Although the internet has opened up so many doors for businesses to reach wider audiences, it has also created a major challenge for all companies: increased competition.
A sound e-commerce strategy can reduce operational costs and expand audience reach. This concept means that more and more online businesses are started every single day. While this is great for customers faced with endless options on the products they want, it makes it extremely difficult for businesses to capture their audience’s attention.
This is why online branding is so important. Considering the fact that three out of four online shoppers have bought something because they saw it on social media, and the majority of customers are introduced to a product or company through an online interaction, your brand’s online presence is critical.
Whether you are a new business trying to make a name for yourself or your company has been around for years, it is never too early (or too late) to improve your presence. Here are four steps to follow in order to give your company a leg up on the competition.
Step #1. Start Off by Knowing Where You Stand
It is critical to understand how people perceive your brand in order to move forward. If you are trying to establish a brand personality that doesn’t match up to customer sentiment, your efforts could be in vain. Furthermore, mixed marketing messages can have major consequences, including damaging your brand’s reputation and even hurting your sales.
Obviously, your customers are the best resource to understand how people feel about your brand. One way to start capturing sentiment data is by taking a look at the customer reviews you have and see if you spot any recurring themes that signal positive or negative connotations. Ask yourself questions like:
Are their feelings in alignment with the brand perception you want to portray?
What areas need to be changed?
The key to gathering this in-depth insight is to encourage detailed feedback through your review platforms.
Take a look at these Trustpilot reviews for example.
Customers are asked to rate specific aspects of their experience, including the things they liked and disliked, in addition to an overall star rating.
This approach will provide you with a more thorough idea of brand perception. By asking customers specific questions about their experience, you can start to gather more genuine feedback that paints the whole picture and provides insight into customer opinions.
Step #2. Make Sure Every Branding Detail is Perfect
The details and overall look of your business are super important to create a brand presence that your customers remember. Most customers won’t recognize your brand’s name or logo after their first interaction – or even the second or third. It takes an average of five to seven impressions before a customer will start to remember a company. Therefore, the elements that make up the aesthetics of your brand need to be consistent so that they are easily recognized.
Think of some of the most memorable and famous brands, like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, or Apple. Each brand instantly conjures up certain images and color schemes in your mind. In fact, their brand imaging is so strong that many of their advertisements are incredibly subtle. Customers still know which brand they are talking about simply by seeing the logo, hearing their slogan, or seeing their branded color scheme.
As you start to establish your brand’s online presence, be sure that every single element of your design serves a purpose. Everything from the name you choose to the color scheme to your logo need to create a cohesive brand that is easily recognized and memorable.
Step #3. Keep Your Focus on the Most Important Things
While things like sales and brand popularity are certainly important, your customers always need to be your top priority. Make sure that your online presence isn’t just telling customers who you are – you need to show them, too.
This is where storytelling comes into play. Sharing other customers’ experiences or telling the story behind your brand is a great way to build relationships with your customers.
Verizon’s recent ad campaign is a perfect example of this. They share short heartfelt stories from real customers about how Verizon has kept them connected with the people that mean the most to them.
One story comes from a mother being able to video stream with her husband, who was serving overseas. Verizon made it possible for him to be in the delivery room with her. Another story comes from a father who travels for work, and even when he is in the middle of nowhere, he can still call home.
These touching stories have a lot more to do with the customer experience, rather than pushing products on consumers. This can result in deeper connections and emotional correlations with customers, leading to loyalty.
Step #4. Look for Ways to Support the Brand Community
When customers feel like they matter to a business, they are more likely to make higher purchases and recommend it to others. In fact, one study found that companies with an active community had 20% higher sales rates than their competitors.
One way to cultivate a connected community around your brand is by prioritizing user-generated content (UGC) into your marketing. Not only is this genuine content relatable and deemed trustworthy by consumers, it can help to establish a sense of comradery amongst your customers.
Take a look at Smile Direct Club’s website and social media accounts. They regularly share real pictures of their customers and encourage followers to convey their stories.
By showing your audience what other customers look like and how they use your products, your company can become bigger than the product itself. The goal is to build connections between customers for a more united following.
The tricky thing about building an online presence is that it is not a one-time thing – nor does it ever truly have a completion date. Every single piece of content that you publish either supports or hurts your brand’s presence. Furthermore, great online branding requires regular checkups and changes to keep your company relevant with the changing market.
Be sure that every effort you make to establish your brand is part of the cohesive story that you want to tell. Keep your customer’s opinions and experiences as your main focus and do all that you can to build the connections and associations that lead to loyalty.
About the Author!
Manish Dudharejia, is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in White Label Services for Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, he is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.