Customer loyalty is everything for a new business. Customer acquisition is important – otherwise, you’ll never build up a customer base – but if those customers don’t stick around long enough to make multiple purchases or subscribe to your services for longer than a month, you’ll end up spending more in the acquisition phase than customers are actually worth to you in the long run.
Why loyalty matters
Unless they have that response to you of loyalty, customers won’t see you as any different from your competitors; all it will take is a good deal or a special offer from “the other guys” to win them over. And, if something goes wrong with a purchase, they’ll have no reason to continue working with you.
They’ll also have no reason to tell their friends about you, follow you on social media or leave reviews for your company.
Loyalty, in fact, is a primer for many aspects of successful business development – so what is it that drives customer loyalty in the first place?
It all comes down to consumer emotions, and here are five that are critical for building and maintaining loyalty:
Surprise enters the equation at many moments throughout your customer relationship. One of its most important applications is at the beginning of the relationship; if you want your customer to see you as different from your competition, you have to differentiate yourself. You have to show them something, and characterise your brand in a way that’s against the norm.
This will cement your brand in your users’ eyes, and help them think of you as a stronger entity. But the surprise factor doesn’t end there.
Pleasant surprises are always a good thing during the course of your customer relationship; for example, including a special gift with a random order, or even making a simple gesture like sending a thank-you note can re-spark your customers’ interest in your brand. So, keep them on their toes (in a positive way, of course)!
If you want a customer to be loyal to your brand, you need to establish a sense of familiarity. The first step of this process is to make your brand approachable, like a friend or a relative, and that means personalising your brand. Your brand should have a welcoming character that’s strongly presented across multiple channels, and its character should be consistent at all times.
Any deviation in your brand voice could be jarring and disrupt the build of that familiarity, so don’t neglect the consistency factor here.
No matter how hard you try, or how carefully you’ve worked out the kinks of your business, things are going to go wrong. You’ll miss a deadline, ship a wrong order or somehow create an unpleasant experience for your customers.
Relax: This is natural, and non-preventable. What really matters to customer loyalty isn’t your having a perfect record; instead, it’s how you respond when that perfect record is broken. If a shipment is running late, a personal phone call or apologetic email with a detailed explanation of why the event occurred can spark a sense of relief that will make the customer appreciate you – maybe even more so than if everything had gone smoothly to begin with.
Customer-brand relationships are founded on a principle of logical exchange. Customers continue paying you money because they expect an equal value in return, whether that value comes in the form of a product or service, or some other, less measurable means, like entertainment or experiential value.
When you give users more than they’re expecting, or something that outweighs their perception of an “equal” value exchange, they’ll feel gratitude toward you. And the more gratitude they feel, the more they’ll want to stick with you. Find little ways to spark these feelings of gratitude.
One of the best ways to ensure customer loyalty is to make your customers feel that they’re truly a part of something when they engage with your brand. That something can be as in-depth as a customer-run forum and ongoing community, or something smaller like the ability to engage with your blog commenters on an individual basis.
The key is to make customers feel that they belong to your brand, the way others might “belong” to a clique or fit in at work.
To do this, you’ll need to maintain an approachability, and give customers some level of engagement on on an individual basis.
I’m not suggesting that you try to manipulate customers’ emotions, or that they even can be directly manipulated. Instead, their needs should be considered the same way you’d consider the emotions of a friend or family member.
Related: Customer Service Success Secrets
Understand why these feelings are important, and capitalise on them in your product designs, your policies and the actions of your team members. Once customers feel these emotions, and feel them consistently toward your brand, chances are that they’ll become long-term loyalists.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Top Marketing Trends For 2019
When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?
Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.
The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:
1. Say hello to the social CEO
Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.
Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.
Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.
2. Initiate conversations
While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.
For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.
Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.
3. Keep it local
Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.
Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit.
4. Try Instagram ads
As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.
Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.
5. Personalise email communication
Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.
Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.
Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.
Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
6. Post in real time
In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.
In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.
This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.
Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.
4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From
Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.
Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.
Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.
The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.
In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:
- What products do they want?
- Where should you make them available?
- How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
- How and where to promote your product?
The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.
Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.
Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.
While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.
Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.
In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,
“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.
Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.
In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline
“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),” adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.
“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”
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