Let’s start this with a question: “If you would decide to buy a smartphone right now, what brand would immediately pop to your mind?”
Maybe you thought of a couple of brands or a brand of a shop instead of a brand of smartphones. But something popped to mind triggered by the thought “buy a smartphone”.
Yes, there is always the possibility that you end up not buying that brand’s phone or on that brand’s store. But it was surely your first choice and most likely the first thing you are going to look for and consider.
That something beat the competition to a pole position right from the scratch, from inside your mind. That is a massive competitive advantage and the kind of power that you need for your brand – the power of brand awareness.
We know that in today’s e-commerce landscape it’s imperative to make your brand stand out from the competition. To be perceived as the best choice by your customers. That’s the key to better loyalty, customer acquisition and a booming business.
So how do you become that something and achieve that competitive advantage?
First things first – what exactly is brand awareness anyway?
Brand awareness is a must to any business – well, very simply put, before someone buys from you, they must know about you, so they need to be aware of you.
Although it is the very first step in any path to purchase, becoming aware that a brand exists does not exhaust the concept of brand awareness.
Au contraire, it brings to existence a unique relationship, bound to have a life of its own, between that brand and a consumer. Longer or shorter depending on the overall chemistry and the value it reveals.
It’s important to have this in mind because brand awareness goes well beyond brand recognition. Brand recognition focuses on, well, recognition – on how well a consumer can recognize your brand and image, and know what you do or sell. “All publicity is good publicity” is a saying well applied when we are talking about brand recognition, but not about brand awareness.
Brand awareness builds on brand recognition but adds another dimension just as (or more) important – an emotional connection and reputation that brings the brand to a personal level.
When a consumer is aware of a brand, they don’t only recognize it, but they perceive it as the best solution to their problem.
Like any relationship, the bond between a brand and a consumer is built and strengthened brick by brick, taking time and trust.
After a consumer first interacts with a brand, he generates an opinion, even if unconsciously. Every mention of that brand will trigger a feeling. Every further interaction with that brand is met with a set of expectations.
If the feeling is not positive or if the expectations are not met, the relationship will suffer. And this does not happen as removing a brick, it will crumble down in a heartbeat.
This is especially true nowadays, where eCommerce competition is fierce and consumers are exposed to so many options.
Building your brand awareness
Here are four strategies that will help you increase your brand recognition and awareness.
1. Own “who you are”
When you started your business, you had an idea in mind. Something that you were sure to set you apart and convince customers to buy from you.
That idea may have changed or been perfected over time, but what it now has to come across clearly when you present your brand.
So follow these steps to establish a strong identity:
- Define your value proposition. Why would a consumer buy from you? It can be anything. Maybe you are cheaper, or you have a unique product. Maybe you do it better or you are edgier. Maybe you have a one-of-a-kind passion or know-how.
- Tell your story. There is a narrative behind every business. Share yours with your customers to establish a connection at a more personal level. The consumer’s perception that they know a brand and its raison d’etre make them more likely to trust.
- Do you have a cause? If you champion a cause, something that you believe in, make it public. It will make you more relatable to your customers and it will provide engageable content for your brand and social media.
- Know who you are talking to. Define your audience and focus on them. Who buys your product? Who needs it? Understand what motivates your customers and why they buy online. Why they picked you.
- Define your tone and voice. So far, these points helped you define the identity or persona of your brand. Whether playful, edgy, zen, approachable, intimate, proactive, or any other personality, make sure your brand is consistent when it presents itself. It helps your customers relate to and know what to expect from you.
- The whole branding. It’s not only about the content. But also about the visuals and the whole immersive experience. The colors, theme, dynamics and movement, saturation… Everything should be aligned with its persona to reinforce your identity, trigger specific feelings and appeal to your target audience.
- Be clear and simple. Who you are and your message should come across clearly. You can gamify your customer experience and tease them but don’t get lost in complexity. Consumers appreciate a strong and straightforward message.
- Be honest. Don’t overpromise and be real about your capabilities. Managing expectations is the key to trust and a happy customer. No business is perfect, but honesty is a solid foundation to build from. Be upfront with the points that you may consider as a weakness, and make up for them with your strengths.
In the end, it all comes to your customers’ perception of who you are and how they relate to you. So hold up to your narrative, highlight your competitive advantage and be transparent.
2. Open the avenues that lead to your store
By defining your customer’s path to purchase and customer journey, you take control of the dynamic between your brand and your consumer.
So when it comes to the path to purchase, it is important to lead your customer to you via all avenues and explore social media for that:
- Make your shop easy to find. Create multiple paths to your store across different channels. Most importantly, use the channels that are popular and relevant to the audience you want to target.
- Social Commerce. Your customers spend their time on social media. Take advantage of the built-in shopping features of those channels to be convenient and relevant.
- Promote yourself, all the time. Continuously expose your customer to your brand and reinforce your message. Not only launch ads and content on social media but also reach your customers regularly with email campaigns.
- #I am here. Use hashtags on social media to be easily relatable and found, including trending hashtags.
- An image is worth a thousand words. Use the power of strong visuals that catch the eye and tell the message that you want to tell.
- Strength in partnerships. Team up with brands that are complementary to yours. That will not only allow you to tap into their customers but to provide a better value and service to your customers.
They both may look like interchangeable concepts. But while the path to purchase focuses on how a consumer finds you and is led to your store, the customer journey refers mostly to the path that your customer takes inside your shop, the purchase and post-purchase processes.
3. Be there for your customer all the steps of the way
When it comes to your customer journey, you have to be proactive. Put yourself in their shoes to anticipate your customer needs and doubts, and design a pleasant journey that convinces your customer to return.
- Just a little push. Defining your customer journey will help you predict the moment when your customer is more susceptible to make a decision, and how to reach him and help him make up his mind.
- Anticipate your customer needs. In some points, your customer will require more info about certain processes. By having these points mapped out, you can anticipate them and provide the info he needs, even before he knows he needs it.
- Personalized experience. Treating your customer by his name will tighten the bond between you. But go further, get to know your customer’s interests and use his purchase history to provide better suggestions. Use geo-location to improve his experience regarding language, promotions and regional events.
- A tuned-up machine. Use automation to trigger messages to specific events and never miss a moment. It will also provide the level of personalization you need. Use high-performance channels like SMS at every moment of the cycle.
- Open-ended journey. Keep in mind that your customer journey never ends. The last touchpoint of a cycle is the one that triggers a new cycle. So after a cycle, a purchase is delivered, get in touch with your customer, ask for feedback, inform him of new products/promotions or offer a special deal to remind him of you.
Your goal is to know and understand the key touchpoints and provide the smoothest experience so that your customer retains all those positive feelings of shopping with you.
4. Excel in customer service
A large part of your customer experience is going to be defined by your support team.
You may want your customer journey and your shipping to be so airtight and smooth that your customers will not need to reach you. But you will always have customers contacting you with questions and complaints – and that is a good thing.
Every time a customer contacts your team, it’s an opportunity to gain his trust, show him that you care and tighten your bond. But also an opportunity for first-hand feedback and to react and adapt accordingly.
To seize this opportunity, your support team must offer a pristine experience.
- Be reachable. Make sure that you are reachable on your customer’s most relevant and comfortable channels.
- Be relatable. Connect on a human level. Be polite and truly listen to your customer’s concerns. But more importantly, show empathy.
- Be effective. Offer your customer a solution that solves his problem, or an answer that actually answers his question, in a period of time that is useful for him.
- Allow self-service. At times, your customer is better and faster served if he can find the info himself. Provide a strong FAQ page and an order tracking service.
- Be transparent. Your customer must know what he can count on. So be upfront and transparent. Wrong expectations with the product, return policies and delivery times and costs can damage your customer trust and brand awareness.
- Ensure continuity. Like your bond with your customer, your customer’s journey doesn’t end with a purchase. So make sure that you nurture the relationship and keep him engaged with a post Sales experience boost.
Show your customer that he is important, especially when he is counting on you.
Making him feel valuable and managing his expectations properly will go a long way to build trust and improve your brand awareness.
Brand awareness: win-win… win
Loyalty and positive word of mouth are natural consequences of Brand awareness.
In today’s intense e-commerce competition, every effort and resource put into brand awareness brings a positive pay-off and results in a more sustainable business.
There is no better retention program, which means that you are increasing your customer LTV (LifeTime Value).
But it also generates an organic stream of positive word of mouth, which reduces your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost).
This is a guest post written by João Martins.
My background is Architecture and Law, but my path so far splashed into different areas and roles. Whether when I was running my Hostel in downtown Porto, helping Lithuanian food businesses establish themselves in SouthWestern Europe, traveling the world on planes or video to build a few crypto projects, or bringing customer care tools to online businesses. It was in the interaction with humans, in the skin of customers, clients, partners, community members, or any other, that I found my passion.
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What is brand awareness?
Brand awareness is a marketing concept that refers to how often a product’s name is recognized by consumers. Brand awareness is an important step in marketing a new product or revitalizing an existing one. In an ideal world, market awareness must contain the characteristics that set the product apart from the competition.
What is customer lifetime value?
Customer lifetime value (CLV) refers to the total amount of money a customer can spend with your company over their tenure as a paying customer.
What is customer acquisition cost?
The cost of acquiring a customer to buy a product or service is known as customer acquisition cost (CAC). Customer acquisition costs are often linked to customer lifetime value as a significant unit economic. Any business will use CAC to determine how much it costs to acquire each client.