Is Your Ecommerce Branding Up to Scratch? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions to Find Out


Branding plays a huge role in how returning and potential customers perceive your ecommerce business. It’s not all about looking pretty – although it does help – it’s also about creating an emotional connection to your business and demonstrating what makes your brand unique. Whether it’s a compelling mission, a distinctive manufacturing process, a quirky personality or something else entirely, your brand needs to say it all and appeal to the desired lifestyle of your target audience. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to improve your chances of success.

Does your brand support your mission?

Ecommerce is a competitive market. The real winners have realized they need to be more than just a platform for sales. Rather than selling a product, you should be selling a lifestyle. So ask yourself: what lifestyle are you selling?

This question has a lot to do with the kind of values you want your business to stand for. To answer it, you should first look to your customer research. Discover whether the product/lifestyle you’re selling has a genuine audience in the first place before you invest too much time and money into it. And if the answer is yes? Start right away and come up with a mission statement and some branding goals that will help to determine what direction you go in.

Above all, try to think honestly about what your brand is about, and what you want it to achieve. It’s well-known that the best branding appeals to the heart, as well as the head. If you can encourage your audience to feel something, your chances of success are much higher. Slack is a useful tool for monitoring your brand’s evolution as you grow and ensuring that you stay on the right path.

Are you providing an emotional shopping experience?

As mentioned, in an ideal world you want to ensure that your customers connect with your brand on an emotional level. This means identifying the emotions that will lead to favourable results – whether that’s trust, intrigue, desire or fear.

For example, if you want to generate a feeling of trust, you can do so by making a point of offering secure payments, displaying security badges, and being transparent in your communications. Or if you want to encourage curiosity, you can work to create a compelling identity and marketing strategy for yourself (including everything from messaging to graphic elements) to form an image that resonates with your target customers’ mindset. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is also a great motivator that can help to create a sense of urgency around your products.

The most important thing is to make sure your brand has a distinctive personality – whatever that may be. Shoppers like to be reminded that they are interacting with real people, and not just a faceless money-making robot. So don’t be afraid to embrace your unique quirkiness and brand stance on important issues within your industry.

Is your brand reflected in your online store?

One thing I can’t stress enough is The Importance of Good Website Design. Luckily, there are plenty of online resources and tools – even customizable e-commerce platforms – that have lowered the barriers to entry and made it possible to create a professional-looking e-commerce store in a comparatively short amount of time. The other alternative is to work with a professional web designer if you need something more bespoke.

The important thing to remember is that your website is an extension of your brand – or if you’re a purely online business, then it’s actually the home of your brand. To create a cohesive brand, you need consistency in everything, from the logo and colour scheme to your choice of fonts and imagery. This applies across all channels, starting with your website and moving throughout your social media accounts, product packaging, and email marketing campaigns.

What does your brand say about you? And importantly, what does your competitors’ branding say about them? Consider how you can work to give yourself an edge – a distinctive niche or specialty – that will allow your brand to stand out.

What is your USP?

Every successful brand has its own unique selling proposition. This is an important consideration, as it should form a large part of your brand identity and marketing content. Your brand USP is what separates you from (and makes you better than) your competitors. Whether it’s something unique about your product, the way it’s made, the philosophy behind your company or the way it’s run, you need a quirk or specialty that identifies you as different from the rest. So – what makes your store unique?

There has been a huge comeback of late in the buying and selling or artisanal, handmade goods that have been manufactured in traditional ways, rather than mass-produced. People seem to long for nostalgic products that you wouldn’t find in the home of every other person. When you’re selling products, try to highlight what’s unique about them, or find a way to offer some kind of personalization.

A good example of this at work is Popov Leather – an online store created using Shopify that sells handmade leather wallets made in Canada. In his About page, Ryan Popoff (the founder) explains how the store came to be and describes the process of handcrafting each wallet individually in his workshop.


Is your branding consistent across social media?

If nothing else, you should aim to register your business name on every major social media channel before somebody else does. It happens. While it’s not necessary to be highly active on every social media channel, you do want to maintain that consistency and at least have your logo, name, website and a short ‘about’ section included wherever you can. You can then do some further research to determine which social media channels are going to be the best places to interact and engage with your audience.

The key to success on social media is to make sure you’re posting on a regular basis – but also, you shouldn’t always post about yourself. The key word here is ‘social’, so you should also make a point of interacting with others, sharing information around and commenting on relevant issues and stories. Automated posting tools such as Hootsuite can be a great way to schedule lots of posts at once, saving you time throughout the week.

Social media is not the be all and end all – but it is a great way to gain visibility and capture the attention of potential new customers.

Hopefully, this article has helped to identify some areas in which your e-commerce branding could be improved. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to branding, as every company is different. But by following some simple guidelines such as being consistent, having a clear mission and creating an emotional shopping experience, you can boost your chances of success in this competitive industry.

What are your experiences of creating and maintaining an e-commerce brand? Share your stories with us in the comments.

Patrick Foster: Ecommerce Expert and Branding Coach


As an e-commerce entrepreneur myself, I’ve had a lot of experience in seeing what works and doesn’t work. I write about everything from planning and building e-commerce websites to branding, marketing, and strategy. Follow my work on



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Interview with Rand Fishkin, the Wizard of Moz

Rand Fishkin, Moz Blog

Every single industry would have a father figure, an industry leader that everyone looks up to.

We had Steve Jobs for design and computing. We have Bill Gates for software. We have Elon Musk for technology and energy.

And we have Rand Fishkin for online marketing.

Rand’s story is rather inspiring- starting out in the online tech scene in the early 2000s at the very beginning of the online marketing scene, switching to SaaS, and persevering until he had built out the most well known search software company on the planet, Moz. Today Rand is the most well known internet marketing influencer with a following larger than entire well known brands.

Today, the Moz blog is one of the most visited and well known online marketing blogs in the world providing a wealth of info on inbound marketing, SEO, content, paid search and almost every single area of online marketing you can think of.

I highly recommend that you check out the Moz blog if you don’t frequent it already.

He was also one of the first marketers to coin out ‘inbound marketing’, the marketing discipline that has since come to redefine how people market their brands online.

Thanks to Rand and his peers (the HubSpot folks), we have a booming market with more brands realizing the value of gaining online exposure, and content and inbound marketing.

Now: getting to the point, the folks over at TechWyse were sure that Rand would have a wealth of information to share- even beyond what he did through his regular Whiteboard Fridays, so they tried reaching out to him for an interview.

He often talks about how he sees and reads every single email he gets, (which would obviously be in the hundreds), and he was kind enough to set aside some time to answer their questions.

You can read the interview with Rand Fishkin here.

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The Beginners Guide To SMS Marketing

SMS provides a direct communication that no other marketing tool can provide. With 97 percent of Americans using SMS at least once per day, businesses are given a large window of opportunity to reach out their customers in such a simple way. Depending on your industry, you can use an SMS service for different types of messages such as appointment reminders, company updates, promotions, and almost anything in between!

Consider the following:

  • Over one-third of business professionals say they can’t go 10 minutes without responding to a text
  • 75% of people would like to have offers sent to them via SMS
  • The average adult spends a total of 23 hours a week texting
  • On average, Americans exchange twice as many texts as they do phone calls

Go over the beginner’s guide to SMS marketing infographic below for more information and tips on SMS marketing.

The Beginner's Guide to SMS Marketing


[Or link to download the infographic for embedding yourself.]

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Three Must Read Tips for New Freelancers (No Fluff)

bigstock-business-office-school-and-e-50282372Excited Surprised little boy with thumb up gesture

So you want to try out the freelance lifestyle? I have to warn you, it’s not for everyone, but most people who get a taste of it, love it and never go back to working 9-5. And, with more and more people opting to freelance and companies becoming more open to the idea of working with freelancers, we are seeing a shift in how work gets done.

Whether you are just getting your feet wet out of curiosity or are resorting to freelancing to make some extra cash or because you are in between jobs, here are three tips about the reality new freelancers can expect:

  1. Start Part Time


Freelancing can be scary. There is no guarantee, and you get out of it what you are willing to put in. While it’s tempting to jump in head first, a better approach is to start freelancing part time on the side while keeping your current job. Therefore, you will have safety net just in case things don’t work out. You’ll also still have a regular income while you are figuring out freelancing and trying to etch out your niche.

  1. Treat Freelancing Like a Business (Because It Is)

content strategy, blogging

Just because you are a great graphic designer doesn’t mean you are a good business person. Many new freelancers overlook the importance of treating freelancing like a business. Freelancing is both a skill and a business, and you need both to be successful. One of the biggest ways people not experienced in business fail is by failing to ensure payments are delivered on time. Make sure you have a mobile invoice system like Invoice2Go that allows customers to pay with both credit and debit cards.

  1. It’s a Battle of Attrition


Most freelancers fail because they give up too soon. Building a strong client base and having success in your industry takes time. It takes time to build the necessary connections, develop a portfolio of work, and hone in on your area of specialization. If you can battle through the lean times at the beginning, you’ll be able to reap the rewards once you get your footing.

Are you up for the challenge?

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The Power of Building Links in 2016 and Beyond (Infographic)

The internet is connected like a giant spiderweb. Each path is built using links from one page to another. It’s how search engine spiders crawl the web, and it’s how users discover new content. Links are important, and they always have been. Even so, many content creators will lose sight of these important elements in the sea of other tasks they have on a daily basis.

Today we’re going to rekindle the fire for link building and look at why it’s such an important element of any content marketing strategy. After that we’ll look at an infographic to help you integrate this important regime into your daily routine.

6 Reasons Why You Should Be Building Links Now

When it comes to online tasks, the question is always what’s in it for me? Well, here are six reasons why link building should be on your radar if you want your new blog to take off:

  • Building Links improves your visibility on organic search results
  • Backlinks contribute to a number of different ranking factors
  • Building links increases brand exposure
  • It contributes to other marketing activities
  • Links build new relationships with influencers
  • Building Links shows Google you are a trusted source of information

By increasing the number of backlinks pointing to your site, you are building more than just a profile, you’re building a reputation and a future for yourself. Let’s find out how to make this happen.

How to Start Building Links Today (Infographic)

Next we’ll look at an infographic that is designed to give you the tools, skills, and strategies to start building a strong and varied backlinks profile. Let us know how it benefited you in the comments below!

Link Building

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5 Ways to Ignite Your Mobile Marketing In 2016

With record-breaking mobile ad budgets and more active smartphone users than ever before, 2016 promises to be a banner year in the world of mobile marketing. We’ve got the five best ways you can ignite your business’s mobile marketing and ensure the next 365 days are your best yet.

1. Start Strategizing Now

Successful mobile marketing campaigns don’t happen by accident. To create a cohesive marketing plan that works across a variety of platforms, delivers a message your readers will identify with and respond to, and actually converts clickers into customers requires a multi-pronged approach and a lot of research. Think SMART:

  • SPECIFIC – Don’t have vague goals. Know what you want specifically and spell it out.
  • MEASURABLE – Set goals you can measure using data, statistics, or feedback gleaned from social media or search engine analytics.
  • ACHIEVABLE – Dream big…
  • REALISTIC – But not too big! Disappoint leads nowhere pleasant, but exceeding expectations makes everyone happy.
  • TIMELY – Set daily, weekly, monthly, and year-long goals that will keep you on track and reassure you that you are indeed heading in the right direction.

2. Incorporate Apps

You may already know that the average smartphone user spends about 3 hours a day on their mobile device, but did you know that apps account for 89 percent of that time? You can have your own app designed, which gives you complete control over what your subscribers see and have access to, or pay for ad that utilize apps that have already proven popular. The latter will cost more, but you have the advantage of plugging into a revenue stream that has already shown itself to be effective.

3. Pay Attention to Everyone Else

When you’re trying to be the best you can be it’s easy to get tunnel vision and forget that there are other businesses dominating the cultural ether. There’s nothing wrong with riding their wave for a little bit as long as you do it thoughtfully and with professionalism. Your blog is a powerful tool, and by creating content that relates popular niche markets back to your own industry you’ll capture some of the keyword runoff of the “main” businesses in that niche while still staying true to who you are and what you want your message to be.

4. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Every time we turn around there is some fancy new widget or designer plug-in that promises to make your website cooler or your app more interactive or your overall design more eye-catching. All of these promises may come with the best of intentions – and they may be true, too – but the more decorations you put on your website the harder it is to find any useful information.Half of smartphone users say that if a retailer’s technology is hard to use, they won’t try again. Use your one chance wisely.

5. Get Creative

Once you’ve achieved the basics like optimized website design and a killer SMS messaging campaign, it’s time to start thinking outside the box. Have you ever considered enabling the GPS function on your app and targeted users according to their proximity to your store? Not only is that a realistic and effective marketing technique, consumers actually like it: 47 percent say that they’d love to have mobile offers delivered to their devices when they pass by the store the deals correspond to. Not only does it encourage shoppers to buy more when they’re already headed to your store, it might encourage passersby to make one extra stop, too.

Once you’ve achieved the basics like optimized website design and a killer SMS messaging campaign (which, it turns out, may be even more valuable than social marketing), it’s time to start thinking outside the box. Have you ever considered enabling the GPS function on your app and targeted users according to their proximity to your store? Not only is that a realistic and effective marketing technique, consumers actually like it: 47 percent say that they’d love to have mobile offers delivered to their deviceswhen they pass by the store the deals correspond to. Not only does it encourage shoppers to buy more when they’re already headed to your store, it might encourage passersby to make one extra stop, too.

Author Biography

Sophorn Chhay

Sophorn is an inbound marketer specializing in attracting targeted visitors and generating sales qualified leads. Through Trumpia’s SMS marketing automation solution he helps businesses and organizations communicate effectively with their customers or members. Watch Trumpia’s 5-Minute Demo on how to execute an effective mobile marketing strategy.


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Happy World Teachers Day (Infographic)

Today is World Teachers Days – a day that is meant to celebrate teachers and educators around the world. All of us have a favorite teacher or two that has had a lasting impact on our lives and has helped shape who we are today.

Teaching can be a thankless job. Teachers have the ability to change lives, and they do on a daily basis. To recognize the great work teachers do each day, Grammarly has put together this great infographic:

World Teacher Day

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Google Panda 4.2: What We Know So Far

Google just released Panda 4.2 a few months ago on July 18, 2015 and the rollouts will take awhile. The update came ten months after the release of Google Panda 4.1. Here’s what we know so far about the Panda 4.2 update.

It’ll affect 2-3% of the searches

Google confirmed that Panda 4.2 will only affect 2% to 3% of all the searches. This is lower compared to Panda 4.0 which affected 7.5% and Panda 4.1 which affected 3-5% of all the search queries. Remember that the affected search results don’t mean that the queries never saw the loss of search results from the new refresh. Pages that made a return to those search queries are also included.

It’s more of a refresh than an update

If you like digging into all the nuisances of Panda, you’ll soon notice that this is not really an update. It’s more of a refresh because it reapplies signals from the previous Panda for the current update.

What does ‘coming months’ mean?

Shortly after its release, a Google spokesman said that the new Panda update 4.2 would roll out over the coming months, it’s been nearly three months and Panda is still rolling out. So just what does ‘coming months’ mean? Is it two months, four months or six months, maybe even longer?

Long roll outs are nothing new to Google. It’s therefore not surprising that they aren’t hitting the entire refresh at once. Hopefully, Google will clarify how long the roll out will last sooner rather than later.

Too late for new changes

The updates have cut-off dates after which any changes applied will only take effect once the next update is released. You will need to keep updating your content and if you were affected by Panda previously, you’ll have to wait for the next refresh or update for any changes you have made to have a positive impact on your websites.

Who will be affected?

The Panda 4.2 may be rolling out slower than the previous updates but according to Pierre Far from Google, the update will positively affect many high quality small as well as medium sized sites. Small sites have been hit by previous updates leading to accusations of Google showing brand bias. However, it will make it harder to access some usual ‘winners and losers’ like we are used to.

Will Panda roll into the core algo?

There is a possibility that Google could be working on tweaking the core algo so that the positive signals will keep resurfacing the great content and so that low quality content will rank lower, ‘even though it might not be penalized. Rolling Panda 4.2 into the core algo might mean that the delays won’t be as bad as the previous ranking drops we have experienced.

The bottom line is, even though the average user can’t tell, the new Panda 4.2 has been rolling out for months. Hopefully, as the rollouts continue, we’ll see positive ranking improvements and quality sites with quality content will be rewarded. But then again, we might not. I guess time will tell.

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source:

This post was supplied by Mark Stubbles, freelance SEO consultant and owner of Panda SEO.

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The Freelancer’s Guide to the Galaxy Infographic

There is no doubt that freelancing has its peaks and valleys. The key to a successful freelance business is to minimize the valleys and maximize the peaks – easier said than done!

One of the best ways to stay on track is to be aware of the things that can hurt your level of production – Facebook, Twitter, Email, your work environment, etc. – and find ways to maximize your time. For me, it’s always about staying consistent and using a number of great tools to help me get the most out of the day. Every business is different and this is why you need to try out a number of efficiency tools to see which ones work best for you.

Personally, I use:

Don’t try and be a jack of all trades. Get help from other professionals as required and invest in a number of good tools to help make life easier for you as a freelancer.

Freshbooks has put together the following infographic titled, “The Freelancer’s Guide to the Galaxy” to offer up some advice about some of the things you can expect on your journey as a freelance professional.

Freelancer guide infographic

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Today is International Literacy Day

To celebrate International Literacy Day and to help educate everyone about the importance of literacy worldwide, I wanted to share this infographic that outlines the latest literacy statistics from around the world.

Literacy Day


Source: grammarly

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