Having an online presence is integral for many businesses. Customers now want to learn more before they buy in—now, even in-store purchases are dependent on what someone might find online. Recent research has shown that up to 82% of smartphone users check products online before purchasing them in-store, and another 45% read online reviews before purchasing as well.
Don’t fail to captivate someone who might be your next biggest fan. We have some tips that any business can use to kick off their online marketing strategies and build their brand online.
Communicate Your Identity
Having a document containing all your branding guidelines is good practice for any business. Not only does this file contain an overview of your brand’s target audience and what it wants to project to them, it also contains information about communicating through online channels. Essentially, this is a brief guide to your brand identity that informs your whole online marketing strategy.
(Airbnb is an excellent example of compatible and consistent brand identity)
Sit down with your team and plan this out. Since you’ve already started your business, what matters is consolidating all the pieces of information you should already have and arranging them into a clear brief you can disseminate to those in charge of online marketing. To start, use these questions as a general outline to structure your branding guidelines document:
- What is the brand name? What does it mean?
- What are the brand’s mission and vision?
- What is its core values?
- Who is the brand’s target audience?
- What personality does your brand convey?
Choose the Right Platform
While many business create multiple social media accounts to prevent others from claiming their brand name, it’s important to focus your social media marketing efforts on the platforms that suit your brand the best.
Go back to your brand guidelines and consider your core target audience. Different social media websites work best for different sets of people. The main global age demographics for Instagram, for example, is 18-34 years old, and the site works best with industries that have a lot of visuals to offer—such as the beauty and fitness industry, consumer goods and shopping, and entertainment. Additionally, this is the network to use if you want to leverage user-generated content and social media influencers, most of which are a great fit for Instagram. For a more businesslike approach, having a LinkedIn page is improves search engine rankings and visibility for employees and job seekers.
Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, have a wider audience and aren’t restricted to image-only posts, which makes them ideal for posting general updates as well as offering our next item on the list: alternate but accessible venues for customer service.
Engage and Offer Great Customer Service
How you present yourself shouldn’t just be for show. Give your customers multiple ways to contact you for questions and concerns so they can decide which is most comfortable and convenient for them. Have your official e-mail address, phone numbers, and a form clearly visible in a separate “Contact Us” section on your website.
You can also use your social media channels to respond promptly to those who message you, with some platforms offering tools that make the process quicker. For example, Facebook allows you to save standard replies for queries and store them as templates in the page messaging UI, keeping personalization by automatically filling in the name of the individual you’re speaking with. It even has chatbots for those who want to take it a step further. Those who’ve had a positive customer experience are more likely to recommend your brand, and might even post about it on their own pages!
Another way to have users coming back to your site is through inbound marketing. If you have solid content (in the form of blog posts, guides, etc.) that is relevant to your target market, your users will want to read more of it and come back for more. The goal is to provide them with some type of value - something that is free, educational and enjoyable. Content is also a great way to convert leads, generate social shares and build a win-win relationship with your readers. You give them something they'll benefit from, and they'll give you more shares and reputation in return - what's not to love?
Give Users a Reason to Visit
Keep your page lively and change up routine. A tried-and-tested way to have users visit both your social media pages and your website is to hold special online-only discounts and contests. Host the complete mechanics of these special promotions on your website and share teasers of them on your social media accounts. You can run giveaways, photo submission contests, and more—and give away your products and services as a prize to get both new and old fans interested in them.
For additional weight, create eye-catching visuals for cover photos and posts and plan content around the contest’s time period. Look into the optimal dimensions for each social media network’s cover photos, and for regular posts use an app or image editing program to overlay different text styles onto images you have ready to promote your contest.
Does these sound like daunting tasks? Don’t worry. The benefits of building a brand online definitely outweigh the bad. Do it right, and you can catch the attention of a wider number of your target audience, and reach them anytime, anywhere.