Q: I understand my store’s most powerful asset is its brand. What steps should I take to brand my business exceptionally online?
Jake Fell: You may be one of the best retailers in town and even one of the top retailers the country, but prospective customers within your target demographic may look elsewhere if your online presence is weak or looks stodgy.
Here is the bare minimum an independent retailer needs to achieve a positive online branding presence:
Website: Your website is the face of your company on the web, even if you don’t sell online. Prospective customers will always visit your website and vet you before deciding whether or not they want to do business with you. Yet, many independent retailers have an obsolete website or no website at all. It’s 2014 and your site must be responsive (mobile friendly), look modern with images that brand you favorably, be SEO (search engine optimization) friendly and have a blog to routinely update content. A great website will enhance your brand, help you acquire new customers and present the store as easy to do business with.
E-mail: E-mail is proven to generate more sales for retailers than any other marketing channel. National brands vying to snatch your customers (such as Trunk Club, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus) understand the power of e-mail and devote tremendous resources to deploying first-class campaigns. But many independent retailers send out uninspired batch and blast e-mails that are beneath their otherwise high brand standards. Deploying first class e-mail marketing campaigns fusing automation, segmentation, POS integration and beautiful design is easy for independent retailers to accomplish. And the cost to execute exceptional e-mail marketing for an entire year can be less than the cost of a single direct mail campaign, and it will generate exponentially more revenue.
Social Media: Retailers should be social and not do social. If you have the aptitude to be active on all social channels multiple times per day, go for it. Since this article is about doing the bare minimum to achieve positive branding, start with maintaining a positive presence on the three most popular social channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Many consumers will vet brands’ social media presence, even if they never engage with brands on social media. If you don’t have the time to update social media every day, at least have a presence on social media that makes your brand look authoritative and like a company potential customers would want to do business with.
Blog: Google and all search engines have the intention to be credible and provide consumers with good information. Therefore, if you are the best retailer in town and an authority on style, Google wants consumers searching for related topics to find you. In order to rank high on Google, you must regularly generate great blog posts with keywords inline with what consumers may be searching for. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, be sure to include geographically targeted keywords so local consumers can find you in internet searches.