In the 2017 electronic age, you might be surprised to learn that although 87 percent of research focused on buying activity centers on e-commerce transactions, 92 percent of consumer purchases continue to take place in stores. If you are not yet selling online, or if you have failed to optimize your internet presence, you are limiting your reach and denying yourself a great opportunity to boost brand credibility. An astonishing 67 percent of active consumers start their buying journey from search to purchase, via digital means. This is the first course of action, meaning more than half of your prospects are viewing your online presence before ever considering buying your products online or in-store.
If your brand is searched for online, and not discovered, it is highly likely the seeker will move on to one of your competitors. To grow a successful business, you must cultivate online credibility that your followers know is legitimate. This is basically the same as offering an attractive and inviting storefront that shoppers enjoy browsing and want to return to again and again.
Here are five key ways to boost your brand credibility online:
Create an Attractive Consistently Branded Website
Invest the same care in your e-commerce store that you would in your brick-and-mortar business. Take pride in your online investment and be sure it is user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing and inviting to your target buyers. It should be easy for visitors to find important data quickly, such as contact information, pricing, hours of operation, reviews or client references, and anything else relevant. It is also necessary to present a cohesive visual brand identity on your site. This includes uniform imagery, colors, and streamlined designs. Your domain name should be very like your business name so your website is easy to discover in search engines.
Provide Thoughtful Content
Create thoughtful web content so your business will be viewed as an industry thought leader. Post fresh, relevant content that is always on time, to optimize your website for such popular search engines as Bing and Google. The most effective way to remain current is to share different types of content on multiple channels. Videos are very trendy, as are podcasts and webinars. You can share your content through pictures, tutorials or posts from industry leaders or other relevant guests.
Build a Branded Internet Business
With all that time and effort spent crafting a great business website, the next logical step is to capitalize on your new stream of traffic and start boosting sales. If your business is centered on selling products or services, highlighting an e-commerce section of your website will help you gain profits around the clock, even when retail shops are closed. This allows you the ability to cater to interested customers who may not have the ability, time or desire to visit your store in person. It shows that you care about your customers and value their business. More customer-centric shops dominate any industry and improve the odds that consumers will buy from them.
Since online shopping is so prominent in recent years, it is vital that businesses offer buyers ease of use and the convenience of an integrated shopping cart and secure checkout.
Social Media Integration
Engaging actively on social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook enables you to contact with existing customers and potential prospects on a one-to-one basis. You can also answer questions and troubleshoot concerns quickly. Research has shown that more than half of all consumers leverage popular networks like Facebook or Twitter specifically for customer service purposes. It has also been found that businesses that fail to respond to follower requests on social media can lead to a 15 percent boost in customer churn rate. Consumer savvy brands that respond within 24 hours are valued and seen as credible. Sooner is always better. A quick response could simply be letting the customer know that their issue is currently being investigated, and has not yet been resolved.
Broadcast your social media handles on all your communications, such as your website and e-commerce store. Include links to your profiles on your company website footer, sidebar, and main navigation. Add your social media profile link in your email signature. Share buttons can even be placed on separate pages, in posts or on products to direct visitors and encourage them to spread the word about your brand in their network of friends.
Establish credibility and brand equity by using a branded domain for email marketing. This is how you should be communicating with prospective buyers and existing customers. Think about how you would perceive a brand if the business owner responded to you with a generic email account. It would be logical, and perfectly normal, to question the credibility and legitimacy of the business. There are too many internet scams floating around and most people have been affected in one way or another. An undistinguished email may include a branded signature with the proper information (contact info, social media, site link) but none of that will matter if the message is never opened.
Even with the overwhelming popularity of Facebook and Twitter, when it comes to obtaining new customers, email marketing is still over 40 times more effective. A great place for new online business store owners to begin is by launching a monthly email newsletter. Here, they can feature company and industry-specific news, sales and promotions, featured blog posts, and more. There are templates available that will allow you to customize your brand messaging and business contacts in the same place. You will be even more likely to establish a strong connection when you provide relevant and engaging content that your customers will look forward to reading.
Show your loyal customers potential buyers you literally mean business — online — in store. With an eye-catching website, compelling e-commerce store, thoughtful content strategy, engaging social media presence, and top-notch email marketing, you will be a brand buyers can trust.