Image by Balmain
By Pulkit Rastogi, Founder of ILoveFashionRetail
What do you do when visitors come to your website but leave without buying? Most retailers spend much money on improving their website when the problem is not in their website but their brand.
It’s not their fault.There are many studies and articles written about conversion rate optimization. Some of them have engineered, or over-engineer ecommerce usability. They can easily brainwash you into believing that - “If customers don’t buy from my website, I should improve my website”. That’s not right. At the end of the day, a website is only a selling platform. Often people do not buy from you because they find your brand irrelevant and boring.
In this article, I will take you beyond best ecommerce usability practices and talk about how to use brand positioning to improve your website’s conversion rate.
You obviously can not position your brand until you know for whom you need to position it - your customers. I am not talking about just gaining standard intelligence about your buyers. Simply knowing that “my customers are female of 18 - 30 age group, who live in the US” is not enough. You should know them more closely and personally than that. For example:
I can go on and on with the list of things you must know about your customers. You will never know your customers 100% and it will be an on-going journey. So here are some ideas in getting to know them more closely:
Online mens clothing store Bonobos, have created a strong online community by posting interesting events and cool special offers. Checkout the comments on this give-away post! Great way to follow both existing and potential new customers who are interested in your brand.
Please note: I am talking specifically about collecting information about your customers and not visitors (those who visited but didn’t purchase). Yes, knowing your website visitors is important too but it’s of secondary importance. Don’t mix up the data of your visitors with the data about your visitors.
Do you know your brand has a voice and it speaks with your customers 24/7? Be deliberate about that voice. You can sound polite, stern, classy, royal, nasty, vintage, strict, young, funny, deadpan, serious, loose etc. Whatever your voice is, it largely decides your brand’s personality and how your customers perceive your brand. Don’t be among those brands that don’t have a personality; they are boring and people forget them easily.
The personality of your brand is largely determined by your own but there are other factors too. For instance, the people you hire, your website’s design, colours you choose, graphics you use, the way you write product descriptions - everything should project one personality.
Example by SupaDupa store Jamie Wei Huang, a London fashion designer conveys his quirky and clean personality through creative design and sharp photography
It’s an established fact that your customers are more likely to buy from you if they see you as a popular brand. That’s why conversion rate experts would often recommend you to add a press section to your website and show the logo of online and offline publications on your store's ‘home page’ and ‘about us’ page. These logos can have a direct impact on your website’s conversion rate. Moreover, if your brand is intriguing and newsworthy, you will get a higher ROI on your marketing spend.
Online clothing store Everlane, show us how it is done by including press coverage on the About page - Nice touch with the adding the press logos guys! A great way to start building trust between you and the your customers
There is only so far you can go by throwing money on a big PR firm. If your brand is boring and unworthy of news, you will eventually run out of money to invest on PR and other marketing channels. You should make your brand newsworthy before you start knocking on the door of any PR firm. There are different things you can do to intrigue media companies and your customers, for example:
The core product category of an ecommerce store is the category in which you claim to be the best in the industry and strive to win the biggest market share. It’s usually the category your brand is born from.
Warby Parker was born from affordable fashion eyeglasses and Bonobos was born from men’s better fitting pants. Everlane was born from luxury basics and ModCloth was born from women’s vintage dresses. Burberry was born from trench coats and Black Milk Clothing was born from printed nylon leggings.
A solid core product gives you a real story to tell to the world. Because of this, your business becomes newsworthy and makes people repin, share, retweet, or reblog.
Example by SupaDupa store Wilby Clutch, a vegan fashion store specialising in the ‘clutch’, the only bag range certified by the vegetarian society - Loving your core product guys!
Another great way to position your brand is to have one hero and one enemy brand. A hero you want to be like and an enemy you don’t want to be like. Knowing your hero brand shines a light on where you want your brand to go and knowing your enemy tells you about the direction in which you don’t want your brand to go. It also tells you what you’re fighting against and what drives you and your brand.
This helps you create clear marketing messages because customers understand a brand and it's products by comparing it to others. When you write your marketing messages keeping your enemy brand in mind, you’re feeding them a story they want to hear. They understand your product better and faster. A word of caution though,
Do not get too obsessed with what your competition is doing!
Otherwise you might end-up limiting your thought process and creativity.
A crisply written business tagline can define a one-point vision for your brand to your customers & potential associates in no time. This tag line guides your decision making and keeps you on one path.
A tagline should be brief. Use a small sentence to get the idea across. It should define what does your brand stands for? What is it going to be about? What’s going to be the purpose of your products? Why does it exist? Here are some examples of business tag lines of some of the popular brands out there:
ASOS: Discover Fashion Online
Polyvore: Discover, shop and express your style
Nastygal: Nastygals do it better
Notjustalabel: Discovering And Supporting Pioneers In Contemporary Fashion
Example by online fashion house Netaporter: The world’s premier online luxury fashion destination
Organizations need guideposts:
They need an outline; employees need to know each day when they wake up why they're going to work. This outline should be short and sweet, and all encompassing: Why do you exist? What motivates you? I call this a mantra — a three or four-worded description of why you exist —Guy Kawasaki, author (from Make Mantra)
On your website, you have to give your customers an environment in which they can discover, collaborate and then transact. No usability improvement on your website can make visitors buy if they can not emotionally connect with your brand. This requires you to find key emotional ‘triggers’ of your customers and use these triggers in all the touch points of your website such product imaginary and engaging copy. Here are some of the key human emotions that you as an ecommerce retailer can use to improve your website’s conversion rate:
a) Invoke Mystery In Your Marketing Material
Use social media like Facebook ads and Instagram as well as emails to improve your ‘Click through rate’ and make people curious to engage with your brand.
b) Become Desirable To Your Customers With Rich Content
When using rich editorial content on your website you really create some passion amongst your customers. Your content should inspire them to be part of something larger than the brand and products. Things such as a lifestyle, idea, community, taste, motivation etc.
c) Create Urgency And Fear
Call to action text, links and images on your website should create feeling of urgency and fear in your customers of missing out an opportunity and make them take an action now.
d) Convey Trust With Your About And Contact Page
Tell your customers what is behind your promise - people running the show, their story. Why they can they be trusted?
e) Surprise Your Customers And Make Them Laugh
Your marketing material is the strong way to connect with your customers. With humorous material it's the surest way to make them share, like and engage with your marketing messages on social media, which otherwise are boring sales pitches.
If your communication both audio and visual lacks consistency, at a subconscious level your customers will feel that each message came from a different source every time. Without consistency, you can not build a connection with your customers and hence you will struggle in selling to them. Consistency is of paramount importance aspect in building a compelling brand. All your touch points and marketing messages should have your brand’s signature style. There are also other positive traits associated with being consistent, such as, discipline, commitment, trustworthiness and quality. There are many ways in which you can make your brand more consistent, these include:
• Consistent brand identity: Color, typography, graphic elements etc
• Consistent copywriting: Tone of product descriptions, usage of words etc
• Consistent imageries: Lightning, backgrounds, camera angles etc
• Consistent delivery experience: The product on delivery should look exactly as it looked on your product page
Founder & Blogger at ILoveFashionRetail, Pulkit Rastogi, is an E-commerce Consultant, Business Analyst, Internet Marketer & Educator and works with Fashion Retailers around the world to help them build profitable ecommerce businesses. Also the author of MINIMALIST - a practical crash course in ecommerce for designers & startup fashion retailers and can be reached via twitter at @ilovefashionret.