Some brands just seem to get it right. Just look at Amazon and its tremendous rise within the e-commerce and retail arena. Thanks to brands like Amazon, everybody else out there is forced to develop and deliver experiences that aid brand loyalty. But things aren’t easy and there are tons of challenges that lie ahead.
For instance, the increasing costs of acquiring customers and retaining them can pour water over any business’ plans.
Customer loyalty or brand loyalty has been undergoing plenty of changes in the last few years. A recent survey from YOTPO gives us a rough idea of how things are and how they’re going to be in a few years. Before we get to the details, the good news is that the scenario is ‘encouraging’. Most consumers state that they are quite loyal to their brands and that their loyalty has only grown with the passage of time.
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What Makes Customers Loyal?
We’ve generally come to believe that customer experience is the be-all and end-all of brand loyalty. However, the truth is that it’s the product. The product is the point of entry and exit. Around 55.3% of customer state that they are committed to a brand because of the product. Any drop in the quality and they would immediately end their loyalty.
This is proof of why many direct-to-consumer brands are doing so well today.
Following poor quality products, the second most common reason for a lack of brand loyalty is poor customer service. Around 23.5% of customers stated that they would drop a brand the moment they felt customer service failed. So even if you’ve got the best product on the planet, your horrible customer service can ruin things.
What Ensures Loyalty?
How is brand loyalty achieved? How many repeat purchases would it take?
Well, according to the survey, the bar for brand loyalty is pretty high. A purchase or two doesn’t guarantee much. In fact, it doesn’t guarantee anything at all. Around 37% of customers stated that they would have to purchase a product 5 times or more to consider themselves loyal.
That’s not exactly great news for brands. Bringing back a customer these many number of times is a tremendous challenge, especially when their demands are constantly growing. For instance, 67.3% of customers expect service round the clock. 71% expect frequent discounts, and 58.4% expect free shipping.
Loyalty is Worth the Effort
No matter how challenging it might be, building brand loyalty is a must and the dividends are definitely worth it. You see, around 60% of loyal customers will talk about your brand with their peers and families. That’s free word-of-mouth marketing. You simply won’t meet that kind of target with even the best campaigns. People trust other people, especially those close to them. So, if you’ve got your own customers promoting your brand, there is truly nothing better that can happen to you.
Also, around 52% of customers will join a rewards program, while 40% will spend more on your product even with cheaper options around. That kind of loyalty is priceless and worth every little effort you’ve put in. As a business, you already know just how challenging it can be to stay relevant in a competitive market.
So it’s pretty clear that brand loyalty still matters and customers have no problem staying loyal if your can meet their expectations. But how can you create that kind of loyalty? How do you meet such expectations? How do you get to know your customer on a deeper level?
Well, there are a ton of things you can do. Let’s take a look at a few strategies.
Building Brand Loyalty
One of the first things that need your time, money and effort is understanding your customer. Most businesses fail because they can’t minimize their churn rate. Business growth is directly correlated with how low your churn is.
So why do customers walk out the back door?
Well, one of the top culprits is low or no engagement. But that’s not all. In some cases, it’s because businesses fail to meet the expectations of customers. For instance, in a survey it was found that 42% of startups failed because there simply was no demand or market for their product. They were offering something that most people did not want.
So the lesson here is that businesses need to pay attention to what their customers really need or want. There needs to be a conversation taking place between the customer and brands. Social engagement via social media platforms certainly comes to mind here.
Talking to customers is the best way to learn about them. That way, you’ll be able to develop a clearer picture of what they like and what they don’t.
Learn from businesses that take the time to know their customers. For instance, a brand called VerticalResponse actually puts in the effort to meet customers in person to talk to them about their products and services.
They believe that there is a very strong human aspect to doing good business and it is quite easy to lose focus of that. So, VerticalResponse makes sure they never forget this fact. Discussions concerning a product or service improvement need to take place with the consumer.
Apart from boosting engagement and communications, brands need to ensure consistency. This is a vital factor in building brand loyalty. Customers want the same (or better) experience when they shop with you.
They want to be able to trust you and be sure that you’ll deliver on your promises. In fact, it’s even better if you can over-deliver. This kind of consistency ensures loyalty because not only are you exceeding expectations, but you’re also separating yourself from the competition.
Just look at brands like KFC or McDonald’s. They’ve remained more or less the same since the beginning, barring a few necessary and timely changes. This kind of consistency makes customers feel secure.
More importantly, it makes the brand recognizable.