Why web advertising for e-Commerce is different from Brand Building

Advertising goals matched to Sales Funnel- StratoServe

It’s useful to think about paid web advertising (eg.Google AdWords, Facebook advertising) as Brand Building vs. e-Commerce.

[ Note: This post was originally published on December 7, 2016. Due to the great interest of our dear readers the post is updated as of February 27, 2021.}

To recap the sales funnel is seen as Awareness, Consideration, Conversion in Google Search Advertising. The sales funnel before Internet was also known as the AIDA funnel. For simplicity, it’s good to think of the sales funnel as a three stage funnel of awareness,consideration and conversion. See how this three stage funnel is really quite similar to the four stage AIDA funnel and the buyer’s journey.

Advertising has three goals. These advertising goals map to the three stage sales funnel as shown in the image.

  1. Inform: Advertising informs the customer that the brand exists. Information spans both awareness and consideration in the sales funnel. The informational aspect of advertising is the first step because if customers don’t know your brand, you cannot expect them to buy it.
  2. Persuade: The persuade function of advertising attempts to convince the customer about the key features and benefits of your product. This is closely associated with the consider part of the sales funnel. Here the customer is actively researching alternative product and is at the verge of making a choice. For your brand or a competitor brand.
  3. Remind: The remind purpose of ads are to just remind you about the brand and maybe provide some incentive to buy now. These incentives could be an attractive offer like a discount coupon, added warranty etc. The remind function closely parallels the conversion part of the sales funnel. Well established brands like Coca Cola advertise because if you see a Coke ad on TV just before your grocery store visit- you are very likely to notice the well displayed Coca Cola at the store or the merchandising efforts of the local distributor. The point of display sale also works as a “remind” function for the brand.

Brand Building is at the upper end of the funnel

The purpose of the advertising is to build awareness and inform the potential customer in the target market. A great way to understand how brand building advertising works is to watch for any pharmaceutical advertising you see on the TV shows. Media buyers for pharma companies buy ads on a particular TV show based on data that that a lot of people from the possible patient demographic is watching a particular show. Such brand building also helps  reach doctors and hospitals who prescribe these medicines. Besides, the awareness building advertising makes life easier for the pharmaceutical rep who has more credibility right from the doctor’s office reception to the physician’s assistant and the physician as well. For all these people can vaguely remember the TV ad. So now when the pharmaceutical reps do their briefing and leave samples,  the chances of generating prescriptions is much higher. On the retail side, it is easier to get pharmacies to stock a new prescription medicine when brand awareness campaigns are on TV.

But not to fear if you have lower budgets to work with and can’t really afford a national TV campaign. Targeted use of social media, paid online advertising on an ongoing basis can do a great job at a much lower cost.

Particularly for global markets , digital marketing is far easier to put in place than traditional marketing. If you are a low budget advertiser, just the logistics of finding a TV station or Newspaper to carry your message in a foreign market can take several emails and phone calls.But your message can start showing on YouTube or Facebook in minutes in that foreign market.

eCommerce transaction advertising is about the lower end of your sales funnel.

e-Commerce brands do have to work on the Awareness, Consideration. Because if your customer does not know that you exist, it’s very difficult to market to them. For e-commerce transaction or the sale though, it is consideration and conversion that needs to be the focus.

e-Commerce stores are for customers who buy online. After COVID there is huge growth of online bu

The customer is brought from your online ad  to your web store and a specific product.The assumption is that the customer has done her research and is ready to put the advertised product in their e-cart and check out.

Driving traffic to a web checkout web-page is easy in web advertising like Google AdWords. The question is:  is the customer ready to buy- now?

If the product you are selling is well known ( i.e. has been brand building for a while) its no trouble selling that product from your online store. All branded products like grocery brands, branded clothing  fall into that category. On the other hand unique artisan items like jewellery and paintings are difficult to compare between stores. Here it is useful to have good pictures and descriptions on the e-Commerce page. Also a welcoming approach to answering questions online can help.

For eCommerce advertising, if you think your offer is competitive- you must advertise. And its not always price that matters. For example, if you offer a product  that can be picked up locally instead of waiting for delivery by mail, it’s quite inexpensive to advertise online 25 miles around your store. The best part being that you don’t pay unless someone clicks on your ad in PPC (pay per click ) advertising.

As we have mentioned earlier posts, it’s good to have some form of Brand Building always going on. Web content, social media are free options in that you don’t spend money but do have to invest time. Paid online advertising including video advertising is also effective in reaching your audience at comparatively lower cost than traditional media.


However, if you believe that your e-Commerce offer is competitive, particularly for a specific region of the world – it makes sense to advertise vigorously.

About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.

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