How to build an online brand

Charcoal’s inbound marketing formula is a four part series, breaking down the components that come together to make your website more than a glorified business listing, floating in the dead sea. In part two, we explored how using a modern site development, paired with Google Analytics and local hosting will optimize your website to encourage online visitors to keep returning.

By now you’ve got some recurring traffic coming to your optimized website, and you’re collecting insights on your users’ behaviour. The time has come to dig your site’s heels in, and secure your spot on both the web and in your users’ minds.The topic of discussion: your brand. Marketing 101 tells you that your branding is the first impression you make — your company’s declarative differentiator that’s designed to give you a competitive, memorable edge. For obvious reasons, that same branding is important to infuse into your website.

Consider buying milk at your grocer. There’s typically two to three different brands for you to consider — so how do you choose? You may buy the same brand each and every week, but what originally lead you to that thought-free loyalty? It’s a powerful asset for the guys at the other end reaping the rewards of your consistent business, and one should consider how to harness the root of that behaviour, in business and online.

Was the attractive packaging the hero? The responsible sourcing? Perhaps the brand was recommended to you or saw favourable reviews that lead to your interest. Whatever the reason, that brand has captured your ongoing loyalty through branding, and the beauty of a well-branded website is that it can often present all of the above factors at once!

modern site design + case studies + user reviews = branding

Modern site design: So we’ve covered development and playing nice with Google, but what about capturing the interest of real people? After all, your website was built to please more than just algorithms. That’s where the ever-changing art of intelligent and informed UX (user experience) comes into the picture, and a savvy designer will always start here. The goal of a website should be to capture the visitor’s attention and make serving them whatever they’re interested quick and easy. Trends are common in website design and change is (relentlessly) ever present, but the core of design is creating a positive experience for users. On that note, these two items seem to be here to stay:

  1. Large images. Why tell people when you can show them? Large pictures are great for telling stories and providing an aesthetically pleasing experience that words can’t seem to do. On Charcoal’s “Our Work” section, we lean towards minimal, precise verbiage and informative galleries. A friend of a friend says it’s the bee’s knees..

Rather than articulating that we craft all of our website to work perfectly on mobile devices, we opted to include shots of sites displayed on smartphones and tablets to get the point across. To be frank, our designers will take just about any chance they can get to show off their work. Our copywriter was devastated.

2. Large and unique typography. With design trends appearing and fading with the sun, loud, distracting, motion-filled aesthetic touches come and go on your favourite websites. To combat this, large and unique typography can set the pace and create order out of a chaotic online world!

Case Studies: This is a lot more than your average blog post. Whether you’re offering a traditional white paper, or an online calculator that leverages your company’s research and data, case studies are the marketer’s go-to bait of choice. But with so many different options to reach your audience, you can be doing a lot more than parking your case studies on your company’s resource page. A good case study provides the user with valuable and clear information that they would not normally be able to find for free. In return, the user provides their contact information and willingness to accept more information from that company’s email list. This is invaluable to the company providing the case study, because they receive contact information for a reader or prospect that’s interested in your website’s content or business solution(s).

Sounds a lot like a lead, doesn’t it? Well you can actually leverage your current and new case studies to act as lead magnets. Even if lead-capturing isn’t the primary purpose of your site, turning your case studies into downloadable resources can help you to grow your readership by users re-sharing the content and providing their consent to receive future communications to their email.

People are scared of spam. They only want to give away their contact information when they can’t find their solution for free anywhere else. This is why an effective case study looks to solve a niche problem. But don’t worry, because you can target your case studies through digital ads and relevant online communities to reach thousands of users interested in solving their niche problem.

User reviews: will benefit your online brand in two ways. The first, is a reviews power to amplify your credibility as users find you. When potential customers or clients search your businesses name, they’ll have instant access to Google reviews as well as reviews found online from other sources (like Yellow Pages.) As far as statistics go, these reviews are almost as persuasive as a personal recommendation. In fact, 88% of users trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

The second, is providing credibility for your organization when search engines come crawling, especially if you’re a local business. The more reviews you have (considering they are mostly positive) the higher you will rank in Google’s local listings. You can even use this helpful tool to create your own shareable review request! Dish it out to past, present, and future customers, and you’re golden!

Combining the benefits of intuitive user-experience design, consistent download promotion, and a portfolio of reviews, you will have created a formidable online brand that users will recognize and interested parties will lend themselves to. For help getting started or a few more tricks of the trade, give us a shout!