Modern customers scour websites and research products they’re thinking of buying before making their actual purchase.
When customers are 60% to 80% of the way down the funnel before they talk to anyone at your business, you can’t rely on traditional methods to generate loyalty.
At the same time, fewer and fewer clients remain loyal to one specific brand.
Loyal customers are profitable customers: repeat customers are cheaper to market to, spend more, and make more frequent purchases. Yet, only 27% of initial sales go on to become repeat customers. Companies need to invest in building loyalty among their customers.
Subconsciously, consumers remember feeling associated with a brand even if they don’t remember the brand name or advertisement. So branding and marketing can help in the struggle for a loyal customer base. But they have to be done right.
Follow these 7 tips in order to ensure your casual customer becomes a hard-core fan who remembers your brand name, logo and what you’re all about, and keeps coming back for more.
1. Engage with your customers
Connecting with your users helps you to create a sense of belonging and community. Share your brand’s new and exciting developments, or news and opinions in your space, to get your users enthusiastic and engaged.
You can use social to inform customers of new trends, special deals and discounts, and the next steps for your company. The more it feels like a conversation, the better.
If you encourage your users to become your brand’s fans and make them feel involved in your company, they’re more likely to have positive associations. And engaged customers are happy, loyal customers.
Customer loyalty is ultimately about reaching out, nurturing and retaining the customers who really make your business.
You’ve heard of the Pareto principle – 80% of results come from 20% of efforts.
But for many businesses, the disparity between your best customers and the rest is even starker: the top 5% of your customers are worth as much as 1800% of the average customer lifetime value (CLV).
So adding just a few more ‘super-customers’ might be the smartest, most cost-effective thing you can do to grow your business.
That starts with figuring out where you’re losing customers – why do so few customers become repeat, loyal members of your brand family?
In the majority of cases, it’s because of poor customer service.
You should make sure your customer service is impeccable, particularly on social channels. If you play your cards right, this can be an easy win for your brand.
Customers are clear that they expect rapid responses on social: 14% expect a response on Twitter ‘immediately,’ and 65% expect you to get back to them within 2 hours.
That’s ‘expect,’ not ‘want.’ This is the floor, not the ceiling.
Yet, how is the average brand doing in this area? You tell me, when about 70% of those who reach out to brands on social get no response at all.
Tighten up your social game and move anyone with a complaint onto PM as soon as you can. Give a positive customer experience, manage your rep and encourage customers to stick by your brand long enough to develop real feelings of loyalty.
Another way to keep your already satisfied customers happy is by recognizing their needs before they even realize what they are. Use your customer behavior data to predict what your customers are likely to want, then offer it to them.
SaaS company Groove slashed churn by 71% by identifying ‘red flag metrics’ and catching customers who were at risk of bailing, and offering them incentives to stick around. Figure out what your red flag metrics are by looking at what customers do before they churn, and being prepared to intervene then.
Finally, an old-school tip that still works: a simple Thank You note, Happy Birthday or Happy Holidays wish will go a long way as well. Remember, customers in every industry want to feel that you care about them outside of your business transactions with them.
2. Understand what makes your customers tick
Nine out of ten startups end up failing. The critical factor? Churn. The fastest-growing startups have the lowest churn, while Lincoln Murphy points out that for businesses with high churn, ‘it’s the constant flow of customers out the back door that is killing their business!’
That flood of customers pouring out the back door is partly about lack of engagement. But sometimes, the hole below the waterline is a poor fit between what your customers want and what you’re offering.
42% of crashed startups, according to their founders, went down because there simply wasn’t a market for what they were offering. Use your customer engagement to listen as well as transmit – the most effective way to make your social presence look and feel like a conversation is to let it really be one. In the process, you’ll learn what your best customers love about your product and what they’d change if they could. (Then you can go change it!)
VerticalResponse takes this idea even further: they shell out to meet their customers, in person, and conduct in-depth discussions with them about their products and services. As the company’s Janine Popick puts it, ‘it’s easy for an online company to drift away from the ‘human’ aspect of serving its customers. Having a discussion about what works, what doesn’t and what they want from you is essential to making sure your business is on the right track.’
3. Make sure your brand is consistent
Consistency is a vital factor in building loyalty. Your brand wants to feel the same to customers every time they interact with it. We’re back at customer experience again, says GrowingSocialBiz’ Sue Cockburn: ‘Customers want to have confidence that we’ll deliver on our promises every time, not just when it’s convenient. In fact, if we consistently deliver good products and services across our organization, if we mean what we say and say what we mean, if we under promise and over deliver, the potential for our organization to not only grow but reach extraordinary heights is real. It won’t guarantee success but it will lay the foundation for us to achieve more and it will usually separate us from our competitors.’
So consistency of experience is important. McDonald’s is one of the most successful brands in the world, and one of the hallmarks of the chain since Ray Kroc started his franchise expansion has been that a McDonald’s in New York is the same as a McDonalds in Indiana – or in India.
Thing is, McDonald’s is also one of the world’s most recognizable brands. And the guys behind it, Richard and Maurice, planned it that way: even when the plans for their first restaurant were still on the drawing board, they were using the phrase ‘Golden Arches.’
Your brand deserves rock-solid visual consistency too. Logos and design elements should look the same on all devices, all browsers. (You’d be surprised how often that goes wrong.)
The only thing worse than seeing a logo stretched out of proportion, pixelated or painted up with new colors is seeing it shared that way with staff and customers.
So you should probably…
4. Invest in an eye-catching logo design
Colors represent your brand’s personality and give a visual expression to the feeling, mood or role your brand is trying to evoke.
With that in mind, make sure to choose your color palette well. The color red, for example, used in Youtube’s logo, makes viewers feel active, emotional and passionate about the brand…
whereas the color blue used in Samsung and Ford’s logos is meant to signify trust, comfort and confidence.
Think about what you’re trying to convey – are you trying to stimulate a response, or soothe an anxiety?
Creating a common color palette will unite the content you put out and create some brand recognition once you’ve been promoting it consistently. The design of a brand’s logo has become so important to brands who want to form a connection with their users that top companies such as Pepsi have spent a whopping $1 million on their new logo while BBC shelled out $1.8 million for their new logo.
Apple, for example, is quite consistent with its use of white throughout its entire brand palette in order to evoke cleanliness, simplicity and elegance.
Have their products become symbols of luxury and advanced technology solely thanks to their color choice? No – but the fact that all their products look like something from a Stanley Kubrick movie makes sense in terms of their brand values, so it’s definitely helping.
Designing the perfect company logo doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, though. For every multimillion corporate redesign, there’s a Twitter ($15) – or a Nike, who paid just $35 for their iconic, super-recognizable Swoosh (in 1971 dollars, but still.)
If you don’t have a logo already, you can use logo designing platforms such as Tailor Brands to create an affordable custom-made logo. The platform can even create a complete portfolio of graphic assets for your business in a matter of minutes.
5. Focus on what your brand does best
Customers are looking to identify with your brand’s mission and core values. To them, what you do is who you are.
How can you help them to identify your brand’s values quickly and easily?
‘Be definitive,’ says Jim Joseph. ‘The more specific you can be then the more your customers will start to understand what you can offer to them. This may force you to pick the one thing you are the best at, but it’s a story you should stick to.’
Being about just one thing seems counterintuitive – surely offering more products, services, even identities, would endear your brand to more people? But in fact the more identifiable you are, the more affection you trigger in people who do like you. Try to please everyone and you end up making no impression at all.
You need to make sure your customers understand what you do and feel that it’s something they’ve been missing their entire lives, and can’t live without now they’ve discovered it. That means you really need to zoom in on just one thing until it fills the screen. For instance: Nike do a bunch of sportswear and sporting gear – tube socks, yoga pants, dumbbells, water bottles. But shut your eyes and think Nike, and you see sneakers. They’re the sneaker people. What kind of people are you?
6. Make your customers come back
Users will be more likely to return to sites they’ve already used in the past and had a successful interaction with. But often, users aren’t paying attention that much – eve if they got what they wanted from your site, and even if they bookmarked it and honestly meant to come back, they often won’t remember. When 2.9 billion Google searches are made every day, you need to take every opportunity to stand out.
One option is providing incentives for your customers to return to your site by creating programs that reward loyalty to your brand or offering discounts or coupons. The greater the rewards, the more business you can expect.
‘The same holds true for business customers ordering from a brand,’ explains Oren Ezra, CMO for Pepperi. “Brands and wholesalers can drive their retail customers to buy from their B2B e-commerce site by making it accessible on any device, easy to use with a B2C-like experience, and providing their customers with price incentives that they couldn’t otherwise get from their B2B sales reps.”
Other approaches include social and email remarketing – these are most effective used together. Share your subscriber list to social and email your social contacts, and use website and email behaviors to target your customers on social.
7. Turn to influencers to promote your brand
One of the ways brands can build loyalty is by having celebrities promote their product or service (think Kim Kardashian’s product endorsements on Instagram). However, when it comes to furthering your engagement with your customers and building your brand’s loyalty, turning to influencers on social media channels may be a safer bet.
Celebrities carry a much higher price tag, and could actually tarnish your brand’s reputation by doing something unethical. Think about Lance Armstrong’s association with Nike: he made them look great when he was winning 7 Tours de France, but when his doping scandal came to light, Nike shared a little of his tarnish.
Consumers increasingly find social recommendations – electronic word of mouth, even from other consumers they don’t know – the most reliable form of testimonial. (By comparison, they think advertising is less trustworthy than Congress.)
That’s why you should use the assistance of different online influencers who your customers already feel a sense of connection with.
Influencers will want to have a close relationship with your brand, receive insider information on what’s coming up, and a chance to influence your product development. Platforms like HYPR allow brands to identify influencers who are in touch with their exact audience demographics and reach out to them.
Another option is to combine influencers and your actual users. Offer people their 15 minutes of fame by sharing a post they wrote or retweeting them will get your customers reaching out to you, creating a buzz around your brand.
A major part of building your brand loyalty depends on your being able to guarantee your customers will want to return to your site. Loyal customers are more willing to stick around, and more likely to become strong advocates for your brand on their social channels and among friends. By investing in your logo design, understanding what makes your customers tick, engaging with them, and promoting their tweets and posts on your own social media channels you’ll be able to create a sense of familiarity with your users.
In an otherwise cold and technical world, people are constantly searching for a sense of human interaction and emotion. Make sure you’re invested in your users in a personal way, gain their trust by making good on your promises and watch your base of loyal customers grow.
About the Author:
Since receiving her second degree in scriptwriting from TAU back in 2012, Nathalie Cohen-Sheffer has been busy writing full time and as a freelancer in both English and Hebrew. When she’s not busy writing you can find her practicing her yoga positions, as well as singing professionally and dubbing. Feel free to get in touch to learn more on Twitter.
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