Competition in the online retail space is getting tougher and tougher every day. Standing out as a brand and beating competitors requires a monumental effort – and as if that weren’t enough, the stakes have recently gotten even higher for small businesses, with living costs rising significantly.
Increasing sales has never been more important, and the digital space is the place to do it. More and more people shop almost exclusively online, and if you manage to catch their attention there, you’re already way ahead. Read on for our best tips to building a strong online presence for your brand and connecting with a bigger audience right down below.
Know Your Target Audience
Before you make any decisions on branding, it’s of utmost importance that you know who you’re marketing your business to. Most successful businesses will, of course, already have given this some thought during product development. But not all of them will have gotten as specific about it as we’re about to get.
When you know your primary customers in detail, it’s way easier to speak directly to their needs. So make sure you take the time to sit down and zero in on exactly who the marketing of your brand needs to be targeting. How old are they? Are they from a certain area? How high is their income? Are they a certain gender? What are their values in life, and what does e.g. a typical day, week or month look like for them? Really get into it.
The Kano Model: Determine Customers’ Wants and Needs
Once you know your target audience, you’re much closer to knowing what you’ll need to provide for them to invest in you. But if you want to get some more specific answers to this question, you’ll have to dig even deeper. The Kano model by Japanese academic and consultant Noriaki Kano is excellent for this. Webretailer describes it as a tool that’ll help you “get a rigorous understanding of what customers want” and “find out how to delight customers and stand out from the crowd.” What’s not to like?
In order to reap these benefits, you’ll have to divide your products and services into three types. These are:
Must-Haves: What Customers Expect of You
First, you’ll need to determine which services your customers expect you to deliver. For most businesses, these will be e.g. delivering orders undamaged, providing basic product information or taking returns. Most industries will, of course, also have other minimum requirements for customer satisfaction specific to their field.
Linear Features: The More, the Better
These are services that aren’t absolutely necessary for successful customer service, but which still improve the overall experience as their quantity increases. Some examples would be low prices, speedy delivery, free shipping – anything that isn’t expected, but also not out of the ordinary. The more the customers get of these, the higher their satisfaction levels get.
Delighters: Positive Surprises to Go the Extra Mile
Lastly, delighters are what adds that extra touch that’ll make your customers smile and appreciate your efforts. Most customers won’t expect you to wrap their delivery beautifully, add free samples or candy, write a personal thank you note or do giveaways – but when you do so anyway, it boosts their satisfaction dramatically.
How to Use the Kano Model in Your Business
There are two ways to go about examining your business through the Kano model: You either sit down by yourself and examine every review or other type of feedback you’ve gotten from customers – or you ask them yourself. While it may seem like a hassle, we’d definitely still recommend that you do the latter for accuracy’s sake.
Ask your customers to assess each of your services by answering the following questions:
- How would you feel if this feature were present?
- How would you feel if this feature were absent?
Have them answer with either “I like it that way”, “I expect it to be that way”, “Neutral”, “I can live with it that way” or “I dislike it that way”. If customers e.g. would like a feature but don’t expect it, it’s a delighter. If they expect it to be present and would dislike it if it wasn’t, it’s a must-have – and if they neither expect nor would like a feature, there’s no point in implementing it.
Create a Strong, Recognisable Identity
Besides providing excellent service, making a name for yourself online is also about setting your brand apart from others – and creating an identity that is uniquely yours, both in terms of visuals as well as the overall tone of your communication.
Consumers are constantly bombarded with images, colours, videos and logos, and making a lasting impression has never been harder. The way we see it, you can go about accomplishing this in two ways: You can either create an identity for yourself so unique that your customers have never seen anything similar – or you can go for a more tried-and-true identity and do it better than all your competitors.
There are pros and cons to both of these: While a very unique identity might stand out, there’s no guarantee that consumers will like it, since it’s human nature to appreciate the familiar – but if you decide to play into that, you’ll on the other hand have to provide THE best service in your field to be chosen over more established competitors. We’d recommend trying to strike a good balance between the two: keeping core elements of what’s usually done in your field while also innovating to stand out – while of course providing impeccable service.
SoMe: Collaborate With Relevant Influencers and Interact
As a business owner, keeping up an active social media presence can seem like an unnecessary hassle in your already busy everyday life. But connecting with your audience online can actually make a huge difference for your business – both when it comes to reaching a wider audience and keeping customers coming back.
No one knows this as well as influencers. These are people who make a living off of being a familiar face, whose audience trusts them to provide inspiring content and valuable recommendations – and collaborate with trustworthy brands of quality. Vegan influencers, for instance, attract followers struggling to navigate the jungle of products and services that live up to their standards. If your business provides such products, working with influencers whose morals align with yours could be a great investment. Provide them with some free products of their choice – and if they like them, your brand gets their public stamp of approval and an enormous exposure boost to a highly relevant audience.
Of course, with that being said, nothing beats good, old-fashioned, organic interactions. Make sure you build and maintain a genuine connection with your audience on your social media channels: Update regularly, reply to comments, ask questions, do giveaways, competitions, etc. Make them feel included, value their wishes and feedback and get personal to build real, human connections. When people feel like they know and trust you, they’re much more willing to invest in your products – and become loyal customers, choosing you over competitors offering the same products every time they run out.