In today’s market, customers don’t have to be loyal. They have endless choices and a nonstop stream of information at their fingertips to help them find the latest brand and product information. Even if your brand creates the highest quality product on the market, customer loyalty is not guaranteed — they have the power and the resources to be as fickle as they please. But brands are not helpless in the customer loyalty equation; there are approaches companies can take to ensure loyal customers don’t stray too far.
Whether your product has become a staple in their lives or they have an affinity for your brand mission, repeat and loyal customers come back for specific reasons — and it’s important for brands to acknowledge them. Reach out to customers and incentivize them to offer candid feedback or opinions on future developments; not only will this create an open flow of dialogue, but it will also establish an even deeper feeling of connection the brand. Customers like to feel acknowledged and appreciated, and when they’re welcomed into the inner circle of a brand, they take notice.
Creating ongoing connections with loyal customers is paramount to maintaining a long-term relationship and thanks to social media it’s now easier than ever to facilitate current connections. Loyal customers are already true evangelists for brands; they upload photos of brand products on Instagram and share their reviews on blogs and Facebook. If you have clients who are already creating content around your brand or product, you’d be remiss not to engage with. According to Forrester, 54% of social media users who engage with brands have already purchased a product in the last 12 months. The more brands acknowledge and engage with the customers who are speaking about their products on social platforms, the greater opportunity they have to increase the number of transactions and, subsequently, forge a deeper customer-brand bond. Comment on their posts, send DM’s, and better yet, repurpose their user-generated content onto your channels. When you leverage user generated content, you are creating a customer-centric brand that not only resonates with current loyal customers but also garners the attention of potential audiences. A recent Salesforce study even found that 50% of customers believe UGC content more memorable than brand-produced content.
No customer wants to see generic or bland emails, but they are especially unwelcome in the inboxes of repeat or loyal customers. Customers who have bought your products or services, or repeatedly buy them, are not strangers and they shouldn’t be talked to as such. Too often, brands make the mistake of speaking to all of their customers in the same vein; but taking a blanketed, one-size-fits-all approach is an assured way of alienating individuals. You have the data in your hands to speak to these customers on a more direct level. If you know they have an affinity for a particular product collection, send them an early email announcing an upcoming sale, offer product-specific promotions, or offer ‘complete-the-set’ suggestions.
Although customers don’t want to feel trapped into only interacting with one brand within a product niche, they still enjoy being rewarded for their loyalty. In 2016, Bond Brand Loyalty released a report stating that 81% of customers are more likely to give brands their business when a loyalty program is offered. Sephora is one brand that has found ongoing success by providing a three-tier customer loyalty program. Loyalty members are invited to exclusive in-store events, offered products in the retailer’s’ points bazaar, and granted early access to sales. Customers want to keep doing business with the retailer to climb the rewards totem pole because Sephora is renowned for treating its ‘VIB’ members well.
Everyone likes to receive special, out-of-the-blue thank you messages. The brands that acknowledge customers’ business and engagement through thank you notes, as well as birthday and holiday promotions, create emotional bonds with customers. When customers receive these messages and offerings they feel like they are valued members of the brand’s family.
Any brand marketer will admit that it is harder to convert potential customers than it is to engage with existing, loyal customers. Unfortunately, loyalty is not permanent; loyal brand-customer relationships must be nurtured, and it’s up to brands to take the initiative. However, by making simple and ongoing efforts to engage and show appreciation for existing customers, brands can spark natural evangelists and lasting relationships.