It’s not all about new customers. You want loyal ones!
As you set out your business goals for 2016, I can probably guess a few of them. Increase sales. Reduce expenditures. Grow brand awareness. Give back more to the community. Where does improving customer loyalty fall on the list? If it’s not at the top, you’re doing it wrong. GM just took the crown from Ford in terms of customer loyalty in the auto industry, and all across the web you can read about business taking steps to improve customer loyalty in 2016.
Loyalty matters for digital businesses because it is vital to improving return on investment and ensuring that your marketing strategy has a long-term vision. All of the effort, thought, and expense invested in a marketing campaign can instantly evaporate if you don’t create a loyal customer. According to Inc., loyal customers spend 67% more on average than new ones.
Let’s not forget — any digital brand’s competitor is just a click, call, or swipe away. Online businesses should develop a retention strategy that places a supreme value on loyalty, because it means repeat business from customers with high life-time value. Most marketers do not focus enough on lifetime value. It’s always about racking up one more impression/click/conversion so the metrics “look” good.
But what about the long-term vision?
Creating a lifetime customer should always be the end goal. Brands should aim to create partnerships and long-term relationships, not just one-time sales. Obtaining new customers is the first step in nurturing a life-long relationship; but it’s only the first step.
As marketers plot out the customer journey and implement initiatives for each stage of the process, they should always be influenced by the guiding principle of fostering customer loyalty. Many brands already record tons of information about the customer in the company’s CRM.
One example of an effective loyalty campaign is the ever-popular “Birthday Coupon” promo. Using information already contained within the company’s CRM (for example a customer’s e-mail address and date of birth), the company can personalize the targeted message and connect with the customer.
Another example of a successful loyalty campaign is BuluBox, a subscription vitamin & supplement delivery service. Each month, customers are given the option to review products they receive in their subscription box.
By rewarding customers who complete surveys and reviews, they create passionate brand ambassadors, all the while receiving invaluable customer feedback. For brands seeking to build loyalty among customers, they are certain qualities that they must embody.
Some are natural parts of any successful company’s value system, like being attentive, trustworthy, accessible, and responsive to the customer’s needs. Other qualities may need to be actively implemented by management to create an environment where employees are involved and messaging is consistent:
11 qualities that loyal customers look for
As a business, you need to provide reliable and transparent information everywhere. In your contracts, on the phone, on your website, on social media… all information is accurate and up-to-date. Loyal customers keep coming back when they know they are getting honest and fair treatment, which unfortunately isn’t always a guarantee with some businesses out there.
Loyal customers come back to businesses that a) check in on a regular basis to keep the relationship strong and b) keep them up-to-date about new developments and opportunities. Though you don’t want to be pushy, loyal customers shouldn’t always be the ones initiating contact. Whether it’s alerting that a hot new product is in stock, or even sending a holiday email wishing them well, routine contact is a must.
Businesses that earn loyal customers are always accessible and available. The main point of contact should always been in reach via phone, email, or in-person. Information about the business or product must be easy to reach on the website, social media, by phone, by email, or in-person.
The next quality that really matters is consistency. Clients must know what to expect in terms of service, deliverables, product quality, and so on. There is nothing worse than switching account managers only to see service fall by the wayside, or to order a new version of your favorite product only to see it dramatically decline in quality or durability.
When customers have an inquiry, there is an expectation that they will get an immediate response. This should always be the standard, but at a minimum customer emails, phone messages, Tweets, Facebook messages etc. should be answered within 24 hours.
Businesses that earn customer loyalty place a priority on understanding the needs and wants of their customers. They also understand that these needs/wants may shift and adapt over time, and they take a proactive approach to anticipating those needs and wants and coming up with fitting solutions.
You need to have a consistent brand message on all platforms (traditional and digital) and the entire staff needs to be on the same page about big picture and small picture items alike. From the administrative assistant to the CEO, and from radio ads to white papers, messaging is consistent and cohesive.
The best businesses are willing to adapt and think outside of the box. Whether you are a category leader or start-up, there must always be a mission to grow, improve, and strive for bigger and better. This flexibility also extends to customers – how can you adapt your business processes to best serve the needs of the client?
Customers are loyal to brands that excite them and break boundaries. No one gets excited by a consistent but ultimately stale process or product. Don’t be a follower, be a leader. Build on what you’ve already achieved and set the aim higher and higher each year.
No one likes a cold, robotic business. Customers are loyal to companies that have a personal touch and make each customer feel cared for and valued. Find ways to incorporate personal touches throughout your business process and help customers see the hard-working and kind people behind the brand.
Finally, great companies have staff that are fully invested and passionate about the company and its service/product. They are well-trained, well-informed, and care about customer satisfaction above all else.
By focusing on these key attributes you will create more than loyal customers, will breed brand evangelists who will enthusiastically recommend your brand, and create a unstoppable snowball effect. Are you ready to make 2016 the year of the loyal customer?