Online Branding Strategies

How successful have your online branding efforts been? Still on the lookout for tips to improve it? Well, we all are – which is why the last week’s webinar on Online Branding Strategies was such a hit! Come listen to Mr. Radhakrishnan G founder and CEO of WebNamaste talk about online branding hacks that can effectively impact your business. Nilesh Patel, CEO of LeadSquared also participated in the session, which was followed by a lively Q&A round. For those of you who missed it, you can watch the recording here.

View the Recording

Since it was an interactive session, the audience were asked

“What are the biggest challenges in online branding that you face?”

Here we give you their responses and also remedies to rectify the challenges.

Content creation

Content is king! And to keep up with today’s smart customer who wants to be well armed with information, you have to create good content. Make sure you have a team that is dedicated to putting up well written articles. If your budget doesn’t allow for that, you can try your hand at curated content. It’s a lot less time consuming and has the added advantage of quoting popular influencers related to a particular topic. Otherwise, just tweet and retweet any good articles you can find. If you are stuck for ideas on what to write about, check out online communities like Quora or GrowthHackers. Analyze what most of the discussions center around and then structure your post accordingly.

Content distribution (reaching the masses)

Did you just spend a couple of hours writing that post? Well, spend at least that much time (or more) promoting it. Share on Facebook, Tweet in twitter, publish on your blog and send it in your weekly newsletter to your customers. If you are already doing all that and still not getting enough traffic, then I suggest you try reaching out to the influencers in your field and ask them to do a write up. If your budget allows for it, sign up with a PR agency to get published in more places. Just remember, in your zest to distribute your content, don’t come across as spammy.

Standing out from the competition

Well, half the battle is in identifying who your competition is. If you are starting out, instead of competing with the big wigs, try the players two tiers down. Eventually, as your business grows, you can raise your target category.Focus on the strengths of your product. It may not be a unique feature that you alone offer, but if that is what you do best, then play to your strengths! Let us suppose that you are in the education business – an institute that specializes in online coaching classes for GMAT. While there are numerous institutes that offer the same, they might not have your success rates or your pass percentage. So make sure you tell the world about it.

Get inspired by your competition. Monitor what they do closely and see if you can do it better. This really just means that you are smart enough not to reinvent the wheel.

A little bit of friendly rivalry is fine! Take Amazon Vs. Flipkart Vs Snapdeal. They are all big players in the e-commerce industry and are fiercely competitive. From putting up Ads side by side to teasing each other’s tag lines, they have done it all (and are still doing it). It’s a great publicity stunt and definitely makes the audience sit up and take notice!

Developing trust

Now, this is a more long term goal that does not happen overnight. You develop trust with every happy customer, satisfied lead and great review. Each promise that gets delivered counts. Focus on the customer requirements rather than making a sale. If you think the customer is a bad fit, then outright say it instead of pushing your product down his throat. Your objective is to make sure your customer is happy – even if it means not selling him your product.

Association with brand

This is again a long term goal. With repeated impressions and good publicity it can be achieved. If you need quick results, organize a give-away or a contest. Quizzes and fun games are great ways to engage your brand and polish your brand image.

Lack of awareness about business

This can mean several things – either you are a pioneer, or you are not targeting the right channels (maybe your audience is not online at all), or you are just new (or even old) and need to build more brand awareness.

 Each of these would need a separate approach – in the first case, you’d need to run awareness campaigns – who is your target audience, what is the problem that you are solving – structure your campaigns around that – all the marketing channels – Facebook, Google, Twitter or LinkedIn allow you to run highly targeted campaigns. Make use of them.

If your audience is not online, build awareness using offline events, or use referrals to get some initial customers onboard.

In the final case, you need to educate your audience through content marketing, and paid advertising, and make sure you tell them that you are one of a kind. Engage your audience regularly and teach them the difference your product can make to them.

After these challenges that our audience said they faced, there were a few questions that came in as well, post-session. Here they are, along with the answers.

Question 1

How do you measure the ROI on your online branding efforts?

The first step in accurately measuring it, lies in analyzing where your traffic comes from. A tracking tool will come in handy here. You can use anything from google analytics (free) to a marketing automation software (like LeadSquared) that can accurately tell you the origin of your traffic. These tools can also tell you which ads your leads clicked, which ones elicited the most customer engagement and so on.  You can thus evaluate the effectiveness of every branding exercise you do and understand your audience better.

Numerous metrics can help in checking the reach of your branding efforts. Website traffic, amount of leads generated, number of conversions against impressions,  or sales volume or products sold can all be used. The objective of your campaign will determine which metrics would be the most ideal. If you are running a contest and want to capture the email ids of your visitors, then the metrics to focus on would be the number of email id conversions.

Once these basic metrics are sorted, you can focus on the revenue and expenditure side of the project. The cost involved for conversion and lead capture can be high at times. But remember that a captured lead might not always become a customer overnight. With repeated nurturing, you can convert him to a customer later.

Question 2

Is social media effective in generating leads or is it just for branding?

Of course you can generate leads from social media! With so many people populating the site already, it is the most powerful platform you can think of to market your product. You don’t have to woo these people to your website, you just have to tell them you are there – the reach is tremendous. In fact, after realizing its huge potential, Facebook has launched the all new lead generation ads – these ads that let you capture leads directly through a form you create on Facebook’s power editor! Don’t discount social media from getting you the leads you want, it is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.

Question 3

Does regular updates of blog help?

Absolutely! Posting on your blog regularly shows your readers that you are active and that you take your blog (and by extension, your business) seriously. It also tells them that you value your reader’s time and don’t keep them hanging or waiting indefinitely for updates from you. Remember our talk about building the trust factor? Well, this is an important step towards it.

Having said that, it will all depend on your business, and the channels where your audience is.

Question 4

How can we increase traffic and do branding for the website?

If you are just starting off, start with paid campaigns. Ads on social media and on any platform you can think of (relevant ones of course) to tell people you exist. Google Ads and even Ads on Bing make sense. If you want to optimize your expenses, I suggest you monitor your Ad campaign regularly.

So, you have directed your traffic to your website, but they should stick right? That means, you need to show them great content. A high bounce rate (people leaving as soon as they enter) indicates that you are not delivering what they are looking for (or are targeting the wrong audience set entirely).

Once you capture their lead, keep them engaged and nurtured with email campaigns and targeted personal emails that add value. This definitely builds your brand image and keeps your customer engaged.

Question 5

Can we continue doing our business with a different set of target audience? Like lollipops marketing to parents instead of kids?

Of course! They are two different marketing strategies all together. You target your customer base (children) or you target the decision makers (the parents). If you impress either group considerably, it will impact your sales.

Question 6

I am working on a stem cells banking blog but people are not aware of this concept. My traffic is solely from social media, limited to only those who know the concept well. Can you please suggest how I can brand it so that I can attract a lot more diverse traffic?

Whom you write to, rather than what you write makes a difference. Target young wives or married couples, around the age of 25 to 35 to get the word out. Know them well and ensure that you give them information from sources they can trust. Focus on adding solid value to your readers. The posts don’t have to necessarily focus on stem cell banking. You could write on parenting tips, infant care and nutrition and even baby rearing. The CTA about your stem cell bank could be at the very end.

You can also invite Gynaecs to do a guest column in your blog to attract traffic. Likewise, numerous websites might be on the lookout for well-informed writers. Partnering with them to publish your articles there can help immensely.

Depending upon your budget, you can check out Youtube video advertising. Make sure you put up your ads on videos that are trending for your topic. That way, people who are looking for videos related to stem cell banking will be exposed to it and the conversions could be higher.

Question 7

How can we brand ourselves if we are the middlemen between manufacturers and customers and main intention is the welfare of customers?

There you go – welfare of customers. Try branding yourself around it. A great example is Pepperfry. Their tag line is “Happy Furniture to you”. They could have focused on stylish furniture or affordable living. Instead, they chose to highlight that customer satisfaction was important.

Question 8

We are using Email marketing but nowadays open rates have gone down, and unsubscribe rates have gone up. Even though some customers are opening our mails but there is no click rate. Can you give us tips to boost it?

If your unsubscribers rate has gone up, it means your recepients  think you are spamming them and are not ok receiving emails from you. If your open rates are dwindling, then it means your headlines or subject lines are not doing the trick. Ask yourself these questions: Do I know the pulse of my audience? Is this what they are looking for? Will it add value to them? Does my subject line have a clear CTA to it? Now, tailor your email campaigns around these insights you have gathered. Its perfectly fine to spend some more time in researching your audience and their needs before coming up with a game plan.

If you think your emails are going to the spam folder, then ask your audience to check their spam folders.

Question 9

Can you give examples of great branding in a B2B context as opposed to B2C?

Don’t worry, B2C companies don’t have all the fun. B2B have a fair share themselves. Take a look at Oracle, Intel and Adobe. They have all positioned themselves as B2B companies that have a huge following online. Their Twitter and Instagram accounts are strewn with campaigns, contests, breath taking photos and overall excellent consumer engagement tactics.

Never forget that a business owner is, when all is said and done, an individual. Tapping into his emotions and targeting your ads for a separate individual can also be a good tactic. That is exactly what BigRock does when it put up ads for business owners. Though they provide online space (or website domain) for businesses, their ads target the business owners and tell them that they can make it big with their domain space. Smart eh?

Other examples are GoDaddy – rise to fame with extremely controversial ads; Maersk – popular and has a huge fan following due to the mind blowing pictures of their barges that they put up on Instagram; Cisco – staying on top of current events, posting even for national pancake day.

The list and examples are endless. Get inspired!!

Question 10

For online branding do we have to focus amazon reviews in India? 

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Before trusting the dubious internet to buy a product, wouldn’t you read as many reviews as possible? A bad review anywhere would definitely make a difference. Keeping tabs of reviews will also tell you the opinion of your audience vis a vis your product.

Question 11

What are the major channels (social media) ITES companies like CAD PLM solutions providers, software re sellers need to focus on?

LinkedIn is a very promising channel that can be harnessed. Promote your product by publishing great content that adds value. You can limit your audience group based on geography, if it makes sense for your offer. Active participation on communities like Quora and LinkedIn pulse is something you should look at. If possible, try creating a community on LinkedIn.

Question 12

How to increase the conversion of queries to customers?

The response time for each query matters. Longer the response time, lesser the chances of conversion.

Also, the kind of nurturing email campaign you carry out afterwards can play a major role. Your emails should be rich in content, very un-spammy (if that is even a word) and add solid value to your reader

We would love to know which online branding strategies work for you! Leave us a comment and let us know!

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