Only 31 percent of business professionals believe that improving customer engagement is a priority.
That’s shocking. Because in order to build brand loyalty, small business owners must constantly engage their target audiences.
Loyal consumers expect unprecedented customer service, improvements from their feedback, and attractive rewards programs. Customers deserve your brand’s attention.
“You want to be able to interact with your customers in the context of their daily lives. Not only are you able to provide them with better, more immediate service, but you also gain loyalty and stay in the forefront of their minds,” writes Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction.
You should always strive to establish a human connection with your customers. Let’s explore how to effectively build brand loyalty.
The Value of Brand Loyalty
As a small business owner, you may lack capital or need more staff members. However, your team can still remain profitable by serving your current customers.
Studies show that 67 percent of business leaders don’t understand the value behind their brands. They’re missing the opportunity to gain lifelong consumers.
The key is to learn about your customers from the very beginning. A report noted that “48% of consumers said that the most critical time to gain their loyalty is when they make their first purchase or begin service.”
Offer a consistent brand experience that addresses their hesitations and solves their problems. Understand the ins and outs of how the customer experience affects brand loyalty.
“When your customer calls to ask for help, don’t be passive. Familiarize yourself with a customer’s background so you can take charge of the conversation,” says Guy Nirpaz, CEO and founder of Totango.
Moreover, learn to stand out from your competitors. That means becoming an indispensable asset within the market.
“Position yourself at the forefront of your industry through the mastery of your craft. When you put out valuable and innovative content, your brand will become associated with expertise. Obviously, quality is better than quantity,” writes, Fred Hernandez, marketing copywriter at Business on Market St.
Brand loyalty is a worthwhile investment for your company. Offer value in order to become invaluable to your customers.
Focus on the Relationship
It’s reported that by 2020 “89% of customers will shift to companies providing better customer experience and engagement.” Your competitive advantage must focus on building consumer relationships.
Gone are the days where businesses only sold products. The transaction economy is dead. If you want brand loyalty, it’s time to treat customers like people, not numbers.
“Listen to what your best customers are telling you. Don’t be a transaction-making machine. Be a real person and build a business to serve real people. Care about them and they might just care about you. This is the key to cultivating brand loyalty,” write BJ Bueno and Scott Jeffrey at The Cult Branding Company.
In this global economy, companies must sell to the individual. And that includes starting an ongoing conversation around a common cause.
According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, 64 percent of consumers cited shared values as the primary reason for their relationships with brands.
Similar to superhero movies, people enjoy rallying behind a specific ideal. Nike does this well by declaring that everyone is an athlete. The footwear company inspires people to be active no matter their body type.
Also, be mindful that relationship building is a company-wide endeavor. It’s not just for your customer service reps. Brand loyalty is everyone’s responsibility.
Brian Sheehan, an associate professor of advertising and author of Loveworks, says:
“In order to grow brand loyalty, brands need to prove themselves at every step. Performance is the ultimate table stake. If it’s too hard to use, people will find an easier solution. If it’s unreliable, it will be discarded. And performance isn’t limited to just product; it’s corporate governance, customer service, and commitment to delivery.”
Build meaningful relationships with your customers. Learn to serve them, not your services.
Strategies Worth Executing
So, how do you transform buyers into loyal advocates? Well, it’s not easy.
Work with your team to cultivate long-term strategies. It starts with optimizing your customer interactions. Try these four techniques:
1. Engage on Social Media
Use social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, to talk directly with your customers. It’s an effective way to discover your consumers’ interests.
“Social media is a marketing imperative. It allows brands to showcase their expertise, cement their place in communities as industry experts, do valuable market research, network with others, and show off what the brand is about,” states, Adam Stetzer, president and founder of HubShout.
2. Send Quality Content
Earn your customer’s attention. Develop compelling content that will offer solutions and make people live better.
“After people have opted in to your newsletter, send them information they care about. Yes, send them coupons and information on upcoming sales, but don’t stop there. Figure out a way to include engaging content,” says Dylan Love, a former tech reporter for Business Insider.
3. Create a Rewards Program
Nielsen reports that “eighty-four percent of respondents globally said they were more likely to choose retailers that offered a loyalty program.”
Give customers incentives to be part of your brand. Deliver unique products or offer VIP event invitations.
“You can’t just throw together a customer loyalty program and then forget about it. You need to spend time researching your customers, exploring different options for your loyalty program, and testing out different variations of the loyalty program. All of these things take time,” writes Bill Williams, president and CEO of SafeCardIDs.
4. Bring Emotion to Your Brand
Give your brand a personality. Start by adding a human touch to your company.
Michael Spencer, copywriter and personal brand consultant, wants businesses to create more emotional brand advocacy. He recommends the following:
- Develop seasonal campaigns with very specific goals and defined incentives;
- Start a gratitude campaign targeted to your VIP high-value customers; and
- Feature customers and user-generated images and videos on social media.
Tools You Can Use
Small businesses need more than a team to implement strategies. Be prepared to gather the right tools as you venture into brand loyalty. Below are a few platforms you should explore.
1. Customer Analytics
What’s the difference between an engaged consumer versus a disengaged one? To understand customer loyalty, your team must track your customers’ behaviors.
SessionCam improves your online performance. With heat map technology, quickly know where your customers click and scroll on your site.
2. Customer Communication
Communication helps you learn more about your audience. From email to text messaging, talk to your consumers on a regular basis.
Customer.io assists your team by sending personalized messages. You also can create a segment-triggered email to reach out to inactive shoppers.
3. Customer Service
Prepare your team to track and measure customer interactions. That means documenting customer feedback and complaints.
Zendesk brings all your customer conversations into one platform. Plus, you can build a knowledge base to help your customers answer their own questions.
4. Mobile Loyalty
Over the years, consumer expectations for loyalty programs have risen. Ditch the simple spend money and earn points system. Customers want to access their rewards on their mobile devices.
Belly boosts customer loyalty with unique perks. Moreover, their integrations with Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp let your customers share their experiences with friends.
Examples In Action
It’s one thing to talk the talk. But can you walk the walk? There are a few businesses mastering the art of brand loyalty. Learn from these industry leaders below.
Shoes Feet Gear, an Australian podiatry practice, offers its customers the world’s best footwear, podiatry service, and training gear under the one roof. They believe in going the extra mile for both customers and non-customers.
Peter Charles, owner of Shoes Feet Gear, says, “We try and do something little such as giving customers a new pair of socks when they are trying on shoes. Even if customers don’t buy the shoes, we let them have the new socks. They can’t believe we are just giving them socks without buying something, and this normally goes a long way with loyalty.”
Strong customer service builds brand loyalty. Mint & Mirth is a traveling cocktail bartending service. They offer simple per guest pricing and trade services. Their brand signature is ensuring a high level of personalized experiences.
StriVectin, an eCommerce brand specializing in haircare and skincare, flaunts its loyalty program called Inner Circle Rewards. Shoppers earn points for joining the program and buying and reviewing products. Then, customers can redeem points for exclusive items and discounts.
Brand differentiation can grab your audience’s attention, too. Since the 1980s, Allan Domb has been known affectionately as the “Condo King.” His agency Allan Domb Real Estate has used the persona to dominate the condo business in Philadelphia.
From delighting non-buyers to creating a high-end rewards program, use these examples as inspiration to build your brand loyalty. Your customers will thank you.
To win the hearts of your customers, build your brand around engagement and trust. Train your small business team to cultivate relationships.
Value your customers by listening to their feedback. Implement strategies that center around your audience’s needs. And select tools that will help execute your plan.
Engage your customers. Earn brand loyalty.
What are your tips for cultivating brand loyalty? Please share in the comments!
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Shayla Price creates and promotes content. She lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Originally from Louisiana, Shayla champions access to remote work opportunities. Connect with her on Twitter at @shaylaprice.