Being an online seller varies drastically from running a brick and mortar store. Online, you lack the face-to-face communication of speaking with your customers in person. It can be harder to build brand loyalty and awareness. Your best bet to master the realm of branding and social for your online business is to learn from the best. Barkbox, a monthly subscription of treats and toys for pet owner’s furry friends, is a master at creating an online persona that embodies their brand, and makes customers die-hard fans. Here are three tips to use for your own online stores, as demonstrated by the experts at BarkBox.
Focus on the why, not the what
Unless you sell something that is an absolute necessity (car parts, lightbulbs, etc), the motivation behind a purchase will often be an emotional one. Barkbox does this masterfully. Pet owners could easily find treats and toys locally, and possibly for a fraction of the cost of what they’d spend on a monthly subscription. However, Barkbox focuses so much on loving and cherishing dogs, that it’s appealing to dog lovers. Barkbox knows that dogs aren’t just pets for their customers – they’re family members. Highlighting an owner’s love for their dog is what seduces them into signing up. Draw on whatever emotional motivation lies behind purchasing your products, and you’ll create a brand that comes to life.
We’ve talked about the effectiveness of this in previous posts – when customers upload photos of themselves using your products, they are offering you the gift of free advertising or “earned” media. Repost their photos and messages everywhere it makes sense. Use it as unbiased proof to potential customers that your product is great, and you’re not the only one who thinks so. Barkbox makes great use of their fan base by spotlighting customer photos directly on their website homepage. When visitors come to the Barkbox site, they will immediately see a gallery of happy pups with their monthly box of treats. It’s a subtle way of showing off your endorsements, and makes customers who were featured on your site feel more loyal to your brand.
Don’t be sales-y
Nothing will turn off potential clients (or even current ones) more than feeling like they’re being pitched to. It makes customers uncomfortable, and can damage your reputation. Beyond the occasional promotional tweet offering discounts for signing up, Barkbox’s social media is dominated by articles and posts that are of genuine interest to their niche. They don’t talk about their products, their subscription plan or how much they rock. Instead, they post through their sister company BarkPost about anything and everything that would tickle a dog lover’s fancy – puppies, animal best friends, pets who save their owners, sleepy dogs, etc. You name it, they’ve got it. Barkbox understands that if someone stumbles upon these posts, and enjoys them, they’ll eventually click to their website to find out more. Posting articles and photos that will humor their niche builds trust. Barkpost readers believe that Barkbox truly cares about their furry best friends. That level of trust is what will encourage them to follow through with an eventual purchase. Use social media to communicate to your audience what you want them to understand about who you are as a company.
Use these tips to strengthen your online persona and overall brand. For tips on how to use social to build a brand, reread our posts on Instagram, Pinterest and Vine. What are some of your favorite brands that you follow on social media today? Have you tried some of these efforts already – have they worked for you?