When customers search for your product or service online, what will they find? Global e-commerce competition is on the rise, so your website needs to stand out.
This article offers three differentiation strategies that help businesses thrive.
Differentiation Strategy #1: Brand Yourself!
From fonts to photography, your brand is the foundation for customers’ trust. E-commerce businesses with a strong brand identity are more competitive.
A consistent, authentic brand identity articulates your business’s distinct strengths. According to BrandYourself, an online reputation management firm, successful branding goes beyond advertising. Instead, your brand should be “a combination of your interests, beliefs, values, talents, skills–and everything else that makes you unique.”
Consider Nike and Vans. Both sell shoes and apparel, and both target customers who value fashion and sports. Despite their similarities, the two brands have a completely different look and feel.
Nike has a sleek, clean-cut brand identity and ties to professional athletes. Vans’ homepage is “Off the Wall,” with an edgy, collage-style design rooted in skate culture.
In this case, branding is an effective differentiation strategy.
Improving your brand’s online presence starts by evaluating your online reputation. Audit your online presence by asking questions including:
- Does your brand appear consistently across the web?
- What distinct qualities or benefits does your business offer?
- What positive or negative reviews appear in search results?
- How do your competitors present their businesses online?
- What keywords are most relevant to your business?
Answering these questions will help you test your brand’s strengths online.
For example, imagine you are a snack food company. You use specialty ingredients—but customers won’t know unless every channel reminds them. Boost your brand’s effectiveness by emphasizing your unique selling points.
Next, optimize your web presence. Language and visuals on your website should match all social media channels. Claim and update any online review profiles that already exist, such as Yelp or Glassdoor.
Wherever your customers find you online, your brand should be consistent.
Finally, create targeted content to deepen customer relationships and establish your expertise. Examples of targeted website content include:
- FAQ pages about your business and products
- In-depth blog posts or reports
- Videos that showcase and demonstrate your products
- Educational content highlighting industry expertise
You can go even deeper by segmenting your audience and creating content for their needs. By following these steps, your customers will never confuse your online presence with a competitor’s.
Differentiation Strategy #2: Create Unique Relationships
Today, closing sales is only one part of the e-commerce equation. Lasting customer relationships are the key to greater stability and long-term success.
In fact, 68% of people credit their positive experience to a service representative. The data comes from a survey by American Express.
But customers who shop online might never speak to a human representative at all. Instead, your online presence should offer personalized, customer-specific experiences.
One powerful option is customer relationship management (CRM) software. In a nutshell, CRM software helps you collect and manage a broad range of customer data.
For example, CRM software helps you track how customers behave on your website. It can also track demographic details such as customers’ locations.
Using data, CRM software spots patterns, uncovers powerful insights, and scales automated processes. It helps you understand who your customers are and what they actually want. This information is the key to creating personalized experiences.
Research suggests personalization is a differentiation strategy that pays off. A survey by Marketing Insider Group found that personally relevant content increases purchase intent for 78% of U.S. internet users.
Differentiation Strategy #3: Use Technology to Stay Ahead
In the past, retailers used window displays to lure customers into brick-and-mortar stores.
Today, customers are more likely to shop during spare moments in their day. They might browse your mobile website while commuting or waiting for an appointment.
“Smartphones were used in more than one-third of U.S. retail sales in 2018, including everything from initial product research to actually making a purchase. That accounts for more than $1 trillion in sales.” - Forrester
Smartphones provide a convenient, intimate online shopping experience. Websites should be equally functional on desktop or mobile.
Customers expect website features such as:
- Online booking
- Tailored messaging
- Seamless payment processing
- Omni-channel communication
- A user-friendly, SEO-friendly website
These website features reduce friction, helping your customers buy your products or services.
In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Patriot Software Company CEO Mike Kappel advises, “When you engage with customers online, be careful not to create a one-way conversation.”
CRM software helps you strengthen communication through the power of data. Look for software that integrates with your existing systems for a smooth transition.
In the end, a successful, technology-centered differentiation strategy should always tie back to customer relationships. No matter when or where customers reach you, your company will need to stand out.
Want to learn more about how CRM software boosts profits and strengthens customer relationships? Download our free eGuide CRM Software: What You Need To Know today!