How to Balance Selling vs. Branding Online
As a cross-channel merchant, you know that your website, and more importantly, your homepage are your company’s main calling cards. These have to be perfect in order to put your brand in its most positive light.
There's an age-old battle that happens in most companies, and sometimes within marketing departments themselves: Which comes first, branding or selling, selling or branding?
I've spent enough time working for great salesmen and brand marketers to learn one thing: At the end of the day, the goal for any brand is to make sales. I’ve also learned that the really smart companies know how to brand and sell at the same time.
So back to your website, your brand’s calling card. Let’s say you're building a sales site and not worrying about branding. You develop your site to do one thing and one thing only — get visitors to buy (or at the very least continue to communicate with you in some form).
Also for this discussion, let’s assume consumers don’t buy from your e-commerce site right away. What do you do to stimulate future sales? How do you get visitors to engage with your brand until you can convince them to buy?
To me it comes down to the following two points:
- Have your company's phone number prominently displayed on every page of your website. No matter what you do to create a user experience conducive to online buying, there's always going to be a certain segment of consumers who will want to deal with a real person. By not having some way of handling inbound calls, you're missing out on business. Having consumers on the phone with you provides another engagement opportunity. Ask questions, learn more about your customers in a way that simply can't be done without personal contact. And be sure to capture all contact info.
- Live chat is an excellent tool for communicating with visitors to your site. Use this tool to answer consumers’ questions, capture information and provide a friendly forum for customer service help. While not for everyone, most live chat representatives can reach out to site visitors if they see they're lingering too long on a page to help them through their purchase decision.
These are just two ways to ensure you're able to communicate with everyone who visits your website. I’ll have more suggestions on how to build a sales/branding website that doesn’t leave prospects — and revenue — on the table in the coming days.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.