By Larry Stopa, President of E-Power Marketing
The International Housewares Association is committed to helping members succeed in the digital marketplace. The Blog posts in the Digital Education Series are designed to help IHA members take advantage of the marketing opportunities that the Internet offers. Larry Stopa, President of E-Power Marketing, opens the series with the first of two parts on how to build branding on the web. E-Power Marketing, a full service online marketing firm with over 40 years combined experience in this specialized industry, has provided online marketing support for IHA’s website since 2001.
With 84% of Americans using the Internet every day, it is important that you grow your brand online. Traditional advertising alone just won’t cut it anymore. The Internet is a powerful branding tool. If you’re doing online marketing correctly, it can be an efficient way to set your business apart from the competition.
• How strong is your online brand reach?
• What can you do to make it stronger?
• What are consumers saying about your brand online?
• How can you improve those perceptions?
It All Starts with Your Website
Your website greets your potential customers. It needs to be strong in both look and content. The usability of your site is also important. Make sure information is easy to find, the pages are easy to navigate and all contact forms are working correctly.
The design should reflect your brand’s image and messaging. Use your logo, brand colors and taglines. Let visitors get to know your brand through your site’s colors, font choices, images and other visual cues. Keep the tone of your content consistent with your brand’s voice. If your brand is light hearted and fun, technical writing or too much industry jargon can out off your customers. Always keep your audience and your brand’s goals in mind when writing for and designing your website.
Create content that is thorough so customers’ questions are easily answered. Don’t settle for “brochureware.” Show that you are experts at what you do and demonstrate what makes you and your brand special. Your content should be informative without being a sales pitch.
Always keep your audience in mind and write as though you’re speaking to them. Be conversational in that the language used would be natural for an in-person meeting. If your target audience is product designers and engineers, get technical. If your target audience is college kids on a budget, use more relaxed language.
Make sure your website is a branded source of information for your visitors. Your website should provide easy to find contact information so that customers have no trouble getting ahold of your representatives. Give all the information necessary to turn website visitors into customers. Review your website on a regular basis to see what could be improved, both from a visual perspective as well as from a usability perspective.
How Easily Can Customers Find Your Website?
Consumers use search engines to find what they are looking for. 89% of American consumers use search engines to make purchasing decisions. That makes effective search engine optimization important to your brand’s online reach. When a potential customer does a search for your products or services, they will find branded websites, whether or not they find YOUR branded website is up to you.
While branded search visibility is important, you must also rank for more general phrases. Searchers use the first few pages of search engine results to find the top ranking websites for the products and services they are looking for. They aren’t necessarily searching for your brand’s product names or services, or even looking for your brand’s website. If you’re not outranking your competitors for the general phrases your customers are searching for, you’re missing out on business.
To have strong search visibility, you need thorough content that demonstrates that you are experts. Search engines only have the content on your website to determine which phrases your brand is relevant for. Use the content of your website to target the key phrases you want to be found for. Create specific pages for each of the phrases you want to establish search visibility for. Use phrases relevant to each specific page in the content and links. Too often content writer takes short cuts in the language so important key phrases are not fully expressed, thus undermining your brand’s search visibility.
If your brand is missing out on top search visibility:
- Ask those in charge of your SEO for the target phrases and which pages of your website are search optimized for those phrases. Do you think they are relevant phrases that your target audience would likely search?
- Do a search on Google for the target phrases your site has been optimized for. Is your website on the first two pages of search results?
- Review the pages of your site that are supposed to be optimized to see if the target phrases are used. Are the keywords in the phrases used together? If not, that might be the reason for the lack of success. If the phrases are used too often, that too will block success.
- Does the page title use the target phrase near the beginning? The page title is displayed at the very top of your browser above the toolbars.
The Internet is a powerful branding tool, use your website to build your brand’s reputation and grow your online buzz. Designing a branded, easy-to-use website is the first step in building your online brand. Optimizing that website for search engines is the next step in earning the search visibility you need to grow your brand online. Search visibility can make or break your online branding initiative. If searchers aren’t finding your website or brand’s products, they will find your competitors. Use your website to tell both search engines and potential customers that your brand is the trusted name in your industry and deserves their loyalty and business.
Stay tuned for “Using Online Marketing to Build Branding – Part 2” where branding using Social Media is explored.
Larry Stopa established E-Power Marketing in 1998. He has followed the evolution of the web and search engines to guide businesses to best use constantly changing online marketing strategies.
Do you have a question or a situation about online marketing that you want to discuss? Email Larry Stopa at firstname.lastname@example.org