When we think about growing a business, often the first thing that comes to mind is generating more sales. But what about the part that comes before sales? And by that we mean getting your products seen by potential customers in the first place.
Here’s the thing.
Converting customers is only is only half the battle and in an industry that’s rife with competition, unless you’re doing all you can to stand out and get noticed, you’ll struggle to sell at all.
Which leads us on to the (potentially) multi-million dollar question – what does it really take to get noticed, attract more customers and grow your business?
For this article we’ve teamed up with Tamebay’s very own eCommerce expert, Chris Dawson, for an honest look at how you can increase the visibility of both your products and your brand, all the while creating a memorable experience that encourages repeat business.
That’s not all though. We’ve also shared some proven tips and techniques from this year’s expert line up of Linn Academy speakers.
How is branding relevant to eCommerce and to get started?
With branding playing a key role in creating a memorable customer experience, we asked Chris to elaborate on why it's important for your business, and more importantly how you can get started building a brand.
“The one thing that buyers on marketplaces never remember is the name of the seller they purchased from. Ask anyone what they last purchased on a marketplace and they’ll recall it, but ask the name of the seller and you’ll get a blank look as in their mind they ‘purchased on eBay’ or ‘bought it on Amazon’.
Your goal as an online retailer should be to prompt the seller to remember your brand and, in an ideal world, convert them to becoming your customer and not solely a marketplace shopper.
Often the first real touch point you have with a consumer is when their purchase arrives and so that is where your branding should start.
The unboxing of the product is where your packaging, invoice, flyers and business card can make a difference. The packaging itself can also be branded and there are two opportunities here; the protective packaging can easily be branded (either pre-printed or with stickers) or, if you manufacture your own products, the retail packaging itself can carry your brand. We discuss this further in the Tamebay Position Paper on Packaging which is free to download.
Why do you need a brand to become a power seller?
Firstly, as Charlie McBroom from Fitted Commerce explains; “The difference between an Online Seller and a brand is that a brand can command customer loyalty and gain investments.
Additionally, if you have an exit strategy, you’re going to need a brand to get that strategy actioned”.
To put it bluntly, if your goal is to grow your business beyond marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay and gain investment, you need a brand to represent your business.
International expansion: Your chance to reach 2.3 billion more customers
Your brand is so much more than a logo.
It’s the language you use in your listings, the quality of your product images, the speed of your picking, packing and posting of orders and the customer experience you provide when responding to queries or dealing with an issue.
These are all really important factors to consider when breaking into new international markets.
Jesse Wragg from InterCultural Elements is an expert in translation and an advocate for making sure “your message is clear and relevant in every language". Intercultural Elements uses native-speaking translators to ensure accuracy.
He adds: "Don’t let one poor translation tool take away a buyer’s confidence in your product, especially when you are entering a new market. It’s worth investing in an expert to help you get started in the best way possible”.
Charlie Ruigrok from the Department for International Trade also talks about numerous ways that a well-placed marketing campaign will help you succeed in new markets.
“Think about language, cultural differences, most-used search engines, work-hours, seasons, time zones and even the type of devices your customers use”.
These are all factors that will help improve your customer reach and are important to understanding how your brand is going to work in that market.
Why your existing customers are the key to more sales
If you’re not sure what your brand should feel like, or if your current brand is strong enough, turn your focus towards the customers you already serve.
Tamara Lohan, founder of Mr & Mrs Smith and now customer-focus executive at notonthehighstreet.com is an expert in customer-focused growth, and after a number of failed attempts at advertising campaigns, turned her focus to where her current customers spend time online.
“What we wanted to do was become a matchmaker between a customer and their perfect hotel and it’s the data that will do that”.
Tamara researched deeper into what her current customers were like, where they shopped, where they liked to spend time on holiday and what was important to them.
“It’s the little things that people remember. It’s the little things about our brand that people love and it is what’s helped us grow to 130 employees based in five offices around the world, booking £80m in holidays”.
Don't try to be all things to all people: The key to branding
Jeremy Miller, CEO of Sticky Branding agency, starts by explaining: “Branding is a multifaceted topic. You’ve got your positioning; where do you play? How do you win? Which marketplaces do you focus on? How do you promote your brand and engage with your customers? How do you serve and delight your customers once they’re using your products or services? All of these things come together to form your brand”.
The piece of advice he drives home the most is to think about your communications.
Ask yourself if you can describe your brand and what makes it brilliant in only ten words?
This is called ‘simple clarity’ and is the ability to put across who you are in language that anyone can understand.
In Jeremy’s experience, “the cardinal sin of branding is trying to be all things to all people”. He describes the best brands as having ‘laser-like focus’ on the things that set them apart from everyone else.
“Branding isn’t about logos, taglines or colours. It’s about the bond you form with your customers. A bond where they choose you first”.
Which is surely a bond that every eCommerce business wants to build, right?