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Why brand experience should be central to ecomm strategy

martin
Martin Brierley
Creative Partner
If you want customers to keep purchasing, better invest in them as people.

Who is buying your products, and who is buying them at your ecomm store? Of course you know who they are.

They are your customers and you know them really well… right? If you’ve got your data feeds worked out, your plugins connected and your CRM working hard for you, you have a clear idea of your audience and you are segmenting them like crazy to get ever closer to the truth that will aid your conversion metrics.

But hang on a minute! Your customers are not data sets – their behaviors may be random and unexpected. And they may resent being shoehorned into cohorts. Why is that? It is because your customers are people.

Your customers buy your products at your ecomm store. But people buy your brand .. and if they don't buy your brand they’re not going to be your customers.

 
From customers to people

Consider this truth: Your people are buying lifestyle not just products, and if they don't understand your brand why would they pay a higher price for your product? In fact, research by Forbes suggests 74% of consumers are likely to buy based on experience of a brand alone.

I love this quote from Stef Calcraft over at Mindshare: “People are still people. They have dreams and desires and want to be happy. If you make people your north star and ask the right questions, you get a wealth of data that will create new opportunities and actionable insights.”

Of course data, and the dark sister arts of segmentation and optimisation can help with conversions but actually listening to your customers as people who have lives and lifestyles, who have values, will help you better tell a story that resonates with them. That will help you turn them into your people – and into long term value for your business.

 

From content to storytelling

So you need to be clearer than ever about what your story is, and importantly you need to express that story through every one of your brand touchpoints – and critically at the end destination for your people, where they actually decide to enter their details and click to buy. Where they convert from being simply a customer to one of your people.

We are all people and we all share one thing in common (whether we shop Patagonia or North Face, Mazda or BMW). We all love a story and your brand is your story. It’s where you build all-important empathy.

It all starts with your vision and the clearer that vision is expressed through all your channels, through all your touchpoints and through everything you do – in your products themselves and even in the way they are boxed or delivered – the more likely your customers are to become your people.

The expression of vision requires creativity and storytelling. Both of which are often bypassed in the scientific drive to optimised conversion. In defining story as ‘content’ we deny the emotional power to be derived from words, imagery, music. The ability to carry that consistency of voice through all your brand experiences will define your success.

 

Consistent experiences

Experiences in which customers are being asked to part with their hard-earned cash resonate even more strongly in their mind and therefore are the most critical in defining the brand. (Research shows that customers are likely to leave a brand for good after as few as two poor experiences, while PWC found that 65% of all consumers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.) 

Brand isn't something that sits separately to ecomm because these days brand is better defined as the expectation (and reality) of the experiences that customers will get every time they interact with your business in any touchpoints. 

Your people will expect the very best experience on your ecomm site and with a plethora of platform options out there your platform choice should be important in the telling of your story consistently across all touchpoints. Forbes research shows that 65% of respondents would become long-term customers of a brand if they can provide positive experiences throughout the customer journey

More and more brands are turning to headless solutions for their ecommerce, and it comes as no surprise. In a world of multiple touchpoints – both digital and physical – where the customer journey will inevitably be more of a pinball machine than a simple “funnel”, the ability to deliver speedy, easily-managed consistent storytelling and brand is ever more important. 

A headless solution – in which, unlike traditional CMS’s, the back end content repository is separated from the presentation layer – allows a business to manage and distribute content from a single place to an unlimited number of customer-facing channels: web, ecommerce, mobile, point-of-sale, voice assistants, digital kiosks and so on. 

That means less time for content editors and critically enables businesses to use storytelling to inspire purchases by seamlessly connecting content and product. Candyspace recently built a connector between headless CMS Contentful and headless ecommerce platform BigCommerce that does exactly that.  

And with the ability to deliver consistent storytelling through a purchase journey, businesses have the power to turn their customers into their people…

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