Business growth is often associated with bringing in new customers; however, loyal customers actually account for more purchase volume and a lower cost. In short, it costs less to retain customers than to acquire new ones and they have higher long-term value. While it is important to develop new products and connect with prospective buyers, building brand loyalty is a vehicle to a profitable business.
Loyal customers are easy to reach (lowering sales & marketing costs), offer qualified referrals, and in the best case become brand ambassadors. Once the sale is complete, the next task becomes creating an enduring brand relationship with your satisfied customer. Here are some tips to help you build customer relationships to increase brand loyalty.
1. Foster a community
Give your customers a place to gather together, ask and answer questions, and engage with the brand and its other buyers. This allows customers to have constant access to relevant and timely communication, which has been shown to increase product purchases. Whether it is on forums or social media platforms, online communities build trust and drive customer engagement. Promoting a passionate community of customers draws people in to your brand and makes them more likely to stick around.
2. Perform market research
Brand loyalty is partly contingent upon meeting customer needs over time. The longer you have kept your customers, the more likely their needs will change. If you don’t keep up with those changes, they will look elsewhere. Market research can help you understand the current state of your brand and where you can improve elements such as awareness, positioning, and brand sentiment. Market research can also help you understand where the changes lie: is it your customer or is it the market that has changed? With the speed of technological advances and information sharing, keeping on top of the market is increasingly important.
3. Be creative with rewards
At a fundamental level, companies offering similar products aren’t really that different. What sets them apart is their branding – that little je ne sais quoi that makes people like a brand and want to be associated with its image. Surprise your customers and make them happy. Offer unexpected rewards, bonuses, and contests. Last year, Dollar Shave Club ran an initiative called DSC Sponsors Your Thing, which supported good causes of their members. It was innovative marketing that surely made brand loyalists out of a lot of people. Customers need to feel rewarded for continuing to be loyal; campaigns like these remind them that they’re with the right brand.
4. Increase transparency
Be open and honest about what your brand does – regardless of whether it is good or bad. Research shows that transparent companies are valued higher because investors trust them more. It worked in Chipotle’s favor when they decided to label all ingredients in their menu items, including GMOs. Customers know that brands aren’t perfect and pretending to be inspires mistrust. To strengthen relationships with customers, share information without complicated language or a “spin” – people are more engaged with companies they trust, and we trust those who show their vulnerability and admit to wrongdoing.
Brand loyalists will be your dedicated customers and passionate referrers. In a time where buyers trust user-generated content more than branded content and peer reviews more than advertising, it would be a mistake to ignore the continuing relationship with your new and current customers. Find out what their needs are and how they want to be served if you want to increase brand loyalty and stay ahead in your industry.
BuyerSynthesis brings consumer insights to food, culture and clothing brands to refine product strategy, user experience and communications.