Attracting customers can be a challenge, especially online, where people have a wide range of options to choose from. In order to attract and keep more customers online, a small business owner must be familiar with how customers behave online and how they react to branding changes. In this article, we will examine consumer behavior and offer insight on how businesses can use strategic branding to attract and retain customers.
Attracting New Customers
When marketing towards new customers, a business must make a strong first impression. A study by Liu, White and Dumais found that users become less likely to leave a website the longer they stay on it. As Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group says “The probability of leaving is very high during [the] first few seconds because users are extremely skeptical, having suffered countless poorly designed web pages in the past” Following these critical first ten seconds or so, the user becomes less likely to leave the page. Though many users leave the page after 20 or 30 seconds, by this time the chance of leaving has roughly leveled out and is far lower than during the first few seconds.
What should you do about the high bounce rate at a time when your potential customers are just getting to know your brand? Jakob Nielsen says you must find a way to communicate your value proposition to the visitors before they can leave. To attract new customers, your homepage should communicate who you are and why you are the best option for your customer in ten seconds. For the Madison websites and other area websites that we work, we take extra time to develop those features that customers will likely see first: the logo, tagline, and your mission statement. It may help to partner with a web graphic designer or several graphic design companies to provide services such as custom logo design.
To attract new customers, you should focus on branding that is immediately appealing. To retain customers, on the other hand, you should brand with consistency in mind.
You should aim first and foremost to be consistent in your values. If your first customers came to you because you offered excellent service, your service and care for your customers should be emphasized in your advertisements, publications, and media posts. This way, you will keep your returning customers happy by staying true to the characteristics of your brand that have already proven to be helpful.
Other elements that contribute to your brand identity such as visuals and the selection of goods and services you offer are more open to change. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to know when something constitutes a major change in values. Consider Volvo as a case study for change done both well and poorly.
Prior to the 1990s, Volvo had built a reputation for making safe and reliable cars. Then in the 1990s, the company began offering slightly more sporty and luxurious vehicles. According to Eric Friedman, owner of an ad agency that worked with Volvo in the 1990s and a content contributor on Jalopnik car blog, Volvo at the time “looked at abandoning safety as a message, but it was deemed integral to their DNA, so instead they doubled down. The ads started to show people living wonderful lives where they relied on the car to get them where they needed to go, safely.” This is an example of a shift in branding that expands a company’s reach without alienating old customers. Volvo still offered the features that they had built their reputation on safety, manual transmission, fuel efficiency. But they were able to attract an entirely new demographic by advertising their cars as both powerful and safe. They altered how their cars looked to stay current and expanded the type of product offered, but their original values remained central to their branding approach.
Following an acquisition by Ford in 2000, Volvo ads began to focus more and more on the cars’ luxury and performance, and less on the safety features. Some models were also less fuel-efficient. The company attempted to attract luxury buyers, but it was a case of too much, too soon. The change alienated some of Volvo’s most loyal customers, and though sales have rebounded since the recession, Volvo lost their core values in the process. Edmunds.com analysist Michelle Krebs commented on the topic “Many companies have more safety features than Volvo does, so they can’t own that anymore. Same with durability. The average car on the road today is over 10 years old — which speaks volumes to the quality improvements made by the industry. So what is their niche? It’s hard for them to compete in the luxury world with Mercedes and BMW.”.
Customers value consistency and trustworthiness. Therefore, always take caution when making changes, and ensure that they fit your values. This becomes easier the more connected you are with your customer base, who can provide feedback, and will in turn appreciate your attention. Establish a Loyalty program, listen, test changes gradually, promote your core values, allow for and read reviews online, maintain an active social media, and share your appreciation with your customers.
When attracting new customers, you should aim to make your information easily accessible. Be able to communicate your value in a short amount of time. With return customers, cultivate consistency – everything should come back to your core values. The same values that the new customer learns about the first time they see your homepage should be part of their experience as return customers. If you follow these guidelines, you will be well-positioned to build a loyal, wide-ranging, ever-expanding customer base.