Manar Al Hinai: Online marketing more than a photo

Use the right words and the best imagery to sell your products online.

My colleague rarely physically visits the shops any more. She prefers doing her shopping from the comfort of her own bed after a long day at work. Her excuse? It is more time-efficient, and she can browse the stores in her pyjamas rather than get dressed to go out. This is the great thing about the advancement in technology. You can shop for your groceries and clothes, book your next holiday and even pay your traffic fines without having to leave the house.

Instagram, for instance, has introduced a “shop now” feature which takes followers of a page directly to the web page of where the product posted is sold. Even before this, numerous UAE and GCC retailers solely sell their items on social media. An interior designer acquaintance of mine, for example, conducts all of her work on Instagram. That is where she displays her portfolio, shares her latest work and connects with customers not only in the UAE but across the GCC.

While it is certainly more convenient, the downside is that many people have been scammed by the quality of the products they bought. Prom dresses bought from China by American high school students who spotted them online are just one example. Posts on the poor quality of products and how misleading some photos are have gone viral. My cousin paid a three-figure sum for an evening dress she ordered online from a neighbouring country, only to find out that the fabric was of poor quality, and is not worth half the amount she had paid.

Nevertheless, there are also items of great quality that exceed expectations when received. As I work with start-up entrepreneurs, one of the areas we focus on is their image. Their products should reflect their quality. I remember some arguing that marketing their product online “is just a photo”, and who cares if it was taken by a professional or an amateur as long as the idea gets across. But it does. This is how you catch your customer’s attention.

I advise incorporating the following tips when marketing products online to ensure they are portrayed in the best possible light:

Use the right words. The thing with the modern world is that people often assume everything is machine-made, with attention to detail bypassed altogether. If your products are bespoke, use words such as “handcrafted”, “custom”, “tailor-made” or “craftsmanship” to highlight your attention to detail, and how there are real people paying attention to the authenticity of the products. Also using words such as “premium”, “exclusive” or “gourmet” give your product or service a luxurious appeal. Just consider this example: “gourmet sandwiches” or “delicious sandwiches”. Which sounds better and more appealing? How about “handcrafted leather goods” or “leather of great quality”? Words instantly transport a reader to the mood that best describes your business.

In addition to text, reflect your quality through photography and videography. It is all about imagery. People have short attention spans. That is why apps such as Snapchat and Instagram are big hits. Also, an image is truly worth a thousand words. Invest in a good photographer/videographer to show off the quality of your work and take close-up shots of your products. If you are living in the GCC region and targeting the market for 18 to 34-year-olds, then get on Snapchat and share your brand’s story with your followers.

For your online customers, you can still deliver a close-up image that showcases the quality of what you produce. Don’t omit any details, use the right terms and invest in good photography.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

business@thenational.ae

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Published: September 10, 2016 04:00 AM

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