTA to boot. 

7. Keep building your brand 

As you tinker with strategies to boost your conversion rate, don’t forget where all this started — at the top of your funnel. The more customers you can make aware of your brand, the better. Evaluate every opportunity to grow your brand’s reputation. And remember, all the little things you do, including building a community, creating a top-notch customer experience on all shopping platforms, and turning VIP customers into unofficial brand ambassadors, counts.

For example, Tapcart customer Hobbiesville views its app as a holistic channel, and when it sends push notifications to its customers, the company is not always banking on making a sale ASAP. Sometimes, a customer is just going to consume content, share links, or tell someone else about the brand. And those are all wins because eventually, one way or another, that moment will lead to a purchase. 

After all, a mobile app is designed to increase brand awareness and market presence while driving operational efficiency and elevating a more unique, personalized customer experience. A plug-and-play app (like the ones Tapcart develops, which are an extension of your Shopify store) allows you to reach, engage with, convert, and retain customers more efficiently without staffing up. Designed to be a low-lift extension of your brand, you can leverage the resources you already have on a new, entirely owned channel that exceeds your consumers’ already high expectations.

As you get to know these customers better, as they move further down your funnel, make that first purchase, and then are driven to download your app, you’ll create unique, personalized experiences that not only keep those customers engaged but bring them closer to the brand than ever before — even between purchases.

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