4 Actionable Ways to Build a Brand

In business and ecommerce, your brand is your lifeblood. The reputation you have, the experiences you create, the ways you differentiate — everything rolls up to brand.

Can you technically sell products online without an established brand? Sure, maybe for a short period of time. But can you build and grow a sustainable, profitable business without one? Good luck. Can you compete with other companies that market and sell the same products in the same category to the same group of people? Doubtful. Can you create something memorable that keeps people talking and coming back for more? No way.

Without an established brand in place, you won’t survive. To make it, you need to create and manage something unique that customers can experience and interact with. You need something that influencers can get behind. You need something that people can brag to their friends about. You need to build a brand.

Here’s how to start building one for your business:

1. Create a brand book.
To build a strong brand for your business, a good place to start is by creating a brand book that all employees, contractors and agencies can rely on when creating experiences for customers.

This resource is your single source of truth. It’s a living document that everyone can reference and use when they want to understand and portray your brand voice, personality and style.

It should include information that is core to the ongoing development and preservation of your brand, such as your brand promise, mission statement, core values, key messaging and positioning statements about your products, customer personas, visual style guide and communication guidelines for each channel and medium you use when interacting with customers.

A brand book can be as simple as a Google document shared with all members of your team, or it could be a professionally designed and printed resource that you give to each employee or agency who works for you. What matters at the end of the day is not the look of the resource, but the value and usefulness of the content inside.

2. Turn customers into micro-influencers. 
There’s been a lot of talk about influencer marketing this year. In fact, it will probably go down as one of the most overused and misunderstood marketing concepts of 2019.

Is it worth all the hype (and the investment)? My take is yes, as long as you realize one simple truth: you don’t have to hire the Kim Kardashians of the world to get the kind of ROI you’re looking for. In fact, you’re probably better off avoiding big-name celebrities and well-known influencers altogether. Instead, you should be partnering with micro-influencers.

Here’s how micro-influencers are different than influencers. An influencer is a well-known social media personality or real-world celebrity with a huge audience of followers — we’re talking in the millions. You can hire them, but campaigns are expensive, and you might not get the level of engagement you’re looking for.

A micro-influencer, on the other hand, is someone who is less known but still has a decent amount of followers — think more like 5,000 or 10,000 — and influence in a particular industry.

More brands are turning to micro-influencers for two main reasons: they are less expensive and their posts tend to lead to more engagement, comparatively. In fact, Buffer found in a recent study that the less followers an influencer has, the better engagement they get.

So where do you find these influencers? Before embarking on a quest to discover, negotiate with and hire an obscure stranger that probably knows nothing about your product, turn to your existing customers instead. The best ones are probably already talking about your products to their friends anyway.

3. Build a brand photography library.
It’s time to say goodbye to stock photos. Your brand deserves better, your customers deserve better, and you deserve better. You work hard to build products that solve problems and create delight for your customers. The lifestyle photos you use in marketing campaigns should align with the standards you set for every other aspect of your brand — product quality, messaging, customer support, etc.

Stock photos are convenient, but they rarely allow you to create the emotional response you need to create to convert an interested buyer into a loyal customer.

To build a stronger, more recognizable brand for your ecommerce business, you need to spend time building a library of brand photos that help you connect with customers, showcase products and differentiate from competitors. Think of this photo library as an extension of your brand. You create standards when it comes to your logo, your fonts and the copy in your product descriptions. Your photos should also have a distinct style that customers can quickly recognize when scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.

4. Become a publisher and a storyteller.
Marketers have been saying it for years, and it still remains true today: content is king. If you want to connect with prospective customers, you have to build trust and credibility with people. The fastest way to do that is by creating content and positioning yourself as a knowledgeable thought leader in your industry or product category.

In previous years, that meant creating a blog and sharing articles — or if you were really ahead of the times, you might have created videos. But today, winning the content game isn’t about creating a blog or writing articles — it’s about creating an entire publishing arm for your brand that allows you to create and share many different forms of content, from podcasts and interactive presentations to printed lookbooks and long-form interviews with customers.

Want to see two great examples of ecommerce brands that operate like publishers? Take a look at what Filson and YETI have been up to lately.

Wrapping up.
To compete in the world of ecommerce, you need to have an established brand. To win, you need one that is uniquely delightful and unforgettable in the minds of your customers. You can’t get there overnight, but you can get closer each day by becoming hyper-focused on and obsessed with how people experience your brand on social media, on your website, on Amazon, in email and in real life. Need more? Contact TBI Digital and schedule a consultation.

Why Your Brand Needs Both PPC and SEO

SEO vs. PPC – Which Is Better?

The world of search engine marketing is generally divided into two camps: PPC and SEO. Paid Search leads to instantaneous results – immediately putting your brand in front of your target audience – but can be very expensive depending on the level of competition. Meanwhile, Organic Search costs nothing (well, except timeeffort, and expertise), but can take months to see similar results to Paid Search.

Brands often find themselves debating between the two options – pitting the pros and cons of each option against each other to determine the best fit for their business. Should you pony up for paid campaigns or put in the work to build your organic ranking?

One of the worst kept secrets in search engine marketing is how paid search ads and organic search engine optimization work in concert to boost the performance of the other. Choosing one over the other is akin to purchasing a “buy one, get one free” product and not taking the freebie. If you’re going to tackle the world of search marketing at all, it is in your business’ best interest to double down on your efforts and achieve greater success. Here’s why:

Google Adwords Auction Algorithm

Advertising on Google AdWords is often compared to an auction. Advertisers tell Google how much they are willing to bid to show their ad for a particular keyword and Google puts the highest bidder in the #1 position. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, unlike a true auction, the process is much, much more complicated. An Adwords keyword auction involves an algorithm, a team of mad scientists, and possibly alien technology. However, the concept is very simple: $$$.

Google gets paid per click (hence the PPC acronym) and while – all things being equal – Google would logically choose a $10 keyword bid over a $1 keyword bid, Google stands to make more money if 11 people click on the $1 ad than if only 1 person clicks on the $10 ad. In other words, Google considers behavioral factors in conjunction with an advertiser’s keyword bid.

What are those behavioral factors? Well, Google became the search giant they are today not only by showing search results but by showing relevant search results. Google wouldn’t be a synecdoche for “search” if users didn’t consistently find what they were looking for when googling. In addition to the keyword bids, Google Adwords’ auction algorithm also considers the relevance and user experience of the landing page the ad directs to.

SEO Improves PPC Performance

Landing page relevancy is where search engine optimization comes in to play. One of the key tenets to SEO is improving a site or pages relevancy to certain keywords and all of the optimizations that go into improving a page’s organic ranking – keyword usage, metadata, page speed, etc – also lend themselves to improving the page’s relevancy in paid search.

In short, making organic search optimization changes to a page tells Google that page provides a better, more relevant user experience and Google subsequently lowers the cost-per-click (CPC) it takes to get your ad shown for that keyword.

Countless case studies have shown how SEO-friendly pages can drastically lower the cost and improve the performance of a campaign – up to a 38% decrease in CPC – driving more traffic for less ad spend.

That’s right. In addition to improving your organic rankings, an effective SEO strategy can actually save you money on your PPC campaigns.

PPC Improves SEO Performance

The beneficial relationship between organic search optimization and paid search performance isn’t a one-way street. While paid ads don’t directly affect organic rankings, there are many ways in which paid ads can help improve organic performance.

The most notable of these is that the presence of paid search ads can actually improve the CTR of an organic search listing. Case studies have shown that search users are more likely to click on an organic result when there is a paid ad present for the same website. There’s a good reason for this – the presence of both paid and organic results for the same brand improves recognition and evokes a stronger reputation in the mind of the search user.

Even when a paid ad and organic ad are shown separately, a search user may be more likely to click on an organic result from a site or brand they recognize over one they have not seen a paid ad for. In both scenarios, the paid ads help drive more organic clicks, which in turn improves the organic ranking (as Google weighs CTR on organic results as well!).

Other Factors In Paid Search Ads Influencing Organic Rank

Additionally, paid ads allow you greater control over the messaging of your brand. Paid ad copy can be time sensitive, personal, creative, even inventive and compelling – and that messaging is then imbued into your organic search results, which tend to be dryer and more factual by nature. With the combination of paid search ads and organic listings, you don’t have to choose between focusing on keyword-rich information or showing off the personality of your brand. You can do both!

In an even bigger way, paid ads can help increase the organic ranking of a page by encouraging some of the most important behaviors to organic ranking: sharing. Back-links and page visits are a major factor to a page’s organic rank and introducing that page in the form of a URL can help lead users to content that they’ll link to, bookmark, and mention on social media. Voila! – suddenly a page with no organic juice is in the hands of the very users who can help push that page to a top organic ranking – all thanks to a paid ad.

SEO + PPC = An Integrated Search Marketing Approach

You’ve heard the saying “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine”, but in search marketing, a one-two punch of a dual PPC and SEO strategy makes both search methods scratch better. You could put all your eggs into one basket and slowly improve your organic rankings OR rack up credit card points with paid search ads, but why would you choose when you could increase your free organic traffic, while simultaneously lowering your PPC ad cost and improving the performance of your paid campaigns?

TBI Digital specializes in both PPC and SEO. Contact us today to find out how our experts can help your business reap the rewards of both.

No more “regards”

In case you’re tired of your same old email sign-off, this list provides many alternatives.

I have an embarrassing confession: The vast majority of the time, I sign off my emails with “Thanks!” It doesn’t matter if I have anything to show appreciation for or not–it just tends to be my default signature.

It’s not that I don’t want to cap off my email with something great. It’s just that I often find myself drawing a blank. Are there even any options aside from those two widely accepted favorites?

Yes, there are. And, as a matter of fact, there are a lot of them. Fortunately for you (and for me!), I pulled a huge selection into this list right here. Of course, not all of them will be suitable for every sort of situation or office. But, with so many options, you’re bound to find one that fits the bill.

So, go ahead and bookmark this page and come back to it when you feel like straying from your standard email sign-off and trying something a little different.

…something more formal
  1. All My Best
  2. Best
  3. Best Regards
  4. Best Wishes
  5. Congratulations
  6. Cordially
  7. Faithfully
  8. Goodbye
  9. Looking Forward
  10. Regards
  11. Respectfully
  12. Sending You the Best
  13. Sincerely
  14. Sincerely Yours
  15. Speak With You Soon
  16. Take Care
  17. Warm Regards
  18. Warm Wishes
  19. Warmly
  20. Wishing You a Wonderful Day
  21. Yours
  22. Yours Truly
…something friendly
  1. Cheers
  2. Enjoy Your [Day of the Week]
  3. Good Luck
  4. Happy [Day of the Week]
  5. Have a Good One
  6. Have a Great Day
  7. Here’s to a Great [Day of the Week]
  8. Hope This Helps
  9. Hope You’re Making It Through [Day of the Week]
  10. Make It a Great Day
  11. Pleasure Catching Up With You
  12. See You Tomorrow
  13. Sending Good Vibes
  14. Talk Soon
  15. Until Next Time
  16. You’re the Best
  17. Your Friend
If you need to show appreciation
  1. All My Thanks
  2. I Can’t Thank You Enough
  3. I Owe You
  4. Many Thanks
  5. Much Appreciated
  6. Thank You
  7. Thank You for Everything
  8. Thank You in Advance
  9. Thanks a Million
  10. Thanks for Reading
  11. Thanks for Your Consideration
  12. Thanks for Your Help
  13. Thanks So Much
  14. With Appreciation
  15. With Gratitude
  16. You’re a Lifesaver
If you’re feeling funny (or a little cheesy)
  1. Anonymously
  2. Bye, Felicia
  3. Congrats on Reading This Whole Email
  4. Don’t Stop Believin’
  5. I Need Coffee
  6. Keep On Keepin’ On
  7. Later Tator
  8. Live Long and Prosper
  9. Looking Forward (to Friday)
  10. One Step Closer to Friday
  11. Peace Out
  12. So Long, Farewell
  13. Tag, You’re It
  14. The End
  15. Toodles

Again, not all of these will be appropriate for every single email you send. Just as in spoken communication, the words you use with your boss or an important client will be much different from the ones you’d use with a close friend or co-worker.

So, make sure to think through the message and the circumstances before adding your signature–particularly if you’re thinking of using a snarkier one. Feeling stuck? This handy guide can help you determine whether or not you can drop the formalities.

With that in mind, kiss your tried and true sign-off goodbye and use one of these to switch things up every now and then!