When it comes to pretty much any business, spending time building and maintaining brand loyalty is time well spent. However, with so many brands competing for customers across what seems like an ever-increasing number of platforms and mediums, it’s becoming ever more difficult to achieve.
Before we look at how to build brand loyalty, however, let’s first consider what it is and why it’s important.
Brand loyalty is defined as ‘positive feelings towards a brand and dedication to purchase the same product or service repeatedly now and in the future from the same brand, regardless of a competitor’s actions or changes in the environment’.
In addition to the financial benefit that comes from a customer committing to repeatedly purchase from a specific business, brand loyalty can also bring other positives. For example, those customers that are loyal to your brand may also share these positive feelings with friends and relatives, enhancing your reputation by word of mouth. Add in potential positive comments on social media and it becomes easy to see how powerful an advocate a loyal customer can be.
Encouraging brand loyalty
In order to create this kind of loyalty to your products or services it’s important to have a brand identity and know what your company stands for.
One big trend that many companies have been keen to be seen to be following is the move towards ecofriendly and sustainable business practices. This could include everything from reducing packaging for products or eliminating single use plastics from workplaces. Young people in particular rate businesses on their green status and often will not associate with a company that is shown to negatively impact the environment. This means a strong sense of ethical and environmental responsibility can make good business sense.
However, it’s important to truly embed these values within the company. There have been accusations of businesses jumping on the green bandwagon by shouting about specific initiatives without tackling the most polluting or damaging parts of their business. Rather than building brand loyalty this can lead to serious reputational damage in the longer term, so don’t just give lip service to your brand values, embed them within everything your business does.
As brand loyalty is a psychological process, it’s also important to build emotional connections between your brand and your customers if you’re going to generate regular repeat business. Once you know what your brand stands for you can clearly communicate this to customers in a way that you know they’ll respond positively to. In this way brands can build a community making people feel part of a shared identity. This is a bond that’s much harder to break than those built on low prices or ease of availability.
To achieve this, think about what your brand offers to your customers – how it meets their needs and helps them feel fulfilled – and use this not just in your marketing messages, but in every aspect of your business. And make sure this messaging is sincere.
Once your branding message is clear, consider other elements of design and content such as colour, copy and the look of your brand. What you choose here will affect how your brand is perceived so it’s important to take professional advice to craft the look and substance of your brand. Be sure to deliver this consistently – no matter where customers and potential customers choose to engage with you – in store, online, over social – make sure the look and tone of any interaction is clearly from your business.
Also be aware that customers increasingly appreciate relevant and personalised messaging. Consider those extra touches such as handwritten messages in online orders, or offer recommendations or discounts on purchases based on previous activity. All of this will help to build the all-important personal connection while keeping your brand front of mind when it comes to purchasing decisions.
And, of course, be responsive if customers make the effort to contact you, even if the feedback they’re offering isn’t positive. Chatbots or guides can be a helpful tool in directing customers to the best place to have their questions answered but always make sure it’s easy to get a human response – not doing this is a surefire way to frustrate customers.
Does brand loyalty really matter?
In these days of globalism with even the smallest business able to communicate with customers on the other side of the world, does brand loyalty even matter anymore? If a few customers are lost, there are plenty more out there, surely?
Although being able to reach a wider audience through platforms such as Instagram and Facebook is undoubtedly a business benefit, it also means that any negative comments or press will be seen by a much wider audience in a very short space of time. And this is where the honesty and sincerity mentioned above are crucial. If you simply follow the latest trend or if you repeatedly fail to fulfil your promises as a business, you will soon be found out and it will be hard to truly recover from such exposure.
In many ways, developing a loyal customer base is more important than ever so make sure you have a strong, consistent and honest message that reflects who you are as a business. Be responsive and approachable, and aim to meet the needs of your customers. By doing all of this, customers will trust you, feel part of your community and develop the emotional connection that is crucial to maintaining loyal customers over the long term.
Let’s not sugar coat it, in a ruthless technological age where your business can easily drift away from its customers, your company NEEDS a social media presence. Whether you’re a small local shop or a global company, online platforms are an essential tool for any business with any degree of ambition.
Granted, in isolation, a single social media platform may be a bit ‘so what’ in the grand scheme of a return on investment. However, collectively, like by like and comment by comment, this regular activity forms an essential element of a rounded marketing strategy.
Social media platforms allow you to connect with your customers and increase your brand awareness, which generates more leads and more sales. With more than 3 billion users on social media, it’s here for the long haul; to get on board, you don’t need to be a tech geek or know every buzzword in the biz, you simply have to be adaptable to change, and the rest will follow naturally.
Using Social Media to Full Effect
Previously considered to be a microscopic element of your marketing efforts with only limited value, it’s now clear that social media has to be taken seriously and, if done right, it can be one of the most effective tools for your business.
Okay, so your business may be thriving without social media (I hear you muttering in the back), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dismiss this gateway to a new realm of customers. So what if you’re already turning over £10 million? You could be turning over 15! Equally, if your business is ‘bobbing along’, social media offers a perfect opportunity to up your marketing game and propel your business to the next level.
If you’re not on social media you’re missing out on potential customers who are searching for your brand. Think about it, if you’re searching for new products or ideas, a first point of call will always be a relevant business’ social media presence. If you’re not there or you’re inconsistent or irregular in your posts, that first impression will not be a positive one.
Chapter 2: Set goals that address your biggest challenges
Of course, simply jumping into randomly posting content on numerous platforms won’t have much effect on your bottom line. First things first, you need to work out what it is that you actually want from social media. Exposure? Sales? To build a community?
However, brands will only thrive when setting goals if those goals are actually achievable. For example, creating a target to get 10,000 followers and unlocking a ‘swipe up’ feature on Instagram in 3 weeks is completely unrealistic
By setting SMART goals (specific, measured, attainable, relatable and timely), you will be able to plan your social media efforts step by step in a reasonable and cost-effective way.
Create A Strategy
“82% of YouTube advertisements are more likely to be viewed than that of television (yes, television) ads”
Once you’ve agreed your goals, you need to implement a strategy that will enable you to achieve them.
Implementing a strategy around your social media will complement your marketing and business growth. For example, if you want to educate and inform your customers and leads we’d always advise avoiding sales ads and instead opting for content that captivates your audience and answers their questions. By doing that, when it comes to making purchasing decisions, your social media content will have quietly positioned your brand as a trusted leader.
Put the Customer First
Using social media to increase brand awareness creates an authentic and long-lasting relationship with your customer, so remember to always have that customer at the core of everything you post.
With so much content available and with people browsing online pretty much 24/7, our tolerance of inaccurate or pushy content is very limited. Instead, what we are craving is personable and relatable content that we can all enjoy, together. Whether we’re the consumer or the buyer.
Chapter 3: Time To Draft Your Social Media Squad
Social Media Assemble!
Social media allows you to access a whole universe of prospects, connect with customers and analyse the competition. With that in mind, it’s important to put a voice to your services and assemble your social media super heroes! To do this, it’s important to understand the individual qualities of each platform.
Let’s start with the behemoth that is Facebook. With over 65 million users on business pages and 6 million advertising their services, this is one not to ignore.
YouTube is perfect for attention grabbing vlogs and covering original video content from funny clips and red-hot trends to hyperactive cat videos, just when we need them. YouTube remains the second most active social media platform with 72 hours of content posted every sixty seconds.
The most socially active of the SM spectrum with 9% growth in users this year, Twitter is the first in the know, It’s great for starting conversations and showcasing your business’ personality.
When it comes to loyalty, Instagram is up there with 60% of users posting every day – think aspirational images, well positioned shots and an insight into what the business does behind the scenes.
With a similarly visual approach, Pinterest can best be summed up as a catalogue of ideas and is the central headquarters of creative media. From mood boards and inspo to keeping an eye on what your competitors are up to, Pinterest is used to store ‘Pinteresting’ topics you can spread amongst platforms. Most impressively, it ranks as the seventh most influential app for a business!
For a more corporate approach, take a look at LinkedIn. With a mind blowing 61% of senior influencers using this platform, it’s great for making contacts, sharing articles and encouraging testimonials, all of which add depth to your knowledge.
‘Gone Social Media Fishing’
Now that you have your team and you know which platforms best suit your business, it’s time to go social media fishing. As well as nurturing relationships, social media offers you the chance to dive into a huge pool of potential customers. Your posts should be crafted to encourage engagement and share your company story. It can take time to build this, but whether it’s a simple ‘like’ or comment, this is your customers way of saying ‘I’m interested, tell me more’.
Whenever you get engagement, it’s important to respond; like their comment back, reply, or even private message them with a link for more information. Don’t forget, the key is to be helpful and provide useful information, rather than being pushy.
This is a fantastic chance to get customers browsing your website, turning a window shopper into a buyer. Be personable and provide them with a way to keep in touch before closing your message. When your company has an offer in the future or any events going on, don’t hesitate to revisit the same customer. This is how emotional rapport is built.
Chapter 4: Catch Up With Your Customer
Like all relationships, the ones with your customers and leads take time and effort in order for them to grow. Don’t let conversations fizzle out; keep them up to date with your news or other information that’s relevant for them, ask their opinions, share your ideas, anything to make them feel invested in your brand and valued as a customer.
Build The Trust!
If you have let things slip or even if you’ve had negative comments, social media can be a great way to rebuild trust. If something was less than perfect for a customer, take ownership, listen to their issues and respond accordingly. Whatever you do, don’t ignore negativity as that can put off potential customers.
Consider Your Costs
Traditional marketing methods such as print can cost thousands and it’s almost impossible to measure or see a return on investment. Social media can provide a cost-effective and measurable marketing tool. Even if you have a limited budget you can still make a splash on social. It’s also a great way to find out which platforms work best for you. Conduct some A/B testing to find out what content your customers like and where they prefer to find it.
Chapter 5: Communicate A Voice Of Authority
Customers Want Authenticity
It’s crazy to think that only fifteen years ago our only real form of social media was playing ‘Snake’ on our Nokia 3310s with regimented 30-minute slots on MSN after school. iPhones weren’t ‘a thing’ yet, and the closest we had to ‘Alexa’ was that creepy ‘Welcome to AOL’ voice that caught us off guard, every time. Fast forward to 2012 and technology had evolved massively, and brands were desperate to get involved.
Many companies did this through direct approaches, with invasive ads and annoying pop-ups part of the everyday browsing experience. Perhaps unsurprisingly, studies show that this simply does not work today. In 2012, people were excited to be able to shop online and put up with these annoyances. That’s no longer the case. Consumers are more clued up on technological advances and they demand a simple, intuitive user experience. Customers don’t hesitate to reject offers that hold zero emotional pull or consideration for their personal needs. Increasingly they also focus as much on a brand’s ethical and environmental stance as on the goods or services it offers. Again, social media is the ideal tool for telling and reinforcing your brand story. Encourage people to trust you with genuine and engaging content, don’t just jump on the latest bandwagon as today’s savvy consumers will see straight through this.
No More Bull is the Rule In 2019!
Authenticity is crucial to separating yourself from the competition, simply because, it’s a breath of fresh air to not be approached through a robotic script. Have the same respect for your audience as you would for yourself, as if you were the one at home, spending your free time browsing their brand. All in all, be human.
Connect With Your Customer
Consumers are becoming more savvy in their dealings with businesses and they’ll now do lots of research before buying a product on a website or through social media. How many times have you seen friends and family spending hours reviewing that villa in Spain that has a ‘dodgy review’ or that restaurant that ‘had a rat in the kitchen in 2004’? My point is, customers are more discerning about what businesses they support. Ruthless customers will always dig deeper. Yes, they may love the way a product is marketed on Instagram but how did other users find their personal experience? Trust me, potential buyers will find out.
On the flip side, this works the opposite way with communicating authority. Setting up a robust profile that you regularly update builds your brand’s authority. First impressions are everything and you’re only as good as your last performance. Your channels are mini businesses within your bigger picture and the more aspirational, informational and reputable you appear to your audience, the higher ‘voice of authority’ you will establish within your industry.
Turn A Negative Into A Positive
Of course, you can’t avoid complaints, but you can turn a negative comment into a positive moment. This is your opportunity to be human, to genuinely care and build trust by offering a quick response and savvy solution. Ask for more details. Is there anything more you can do for them?
“Transform a disappointed customer into a returning customer”
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. Remember, consumers will tell friends and family about a positive experience they had with your brand. Customers crave a direct line into the company so they can reach out at any time. Asking your audience to follow you or sign up to your weekly newsletter is an easy way to keep them in the loop. Sharing product launches, promotions and events creates a more personal element and makes your customer feel special.
Chapter 6: How Do I Turn My Content into Cash?
With thousands of social media users competing for attention, taking some time to find your niche and work out a structure is essential.
Filter who you’re trying to reach out to with research, and work out the most appropriate method for your audience’s needs. This will save you time, money and, eventually, you’ll be able to interact with your clients and determine which platforms your audience are communicating with the most.
Be approachable, put a face to the logo. There’s nothing more inviting than owning a small business that’s trying to grow, while speaking humanly about the brand. A personal touch allows you to connect with the world in an emotional way. What’s trending? What can we all relate to? Human beings aren’t as different as you think and it’s not about your ego, it’s about the customer!
How to Grow Without Doh
Yes, costs in a marketing campaign can easily spiral into huge figures and not every company can afford this. However, with a crazy amount of value per pound from social media advertising, you have the opportunity to grow without any doh.
You can work towards all of your quarterly targets just through downloading a few apps on your phone. Seriously, there’s no catch here. When you do come to the realisation that through Facebook and Instagram you can build a portfolio-esque feed of your activities, happenings and latest products, you will have that celebratory “yes!” moment to yourself.
“Medium sized companies get great value when they market on social media”
Social media is easy to set up, free, user friendly, popular and requires no training. To boost ROI, tracking key performance indicators to analyse social media allows you to make adjustments where necessary. Examples to consider vary. Twitter, for example, is a platform that offers built-in tools called analytics and focuses on follower growth and post frequency. Facebook offers Insights to track post engagement reach and likes for your page. For small and medium-sized businesses, social media provides excellent value.
When it comes to gaining traction on Facebook it’s easy to feel like you’re not making any progress, even when you’re regularly posting updates. Almost 1.6 billion people log into Facebook each day, according to the platform itself, meaning it can be difficult to make your brand and your message stand out.
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