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Why brand touchpoints are crucial in winning sales online

March 26, 2010
King Crimson's classic 1981 release "Discipline"

It remains consistent - trust and consistency attract and retain customers online

For reasons too tedious to expand upon, I have had to buy a new car recently. The experience filled me dread. Why? Because you have to prepare so much before entering the fray of the dealer room.

With cars, buyers have a feeling that they are going to be ripped off – no matter the outcome. So research is critical. What are the prices for new cars? What are prices for nearly new? Dealer price? Good private price? Poor private price? What do you get with each model?

The list goes on -and the psychology of car buying doesn’t end there. Because when you have struck a deal you then have to talk to your friends about your purchase. And someone always knows somewhere where you could have bought the exact same car for less…

“What has this got to do with brand touchpoints then?”, I hear you ask. Well, quite a lot. Because when you are doing the deal you look at various things to help make your choice. If, like me, you were buying a used car, you look at the overall condition of cars on display. You get “vibes” from the sales people. You listen closely to what they are not telling you (one car had a “feisty” clutch they told me – but when I looked closely the car had a caravan hook at the back – hmm, this clutch might well not be “feisty” but something else beginning with “f”).

Then you look at the sales person themselves and, a more harrowing experience, their senior sales person who turns up at the end in a sharp suit and starts talking in the first person about how “I can’t give away that much margin”.

Now, a car dealership is somewhere you go very rarely. And for good reason. But let’s look at the web. When shopping online, the same sort of thing goes on. You compare prices, delivery times, availability. You are influenced by design, by colours. Issues such as online security and customer communications are key. You read testimonials. You get reviews of the company from elsewhere on the web. This is all done subtly, in your own time, before you decide to make a purchase.

So, thinking back to the car dealer analogy, the crucial element is trust. In the online space, trust agents are becoming ever more significant. Which blogs do you read and trust? Which sites offer objective advice? Does the ecommerce have “trust” branding such as Verisign? What comes up when you type the name of the company into Google or Bing? Is it good, bad, indifferent or downright ugly?

Of course, the longer a product is around, the more likely it is to have multiple web references for people to research. So it is crucial therefore that when people have done their research that they come to a site which imbues trust. It looks professional. It is tailored to your market. e-commerce is top notch.  It is peppered with testimonials and industry reviews. It offers free trial opportunity. Above all, use and experience is contiguous – whatever the customer does, however he/she uses the site, the look, feel and experince – in the words of Adrian Belew – “remain consistent”.

Design a web presence successfully and you will engender loyalty from existing customers and trust from prospective customers. Look, feel, experience and service are the drivers of e-commerce today.  Fail to get that right and everything else falls away.

Oh yes, the car. In the end, after a harrowing 3 hours driving a deal, the garage dug in their heals. So I walked out. The following day, they called me to say they had reconsidered. I had already bought another car. Again, in the words of Adrian Belew, “I wish you were here to see it”.

References: Adrian Belew, guitarist and singer. The words refer to the classic song “Frame by Frame” on the album “Discipline” by King Crimson (1981). Highly recommended!

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