In this increasingly-interconnected world, the process of building, representing and maintaining
a brand is far more complex than many — even some digital marketers — assume. They focus
on the moments universally recognised as significant, such as seeing an ad or reading a review,
and fail to consider that the digital sales funnel is quite the tangled web.
After all, the broader your marketing strategy, the more brand touchpoints you create. If you want a clear definition of a brand touchpoint, think of it this way: when the path charted by your brand (everything it does, and everywhere it goes) intersects with the path charted by your average prospective client or customer, that’s a brand touchpoint.
In principle, every brand touchpoint is an opportunity to leave an impact and boost brand awareness, but things don’t always work out that way. To boost your chances, you need to know all the most important touchpoints for your brand — so here are 6 that you might have missed:
They say that you only get one chance to make a first impression, but it isn’t quite that simple. In truth, you get a fresh chance with every part of the sales funnel, and the first order that someone places (whether to pay for a product, service, or consultation) is a key brand touchstone. Why? Because you don’t want one-off customers: you want the type of loyalty that keeps people coming back to your business, and that demands supreme service.
If you decide to buy something, and you’re underwhelmed when it arrives, then you likely won’t complain, return it, or demand compensation for your experience — realistically, you’ll just accept it as it is, and quietly resolve never to buy from that company again. That’s brand damage that can’t meaningfully be tracked. So when you’re handling that all-important first order, aim to exceed customer expectations.
Word of mouth
Plenty of brand-related discussion still takes place online and offline, and word-of-mouth recommendations remain exceptionally valuable — when someone is recommended something by a person they trust, they’re not only significantly more likely to try it but also inclined to view it positively before having any experience of it. Despite this, some brands try to be stealthy and fragmented with their communications, as though they can keep damaging news from leaking.
Consider the following question: if you were a part of your target audience, and you had the opportunity to experience the brand for the first time, would it captivate you in any way? Would you relate to the mission, or repeat the slogan? If there’s nothing in your branding or service to win word of mouth, you need to rethink your approach to business.
Social media feedback
Do you spend much time do you spend looking for mentions of your brand name on Twitter using an analytics tool like Followerwonk? And if you do, then how do you react when you spot comments, be they negative or positive? Social media can feel so impersonal and abstract that it’s easy to forget that real people get to see the messages you provide — there’s major benefit in getting involved.
For instance, if someone says something nice about you, you can respond to thank them. This will make them feel better about it, and show to those observing that your brand is personable and at least somewhat humble. And if someone says something negative about you, you can graciously accept the feedback and try to help them regardless. This will make you look helpful, and give you the chance to win over the person who criticised you.
This is something that most people don’t think about, but can be very significant — particularly in the B2B world. When they’re not in the office, your brand’s employees are living their personal lives, but they’re not mystically prevented from commenting on work matters. (Sure, they could be under NDAs to prevent them from revealing proprietary tech, but even that wouldn’t stop them from talking either negatively or positively about your business.)
Imagine that a disgruntled employee went to a networking event and loudly badmouthed your company. How would it make you look? On the basis that this is something you really want to avoid, you should allow your employees to speak freely with you, and give them some guidance on how (and when) you’d prefer them to mention your business to others.
Yes, even the billing process can be an important brand touchpoint, because it comments on your professionalism in a keen way. Even though expenditure is the key concept of ecommerce, shoppers can get into the habit of thinking of it as more abstract, and the invoicing process — when done poorly — can be both a nasty reminder of what’s at stake (their money) and a justification to pull back the reins and start cutting costs.
What can go wrong with an invoice? Well, the details can be incorrect, whether for the order, the pricing, the address, or all of the above — or it can show up far too late. If you still have a clunky manual invoicing process, you have no excuse: work a cloud-based invoice generator (Wave’s and Fresh Books are good examples) into your operational procedure, and aim for strict quality-control. Don’t let something basic like an invoice undermine your entire business. Once you know how to write an invoice, they are very simple to create.
Chances are that you’ve used one of these before when researching a purchase: Googling something along the lines of “Best [search term] 2018” to get an overview of how your options are perceived. You might have even considered them in relation to your brand, though perhaps left the matter at confirming you weren’t being slated anywhere.
You can do more with these: much more. In many cases, these roundups are SEO projects (often beset with affiliate links) so they’re not exactly objective. If you look for the roundups most likely to appear for the terms that relate to your brand, you can contact them and simply ask that they consider your brand. They might just include you, no questions asked, or they may request something in return. In the latter case, you’ll just have to decide what that coverage is worth.
Some of these brand touchpoints draw from old-fashioned offline marketing, while others are entirely modern, but they’re all strongly worth your investigation. Take more opportunities to show what your brand is all about, and you’ll see the benefits.