The Barter Banter of e-Commerce Branding

A niche brand may seem counter-intuitive to business owners, and technology is partly to blame for this kind of thinking. If the internet is all inclusive, why shouldn’t your business appeal to everyone surfing it? The truth is that people from varying demographics, looking for the same product in the same price range, need to be targeted differently.

Competition Encourages Originality

Competition

Too many companies target everyone that lands on their websites. This causes a number of problems: brand confusion, informal content, and an impersonal tone. Most companies using this method tend to think casting a wide net will reel in everyone. Instead of appealing to a wider audience, it tends to water down content and alienate the demographic that would make it furthest down the sales funnel.

Think of it this way: a simple Google search on most subjects will give anywhere between 10-30 hits with the same results. There is simply too much competition to capture a market with a general approach.

A niche champion, or expert knowledge in a specific search, is what propels businesses to success. Consider Porter Keadle Moore LLP, a company of community banking experts and accountants. This enterprise specializes in banking insurance. 75% of the company’s revenue is generated directly through its niche, and the other 25% is attributed to general services.

Most companies that realize major growth do so by cultivating a niche. This is done by either identifying practices ignored by others in their industries or through online branding efforts showcased through blogs and social media.

Target Small: The Numbers

Web marketers following the data have discovered focused branding is rather astounding. First, let’s walk through the sales funnel:

Customers like personalized content. Period. HubSpot studied 93,000 calls to action, following the behavior of hundreds of millions of web users, and concluded that personalized CTAs generate 42% more conversions than generic CTAs. 74% of consumers are annoyed when web content fails to pique their interests, even if the product meets their needs.

So why is niche branding so successful? It comes down to how users make purchases: with their gut. 75% of sales are based on emotional decisions. The successful marketing strategies of today come down to building relationships with specific subgroups of consumers. They need to love what you do and love your product in the same way that you do.

A History of Niche Branding: Televised Success

e-Commerce_Branding_2

The phenomenon and success of niche branding trends can be traced back to television. When Cable TV was first launched, there were sports channels but very few subdivisions. Now golf has its own channel, and entire networks are devoted to major league video game competitions. These niches grew out of demand when network executives realized advertisers saw greater ROI when marketing products at specific groups of people. The user base was also more dedicated.

From the viewers’ perspective, they no longer have to remember when their favorite golf tournaments are being shown on ESPN – and a good percentage of people missed the matches, anyways. Now golf enthusiasts can leave the television on for hours and absorb information in the background, including the advertisements.

Applying These Ideas to e-Crowd

This concept has to be transferred to the internet. The virtual world is far more competitive than television. Content can be produce for no cost. Companies go head-to-head with review sites, bloggers, and unrelated content, struggling for those delicious top-ranked Google search positions.

And there is the rub. 89% of online consumers begin their purchases by searching on an internet search engine. It is impossible to filter through this vast audience relying on generic keywords. Businesses need to focus on the keywords that generate sales, and that means relying on your expertise. If customers are kept on your landing pages and convert with personalized content, you need to keep your site professional yet exclusive.

Ruby and Millie

Ruby and Millie is a company that exemplifies success through personal branding. It’s a cosmetics enterprise with sleek-looking products, in-store presentations, and a high-end feel for a competitive price. As a mid-level cosmetics company, this sounds pretty run-of-the-mill. How it outstretched competition was novel. Ruby and Millie emphasized the human element in its products and worked tirelessly to project an approachable, friendly brand.

The company achieved this by building personal landing pages and touting the skills of its in-house make-up specialists. The industry responded by recognizing it as a knowledge expert and go-to opinion leader. Ruby and Millie is followed by its customers and competitors, who view it as a trendsetter. Most of its opinions and trend milestones were accomplished by active social media campaigns and excellent PR support.

What Can You Do?

Dozens of blogs and online professionals offer advice on branding yourself as an authority and delivering a personalized message to engage consumers. Successful e-Commerce branding ultimately comes down to establishing a voice and sticking to it. What do you know? What specific things does your company offer that competitors do not? What can you provide to the public for free that they will find valuable?

Answering these questions and applying them to a services means following data. Google Analytics offers tools to track customer demographics. Unless you’re launching a product with the sole purpose of entering a new market, your business efforts should be focused on doing what you already do better than anyone else. That is how you carve out a niche, and that is how you become an industry legend.

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Jeremy Jusek

An avid coffee drinker and woodsman at heart, Jeremy spends his free time in the Cleveland Metroparks whenever possible, sometimes pretending to film Folgers commercials.

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