Increasingly, brands with too many product-forward advertisements are out, while brands that can connect with consumers on a human, emotional level are in.
Studies show that certain age groups simply do not respond to a non-stop barrage of advertising and advertorial content, especially during times of heightened sensitivity, such as during the COVID-19 crisis. Consumers in the Millennials generation are more likely to trust brands that have built a community. We see this in the rise of influencer marketing, the increased use of SMS communication for customer service, and the sheer increase in job salaries for Community Managers.
But, small e-commerce businesses don’t have the advantage of hundreds of employees to tackle the many intricacies of developing a multi-faceted human brand. Investments towards building a brand strategy should be focused on initiatives that can result in long-term gains.
A blog empowers small ecommerce businesses to develop a human brand and continually reap the long-term rewards.
Now, perhaps more than ever, is the time for your blog content to shine. Your content can build a human brand and seamlessly create a personal connection and shared identity with your ideal customer base. What’s more, a blog post can be repurposed and promoted across all of your marketing initiatives, from social media to email marketing.
While it will always be important to keep your brand visible through marketing channels, subduing sales-driven messaging can go a long way in building trust to enable future purchases. Relatable, empathetic, and entertaining content can establish a well-rounded reputation—and keep your brand relevant at a time when consumers are hesitant to spend money, such as during the recent spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to creatively build a relatable and human brand with your ecommerce blog.
10 Ways to Build a Human Brand with Your Blog
1. Talk About Your Passion for Your Product—Or Your Hobbies
We’ve all seen someone light up when talking about their passions. Passionate expressions get attention whether that’s in person or in writing. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard sums up this principle nicely in his book Let My People Go Surfing:
“Of course we do hire some people strictly for their technical expertise. We have employees who never sleep outside or who have never peed in the woods. What they all do share, as our organizational development consultant noted, is a passion for something outside themselves, whether for surfing or opera, climbing or gardening, skiing or community activism.”
2. Misadventures Make for Good Stories—And Build Trust
Nobody’s perfect. And let’s be honest, misadventures make for better stories than when everything goes as planned. Round up a few of these tales share them in a list format to engage readers and give them a break from product-driven messaging. These stories can be related to the business or they can come from your staff (i.e. worst vacations, most embarrassing high school moments, etc.).
The goal here is simply to entertain your audience and give them a relatable vibe. There’s actual science behind it, too. It turns out that revealing clumsiness or imperfections can enhance one’s likability. A good example is this anecdote from the linked article above from Business Insider:
“One of their former students, a psychiatrist named Tom, would employ one of three tactics when he met a new patient: He’d drop a pencil, tell a bad joke, or spill his coffee.
Presumably, Tom’s patients had already been impressed by the diplomas on his wall, which signaled his competence and credibility. Now Tom’s goal was to demonstrate some vulnerability and show that he was indeed a fallible human being. That combination of competence and warmth would make him seem more trustworthy.”
3. Explore the History of Your Product
No matter what your product is, there is always a “story behind the story”. A great example is fabric manufacturer 37.5’s post on how coconut shells and volcanic ash became vital ingredients in their product. Telling a story without pushing a product is a good way to showcase respect for your audience by sharing your passion and also giving them an insider’s look at the process behind the product.
Be creative. Anything from the printing on your packaging to the history of a specific component is fair game. Keep it interesting, engaging, and enthusiastic.
4. Set Up a Mini-Series of Serial Blog Posts
If it worked for Charles Dickens, it can work for you!
A few years back, a friend with an otherwise bland Facebook page began to update his progress on seriously trying to dunk a basketball on a regulation rim, despite only being 5’7”. His posts were cliffhangers, and as time went on (and he got closer to throwing down that nasty dunk), more and more people liked his posts. In fact, as you read this, I bet you’re wondering if he ever actually did it.
Suspense is a great attention-getter. If it’s related to your product, that helps… but it doesn’t have to be. There are YouTube videos with over 500,000 views that simply show the stages of a woodworking project or the effects of crushing assorted items in a hydraulic press.
Oh, the dunking friend? The best he could do was “dunk” a tennis ball.
5. Share Your Stories on Staying Sane During COVID-19
Covid-19 has turned our day-to-day lives upside down and looks to be sticking around for the immediate future. Empathetic stories on how your company and its employees are coping (and hopefully thriving) offer hope and humor to your audience. Once again, science makes a case for connecting empathetically.
Shared experiences illuminate the human side of a business and bolster any human brand building tactics. Sharing funny pet photos, favorite recipes, workout routines, or anything that takes the edge off these trying times can leave your audience looking forward to the next installment on your blog.
6. Team Up to Write An Article
There are a lot of angles to this one, but the idea of offering different points of view makes for engaging reading. Do your developers like to work to music that your marketer hates? Do you have an office of morning people or night owls? How does your team feel about working from home during COVID-19? How does your team enjoy their days outside of work?
Sometimes these articles are just a sentence or two from a group of people, but natural curiosity can lead to longer on-page read times. If your blog allows comments, you may not even have to ask for opinions—people often just go right ahead and post them without prompting.
7. Mimic the Format of Articles You Enjoy Reading—But Write in Your Own Voice
If you’ve ever found yourself sucked into an article you didn’t expect to be reading, take note. Something in that content resonated with you—images, a list, or excellent long-form writing. Analyzing what you liked about a given piece of content can be a valuable lesson in content creation.
Humans of New York offers a great model in short, sharp storytelling. Why not try it with your brand? Long Reads goes the other way, offering good bed-time reading. Whatever captures your fancy, try to emulate the style in a way that appeals to your audience. Focus on emulating the format, but be certain to write in your own style.
8. Show Your Human Side with Your Brand’s Social Purpose
Social responsibility for businesses is a relatively new concept, but businesses that market their social purpose are seeing increased success in an ad-adverse market. After all, a 2015 study by Nielsen indicated that 66% of consumers were willing to pay a premium for goods from brands if that brand’s social purpose aligned with their personal value system.
Furthermore, another study by Cone Communications indicated that 87% of Americans would purchase a product from a company if that company advocated for a social issue they cared about.
Write about your own brand’s social purpose regularly, and highlight how your product helps better your mission. Do you use sustainable packaging? Give a percent of proceeds back to your charity? Volunteer for your cause? Use your blog to envision a future where your product or brand plays a role in a better world, but do so in a tactful manner. Giving your brand a positive outlook is a good look—and reminds your audience that your product will be waiting for them when the time comes.
9. Learn to Work SEO Best Practices Into Your Blog Articles
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a tried and true practice when it comes to generating traffic through search engine queries. While some aspects of SEO are technical, many of the best practices for on-page optimization are easy to understand and implement in your content.
The art of SEO writing is all about maintaining a natural voice while incorporating these best practices. It is important that your copy doesn’t turn robotic. The good news is that blog writers can practice basic SEO skills by creating natural headlines and subheadings without disrupting the flow of their copy. With a little practice, finding the harmony between SEO and your natural writing with develop organically.
As you create new content, consider trying out a few of these practices such as using keywords (phrases you’d like to rank for in search queries), segmenting section headers to break up text, writing smart captions to your images, and focus on copy that correlates to your target keywords. Read our easy guide to SEO optimization for more hints and tips.
10. Scan Older Content for Evergreen Potential—And Add in Your Own Personality
One of the best things about a blog is its sustainability. Old or outdated articles can easily be recycled to fit your current strategy, all while maintaining their previous SEO equity.
Blogs that have been around for a while may have hidden gems buried in their archives. Resurrecting old content from obscurity—perhaps with a few updates and tweaks—is a great way to get added value from forgotten content. Paired with strategy #2 (optimizing SEO), giving new life to old content can spur a social media or email campaign.
There’s nothing wrong with improving content or adding onto it, especially when you have a renewed focus on your brand. At Matcha, we’ve seen companies evolve their blogs with improved writing and better content, but some of their best ideas came when the blog itself was new (and the writing… not so good).
Revising old content is also a great opportunity to punch-up your content with your current personality. A quick way to add a human brand element to old posts is to change the POV from third person to first. Writing as you or adding a personal sign-off instantly makes the piece seem more personal. As companies evolve, so does their messaging. Old content may be a low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked.
A Human Brand Doesn’t Mean Automation-Free. Let Matcha Help!
Many small businesses don’t have the time to audit an existing blog or crank out new pieces for their blog. With Matcha’s library of over 12,000 licensed articles from premium publishers, brands can schedule and publish content straight to their blogs and use article customization features to add a human, personal touch.
Are you a Shopify store with your own content? Instantly optimize your blog posts for email and sales conversions with Matcha’s suite of optimization tools.
Use the Matcha content platform totally free. Publish from the library starting at just $49/month.
Feature Image by Brooke Cagle