Building brand loyalty: retaining your best customers while creating a lasting community
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Sometimes the drive to scale and expand is front and center in the minds of brand owners.
And while that’s a good thing depending on where you see the future of your business going, there’s another thing to set your sights on that will help you get there.
Without it, your work will be 10x harder and—if that isn’t scary enough—there’s a good chance you won’t make it very far. Brand loyalty and trust is huge in the brand/consumer relationship.
It’s no secret that shoppers continually return to brands they love and trust—memes highlight just how far some are willing to go because of brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty means customers are often willing to pay more for your product because they prefer you over any other option. That’s pretty awesome, right?
Here’s where things get a little shaky for businesses,though: in the quest to always get bigger and better, they often forget who helped get them there in the first place: the loyal shoppers.
How do you fix this? Instead of focusing solely on customer acquisition, you put an equal (maybe even bigger) focus on paying attention to the customers you already have.
From a brand perspective, this makes sense in more ways than one. In general, people like to feel important. When everything is automated, those one-on-one interactions stand out even more and leave a lasting impression.
The only way you’ll build lasting brand loyalty with your customers is to be authentic and empathetic.
You’ve probably heard the saying that it’s cheaper to keep the customers you have over trying to find new ones. Reducing the churn is one of the most sustainable and affordable ways to stay in business—even though so many ecomm brands struggle.
In a study done through Small Business Trends, here’s what they found out about customer retention:
- 80% of profits come from 20% of your existing customer base.
- Up to 65% of business comes from the customers you already have.
- The average business loses 15% of customers every year, but ecomm brands likely struggle with an even larger percentage of churn annually.
Numbers like that make it imperative that brands do more to retain customers and build brand loyalty.
Ecomm + brand loyalty = BFFs
You’ve made it this far, so you’re probably wondering what you can do to start building loyalty. Some of these are pretty basic business strategies, but you’d be surprised how many brands miss the mark and lose out on sales every year.
Here’s what you should be doing to show the love to customers you’ve already got and keep them coming back time after time:
No kidding: Bad customer service is a dealbreaker
How often have you had an issue with a purchase and getting a hold of customer service was more complicated than figuring out the plot to Tenet?
A poor customer service experience is one of the leading barriers between brand loyalty and customers, but here’s the good news: it’s one of the easiest things to fix. Brands that consistently show customers empathy, patience, and good communication build loyalty the fastest and for ecomm brands, that’s pretty important.
Here’s an example of how the beverage brand Olipop did just that, going above and beyond to take care of a customer during a time of crisis:
Actions like this bring your brand to a compassionate and human level, creating deeper customer loyalty in the meantime.
Look for other ways to give your customer service a boost—features like chat support have been increasingly more valuable to shoppers over the last few years, and for a good reason. Customers find live chat support to be quicker, more efficient, and easier to use over some of the other traditional options, like a phone (who has time to sit on the phone with customer service these days?).
Integration with other platforms—especially where your customers spend most of their time—is also an option. Depending on your target market, you might consider adding a chat feature on various social platforms to make connecting with customers even easier.
For ecomm businesses, having a live chat takes customer service to the next level.
Loyalty programs = brand loyalty
Want to keep your customers coming back for more? Give them a reward when they do.
There’s no end to the options when it comes to loyalty programs for a brand. You’re asking your customer to take action, so why not give them a little helpful boost in the right direction?
A loyalty program (or earning points) can work toward any action you’d like your customer to take. Here are just some examples of what brands are doing:
Through email marketing or post-purchase messaging, make sure you share information about the loyalty program to keep customers engaged. We all love a good dopamine hit, so one way to encourage repeat purchases is to show customers how their shopping habits are rewarding them.
Dermstore keeps track of how much a shopper spends, then allows them to redeem points for extra perks or as discounts on purchases.
Keeping a loyalty program simple is the key. Create something too complicated, and no one will care about accruing points. Here’s how to make it successful:
- Constantly encourage customers to sign up at any point in time—especially through post-purchase messaging.
- What do you want customers to do? Reward them for taking those actions.
- Create some excitement around your program. Come up with fun marketing or a quirky name to help get it noticed and create a feeling of exclusivity for loyal customers.
As an ecomm brand, a loyalty program comes with a good amount of benefits: repeat and frequent purchases increased average order values, and, perhaps best of all, higher customer lifetime value.
Let’s get personal
What’s one of the reasons why customers like to shop ecomm over massive retail brands? It usually entails something along the lines of enhanced personalization and more direct communication.
How is your brand personalizing the shopping experience for your customer? Some of the best ways to go about this are through:
- Offering product recommendations based on previous purchases
- Creating content-based on a shopper’s location or demographic
- Highlighting products they might like based on recent purchases
- Saving checkout information to make purchasing quick and easy
- Tailoring email or SMS messaging and sending when relevant
Going further into making your customer feel seen and appreciated adds value in more ways than one. Aside from increased sales and higher average orders, that extra touch of personalization creates a unique shopping experience customers don’t often find with massive retail stores.
Brand loyalty is created in the DMs.
Social media is where brand loyalty is at (most of the time). Browse through Twitter or Instagram any time of day, and chances are you’ll find users talking about brands, both good and bad.
Over the last few years, customers have increasingly stopped trying the customer service phone line and gone directly to a brand on social media, usually through direct messaging or even going so far as to call the brand out on the timeline itself.
Any business that creates a platform on social needs to be active and consistently connecting with customers – whether through troubleshooting, resolving issues, or just being…social!
Social media is a powerful player in your marketing strategy, especially when it comes to building loyalty. Aside from navigating issues with customers to turn them into happy little clams, social media marketing offers not one but two benefits:
- Engaging and connecting with new customers
- Retaining and developing deeper connections with existing customers
In case you needed more evidence that shows you just how important social is in developing brand loyalty, consider these statistics:
- Nearly 80% of your customers are on social media and prefer it when interacting with your brand
- Up to 54% of customers would rather engage with customer service on social than through traditional channels like email or phone
- 60% of customers who reach out to a brand on social with a concern expect a customer service response within the hour
Use social media to engage with customers but also look for ways to learn more about them. Be open to ideas and conversations and engage rather than just looking for analytics and engagement rates.
Asking questions, creating polls, and continuing conversations are all ways to dive deeper into the habits and needs of customers—giving you even more to work within creating personalized and meaningful experiences.
A key takeaway: use social media for all the things. It works brilliantly as a way to connect your brand with customers, but it’s also useful in offering support.
Building loyalty while also creating community
Brand loyalty and community. Are they the same?
It depends on who you ask. For some, creating community comes first. Online shopping makes creating a community easier and, over time, word of mouth starts to build momentum.
Whether it’s creating a hashtag or online group where customers and interested shoppers can learn more, or it’s developed through your ability to engage and interact, the sense of community and belonging is enough to evoke a sense of loyalty from customers.
How can you tell when brand loyalty is taking off and creating community? It starts when they give your brand a shout out or share a great experience without being prompted. Here’s a peek at brand loyalty and community building in action:
Brand loyalty and community also create another powerful tool for your marketing kit: influencers. Outside of the standard use of influencer marketing, organic influencer marketing offers a serious benefit to your brand.
70% of consumers say that a post or recommendation by a friend/family member influences them to purchase.
Think about many of the products you purchase—they’re likely to have influenced decisions based on what you read somewhere or because someone had a good experience and shared it with you. Statistics show that every brand loyalist, or evangelist, sometimes called, creates three new customers for the business.
How does that stack up against your marketing budget and the cost of customer acquisition?
Here’s an important point: while much has been said about building brand loyalty through various recommendations, there’s another major advantage to going the extra mile in connecting with customers and creating an outstanding experience from the start.
Loyal customers are often happy to provide recommendations and feedback, as well as become an extension of your marketing team – all because they believe and trust in your brand. These customers offer much more than just a dollar amount, from providing you with this priceless data to helping spread brand awareness.
By implementing loyalty programs, connecting with them on social media, and going above what’s expected are just some of the ways to repay the favor while deeping that bond for years to come.
Want to avoid churn? Try this
Methods to earn brand loyalty haven’t changed much over the years. With ecomm businesses, in particular, there’s plenty of opportunities to outshine the competition through taking that extra step, even when it doesn’t necessarily add more money in your pocket at the moment.
Sure, customer acquisition is essential if you want to scale and grow. But the real magic is creating exceptional experiences for the customers who’ve already taken that leap and purchased or continue to support the brand.
Prioritize the existing customers, and you’ll have the brand loyalty needed to succeed.