Reach vs Awareness: What’s the difference and why it matters?

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Reach vs. awareness title

In digital marketing, you’ll often come across these two metrics. Reach and awareness. And while these two might seem a bit similar, they represent two different things but are closely knitted nevertheless. 

Sometimes it’s easy to mix them up because of this reason. So what is the difference?

Reach: The total number of unique people who see your content 

Impressions: The total number of times your content is displayed on whatever platform that is placed on, regardless of whether people see it or not. 


Imagine you open your Facebook app and you’re scrolling down your feed. You come across several ads while scrolling down, liking or commenting on your friends’ pictures. 

Facebook measures those ads that you came across when you scroll your feed as a reach. So if 500 people see your ad or content, it means you have a reach of 500 people. 

It gets a little tricky when it comes to impressions. In the case of impressions, your content or ad might be placed 500 times on a platform. But there’s no telling whether or not people are going to see it. 

The same example, you might be scrolling down your feed and decide that it’s midnight so you retire Facebook for the night. Your content or ad might be placed down the feed of your audience, but since they don’t go all the way down, they won’t see it.

However, it’s still going to be counted as an impression so long as it was placed on their feed. 

Therefore, impression speaks to the number of times your content was placed and reach is the number of people who see it. 

Reach Vs Awarenes, which is more important? 

Now that’s out of the way, you might be wondering which of them is more important, and which should you be more concerned about. 

Well, that still depends on what your marketing objectives are. Say your goal is to create mass awareness for a campaign in a short time frame. And you want your content to reach as many people as possible. Then impressions in this case should be your focus. 

However, if you want to grow and attract new audiences or build brand reception over time, a long-term goal, the reach metric is key to evaluating success. 

Regardless of the differences between the two, both metrics cannot work in isolation. Both metrics provide an insight into whether or not your content is performing poorly or adequately. 

If your goal is to get your content in front of a mass audience, and your impressions are low, that also affects your reach, which will equally be as low. That indicates that your content probably isn’t resonating with your target audience. 

Reach can either be Organic, Paid, or Viral

Organic reach refers to content that you share on your page without paying to boost it. 

Organic reach is a metric that measures content that can only be seen by your immediate audiences (followers and followers of followers or friends and friends of friends). 

It can perform very well depending on the quality of content. When organic reach is performed more than average, it’s usually a wise move to boost that content to attract even wider audiences. 

Paid reach: This measures the number of people who see your content when boosted on any platform. That includes Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Ads. 

Paid reach can easily translate to viral reach when a lot of the people who see your ad share it, and those people share it as well. It starts a chain reaction—a train of people sharing your content, enabling it to reach a significant number of people. 

Viral reach equally works with organic content as well. But for both cases, it depends on the quality of content appealing to a vast number of people. 

How to increase your reach/impressions 

  1. Create engaging content

Your audience behavior should inspire your content behaviours. Before you launch any campaign or boost an ad, study who your audiences are. What kind of content resonates with them? What are their needs, pain points and how does your content come into play? 

Conent creators share millions of content by the minute. What will make yours stand out is how best it engages people. Whether it’s entertaining, educational, or both, one thing it cannot be is boring. 

David Ogilvy, one of the fathers of advertising, says you can’t bore your audience into buying, you can only interest them. 

  1. Create shareable content

The most brilliant ads are those that can spark up a chain reaction, inspiring people to share. But this is not always a coincidence. You can think of creative ways that would persuade people to share your content. For example, running a contest, or providing some kind of incentive. 

Also always ask people to share your content; it a great persuasive ingredient. Never take it for granted. Consider being comical if it fits in with your brand personality, or going bold with a shocking piece of content. 

  1. Increasing your ad spend 

Increasing your ad spend also plays a major factor in the number of people that see your ad. If more people see your ad, then more people interact with it, share it and so on. 

Cost per impression is a metric that measures cost of paying for an ad per one thousand (1000) impressions. The amount that you need to pay varies platform by platform. 

It’s simple science really. The greater the ad spend, the greater the reach and impressions. 

  1. A/B testing 

You must have heard about how powerful A/B testing is in running successful digital campaigns. That’s because it is. 

A/B testing is an experiment between two content types, A and B to find the one which resonates the best with a particular audience. Doing this enables you to promote the best content type instead of making wild guesses. 

Now that you have this knowledge at your disposal, you can fine-tune your efforts in your next digital strategy.

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Vivan Gerald