The Importance of Online Branding: Why It Matters
by Carol Yachanin on Thu, Nov 21, 2019 @ 10:49
Your online brand is as important to your business success as your website itself. In fact, a website that looks good but doesn’t have a strong brand may prove to be a detriment to your business, both online and offline.
Since its founding in 2002, SyncShow has had the opportunity to help many organizations grow their revenue through integrated marketing strategies, including website development and online branding. Some organizations understand the importance of online branding and manage their brands and messaging as closely as they manage their finances, while others consider branding an afterthought if they consider it at all. Often, it's this latter group that sees strong fluctuations in sales and growth potential as the market shifts.
Why Online Brand Marketing Is So Important
Your website is likely the way that new prospects are going to be introduced to your company. They’ve either found you online through search (organic or paid), seen your company on social media or gone directly to your website after learning about you offline. Online, your brand is communicated through your website's entire visitor experience. Beyond the website design, look and feel, corporate color palette and logo, your visitor “experiences” your website the same way they would if they visited your office, except it is more personal.
If your website design does not provide an easy-to-navigate, informative and responsive experience for your customers, they will leave, likely in seconds. Worse still, they may remember a negative association with your business. Whether you are selling products online or offering a place where visitors come for knowledge or validation before contacting you to request a quote, the experience your website offers can be the difference between a win and a loss.
Building a strong online brand takes a whole team of experts. Many organizations think they can hire a contract programmer or developer or use an online website builder, and that with minimal marketing, they can launch a website that will provide a return on investment. This approach often results in a lot of wasted time and money. If you are building a website for the first time or enhancing your existing online presence, we strongly recommend you hire a team of experts that can look at your prospects, your business and your website needs and design a holistic online brand marketing solution. If this is not an option, there are three areas essential to your online brand you should pay particular attention to.
1. Graphic User Interface
Start with the website design, look and feel. Does it look professional? Is it consistent with your company branding? At this point, your website is the front door of your business and should not look like an afterthought. No matter your business type, your website should be a strong representation of your organization. Check out your competitor’s sites and make sure your website looks as good if not better.
- Colors, fonts and graphics should be consistent and easily readable.
- Avoid stock photography and clip art, if possible. If you must use stock photography, make sure it comes from a reputable source and try to avoid something that may be used on many other sites.
- All imagery, charts and graphs should be professionally rendered.
- Offline and online communications styles and voices should be consistent.
Is your website easy to navigate? Can visitors easily find what they’re looking for? If you have a limited budget, ask a few friends to review your site and look for specific things. If it takes more than two clicks to find something, or if your friends can’t complete the task without asking for help, your navigation may be cumbersome or confusing.
- Navigation should be located in the same place on every page. Don’t make your visitors relearn your website structure from page to page.
- Make sure your contact information is readily available. A visitor should never have to hunt for your phone number, address or a “contact us” form. Make sure this information is easily found on your home page and in the header or footer of your site pages.
- Test your website in multiple browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, etc.) and on a variety of screen sizes. You want to be sure that your site uses responsive design and will be easy to read and navigate on all screen sizes. In July 2019, Google moved to mobile-first indexing. This means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking. Since the majority of Google searches take place on a mobile device, Google is primarily crawling and indexing pages with the smartphone agent going forward. If your site is not optimized for mobile, Google will not rank you as high in search results.
The content of your website is key to a valuable visitor experience. A visually appealing website with excellent navigation will not matter without great content and vice versa. Your content should be catered to your target audiences. Define every audience type that might visit your site and develop content and a rich experience that speaks to each of these audiences and their issues they’re trying to solve for. Make sure you are providing more than just information about your organization.
Visitors are looking to build trust in your brand and are therefore looking for more than just information on what you sell. They’re looking for what this information means to them, and they expect value through the whole experience. Value can be provided in many forms, including case studies, videos (about your company, specific products/services, explainer videos, etc.), expert advice, product comparisons, etc. Ensure your website offers visitor engagement at every turn.
- If you have information that can be communicated in a video, create one. Video is a powerful means for storytelling, and studies show that people would rather watch a video than read. The average conversion rate for websites using video is 4.8%, compared to 2.9% for those that don’t use video.
- Keep the limited attention span of web users in mind, however, and keep your videos short and to the point.
- Be sure that videos and images are appropriately sized for the web and that they’re optimized for search. Just like you need title tags and meta descriptions for blogs, these are essential for your videos to rank in search.
- Provide value and prove that you are an expert or prove your product is the right choice. This means you need to provide more than just an online version of a brochure. Give your visitors information they can’t find elsewhere and help them understand what it means to them.
- Build content for each of your target audiences. Your content should speak to your target audiences individually and specifically. Show your visitors that you understand them and know what they want.
Your website should represent your brand and your solutions in a professional manner and provide a seamless and engaging experience for your prospects now that they’ve found you. Be sure to have an online brand strategy that includes consistent branding, ease of navigation and valuable content that prospects want, and then continue building on the foundation you’ve built with ongoing online brand marketing.