Think about your favorite restaurants, retailers and businesses. Most likely, they have a distinct personality and a character that you connect with. Online businesses are no different.
Some of the biggest online brands are known for their personality and style as much as their products. Consider companies like Zappos.com, famous as much for their customer service and cheery communications as for their product selection. Or Woot.com, which attracts readers as much for their entertaining product stories and descriptions as their daily deal.
So how do you go about creating a meaningful, memorable online personality for your store? Here are some tips to get you started.
Tell Us A Little About Yourself
The first place customers will go to get to know you is your “About” page. Call it what you want–About Us, Our Story, Company Info–but this page is where you introduce your company, your products, your reason for doing what you do. Don’t just tell them what you sell, where you’re located, and how long you’ve been open (though those things are important); tell them a story. Imagine you’re describing your store and your products to a friend you haven’t seen in years–don’t you want them to be excited?
For example, here’s how Volusion customers, Model Roundup, introduce themselves to their customers:
Our conviction at modelroundup.com is that building model cars is more than just a fun hobby. It’s not just about plastic, glue and paint. It’s about ’55 Chevys, Candy Apple Anglias, Richard Petty, George Barris, Ed Roth, Mopar Muscle…it’s about Americana! It’s about your first car and your first date. It’s about Detroit as the style capital of the world. It starts with Model T’s and it never ends. It includes Batman and Wolfman. It includes the Munsters and the Jupiter II. It includes any piece of culture that you choose to artistically replicate in scale.
Or, how about this product origin story from another Volusion customer, Chewbeads:
The idea for Chewbeads began in 2009 shortly after the birth of my son. Like most babies, he loved to put everything in his mouth and my necklaces were a favorite. Like most moms, I didn’t feel comfortable letting him chew on them, with concern that they might break or have unwanted chemicals. As a veteran of the fashion industry, I had an amazing collection of necklaces and bracelets, so with those as my inspiration, I set out to create soft, non-toxic jewelry, which was colorful, chic and, above all else safe. Hence, Chewbeads!
The About page is typically one of the most visited pages on any website, because people want to know who they’re dealing with. If you don’t have one, or something similar, start writing one now.
Share Your Passion
Chances are, you didn’t start selling online out of boredom–you did it for a reason. Successful brands have more than great products, they have passions and missions that drive their activities. If your company or product is based on something you’re passionate about, share it with your customers. There’s a good chance they’ll be excited about it, too.
Not surprisingly, the founders of All Dog Boots are passionate about all things related to man’s best friend. They created boots for fashion, but also orthopedic footwear, reflective boots and protective boots for rain and snow–all focused on helping dogs stay happy and healthy. On the All Dog Boots Facebook page they do more than just promote their products; they share dog health and safety tips, photos, customer stories and more. Several recent posts have been focused on raising awareness for the impact of hot summer pavement on a dog’s paws.
Taking their passion to a global level, Volusion customer, S’well Bottles partners with WaterAid, supporting their work to help build safe water sources in the world’s poorest communities. Founder Sarah Kauss shares, “My dream with S’well is to allow those without options to be provided clean drinking water, while at the same time encourage those with clean water to appreciate it, and drink it from a reusable water bottle that marries fashion and function.
People love to be a part of something bigger, and the average customer is much more willing to make a purchase if doing so helps make a positive impact on the world. So not only are you helping build support for your cause, you can also help increase sales.
Don’t Just Talk About Yourself, Talk Like Yourself
Sharing important information, history, passions and missions with your customers can help establish a strong sense of your company. But to really give your store a consistent and coherent personality, shoppers should hear your voice throughout the site. One of the best places to let that voice come through is in your product descriptions.
Customers will probably read more product descriptions than any other content on your site, so this text deserves some love. At the core, your descriptions should be informative and helpful, but beyond that, there’s nothing that says they can’t be entertaining. If you’re really excited about this product, let it show!
Here’s how Model Roundup’s describes their model of the classic Batman vehicle, the Batboat:
Holy Outboard Motor, Batman! The Batboat is another in our line of newly reissued Batman vehicles from Polar Lights! Full of fine details based on the original design from the 1960′s including Batman and Robin figures and full color decals.
* Skill Level: 2 (ages 10 and up)
* Glue assembly, paint required
* 8.5″ long
o Expanded decal sheet
o Includes Batman and Robin
This description is a great example of communicating the important details (product specs, included items, difficulty), while also keeping up their unique style.
Your Customers Are Your Personality
Your customers likely share your passions and excitement about your products. When your customers are excited, they can communicate your brand personality better than anyone. If you’ve got an excited customer base, give them an opportunity to share their pictures, stories and thoughts on your site, social media or in newsletters.
S’well bottles created a section on their site called “S’well Adventures,” where customers share pictures of their bottles taken all over the world. Not only are customers excited to share their own product stories, they’re actively looking for S’well bottles in stores and out in the public, helping them connect with the other customers wherever they go.
Chewbeads also shares customer pictures in a feature called “Chewbabies.” These new moms are excited about a product that not only looks good, but helps keep their children happy and entertained.
If you let your customers post pictures and stories to your Facebook page and other social networks, you get the added benefit of those posts being visible to their friends, as well as yours. This helps spread the word about your brand in the best possible context.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself
When creating content for your online store, whether it’s a new product listing, a banner on your homepage or a post on Facebook, let your personality (or the personality of your store) come through. Even though we’re shopping online, we still like to connect with real people and real personalities.
Remember, be helpful, be nice and be yourself, and your customers will be happy to connect.
-Clay Delk, Senior Content Strategist, Volusion
This post is part of our Method & Message series by Clay Delk, Sr. Content Strategist at Volusion. Check back every other Wednesday for the latest discussions on content, context and commerce on the web.