How to maintain brand trust and value with a digital-only presence
How to maintain brand trust and value with a digital-only presence
Even in a digital world, a personal touch always prevails
Posted: Thursday June 10th, 2021 – 12:03 PM
IIt has been more than a year since retailers were forced to temporarily close their doors or put in place restrictions to limit the in-store experience. Now, as we return to some semblance of normalcy, it is essential that the trust and brand value is retained for those who operate only digitally.
Back to detail
As I write these lines, physical retail and outdoor hospitality feel a bit more rejuvenated after welcoming customers again. My inbox and notification center are full of brand alerts offering discounts and sales incentives for scanning an in-store app. It’s a great example of how quickly brands need to be to capture the attention of their customers when trends and circumstances change.
It is also a prime example of the importance of communication and marketing techniques in building trust and creating brand value. While I might not be the type to go back to department stores so early, I feel reassured and excited by these messages. And nothing could be more important at a time like this.
It is a reminder that these stores are still there and ready to welcome customers again. After all, if they had the time to plan and create a whole marketing campaign around the event, I can only hope their efforts for a safe reopening have so much thought and attention.
Digital tactics like the ones mentioned above only intensified during the pandemic, where distance communication and distance offerings were the only points of contact between brands and consumers. And of course, it was not without its challenges.
It is human nature for us to trust and find greater value in something that we can see for ourselves in person. Traditionally, brands have been able to create this through in-store experiences where customers know they can see products and services in action and are able to interact with staff and experts if something goes wrong. While digital channels offer their own set of benefits, meeting these innate human needs is not one of them.
So, in an effort to maintain consumer confidence in the uncertainty of forced shutdowns, ever-changing measures and restrictions, we have seen a number of successful strategies from brands. Push notifications and regular email communications are just scratching the surface. These tactics are a great way to generate an instant response, whether it’s a brand recall, an update on important changes, or simply an alert of a new offering in an effort to generate website traffic.
By now it is a known fact that personalized messages generate better results. And these forms of digital communication can certainly be personalized with little effort on the part of the brand. Whether it’s a mass email with a custom first name field or an app alert sent as a waiver, both feel personal and like they’ve been sent by a real person who knows who you are and understands the context of a situation.
But today’s customers need more and expect more. These tactics have been used for years, and the sensitivity of the pandemic has called for a more human approach to marketing and customer service. And that’s exactly what many successful brands do.
In online store
While it’s important to drive traffic to a website, it’s the service offered once a customer hits a page that makes the difference when it comes to building trust and building value. brand, and ultimately, to convert. It is about translating the human experience in stores online.
For example, we have seen a greater concentration and adoption of live chat features on websites, with this feature now expected for more than half of consumers. With these features, customers expect to be able to speak to a real person on the side of the screen who is able to understand their queries and provide a solution in a responsive manner.
Companies like Currys PC World have gone even further and now offer a ShopLive feature that allows customers to video call a real sales representative who can help them with their purchase. In this way, brands are able to bridge the gap between themselves and their consumers, even in times of social distancing. And as a result, are able to retain the trust while adding value to their brand through an out-of-the-box offering and support.
Other tactics have included offering incentives that encourage repeat purchases. For example, many online retailers offer unlimited next day delivery subscription services, where a one-time and higher annual fee gives access to one year of free delivery. With the time between placing an order and arriving, along with delivery costs being one of the biggest disincentives to shopping online, the incentive has been incredibly effective in increasing loyalty. That feeling that the brand is also giving you a better deal is a great way to build trust as well. So even if a brand increases delivery costs, the value of a loyal customer and their advocacy carries a lot more weight.
In this sense, it is about how a brand and its offerings are perceived by customers. And another sure-fire way to improve brand perception is through pay-per-click (PPC) tactics. Anyone who is in e-commerce knows how competitive the market is. Ensuring that your brand is seen above your competition is key to increasing awareness and trust, because ultimately higher rankings and greater visibility positively reflect a brand’s trustworthiness.
Obviously, there are a number of ways that businesses can adapt and improve their offerings to encourage trust and add value. Of course, implementing all of these changes will be a waste of budget and not necessarily effective for all brands. Therefore, it is important that you understand your market and your customers, which can be a challenge as things keep changing constantly as they have been.
But a solution may not be too difficult to find. Insight software has evolved as fast as these markets and customer behaviors. Therefore, with the right tools by your side, you can follow market developments in real time and adjust your offers accordingly.
For example, if the data shows that you receive more website traffic at certain times, it may be an option to increase the number of customer service employees using the live chat feature during those times to minimize wait times and improve the customer experience.
These tools can also help you decide which channels to focus PPC efforts on based on which ones your customers visit most often. Using this data, you can then allocate the budget accordingly, ensuring that wasted expenses are minimized while maximizing results. For example, during the pandemic, numbers showed greater use of markets such as Amazon, as well as social commerce channels, including Instagram. If businesses understood this in real time, aided by collaborative commerce software such as VTEX, they may have been able to optimize their performance by increasing their PPC activity and, consequently, their visibility and status on these platforms.
Ultimately, commerce faces a period of significant uncertainty that affects both customers and businesses. Whether stores are open or closed, customer behaviors and needs are constantly changing to keep pace. And brands need to understand that the way they communicate their messages and offers is vital to maintaining brand trust and value.
Obviously, a humanistic approach prevails, because this is something that will never change. But as digital channels take center stage, it all depends on how well a brand is able to translate their personalized approach online. While there are a number of innovative ways that brands are using to appear more human in online channels, using the tools and data available is essential to ensure that activities help rather than hinder a business.
And in this way, not only will brands be able to maintain the trust and value of the brand, but they will also build on it.