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Essential Branding Strategies for Small and Niche Online E-Commerce Stores

Whether you are selling crafts, arts, antiques, or hand-knit stuff online – your branding is a very important element of success. E-commerce businesses that aim to serve a small market segment, or a small number of customers are largely dependent on customer closeness, relevance, and repeat sales – which can be all encouraged by great branding.

As the #1 brand audit solution for e-commerce businesses, and online retailers, we have consulted with hundreds of online business owners regarding their brands. With millions of market research data and feedback benchmarking in our databases, we can confidently share what makes a great brand for small online businesses.

Branding for small e-commerce businesses

Branding is not a reserve for only companies with big names and big branding budgets. Small business owners also need to have branding strategies that will help their business grab the attention of their target audiences, make them stand out among the competition, and ensure that their companies are memorable.

With online stores mushrooming every other day, developing an attractive brand with strong brand awareness and great customer perceptions is necessary for any business that wants to stay relevant and compete in the e-commerce arena. 

A great brand strategy for small online stores is to communicate the company values and building a strong relationship with customers who recognize you as an authoritative presence in your field.

Here are some of the branding tactics that small, niche e-commerce businesses could employ to get an edge over the competition and establish themselves as a known brand in their respective industries:

Small-volume niche stores need a more personalized branding approach

Customers love personalization. It makes them feel that they are not the cold and unfriendly pages of Amazon, but visiting an online store that was made with love.

In addition to excellent products and services, customers also want to interact with companies that see them, not just their wallets. Companies that engage customers are more likely to build a sense of trust with them.

Design your brand assets to reflect a cozy, personalized feel. These will be the backbone of the brand identity of your online business. Other than that, these elements will play a key role in both shopping and brand experience:

  • Logo
  • Color palettes
  • Typography
  • Iconography
  • Photography and graphics for marketing campaigns
  • Style guide that explains appropriate logo usage and tone of voice, among other things

Personalized brand and shopping experience

Providing your customers with a personalized shopping experience and putting measures in place that address their specific needs will set you apart from the competition. Nowadays, customers are busy. They are working more hours, and numerous things call for their attention when they get out of work.

According to Trustpilot:

  • 75% of online shoppers like brands to personalize their offerings and messages
  • 74% of consumers get frustrated by content that isn’t relevant to their lives
  • Your online conversion rate can improve by about 8% with personalized online consumer experiences

For most small online stores, offering easy contact options is the single most important thing to do. Similar to boutiques and small brick-and-mortar shops, customers want to get personalized advice and recommendations straight from the shop owner before choosing what to buy. In many cases, customers will decide about buying items based on conversations with the owner, which will make them feel comfortable.

To create a more personal feel to your e-commerce store brand experience, consider investing in information content – particularly videos regarding:

  • Product-specific tips and tricks
  • Strategies relevant for your audience
  • How do your products work
  • Useful ways to use your products
  • Unique uses for your products
  • How do your products differ from the competition
  • Ways to NOT use your products
  • Funny anecdotes and bloopers sent in by customers who use your products

Post your videos on your eCommerce site, social media networks, even email newsletters. This will help grow your subscribers over time.

Why? The simple answer is, video content engages online users, and instructional videos allow you to connect a human face to your brand. This increase in brand engagement helps increase conversions.

A personalized shopping experience makes it more convenient and faster to shop. Small-volume online stores can be more personal with their customers by having low-batch production and personalized approaches with their packaging.

Offering loyalty rewards programs will help customers feel like your company values their business. They will feel like you notice their patronage and will want to do more business with you. 

You could also consider sending personalized emails that have the personal touch. That could involve including your customers’ names when sending out email campaigns. You could also try to use a natural tone language in your marketing copy that speaks to your customers’ feelings. 

Another way that your business can offer personalized experiences to your customers is by segmenting your clients. 

Try to find characteristics to define your audiences. Then, send promotions that are relevant to their needs and interests.  

Project a more person-to-person feel in your marketing

Your marketing campaigns need to target individual customers. Leveraging personalization in marketing is a sure way to foster customer loyalty. Most companies that realize their revenue goals report to having personalized their experiences and campaigns.

The first step in creating a person-to-person feel in your marketing is having a deep understanding of your customer base. You need to understand their concerns, their challenges, and their motivations. It is helpful when using a data-based approach when trying to understand your customers.

Data should be at the core of all your marketing actions. You need to have demographic data on your target audience. Collecting behavioral data will help you understand your visitors’ actions on your site. Contextual data collection for each of your customers will assist you to know their unique characteristics, like what times they purchase most and what things they search for on your site. Collecting all this data will ensure that your marketing efforts react to the needs of your customers. You can hire a brand auditor to conduct market research on what your customers are saying and ways you can improve your services.

You will be more likely to make the best decision in your personalized marketing attempts since the said decisions rely on real-time data. Again, be keen on sending personal emails, newsletters, and operational messages that are laser-targeted to your customers’ needs and interests. The marketing messages should not be too pushy or salesy lest they end up in the trash can. Ensure that your emails offer value and address your customers’ problems.

Audit your e-commerce brand and optimize for a higher conversion rate

Your e-commerce success largely depends on the brand and user experience of your online store. Regardless of prices and products, buyers will abandon your store if they feel uncomfortable. The ability to audit and optimize brand and customer experience is essential for long-term e-commerce success – but most e-commerce startups and online retailers do not have the skills or budget for such analysis.

Brand Auditor makes the brand experience and e-commerce focused market research fast and affordable. During the auditing procedure, thousands of people will visit your e-commerce website to leave score ratings and comments regarding what they like and dislike about your online store.

What is included in this brand audit?

Our system lets you configure audits based on your preferences, targeting criteria, market research size and enables you to choose what aspects of your brand to audit. Prices and auditing timeframe are calculated in real-time, based on your audit configuration.​ Each selected scope of analysis will add a separate page to your report with the following information:

  1. Score ratings of 4 micro-aspects (1 to 10) by your respondents
  2. Score ratings of similar brands benchmarked with your scores
  3. Comments and feedback received from your respondents

Enable a high level of customization whenever possible

Customers love to feel that the products and services were made just for them. Customization is a feature that customers are willing to pay more to acquire. Customers are happier when they feel that they are receiving exclusivity. Customers feel like customized goods and services are more valuable. Customization tends to increase customer trust, loyalty and provide a perceived sense of service quality.

Customizing products and services is no easy feat. It is an expensive affair that requires time and effort to create different versions of the same product. With customization comes complexity and more resource dedication. You, therefore, need to assess if the value you expect to get from your efforts is worth the extra complexity and resources. 

Invite people to start a conversation instead of hard selling

Hard selling can feel a little too aggressive. It is more short-term since the emphasis is not on understanding customers and building a solid relationship. The focus of a hard sell is rarely empathizing with customers’ problems and seeking to create offerings that cater to their needs. It is all about pushing a sale at that moment. Coming off as too pushy tends to backfire since you do not communicate the product benefits, and the message is not customer-centric.

You can start the conversation with your potential customers by first building a rapport using platforms like social media. Connect with prospective customers on social media and have conversations about your products and their benefits. Communicate how your products fit into their lives. Have conversations with your customers that do not just involve selling your products. Follow up on warm sales and ensure that the calls are more problem-solving.

Another way to start a conversation is by creating content that is relevant to your customers. Create informative content that they can learn from and sets you apart as an authority in your industry. The point of the content should not be to marketing your products but to be of value to your target market. That is a sure way to create a community and form a relationship that is bound to last longer than the duration of a single sale. 

Stay consistent with your brand identity and personality

Consistency is the name of the game! One of the most crucial elements of a robust brand strategy is consistency. Brand consistency means that all elements of the business will be in line with the brand identity. 

Your target customers need to know what to expect. Exposing your customers to the same core values and the same remarkable customer experience every time makes them associate your business with those core values that constitute your brand identity.

Wrapping up

Personalization and a high level of customization are always a win for small online businesses. Also, be consistent with your brand identity and brand personality and you will be able to tap the right target audience.

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