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Making the Brand/Consumer Connection (and sale) Online

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: July 6, 2009, from the July 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 5 of 9

GCI: How does the task of reaching out to consumers and fostering a brand/consumer connection differ when the brand is retailed online?

Kevin Kells: The building blocks—insights, relevant storytelling, engagement and driving action—are still the same. Online offers many more options to engage along the entire consumer funnel, from awareness to actual purchase, with a chance to measure every step along that path.

Beth Mayall-Traglia: It truly expands reach instantaneously. When we work with brands looking to build an online presence, it’s like a lightbulb goes off. For example, we use Facebook and Twitter to get products in front of consumers when they’re in a relaxed, social environment. We engage our beauty influencers—a combination of the top reviewers on our site and the great beauty blogs in our community—to try out products and start posting honest, unbiased testimonials. We help them build their e-newsletter subscriber lists, because by pinging your brand’s “ambassadors” once a week or so, they feel more connected to [the brand], and that translates into sales.

Kathleen McNeill: Online consumers are very savvy. They utilize search, shop affiliate Web sites for special promotions, and, if they are truly passionate, they are researching products on beauty blogs and in social communities. Our site is extremely searchable, we manage millions of key words in search and our affiliate program is very strong. We also take the time to review social networking opportunities afforded by sites like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.

Shawn Tavakoli: The brand message and identity need to be consistent. At the store level, Beauty Collection provides trusted advisors to help educate and find individual solutions for our customers. Online, we need to provide the same. Information about the products is provided to help consumers identify the right solution for their needs. Given the breadth of our selection, consumers have an opportunity to view different products from different brands and make informed decisions about the products that fit their need—unlike going to a brand’s site where they only find information about that one specific brand.