Ways to Improve Your Brand Loyalty
The ultimate aim of a business is profit and growth, year in, year out. A key part of this is keeping your customers around long enough to double dip. AKA retention.
Loyalty is something different altogether; your customers stick around out of more than just necessity. You’ve facilitated a relationship where they feel or think fondly of your brand. You’re who they come to for their needs, to spend their hard-earned or inherited money and more importantly, to spend their time.
When they don’t stay to play, it’s called churn. The percentage of your customers who don’t come back. Like any business stat, it’s a clue you can put into context to better understand where you’re thriving, and where you’re less healthy.
How can you put your own churn rates into context? Check out your industry-at-large and put your own percentage in context. For instance, retail sat around 24% in 2020, while big box electronics was at 11%.
When does churn become devastating for your brand? When it outstrips growth.
What is the churn level of daydreams? Experts say between 5 and 7% annually is an ideal level.
So, how do we fix it? We can’t control the competition. We can’t control our customers. In today’s world, leaning into quality over fanfare, digital relevance and integrity are the surest way to invite positive attention.
The days are gone where you could take prospects for fools. Greed, small print and profit-mongering turns people off. A positive step forward for collective morality and wellbeing. Tricky for businesses, which by definition, seem to require self-interest because they definitely require profit.
A healthy pivot is the turn from self-interest to self-inspection. It’s contingent on the belief that if you approach work with a focus on integrity and quality, it will be rewarded. It might sound more spiritual than Business 101, but the stats speak for themselves. 86% of consumers want authenticity, and 81% percent need to feel like they can trust a brand before they buy.
Companies who lie, compromise morally or emphasize greed are being called out more and more. There are still strongholds of course, namely big banks and big tech, but even the banks are being threatened by digital competitors - see Monzo or Ando.
Here are the best methods for improving your brand loyalty -- and many come for free.
Enthusing your customers should be just as important as selling to them
You’ve heard this before; customer experience is the number one deciding factor in retention. It’s how clients feel treated and perceive your brand. This in turn solidifies impressions that drive loyalty or churn. The biggest reason customers walk away is because they don’t feel appreciated.
There are baseline expectations around convenience, efficacy, design and communication. As the most important factors in contemporary commerce, zeroing in on these will have the greatest impact on retention. Consistency in experience is also an important factor in establishing your brand voice, meaning that clients will know what to expect. Then there are options to elevate. Revolutionizing the experience through storytelling, new technologies such as VR and AR and automated personalization. That said, getting the basics right means way more than magic tricks.
Word of mouth (which is more powerful than advertising) starts with a customer having a genuinely valuable experience, then sharing it with those they care about. Consumers are smart; they’re not going to be recommending you, or returning to you, based on a slogan. That’s the enticement; the experience is the seal.
You’ve gotta engage proactively. You can’t assume that silence means satisfaction. Only 1 in 26 customers will actually complain after a negative experience. The competition is too hot to just sit around.
Treat Everyone Like a Human
This includes your employees. At least a third of employees are open to another job at any given time, and 92% of workers said they would be more likely to stay in their jobs if their employer showed more empathy. Remember that most of them are just as ambitious as you are. Give them opportunities to feel valued and valuable, maintain appropriate division of responsibility and make a genuine effort. Your employees just won’t care if you don’t; remember, they’re getting less out of the arrangement. Be consistent in action and follow through on your word.
The same level of care goes for appropriate boundaries. An atmosphere of respect and openness should be promoted. In saying no to aggression, gossip or a lack of professionalism, you affirm the employees who conduct themselves professionally. The ones that you want to represent your brand, the ones you probably will find the most joy in working with. If they feel they’re taken for granted, or that others can behave poorly, enabled by management, they’re less likely to feel loyalty to the business, and more likely to seek greener pastures.
Keeping your employees loyal long-term means higher productivity and knowledge retention; less resources spent on turnover and personal relationships between your clients and team. Besides, don’t you want a happier workplace?
As a business owner, you have a multitude of tasks and interests. It’s nearly impossible to have an objective overview of operations. That’s where the ingenuity of data collection comes in. If automated, it can streamline the bureaucratic process of opinion and decision making. According to Better Buys, it can make the process of navigation five times faster.
Even better, the facts don’t lie. Unlike people, they’re impartial. They can help you clearly identify your weaknesses, and surprise you with dark horse strengths. Companies that make use of data analysis experience an ROI of 1300%, according to Nucleus Research.
How can analytics help with brand loyalty? Planning marketing campaigns by analysing what your current demographic wants, and showing you which messages perform best. Identifying what’s important to your customers and what they respond to. Pre-empting the products or services that keep your clients returning, so that supply is never an issue. Understanding which areas your employees excel in, and strategizing ways to keep them engaged. Ultimately, in helping operations efficiency, you’ll have more time to focus on customer experience, too.
heymate! is an excellent and free resource for all kinds of businesses to track data. Rapid Miner is another great tool. Alternatively, you can work with a company like Synic Software to develop a tool with strategy primed just for you.
Get your digital priorities straight
According to PWC, most customers only make the connection between tech and their satisfaction when things go wrong. It’s an unconscious expectation that not only will they be able to swiftly and easily navigate your website or app, but that it’ll be well-designed, too. Put the bells and whistles aside; the data says that priorities for retention should be efficiency, speed and design. 17% will walk away after just one bad experience.
A study by McKinsey found that companies with a higher design score had 32% higher revenue growth, plus 56% higher returns to shareholders. Why is this? Optics matter. Whether or not it’s fair or critical thinking, for expediency, humans categorize and retain an impression quickly, to navigate their surroundings. We make an impression of something we’re looking at within 0.05 seconds. Aesthetics matter.
So too, does efficiency. Consumers want tech to be seen and not heard; seamless operation without delays or complexity. 55% of people say that a bad mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company. PWC tells us that speed and convenience are the most important factors. Getting this right can improve loyalty.
According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends Report, “66% of respondents were able to recall when brands acted in self-interest...more than one in four respondents strongly agreed that such actions spurred them to walk away.”
Consumers are demanding more from brands, and will reward an ethical and active business with their loyalty. From diversity initiatives to education on financial literacy, it’s now an expectation that companies step up, or lose their clients. And get this: lip service is actually having the opposite effect. Brands that make a statement at the same time as other brands about a social cause or world event come across as less authentic to consumers-at-large.
Approach implies action, and quiet quality over fanfare morality will always have more of an impact. Why? Because it’s more authentic. And authenticity is what clients are searching for in 2021. They’ve had enough of being taken advantage of; they’re looking for a better world and demanding that businesses step up in transparency and activism.
Incorporate your purpose and who you’re built to serve into every decision. With transparency and integrity of process, you’ll find that it resonates internally and in your brand image. Prioritize education, listening, hiring and implementation. Definitely communicate what you’re up to on your digital marketing channels, but choose facts over fanfare and education over rhetoric. When consumers know you’re authentically ethical, they’ll stick around.
When it comes to rewards programs that have long-term value for consumers and companies, that’s exactly how you have to think: long-term. Many promotions favor onboarding; 10,000 airline points for new customers, or a month’s free trial. However, unless there’s demonstrable, ongoing value, there’s nothing to stop clients signing up, taking advantage of this offer, and then leaving once more.
The answer is sustainable rewards, personalized for your clients (data analytics are a great help here, as above), that encourage longer term engagement. Aggregated reward levels are an awesome option here, as are ‘member levels’ for engagement. Plus, 35% of consumers in the US favor brands that give cash back for spending. Understanding your demographic and what might be valuable to them is a great first step. As is remembering that it’s your ongoing clients, not new ones, who will offer the greatest value.
What’s the incentive here? Companies with leading rewards programs grow revenue 2.5 times faster than competitors.
A company’s most loyal customers are also its most profitable. When you lean into an authentic, customer-focused approach and quality over fanfare, you’ll find that the returns are organic. It’s important to remember to treat your clients with the same level of care that you would want, personally. It’s not only businesses that are ambitious and wanting returns on investment; it’s consumers, too.