Online marketing has come a long way since its early days in the end of the 1990’s. In 2018, every tiny business has a website, Google and Facebook are the largest media companies globally, Amazon is the biggest store on the planet, and people use the web all the time, from everywhere, for all sorts of transactions and daily needs. Simply put, the web has become a core fabric of people’s lives, closely tied and tangled with their physical realities.
For existing and new enterprises, the question remains: how can I stand out in this cluttered environment? A lot of the ventures on the web today feel like opening another cafe in the center of Tel Aviv – there are already a thousand others.
Still, as a business owner – you can and must find and pinpoint your own unique identity. Here are some short points to keep in mind when building your brand online.
Authenticity & Trust
To build something of true value, you have to bring your own passion and enlist your effort. No one can invent them for you, so in this sense, they are by definition unique. If you feel strongly enough about something and are willing to invest the effort to make it a reality, you probably have a certain vision of how things need to be done. This vision, and especially its execution, will determine your authentic brand touch.
Don’t simply try to copy others. Taking inspiration is actually necessary, as long as you bring a core of unique and fresh vision. Marketing-wise – it should be translated to building a unique brand identity that reflects your specific values and vision. This includes such brand touchpoints as your logo, color schemes and fonts, website design, social media page design and content. They need to be all consistent with your selected brand “language”, and create a whole and memorable brand identity.
Your website should have its own unique design. If you need images on your site, try to minimize the use of stock photos, and instead invest in creating authentic imagery of your product, store, office, employees or whatever it is you are offering to the world. An example can be seen on Seperia College site, where all the images are of real teachers, students, and graduates. It means spending on a professional photographer and designer to create and refine a sense of authenticity, but it will pay off as you are able to differentiate.
Getting real customer reviews on social media, and/or dedicated 3rd party review sites such as Trustpilot/ Feefo helps enhance the feeling of trust by potential customers interacting with your site and social pages. Invest in encouraging your actual customers to review your business on these venues, and even if those reviews are sometimes less than perfect, it still creates a sense of integrity and trust. Trust is critical to making a purchase, or even lead generation online.
On 2018’s web, users are flooded with information and offerings from every direction. Only the brands that can differentiate themselves in a cluttered space – will earn attention and win new customers over the long run.
Closely related to the previously discussed authenticity factor, a well-executed differentiation strategy needs to bring out your specific vision and benefits, ensuring your brand is perceived as something with unique attributes. It can be quality, price, innovation, ease-of-use, coolness or a dozen others attributes that people can relate to and remember you by.
Translated to marketing – your selling point and core message should be differentiated from your competitors. It should emphasize the authentic parts in your brand, the ones that are harder to mimic. For a marketing message that you want to use, ask yourself: “can a dozen other competitors make the same claim?” You want to be the one that is being copied, rather than try to replicate others.
Your brand should swim against the tide, not with it
Automation means executing parts of your repetitive marketing tasks in an automated manner, and is important mainly for larger online players.
The most important applications of automation are within advertising campaigns and email/ retention. For example, a company with large AdWords and/or Facebook accounts, probably bids on hundreds of thousands of keywords across different geos and themes. In this case automating the reporting, bidding, performance alerts, and more functions can potentially save countless man hours and improve performance considerably.
A well executed email marketing system can help drive more leads further down the conversion funnel. Take for example a company such as wix.com that generates thousands of leads every day for its website builder product. By automating a progressive email scheme that encourages users to move step by step closer to the final conversion point (subscribing for a premium website) – the company is able to increase conversion rates and win more customers than its less automated competitors.
Achieving automation in your everyday marketing activities has become easier in recent years thanks to the myriad of tools and platforms available to marketers. But as automation has become more feasible, fostering trust in your brand and differentiating it from other offerings has become even more challenging- which is why now more than ever, neither can be ignored when building your brand.
So how will your brand’s identity be defined in 2018?