Loyalty, or more aptly referred to as love for the purposes of this article, is a byproduct of exceptional consumer experiences. Yet, earning loyalty – love – is particularly challenging for brands in the face of increased competition and consumer apathy. To retain loyal consumers, and attract consumers with similar buying habits, brands are tasked with rethinking the way that they interact with their consumers.
Here are 5 ways to build brand loyalty and love this Valentine’s Day, from the team at Oracle CrowdTwist.
Tip #1: Invest in omnichannel retailing
Consumers don’t think in terms of “channels”, they think in terms of convenience, and therefore smart brands stop marketing to the channel and start marketing to the individual. Creating consistent consumer experiences across channels is a great way for brands to recognize consumers and their affinities regardless of where they are interacting.
Membership in a loyalty program is a great way to connect experiences across channels and incentivize consumers to self-identify at every interaction. Brands can collect invaluable data on consumers as they self-identify across channels, such as where a consumer browses versus where they purchase, or what the actual lifetime value (LTV) is of a consumer holistically.
Expert tip: Incentivize consumers to identify as members of your loyalty program through member-only rewards, bonus points, or exclusive merchandise.
Tip #2: Create frictionless shopping experiences
Customer journey mapping can only be achieved by investing in omnichannel retailing (see tip #1), and creating frictionless shopping experiences can only be achieved through advanced customer journey mapping. By mapping out the customer journey, brands are better able to understand their customer, build out personas, and understand the consumer’s experience with the brand at every touchpoint. This understanding is the key to reducing friction points throughout the customer journey and creating opportunities for the brand to alleviate those friction points and create impactful customer experiences that reduce the impact of poor experiences.
Expert tip: Incentivize loyalty members to participate in surveys and feedback mechanisms throughout the customer journey to better understand the impact of each brand interaction.
Tip #3: Communicate the brand purpose
Consumers are more connected to purpose-driven brands. When consumers feel as though they’re contributing with both their hearts and wallets to brands that reflect what they care about, they become loyal consumers. It’s a powerful way for brands to differentiate, create brand value, and interact in meaningful ways, beyond the point of transaction.
Loyalty programs are ideal platforms to connect with consumers through content that aligns with brand-purpose. Incentivizing members to consume content drives a greater connection, elevated visibility into the mission of the brand, and enhanced opportunities to connect with consumers.
Expert tip: Draw loyalty members into the brand by enabling them to contribute their points to non-profit organizations that align with the brand-purpose.
Tip #4: Establish emotional connections that build trust
One non-traditional measurement of loyalty, or brand love, is a customer’s resolve to maintain their relationship with a brand after a negative event. A good measurement of brand loyalty is whether customers remain loyal once brand trust is eroded with an individual or community of consumers.
Brands are investing in loyalty programs as a way to collect relevant opt-in information from customers and are using that data to build trust through relevancy. They’re also leveraging loyalty programs to help build an emotional connection between the brand and their customers through personalization, member-only perks, and rewards. Building an emotional connection with customers is even more valuable for brands than customer satisfaction. According to a Harvard Business Review article, “Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level.”
The article continues, “By setting emotional connection as the overarching goal, the ‘true north’ of the customer experience, companies can point their investments in the right direction, execute more effectively, and reap significant financial rewards.”
Expert tip: Incentivize loyal consumers to refer friends into the program. This will provide a great proxy for how willing your customers are to put their reputation on the line for your brand which is a great indicator of brand love.
Tip #5: Prioritize customer data management and personalization
Loyalty and love are byproducts of exceptional customer experiences. Creating exceptional customer experiences is only achieved by truly understanding, at a granular level, your consumers and personalizing their experiences on an individual basis.
Data is absolutely key to successfully creating personalized experiences and impactful loyalty programs. Collecting, connecting, and actioning on customer data is one of the biggest challenges loyalty marketers grapple with. Specifically, connecting data points across channels and touchpoints is still a big hurdle for many, as is profiling customers in order to determine how different customers should be treated based on their individual needs to build loyalty. Businesses that do well regard data as a strategic asset to connecting with consumers on a one-to-one basis.
Use the data asset. Loyalty programs are a significant data source on customers…you should be able to build a myriad of anecdotes about how your program’s data was strategically leveraged to achieve specific objectives and to personalize customers’ brand experiences.
Expert tip: Harvest data from your most valuable consumers (your loyalty members) by incentivizing for the data that is most valuable to your brand. Use this data to model out look-alike segments for acquisition programs on potential high-value consumers that may not be in your database yet.
Having an omnichannel presence that demonstrates consistency across all brand channels, implementing sophisticated loyalty programs that allow customers to be rewarded for sharing their data, and personalized, meaningful brand interactions that build trust and create emotional connections are the keys to brand love. Continue to treat your consumers as individuals and reward them for their loyalty at every chance.