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How to Enhance Customer Loyalty in the Era of the Internet

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In the business community, there is a saying that it is always better to retain a customer than to search for a new one. Of course, every business needs to attract new customers, but if they can ensure customer loyalty among them, they will have a solid revenue source which will ensure profits and lead them to build a long-standing, sustainable brand.

How to Enhance Customer Loyalty

In the age of global markets and the internet, consumers have thousands of options to choose from. In a competitive market, it is one thing to get a customer visit you once, but retaining a loyal customer is a different ballgame altogether. So, how can brands gain customers and build up customer loyalty?

So how can brands or business owners build up customer loyalty in the age of the internet? Here are some pointers that you should keep in mind.

1 Prompt Response: One of the Key Drivers of Customer Loyalty

Customers come back to brands that are responsive. According to a 2015 study, 60% of consumers on Twitter expect a brand to respond to them within an hour.  Be it on social media, on a shopping app or a website- every brand should make sure that they are prompt in their response to customer feedback. Even if you don’t have a solution to offer right then, make sure that the customer’s feedback is acknowledged, and get back to them as soon as possible.

A good way to ensure that is to deploy chatbots that are available 24X7 and are programmed to answer frequently asked questions. Prompt responses add to customer satisfaction and make the customers feel like they are being listened to. If they feel that your company is paying attention to what they are saying, they are more likely to come back to it.

2 Delight Them with Customer Loyalty Rewards

Any person is more likely to stay in a relationship that rewards them. If customers see that they can get something extra from revisiting a brand, they will definitely come back to them. This is the reason brands send special discount codes, coupons and even freebies to their customers, which prompts them to shop again. Email marketing is especially suited for rewarding existing customers.

Sephora is a great example of a brand that ensures loyalty through customer rewards. While loyalty programs are ubiquitous, Sephora gives out exciting rewards and special discounts for every time a customer shops with them, which ensures that the customers keep coming back to them.

3 Winning Customer Loyalty with Active Social Media Engagement

It is a well-known fact that customers love to follow brands that actively engage with them on social media. This is especially true for the younger crowd who love to participate in social conversations online and like to feel that they are talking to an actual person and not a robot.

If you engage with a customer on social media, chances are his friends may join in soon. This not only gives you an opportunity to convince them to make a purchase decision, but this also helps you gain new followers and reach out to a wider audience via social networks.

Netflix is a great example in this regard. The brand actively engages with its followers on social media and replies to their comments- and rakes up more followers eventually. Talking to their customers also gives them the opportunity to directly inform them about their products, which often prompts a purchase decision.

4 Share your values and create a community

People associate with brands and products they can relate to. It is important to tell your brand story, share your brand values and build upon it if you want to retain your customers. Build up a brand community around that story, and encourage your customers to share their stories as well. This sees higher (and better) customer engagement and satisfaction.

Nike has probably built up one of the most loyal customer bases in the world. The reason for this is that they have created a brand story and harnessed it successfully to build a community around it. As a result, customers who identify with Nike’s message and values they stand for keep coming back to it.

5 Speak in the language your customers use

If you want loyal customers, you have to communicate with your target audience in a style they prefer. If you know your customers, you must speak in their language to sustain your appeal to them. If customers get the sense that a brand shares their brainwave, they stick with it for a long time. This, in fact, should be a crucial component in any brand’s marketing strategy.

Take Levis for example. There are many jean brands, but Levis has built a cult. It has branded itself as the jeans for the urban, hip youth, and it portrays its products accordingly. Hence, it has a stronghold over its target audience, and customers keep revisiting the brand.

6 Get personal, get close

Brands that pay personal attention to their customers have a big recall value. If the consumers are made to feel special, they will stick with the brand that did that. Nobody wants to feel like they are just another brick in the walls, and brands who make them feel like they know them personally always see revisits.

A great way to do that is to add personal touches to your products, like addressing a marketing email by the customer’s first name. Another good strategy is to send shoppers special coupons or let them avail discounts on their birthdays or marriage anniversaries or anniversaries of the days they first associated with the brand.

7 Create a Generous Customer Loyalty Programs for existing users

This is probably the most effective mechanism for rewarding customer loyalty and one that appeals to customers across the world. A loyalty program ensures that the customer will definitely get some reward, and most people stick to a brand which offers a generous loyalty program.

According to Hubspot, the best loyalty programs should entail:

  • Reward points– Customers earn points with each purchase and can redeem them later.
  • Tier system – Customers start by getting a small reward and get more as they shop more over time.
  • VIP or premium memberships– If you charge extra for premium memberships, customers who avail them get special benefits. Think of Amazon Prime.
  • Non-monetary programs – Customers are not always concerned with money. Show your support for programs that reflect the values your customers hold dear. Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign is a great example- sales boomed after Nike launched it, even though it did not offer customers any direct benefits.
  • Partnership loyalty benefits– Tie up with other brands or organizations so that your loyal customers can get benefits outside your brand. Think of how certain banks offer a discount when shopping at a certain store. This ensures brand loyalty among customers for both companies.
  • Make it a game– Who doesn’t like games? Give your customers the gaming experience in a non-gaming environment. They can win badges or rewards, and after they reach a certain point, they get something useful. Starbucks Gold members, for example, can get free refills. Starbucks plays the loyalty game extremely well, which is why their customer base stays so devoted.
  • Scratch loyalty programs– And finally, when you have built an extremely strong brand with a great product, you won’t even need a loyalty program. The product itself is a reward, the customer’s brand experience is so good from the get-go that they stay loyal customers for a long time.

8 Keep a constant integrated feedback channel

Finally, let us not forget the basics- always make sure that a customer has the option of giving feedback. Almost every online store or app has an option where customers can register their feedback and thoughts.

And definitely, integrate feedback across all channels. Your customers should have as many options as possible- social media, email, direct phone calls, chatbots, comment boxes, etc. Many customers abandon brands if they find that they don’t have the proper channel to register their views. Make sure you do not become that brand.

9 Encourage reviews and reply to them

Reviews not only provide valuable feedback, but they also act as data goldmines for brands to gauge the market. Product reviews are a great way to ensure prolonged customer engagement. According to a 2018 survey, the more reviews your store has, the better are your chances of getting new customers or repeat customers. Moreover, customers are likely to stick to or revisit brands that reply to their reviews in an authentic way.

Just look at Yelp, and you will find some restaurants with high ratings who always make it a point to reply to their customers. They enjoy a high volume of repeat customers because they are receptive of the feedback they get and engage with their customers without fail.

10 Ensure stellar customer experience

And finally, we come back to the most important aspect of customer loyalty- good service. You must ensure a superior brand experience for your customers and then provide a robust post-sales service. Customers ALWAYS come back to brands which have good customer service.

So make sure you are considerate, hire the right staff for engaging customers and make an effort to resolve customer issues fast. This is pretty much the bedrock principle retaining customers.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, it all comes down to being there for your customers and ensuring that you give them a memorable, hassle-free brand experience on every visit. If your customer enjoys the brand experience you offer, they will always come back for more and recommend your brand to their friends. So, never take your customer for granted and keep working to keep your customers satisfied.

Branding & Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of BrandLoom Consulting (A $1m startup). Help companies generate more revenue through digital marketing and branding. Growth Driver of Large Global Companies and Successful Startups. Built Sustainable & Profitable Businesses for over 100 Brands during 18 years long global career. Speaker at CII, CITI, ASSOCHAM and several prominent Industry Forums. Covered by TOI, ET, The Hindu, Silicon India, The CEO and many publications.

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