With roughly $4.8 trillion in retail e-commerce sales projected globally by 2021, it would appear that there is ample opportunity for e-commerce businesses to excel. However, nearly 8 out of 10 online stores fail within the first 24 months, often due to problems concerning subpar branding and an excessive emphasis on the product itself rather than marketing the product.
While your product is critical to sustainable business success, poor branding in a digital era of social credibility and brand recognition can make your product irrelevant.
“ It’s not the best product that wins but the best-known one that wins,” says Jaiden Vu, Founder and CEO of Vantura Cosmetics, an e-commerce business that specializes in organic and vegan cosmetics.
The company was able to capture a sizable audience of Facebook and Instagram followers before even launching a product. With a budget of $5,000, the cosmetics company gathered a following of more than 27,000 people on Instagram, 6000 on Facebook and over 10,000 emails in just two months – without a product launch.
The company utilized social media tools such as UNUM, an app for planning and publishing digital content that provides data-driven insights, partnered with other companies for promotional giveaways, and were very consistent with their publishing schedule in order to grow their following.
Vu cites a unique strategy for launching a successful e-commerce business in an increasingly competitive market for 2019.
“If you run an e-commerce business, your first initial action is to develop or find a great product, make sure it works, and then build a website and social channel,” he says. “The first step is correct, but everything after is why most e-commerce fails – the reason Vantura Cosmetics is trending is not because we focus on crafting the perfect product, but we focus on the vision of our branding.”
As e-commerce continues on its path towards social commerce and product content syndication, branding will remain a powerful tool and competitive edge for emerging from a crowded field of competition.
Building Your Vision
Content is king, and selling a vision is as important as selling the product itself. Consumers want to be part of a community that is recognized on social media and within popular culture. One of the best ways to incorporate a vision into your branding is with personalized and relatable content.
Consumers spend approximately 48% more when their online shopping experience is personalized – echoing the compelling sentiment among marketers that personalized branding is the future of marketing. Part of catering to the preferences among consumers is cultivating a brand story that they can identify with.
“As a business, your job is to sell a vision, not just a product,” says Vu. “You sell that vision right, and the product will sell itself. Ask yourself: what is your story?”
Vantura Cosmetics was founded on the vision of everyone feeling confident with their natural features and radiant skin. “The mission is to develop a culture around physical authenticity as opposed to keeping up with the superficial media standards,” says Vu. A narrative that many people identify with, at a time of persistent social pressures among younger generations.
The generational impact of social media on Gen Z and Millennials can often have several adverse consequences, with social pressures among the most prominent.
Creating a relatable brand story can be just as powerful as advertising strategies that analyze conversion rates and individual shopping habits – since the storyline is fundamentally personal already.
The method of marketing and branding distribution is critical, especially considering the proliferation of new mediums for content production and consumption.
Distribution And Social Credibility
Many e-commerce brands operate on a shoestring budget in their early stages. The brand story you want to portray to your audience is the foundation for how to distribute your narrative on social media and content platforms. Managing your marketing campaign can come with significant pressure to get it right the first time as a result, which means coming up with an effective distribution strategy before you even launch a product.
“It’s your job to get your company and product on your audience’s radar,” says Vu. “If you miss your initial chance to advertise properly, don’t expect to get any major returns.”
The primary challenge in producing an effective advertising strategy from the jump is hitting the right content channels and generating optimal engagement.
Social media and e-commerce are quickly becoming intertwined, rapidly blurring the lines between mobile applications, web stores, and social media channels. Additionally, according to a recent report by Global Web Index, nearly 3 in 10 consumers cited finding or researching products as the primary reason for using social media, and 24% of consumers detailed finding brands for the first time on social media.
People do business with brands that they trust, and fostering a social media community with a distinct message and story is vital to creating that trust.
“Social credibility is everything in business and is even more important as an e-commerce business,” says Vu.
An established and successful method for building initial trust in your brand is through influencer partnerships. There has been a recent boom in celebrity influencer posts on social media, and it is no secret that the growth of influencer marketing is going to continue. According to the same Global Web Index report, 14% of digital consumers already find out about new brands from celebrity endorsements on social media.
Social media celebrities encompass vast audiences of followers who already have a favorable view of them and, by extension, a certain level of trust.
Small e-commerce operations may not have the budget to hire leading social media influencers, but even the lesser-known celebrities can prove a valuable injection of credibility to your brand. Their reputation combined with a brand vision that resonates with your intended audience, can make your e-commerce brand stand out in a saturated market and quickly position your product amongst leaders in the industry.
Many e-commerce brands fail because they approach branding with a convoluted plan that has no explicit focus, relying on the quality of their product without taking into consideration the evolution of e-commerce in a digital age. Simplifying the process can be the key to success for many e-commerce brands.
“Everything looks simple if you strategically hone in on what works,” says Vu. “You don’t have to be an innovator; you just need to model and execute on what works.”