Prioritizing customer loyalty bears repeating. Here are a few reminders why it’s so crucial:
- On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
- A 5% increase in customer retention rate can increase profit by 25% to 95%.
- After ten purchases, an apparel shopper refers seven people to an online retailer’s site.
These benefits are worth taking note of. So if you’re looking to earn brand loyalists, here are some tips:
Emphasize Shared Values
A Harvard Business Review study revealed that 64% of customers cited shared ‘values’ as the primary reason for a strong brand relationship. In fact, millennials who have $200 billion in annual spending power and growing, believe shared values tend to have a major influence on their purchase.
Being belief-driven, consumers want to buy from brands that stand up for social causes, address critical issues and are a part of movements that make the world a better place.
So sit up and highlight your brand’s higher purpose and ethos. Learn from brands like TOMS that clearly and consistently communicate their philosophy of being changemakers. From a customer point of view, the idea of buying from a brand that’s helping them contribute to the greater good is a big reason to stick around for longer.
Provide Excellent Customer Experiences
Customers crave a holistic, smooth experience from websites to social channels, phone calls, e-mails, live chat, physical stores, and even the oft-ignored product packaging. Failing to deliver on their expectations means losing them. Take a look at these stats:
- It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
- American Express found that compared to 11 people mentioning good experiences, Americans tell an average of 15 people about poor service.
- 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase due to poor customer experience.
Suffice it to say that to earn customer loyalty, it’s important that you deliver exceptional customer experiences, over and over again. Let’s see how you can achieve this big a feat:
- Get the C-suite support. Hire a Chief Experience Officer who breaks silos and gets everyone to work as one team and achieve the goal of delivering the best CX.
- Provide ongoing training to employees. Regularly conduct training to reinforce this idea and give feedback to improve CX.
- Listen to your customers. Track metrics through NPS, CES, CSAT, and TTR. The collected data will give you a good start on how to eliminate friction and maximize positive touchpoints.
- Monitor social media. It is where you get free, qualitative data about your customer sentiments. Respond as quickly as you can. Answering a complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25%.
- Leverage live chat. Data says that at 73%, live chats have the highest levels for any customer support channel, compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone.
- Personalize. Customers don’t like irrelevant experiences, which explains why there’s a growing need to personalize experiences. Don’t ignore it. More on that in the next section.
Personalize All the Way
Millennials especially are and continue to be frustrated with irrelevant or too many marketing messages, according to a whitepaper by SmarterHQ. Customers want to be seen and heard, even when they are behind their computer screens – but they want those responses to be tailored to them.
So shift focus, respect consumer attention and reduce their cognitive load as much as possible.
Don’t make them think, rethink, and overthink their decisions. Send campaigns, show targeted ads, to the right person at the right stage of the buyer journey.
Set up Loyalty Programs
Surely this should get you thinking of setting up your own reward programs. Another thing you can manage to achieve for free is word of mouth marketing.
Yes, it will take effort to set up – but it will be well worth it. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
- Be ready to deliver incomparable CX: Your team should know the program inside out so that they have answers to questions of all types. Also, don’t forget to listen to customer feedback. It’ll help quantify and qualify CX.
- Surprise your customers. Small gestures of novelty keep customers excited and willing to come back and spend more. Circle back to personalization to deliver value.
- Track data. Don’t assume or jump to conclusions. Use data to guide changes, whether big or small.
- Promote it. From your website, emails to social media and physical stores, the more people know about the program, the better.
- Partner with other brands. You’ll cut costs and reach out to potential customers and give them a reason to become brand advocates.
Keep Building Social Proof
When your current customers praise your brand it solidifies the trust of those who’re considering buying from you. Even your old customers, seeing your popularity, choose to stay with you instead of shifting loyalties. Such is the power of social proof and its role in building customer loyalty.
To take full advantage of this, collect and showcase social proof when appropriate. It’s not for nothing that 89% of 35-54-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Additionally, Salesify consumer research states that between similar products online, 35% of consumers said better reviews have driven them to purchase the higher-priced option.
A few social proof types or stamps of approval worth leveraging are:
- Testimonials and reviews: These could be by experts, influencers, or even your regular customers/users.
- Media mention: It proves you’re making the right noise in the industry and that there are people taking note.
- Real-time social proof (urgency messaging): This is something websites like Booking.com, Amazon, Airbnb us all the time.
- Data: From blog subscribers, active users, a list of clients to social media followers, bragging about numbers can do wonders.
- Celebs endorsing your brands: Genuine endorsements by influencers can reinforce the spell on your loyal customers and new ones alike.
- Social media proof: Reshare, repost, retweet, regram, like and comment on your posts so that everyone can see all the good things everyone’s saying about you.
Think Referral Marketing
With the help of referral marketing, you can encourage your loyal customers to promote your brand to their network. Wait. Weren’t we talking about building customer loyalty? How do the existing, loyal customers fit into the picture?
To be clear, with brand loyalists by your side, you can achieve two goals. First, you’ll gain new customers. Second, with an excellent overall experience delivered, you can gradually convert these new customers into brand ambassadors. And the cycle of getting a steady stream of high-quality referrals continues.
Does it really work though? Of course. 83% of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family, according to a Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report. Besides, studies have shown that referred customers are more loyal than those acquired by other methods. So there you have it.
But referral marketing won’t work if nobody knows about it. Let’s look at what you can do for maximum wins:
- Feature a prominent referral program CTA on your website and other important spots.
- Use pop-ups on the right pages and at the right time for better conversions.
- Promote your referral program on social media posts as well as newsletters. Sometimes people forget or don’t know they can refer-a-friend, so this works as a timely reminder.
- Create an easy-to-understand referral program with a clear view of benefits.
- Make the invitation process ridiculously simple. Nobody wants to go around in circles.
Converting a casual buyer into a loyal customer is hard work.
The golden rule? Put the customers front and center. Engage them by highlighting your brand’s shared values. Showcase raving reviews, personalize their journey, and surprise them with exceptional CX across platforms. Also, set up loyalty and referral programs to make them come back for more and relive the experience of being associated with your brand.
Over to you now. Is this something you already do?