Master These 4 Levels of Awareness to Help Your Digital Ads Reach Their Potential
As a modern marketer, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the complexities and possibilities of the digital ad landscape. Each platform has its lofty promises of high returns, and some retail marketers get talked into throwing money at media opportunities in hopes that their messages will get them closer to reaching their business goals.
Sometimes these efforts do yield results. Yet some weeks, revenue is less than expected. Before abandoning your investments in digital spend, you might find the results you're looking for by taking a step back and evaluating your messaging strategy. By crafting messages that are aligned to the different stages of the funnel, you can better connect with consumers and get them closer to committing to your product.
The Power of Awareness
Amplifying the effectiveness of a digital ad's message starts with where a consumer is on his or her journey with your brand. In fact, 57 percent of a customer’s purchase occurs before he or she even interacts with a brand. With this in mind, you need to recognize your audience's various levels of product awareness within your funnel.
How does such targeting work? This winning approach comes from an advertising genius who identified a proven formula well before the digital marketing age: Eugene Schwartz and his "Levels of Awareness" scale. Invented in 1966, the approach continues to be relevant today. It uses fundamental human behavior to identify four main levels of awareness, each requiring its own messaging technique.
How to Master Eugene Schwartz’s Levels of Awareness
There are four main levels of awareness that your targets fall into. Knowing what these levels look like and how consumers behave in each stage is key to crafting messages that resonate.
- Unaware: These people have no idea your product exists. In many cases, they don’t even know they have a problem for the solution you provide. This is common for many innovative, disruptive products that have emerged on the scene, especially in social channels.To craft a message that will resonate with this group, Schwartz's formula suggests leading with stories or secrets. Create a story-forward ad that draws readers in with intrigue and drives enough interest to educate them on what's so great about what you have to offer. The right stories leave a lasting impression on those who are engaged and successfully guide consumers to the next stage of the funnel.
- Problem-Aware: Problem-aware people are likely interested in what you have to offer. Most often, they face a problem and are ready to invest in a product to alleviate the issue. Now is the time for your digital messaging to provide a solution. Focus your ad messaging to speak to your product's benefits. Be careful to avoid listing features about yourself. Instead, emphasize how your product will specifically benefit the user. Whenever possible, weave in positive emotional benefits that your product will bring to your audience. In fact, ads that speak to this emotion will be twice as effective.
- Solution-Aware: When looking at those who have clicked on your previous ads or visited your website, you can make a valid assumption that they're familiar with the solution your product offers. Solution-aware consumers know what their problem is, and they’ve got a pretty good idea of how to solve it. What they need is something to validate your solution as their top choice. According to Schwartz (and common sense), the best way to elevate your solution is through a message focused on claims of proof. Differentiate your product with testimonials or endorsements from recognized third parties to set yourself ahead of the "consideration pack."
- Product-Aware: Schwartz's final level of awareness is about convincing consumers who are almost ready to commit. Through data and other behaviors, you can form a reasonable assumption that such consumers know your product’s advantages but, for whatever reason, are on the fence and need a final piece of encouragement. At the product-aware level, a message that leads with some form of a compelling offer is in order. Deals or incentives work best at this stage. However, discounts aren't the only lever to pull here in order to drive action. Consider testing the addition of premium add-ons or other incentives with higher perceived value (e.g., free shipping or free product personalization), all while protecting your margins.
Schwartz's "Levels of Awareness" approach provides an invaluable template to connect with consumers at all stages of your funnel. Start by defining and matching the awareness to your target audiences for your offerings. Analyze how closely the lead messages of your current digital ads align with the recommended approaches. Fill any gaps or holes with messages that engage your target audience at the right consideration point, and enjoy the greater return on your next campaign's digital spend.
Tim Carr is the chief lifter at LIFT Agency and is dedicated to generating positive results for integrated direct and digital marketing objectives. After leading some of the most successful internal programs at AOL, he founded LIFT in 2003. Tim understands how to motivate audiences, and his clients know they can rely on him and the LIFT team to create top-performing solutions to their most complex marketing issues.