Keeping up with the proverbial Joneses seems like a much easier task than trying to stay on top of all the trends as an online retailer while staying true to your brand. But, we’re here to tell you it’s possible—even with the constant evolution of technology—the ever-changing habits of consumers and new competitors popping up ‘e-verywhere.’
It’s important to note that whatever your brand is if you set it up correctly from the beginning. This would have included a brand or company logo, a name, a tagline and even the typeface. That’s the brand’s image and, to be honest, it can change every now and then without affecting your brand identity.
Brand identity is the message you send the consumer about the product, the person, or the thing. It’s about consistency, the principles on which your brand is built, and the culture. Regardless of what you sell, your brand identity shouldn’t change. It shouldn’t be affected by the marketing trends you use to sell your online products.
Here are a few ways you as an online retailer can stay on top of trends and still stay true to your brand.
1. Know Your Online Personality
The first thing you need to do before you take your brand online is to establish your online personality. Being online and on social media platforms allows you to create a space for your brand that’s real. This online persona you create becomes the ‘voice’ of your brand and will help you execute any new marketing ideas with consistency. While some brands turn to humour, it’s not the only way to establish a relationship with your customers. A warm and caring approach is a great way to get your message across. Depending on your business or the product you’re selling, your voice could also be serious and to the point—it doesn’t matter, just as long as it’s carried through.
If you’re not sure what your personality is, outline your company’s values and identify your target audience to increase retail sales.
2. Customer Research
Staying on top of trends means knowing what your clients want, what their perceptions are, and how their buying habits are changing. The methods you use to get this information will depend on the industry you’re in but a good place to start is with a simple survey.
A survey via email is a quick and easy way to ask customers to rate your service, for example, or do something a little more detailed to get their insights into various things like the economy, what the industry’s doing etc.
Another way is online polls. These can be hosted on your website, Facebook page or on an extranet and will help you gain insight into what your customers are thinking. Monitoring social platforms, as in listening in, or following conversations around your brand, the kinds of products you sell and the industry you’re in is also a smart way to get real-time insight and information.
Likewise, it seems that retail eCommerce is everything nowadays. The in-store experience is not as important to customers anymore—shoppers prefer online shopping right from their mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet with add-ons like same-day delivery is turning more consumers on to the online shopping experience. Likewise, to meet demand, more businesses in the retail industry have shifted their high street stores towards making a success out of selling their business in the eCommerce market and through social media.
3. Old-fashioned Reading
Any marketer, business person, communications specialist, digital marketer, entrepreneur (do you get where we’re going with this?) should be reading, all the time. The best way to stay on top of the trends, without affecting your brand identity, is by keeping up with the latest developments and trends. If you like, start off by visiting a few of our favorites: Kissmetrics blog, Mashable and eMarketer.
4. Outsourcing is Best
Want to hear a corny joke? What’s the best sauce for a successful company? Outsource! Shockingly bad, of course, but it gets the point across. Sometimes, it’s important to know where your strengths lie and where you need help. You can’t be all things to all people so, where it makes sense in your business, outsource. This way you’re not solely responsible for keeping up to date with all the developments. You can also focus on staying true to your brand, delivering the best product with the customer service you’re known for because you’re not stressing about the newest big thing to hit SnapChat.
5. Adopt or Die
Remember the days when a marketing team would develop an annual marketing plan, which would literally take a year to implement? Nowadays, the trends are changing too quickly, as is consumer behaviour, which means you need to be able to adopt new marketing ideas and trends, adapt them to your business and implement as soon as possible.
In other words, your marketing needs to be agile and an annual or six-month marketing strategy should be a guideline rather than an unchangeable PDF document. It’s the only way to stay on top of trends and be in a position to evolve and change with your customers, competitors and the industry you're in.
6. Never lose sight of your vision and mission
To stay up-to-date with marketing trends is one of the only ways you’ll survive in the online retail space. However, trendy marketing ideas and tactics shouldn’t supersede your brand identity, your original vision, and your ongoing mission. Brand loyalty is one the biggest driving forces and the one surefire way of losing customers is by having a schizophrenic brand.
One way of ensuring you stay true to yourself as a brand is by revisiting your brand story. Not sure what this is? Every company, product, person, thing, has a story of how it came about or how it makes a difference on a daily basis. A story matters, and if used properly online, you’re your greatest tool. The strongest connection is the human connection, and if your story resonates with someone, you are in the process of establishing a successful brand.
Go a step further and ask your staff (if you have any) and your customers to share their own stories and use them online too.
Summing it all up
Keeping up with the latest marketing trends and developments is important if you hope to stay relevant to your ever-evolving customers. However, that shouldn’t mean you change your product to fit in with trends. The worst thing any brand could do is to change its positioning or point of difference. Sometimes, regardless of what’s going on around you, it pays to stand by your convictions.
Adapting your strategy to stay ahead of the pack is non-negotiable—as is staying true to yourself.