Creating a brand is about more than choosing a logo and tagline— it’s about connecting with customers in a meaningful way. Creating a captivating brand is the core of creating a successful eCommerce business.
There are many moving parts within a brand that businesses can hone in on and improve. Here are some successful branding strategies to help you grow your eCommerce business.
Develop a Brand Voice
The core element of creating a branding strategy is to develop a brand’s story. This resource will be the foundation of communications, content, and customer interactions. Some key focal points and questions to keep in mind when developing a brand voice include:
- What adjectives would you use to define your brand?
- What colors and images convey those adjectives?
- What emotions should your logo convey?
- What do you hope to communicate to your target audiences?
- What is your company’s mission? Values? Philosophy?
- What do you promise your customers?
- What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
- Who are your competitors? What do they do well?
- What businesses do you hope to emulate?
Use these questions to formulate a brand voice that resonates with your customers.
Clarify Your Ideal Customer
Another critical aspect of creating a brand strategy is clarifying your ideal customer— especially for eCommerce. Consider their demographics, from where they live to how much money they make.
Create a customer avatar to personify your ideal customer. Use this template as a checkpoint for marketing messaging and material design. Before you hit send on that next email campaign, ask yourself if it would appeal to your avatar. If not, it’s not in alignment with your brand.
Prioritize Cross-Channel Consistency
Customers should feel as though they’re interacting with the same business, regardless of how they’re accessing your communications. Creating consistency between your eCommerce site, social media pages, and email communications is an important branding strategy for building awareness and trust.
Conduct a branding audit to ensure your logo, tone of voice, and visual themes are consistent across your various channels. Ensure that third-party sites— like Google and Yelp— also include accurate information.
Optimize Your Email Marketing
Email marketing is a powerful way to connect with customers and boost conversions. It’s estimated that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, your potential return on investment is $42. With that ROI, it’s no wonder that a business would choose to send bulk emails for marketing purposes. There are various tools and steps to take to capitalize on this opportunity.
Use AI-driven email marketing software to learn your customers inside and out. With the right software, you can generate reports on everything from Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) to browse abandonment. You can incorporate personalization with AI-driven eCRM programs by retargeting customers for cart abandonment and browse abandonment.
Some email flows to incorporate into your brand strategy include:
- Welcome and onboarding
- Informing and converting new customers
- Retaining customers with a second purchase
- Automated celebration offerings (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)
- Cross-selling and upselling
- Feedback requests
- Customer win-back
Outlining and executing email marketing flows using customer data is an effective brand strategy for automating process flows to focus on high-value tasks.
Practice Proactive Customer Service
Proactive customer service has become a buzzword in recent years. Traditionally, customer service has been a reactive task rather than a proactive business process. However, shifting to a proactive customer service model will improve perceptions about your brand and inspire loyalty and satisfaction.
Develop a customer follow-up process that focuses on ensuring a customer is satisfied with their purchase before pushing more sales. If your product or service has a learning curve, reach out to offer support and free training opportunities.
68% of consumers indicated that being on the receiving end of proactive customer service improved their brand perceptions. By incorporating this strategy into your overall marketing efforts, you can improve loyalty and retention.
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Become a Storyteller
At the crux of it, marketing is a form of storytelling. Digging into that skill is an art form and a huge selling point for many eCommerce businesses. Storytelling should be a core theme of every product listing, social media post, and email marketing campaign.
Start by telling your business story and how its origins tie into its values and USP. Sharing your company story will help create an emotional connection or relevance with your leads and customers. Telling a story helps create meaning beyond being in the business of making money.
Take Nike, for example. As a brand, they’ve become one of the best storytellers in modern marketing. Their “What Girls Are Made Of” and “Dream Crazier” campaigns took a global approach to the female empowerment movement, touching on something timely, resonating on an emotional level, and showing (rather than telling) the values of the brand.
Reward Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is more important now than ever. Many consumers are re-evaluating their loyalty to their usual ecommerce brands in light of the pandemic, and being more stringent with their hard-earned money in these tumultuous times.
Customer loyalty is a multifaceted subject. While many businesses focus on bringing customers back or purchase frequency, focusing on customer lifetime value (CLV) gives a clearer picture of where the attention should lie.
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Your CLV equals the average value of a purchase multiplied by the number of times the customer will buy each year by the customer relationship’s average length in years. Use this information to hone your focus on the most profitable clients and reward them for their continued patronage.
Streamline Your Customer Experience
One of the biggest opportunities for improving customer experience is on the eCommerce website itself. Use analytics to determine where customers are bouncing and where bottlenecks are occurring. One of the key considerations during this exercise is highlighting friction points and smoothing them out to streamline the process.
The customer support process is another common opportunity for creating an effective branding strategy that improves the customer experience. Identify opportunities for improving your accessibility and finding the best possible solution in the least amount of time. A customer positive customer support experience increases brand loyalty.
Create a Sales Path
Outline a desirable sales path that’s in alignment with your brand’s cores and values. Trace your customer journey from the moment they discover your eCommerce business to the moment they become a retained customer.
While mapping your customer journey, consider how you’ll incorporate Customer Value Optimization (CVO) into the process. Perhaps your business will opt to have a customer’s first purchase be an affordable entry point. Conversely, you might use a tripwire to automate an upselling feature immediately following the first sale. Regardless of which approach you choose, having a proposed sales path can help outline your brand messaging throughout the customer journey.
Feed the Community
Branding isn’t just about how you interact with customers or what success metrics you set for your business— it’s about what you do for the world around you. Millennials, in particular, prioritize companies who practice Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). These savvy consumers want to know that a business feeds the community that supports it by giving back in some way.
TOMS footwear has long been in the highlight as a product-based eCommerce company that excels at CSR— it’s written into their company mission. For every pair of shoes sold, they donate a pair. All in all, TOMS donates one third of their net profits each year to various initiatives. They also publicly post their annual impact report to convey transparency and showcase their authenticity.
Outline a philanthropy or CSR plan for your brand. It doesn’t need to be as in-depth as TOMS, but it should have meaning. Focus on supporting both local and global initiatives, and using it as an opportunity for boosting employee engagement and skills. Getting involved in the community can help improve brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Manage Feedback and Reviews
Online reviews are the bread and butter of eCommerce. Some estimates indicate that 92% of consumers use online reviews while making a purchasing decision. This is an especially important metric for new eCommerce businesses to consider, as they don’t have the years of brand awareness to act as social proof.
Managing online reviews is an integral step of a branding marketing strategy, as it directly impacts perceptions and customer behaviors. Take a proactive approach to seeking out and responding to customer reviews from popular channels, like Google and Facebook. Use social listening tools to receive notifications when your brand or products are mentioned on a blog, Twitter, or a news article.
Collecting feedback— a facet of proactive customer service— also falls under this umbrella. Use the information collected from reviews to shape future offerings and explore potential improvements.
Use User-Generated Content
Make user-generated content (UGC) a core element of your marketing materials when you build an ecommerce brand. UGC acts as a form of social proof, like a visual form of online reviews. As more people look to influencers and social media contacts to get insights into the quality of a product, using UGC can be a low-cost, high-return brand strategy. In fact, UGC has an estimated 650% ROI, earning $6.50 for every dollar spent.
Lush Cosmetics is one of many brands that effectively uses UGC in their Instagram marketing strategy. Furthermore, they’ve effectively tied their use of UGC into their diversity and anti-racism movement goals for a multifaceted marketing impact that spans over both social proof and social responsibility. The Lush Instagram account is a fantastic source of inspiration for product-based brands looking to capitalize UGC.
To incorporate UGC into the brand policy, outline a set of adherence standards that content should fit before getting repurposed. This exercise ensures that no inflammatory content is shared in association with the brand. It’s also important to respect image ownership and ask permission before using or sharing someone else’s content. Taking the time to send a message or comment to request permission can save a lawsuit later.
Using UGC also helps add a human touch to your branding, which enhances a feeling of authenticity and connection.
Solve a Problem
The key to selling products is to highlight the value as well as the benefits. However, the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic are pushing businesses to showcase their value to customers now more than ever.
Remember that each product you sell, as well as the service you provide, should solve a problem that the competition isn’t. This solution ties into your USP, but it’s worth flagging as a separate entity when creating a brand strategy. Your USP is more than a slogan or list of business features; it’s the core of your business.
When considering a USP for an Ecommerce business, what better place to look for an example than Shopify. Shopify’s USP can be identified on their homepage, where the header reads, “Start a business, with everything you need all in one place.” This translates to the core value they offer: being able to set up an eCommerce business quickly and easily. In other words, their USP is the problem they’re solving for aspiring eCommerce business owners. The USP isn’t talking about the platform features or pricing. It’s saying, “here’s a solution to your problem.”
To develop your USP and determine what problem you’re trying to solve, ask questions like:
- What does my target market want?
- What does my target market need?
- What does my ideal customer struggle with?
- What sets my business apart from the competition?
- What are three differences between my business and others?
- What do I promise my customers?
Clarifying the USP can help highlight the problem customers face, and how your business can offer a solution. This is integral in the post-pandemic world, as many consumers are looking for locally made products and working on less disposable income than before.
Use these tips to develop your eCommerce brand and capitalize on the burgeoning opportunities of online sales. Start at the beginning with your brand voice and ideal customer, then explore the various ways you can leverage your brand to enhance the customer experience and grow a successful eCommerce business.