You Can’t Have It All: Awareness Campaigns vs. Lead Generation Campaigns

“What does success look like?” It’s one of our favorite questions in project kick-offs or discovery sessions. It helps our team get to what the number one goal of the project is—what would make the client look back and say “Liquid nailed it!”

When kicking off digital marketing campaigns, especially in the B2B space, we’ve learned that there’s often multiple answers to that question. One we hear most often is, “Create awareness and educate… aaand generate highly qualified leads.”

That’s a tall order!

Can it be done? Sure. You might get a few leads as you start to generate impressions and some engagement with your target audience. Our position is that it won’t be the best use of your ad dollars, though.

But why? Let me share some of our thinking on this topic as well as some pointers to ensure you’ve got the right focus and are using those dollars wisely in your next campaign!


Why You Can't Have It All


Consider the traditional sales funnel: At the top? Awareness. At the bottom? Intent and Purchase. 

Now consider the fact that the average B2B buying cycle lasts 4-6 if not 12+ months and involves 6 to 10 decision makers.

The math just doesn’t add up! That in a few-month campaign, you’d be able to move users from top to bottom—even if your product is the best thing since sliced bread!

Beyond that, there are a lot of creative and digital marketing decisions made in planning out and setting up a campaign based on the main goal! Just a few of the things that might differ whether you’re generating awareness or leads include:

  • Different key messages and types of content leveraged in the campaign
  • Different targeting, depending on which stakeholders might initially identify the problem or need at their organization vs. who ultimately signs on the dotted line
  • Different ad platform-side setups, such as setting up an ad set to optimize for video views vs. landing page loads
  • Different key performance indicators (or KPIs) that we manage the campaign’s success on

So how do you know what the right focus should be?


When It Makes Sense to Start with Awareness


So when does it makes sense for you to focus on, in the simplest of terms, ensuring your target audience knows you and what you offer exists?

Do you check one or a few of these boxes?

  • You’re a relatively new brand or company 
  • You recently launched a new offering 
  • You’re still trying to hone in on who your primary audience is or you’ve got a message that resonates with primary, secondary, and beyond audiences
  • The technology, concept, or approach of your offering is new to the industry or your offering is difficult to understand 
  • You’ve gotten feedback from the sales team that prospects aren’t familiar with you or what you do 
  • You’re seeing competitors in the digital marketing space at a high frequency
  • You haven’t previously created a lot of content around your offering (e.g. videos, guides, case studies, and blogs)
  • Branded and non-branded search volume around your company and offering is low/limited


What Are KPIs of an Awareness Campaign?


How do you know if you’re successfully generating awareness? Here are some of the data points that would show up in a report from us around a campaign with this focus!

They include:

  • Impressions
  • Reach and frequency 
  • Video views and view rate
  • Traffic to your website or social media channels
  • Upticks in search volume
  • Engagement with content such as article views, ungated PDF downloads, or video views
  • Audience relevancy on ad channels (i.e. am I reaching the right job titles or companies?)


When It Makes Sense to Dive into Lead Generation and Lead Nurture


And how about when you’re ready to start capturing interest and intent? Here’s a few ways to know you’ve arrived.

Do you check one or a few of these boxes?

  • There’s already recognition around your brand and your offering in the industry
  • There’s a misconception or questions about your offering
  • You’ve honed in on the ultimate decision makers in purchasing your offering and might even have something valuable to offer them (e.g. a demo, a relevant case study around your offering’s success, or an industry-specific guide)
  • You have large email lists of prospects that you’ve collected at tradeshows or through campaigns that your marketing and sales teams haven’t worked 


What are KPIs of a Lead Generation and Lead Nurture Campaign?


Of course, the total number of leads and the trends in generating them would be important to review here! But there are other KPIs we’ve got eyes on to gauge this level of intent.

Look at:

  • RFI or contact form submissions, downloads of gated content, or sign-ups for a demo
  • Conversion rates
  • Engagement with dedicated landing pages, such as time on page
  • Email engagement metrics such as opens and clicks
  • Lead quality


You Can Have It All – Just Not All at Once

Marketing campaigns leveraging multiple digital channels and strong messaging and creative—managed with rigor—are powerful tools to help you reach both your marketing and business objectives. And when you start a new campaign by defining its number one goal, the more likely it is it’ll be a smashing success. (And the next one, and the next one, and the next one!)

And no matter what success does look like to you (TL;DR, we hope it’s not both top and bottom-of-funnel wins!), Liquid can support you in conceiving and launching your next digital marketing campaign. Reach out to see some examples and learn more!