The importance of brand building for an eCommerce business can never be overstated. It played a significant role even during the early days of Amazon and eBay. The increasing eCommerce competition and fast evolving technology have made it even more important, so much so that it can make or break your business now. With millions of eCommerce shops available and several others coming up daily, shoppers are bombarded with more options, making it even more difficult for your eCommerce business to grab customers’ sole attention.
This is where branding comes in.
People often associate a brand with a business logo, a tagline, banners etc. While these are just some small elements of branding, your eCommerce brand is more than that. It’s more like your own personality and takes time to build a successful brand.
Why You Need to Build a Brand
When you successfully build a brand, you are actually creating a situation where you sell something more than products. You offer an experience that goes beyond browsing products or paying bills. It is a collection of your users’ experiences when they interact with your business. It is for a reason that Amazon treats its brand management quite seriously.
Many eCommerce business owners believe visibility is the most important aspect to get sales. Though I am not disagreeing with that, what you need even more is to develop familiarity. A higher ranking on search engine result pages can give you decent sales figures, but they are mostly one-off, impulse buys. For long-term solidity, you need loyal, returning customers. And branding helps you to build customer loyalty as well as earns you the incentive of ‘word-of-mouth’ publicity.
But, how do you define a brand? How can you build one for your eCommerce store?
What is a Brand?
As mentioned, a brand is more than your logo, slogan or the color of your website. Prof. Stephen Brown defines brand in 1992 as a “sum of all the mental connections people have around it.”
Thus, it is the overall experience of your customers with your business and the emotions they associate with it. People always have certain emotions associated with major eCommerce brands like Amazon and eBay, which may range from disillusion and disappointment to complete satisfaction. And this emotion is directly proportional to the user’s experience with a brand.
But there are other factors that encourage these feelings. These include advertising, marketing messages, images, support and customer service.
Where Some Brands Go Wrong
Despite all their efforts, some eCommerce stores just cannot get their customers to tune into their website. The problem usually lies in identifying the key brand elements and implementing them into their branding strategy.
If you want to build a brand for your online store, here are 4 simple steps to follow.
- Think for Your Customers
Who is the lifeblood of your business? What do your customers want and need from you? How can you cater to their needs?
These are some questions you need to answer to build your path of success. Create a win-win situation; give your customers what they want and they’ll give you want you want the most, i.e. revenue. Define your target audience and focus on them instead of focusing solely on your products and catalog.
Consider the behavior of your past purchasers and look for patterns. Why people buy your products and which are your most popular items? The analytics is the best place to look for trends and experiences of your customers. What is the bounce rate? Where exactly have most people abandoned the shopping cart? Based on these findings, plan a strategy on how you can enhance the user experience of your website.
Human brand is the key to gain eCommerce loyalty. With the rapid growth of ecommerce, there has been a steady decline in customer loyalty. In his book The Human Brand, Chris Malone mentions that big brands like Amazon rely heavily on customer expectations when it comes to branding and building customer loyalty. And speaking about customer expectations, they mostly revolve around your online store being faster, cheaper than others and easier-to-navigate.
- Tell Your Story
Stories have been an effective medium of sharing thoughts throughout the history of mankind. They are not only better suited to remember, storytelling can actually help us connect with others emotionally. As a brand, you must have a story. There are brands that are successfully using storytelling as a medium to connect with customers. But your story should help you to build trust with target audience and also allow your prospective customers a glimpse into the hidden life of the corporate world.
- Get Social
Social media platforms have become an integral part of a brand. What you are telling them and how you are reaching out to them – are both important. People remember brands with which they interact on a daily basis and social media plays a great role in branding. But again, remember that people don’t go to Facebook or Twitter to be bombarded with marketing messages. They want things that are informative and interesting; your content strategy should cater to their needs in some way or the other.
Based on your brand, create a social media personality that can be friendly, informative, helpful or funny or a mix of all. But it should be consistent and believable. Your brand voice must be more human, relaxed.
- Provide a Great Onsite User Experience
A frustrated user is less likely to come back to your site. Broken links, missing site content, and long loading time can affect your eCommerce store adversely. Perform a speed test at regular intervals and audit your content for missing titles, product descriptions or Meta Tag content. However, things are little different with broken links that lead to “404 Error Page”.
Now, it is less likely that you can completely avoid them; you can, nevertheless, be creative and give an explanation or offer some possible solutions to the issue. Being funny with 404 Error pages will usually save your day.
Branding is the overall impression a business gives, created through interaction and consistent behavior over time. This is how you create a brand personality. If you want to create a helpful and responsive brand personality, be helpful and responsive in your approach and interactions. Your interactions and messages are what define your brand. And it is through these messages and interactions that people believe in you. Therefore, building a strong brand for your eCommerce store should be the key focus for your business.
Author Bio: Simon Horton is the Founder of ShopIntegrator.com, a Hosted Shopping Cart Store Add-In. His years of experience has helped him setting up this platform. Feel free to reach him out on Google+.