If you believe brand marketing is a thing of the past, think again. Brands are bigger and better in this modern digital age. But with ecommerce becoming a very crowded space, how do you differentiate your brand? What makes people come to your website instead of Amazon and other big online vendors?
Ecommerce becomes more complex in a multi-channel or omnichannel market. You want to sell your products through retail stores and reseller websites, but you also want to maintain your brand. What makes it better in the mind of a consumer to purchase your product from your website than from Amazon?
The answer lies in customer experience and human interaction.
Building a brand vs. selling products
Apple is the master of brand-building. Steve Jobs was not only an executive with great vision about technology but he was also the master of understanding his market and building a following — a fanatical near-cult following — of his company.
What makes Apple different? They realized that every channel needed a special customer experience. What you get in the Apple store also applies to what you get online. When I purchased an iPhone recently, they sent me an email inviting me to go to iPhone school. I got a personal one-to-one experience with a human via Facetime to get me going on my iPhone.
What brings me back? That personalized approach to customer service. Purchasing the phone in their store or online gives me the same amazing experience.
Your brand is about how you treat the customer
Many of the companies we work with here at Needle understand that treating the customer right is part of their brand. How can you give exceptional customer experience before and after the sale?
When building an ecommerce site that represents their brand, most ecommerce professionals are acutely aware that they need to bring an experience that is better than a typical “add-to-the-cart” click-type sale.
One way to provide a better experience is by giving shoppers access to those who live and love your products or services. Wouldn’t it be great if those who are fanatics of your brand could talk to those who are considering buying your product? Check out how Needle uses brand advocates to do just that.
Advice to Brands building their online store
Through my experience with brands and building an online store, here are some things to consider.
Be conscious of Amazon. It’s easy to sell through Amazon, but are they the best representation of your brand? Having customer reviews is great and having low-prices appeals to the customers, but does it really bring business back to your brand?
Getting customers to your website gives you a unique opportunity to really “Wow” them with your customer experience. Make it easy to find products and give them tools, like online chat, to be able to answer questions easily. Wouldn’t it be nice to give your online customers a personal shopper? Of course, Needle can help.
Be wary of online trends. Many e-commerce professionals find the next big thing and immediately flock to it. Mobile, custom shopping apps, UGC, analytics, conversational marketing, ABM, advocate marketing, social, ai, chatbots…. The list is endless. Not all these are silver bullets for your brand. Make sure you find a fit and track its effectiveness.
There are places for AI and chatbots and we’ll see them boom in the coming years. But right now chatbots are reminiscent of the days calling the cable company yelling “CUSTOMER SERVICE” into the phone.
There is nothing that replaces real, human interaction. Buyers need to feel special and would like that personal touch that cannot be replaced. Supplement your online strategy with ways to connect to real human beings, such as live chat.
Double-down on user-related content. Let the consumers speak for you. Make sure you have reviews, questions and answers, social media conversations, and more. Give your brand’s fanatics, experts, and advocates a voice on your website.
We in the human race are social beings. We value our neighbor’s opinion and, strangely enough, trust product recommendations from strangers. Thing like photos, videos, ratings, etc. are all valuable sales tools. We as marketers tend to spend too much time crafting product descriptions to articulate the value of what we sell. But there is nothing as powerful as one of your customers speaking for you in their own words.
What to invest in to create your brand’s online presence
When creating your online presence, double down on the things that are real, that bring your value, and that bring customers together. Use live chat, social media channels, user-generated content, reviews, and all the tools that bring real messages from existing customers to potential buyers.
Of course, Needle can help bring third-party ambassadors or brand advocates to help your brand generate human contact for your online store.