5 Brand Monitoring Steps to Take Before You Start Selling Online
When you start selling your products online, protecting your brand suddenly becomes a lot more challenging. There could be dozens, hundreds or even thousands of digital touchpoints where a customer can encounter your brand.
Selling online gives you an unparalleled ability to scale your sales and reach new customers. But it also means there are more places where consumers can form a first impression of your brand, and more opportunities for mistakes to negatively impact your reputation.
In the world of online sales, brand monitoring is an ongoing activity that typically requires dedicated staff and specialized tools. But even before you start selling products online, there are brand monitoring-related tasks you can do to set yourself up for success.
Here are five steps you should take as you get ready to sell online.
1. Establish formal relationships with retailers
When you let retailers sell your products online, you do not want it to be a free-for-all, and you should not allow just anyone to carry your products. Every retailer you work with has the potential to positively or negatively impact your brand, and some relationships do more harm than good.
Before you let a retailer sell your product, take the time to establish formal seller agreements. This gives you an opportunity to vet retailers in advance and pursue the relationships you’re comfortable with. Additionally, create a formal pricing policy that includes penalties for violations, so you have a system in place to hold sellers accountable.
2. Make sure your products are available and discoverable
Once you decide which retailers to work with, you need to confirm your products are in stock and discoverable in search results.
If your product is a laundry detergent, for example, your title should include “laundry detergent” and specify whether it’s liquid, powder, pods, HE compatible, sensitive skin, etc. These are all keywords someone may use to narrow their search when they explore your product category – you want to be sure that if your product meets their needs, they’ll find it.
Keeping your product in stock is essential, because if your product is out of stock, it’s immediately irrelevant to a customer’s search. If people can’t buy it, a retailer doesn’t want to show it to people.
3. Verify that the SKUs are correct
When you move into the world of online sales, you’re converting your physical shelf into a digital shelf. You need to make sure all your SKUs are accurately entered into each retailers’ system. If they aren’t, it creates several brand monitoring problems down the road.
Some products, such as tech products, may be searched by SKU. If the SKU is wrong, people who want to buy your product won’t be able to find it at their favorite retailer.If you have syndicated data, such as enhanced content or reviews which is supposed to populate automatically across product pages, it won’t work on sites where the SKU is wrong.
Products with incorrect SKUs also won’t show up in reports, so you won’t know how you’re really doing.
4. Set a canonical hero image
All your promotional assets need to be consistent from one seller to the next, but if the hero image is wrong, people won’t even click your product page. It’s one of the first things people see, and you want every product page to visually confirm “this is what you’re looking for.”
An incorrect hero image leads consumers familiar with your product to immediately question the authenticity of a product page.
When a product page has no (or very few) reviews, consumers are more skeptical of the product and brand. People want to trust that they’re purchasing from established brands with good reputations, and one of the best ways you can create—or lose—that trust is through reviews.
Before you launch your products with a retailer, you should use programs like Amazon Vine to send samples of your products to customers in exchange for reviews. This lets you seed your product pages with reviews so that when consumers purchase your product and interact with your brand, they don’t feel like they’re in uncharted territory.
Set yourself up for success
Brand monitoring takes work, but it’s worth it. You want your customers to have a consistent experience with you and your products, wherever they encounter you. And that consistency starts before you make your first online sale.