Building Customer Loyalty and Advocacy
You get someone who believes in your brand, will promote you to the people they know, and will stick with your products and services through thick and thin.
But how can you create a strong customer loyalty and advocacy strategy for your company?
In this guide, we’ll explore customer loyalty, why it’s so important and the strategies you can adopt to achieve more brand buy-in from your customers, old and new.
What is Customer Loyalty?
At its most basic level, customer loyalty is a customer who’s enthusiastic about your business, and willing to purchase and engage more over a period of time. This is normally down to positive experiences they’ve had in the past, or due to an emotional attachment they’ve built with your brand. However, customer loyalty can run much deeper than that. The most loyal customers won’t just spend money with you regularly: they will act as advocates for your brand and share their positivity with their family and friends.
Why is Customer Loyalty so Important for Organizations?
Customer loyalty is critically important in the modern business landscape for two reasons.
The first is stability: a loyal customer who believes in your brand and actively engages with it will stick with it for a long period of time, even as trends come and go. They’ll buy from you when you’re the hottest ticket in town, and they’ll still buy from you even when your space gets crowded with competitors offering cheaper products and services. The benefits of that reliable revenue and engagement can’t be underestimated.
The second reason is that of competition and achieving deeper engagement. It’s never been easier for customers to shop around and switch brands, and the amount of competition in the online marketplace is increasing all the time.
A loyal customer is therefore a prized possession, one that will be immune to the alluring offers of rival businesses, believes in your brand strongly enough to engage with more of your products and services, and will encourage the people they know to do the same.
Building Customer Loyalty and Advocacy with Education
You may be thinking, “But I have a training program for my customer” or “I have a regular newsletter with tips for my customer. Isn’t that enough for advocates?”
No. You need to assume that your advocates have ignored other types of customer education efforts that you’ve done (unless you have explicitly recorded that they have viewed certain materials). The truth is that your customers are extremely busy and may have missed your previous attempts at educating them.
Using an advocate marketing program to highlight the most important or popular tips demonstrates the exclusivity of the advocate experience as well as your commitment to further their careers.
For B2B companies, we recommend performing regular advocate-only product releases or roadmap webinars. There you can provide more clarity for new features to increase adoption amongst your biggest supporters, as well as provide advocates with greater access to senior members of your product team. Many advocates see this as a tremendous perk.
Besides just providing information and education, seek feedback and advocate input. For example, if you ask your advocates to test out a new feature, ask them for their opinion. Would they use this? What did they like most? What did they like least?
This engagement helps advocates internalize what you’re trying to teach them as it forces them to read up on a feature or test something out.
Six Strategies for Building Customer Loyalty
How you go about building customer loyalty will depend on lots of things. These can include the demographics of your customer base, the types of products and services you sell, the platforms you use for marketing and communications, and the existing level of loyalty you currently enjoy with your customers. But whatever your current position, these six strategies can all play their part in making more customers loyal for longer:
Go the Extra Mile with Customer Service
Good service really can make the difference between whether a customer wants to shop with you again or not. Microsoft research has found that nearly 70% of American consumers regard customer service as a very important part of brand loyalty. Providing a hassle-free service from start to finish, from purchasing through delivery to customer support, is therefore critical to inspiring repeat business.
Engage With Loyal Customers
Loyalty can drive loyalty, especially if you demonstrate to your best customers just how appreciated their repeat business really is. That’s why it’s worth taking steps to engage your customers with messaging and offers that make them feel valued by you, and that recognizes the connection they’ve made with your brand. These incentives can encourage them to stick with your brand in the longer term.
Implement Loyalty and Referral Programs
Anything you can do to incentivize increasing levels of loyalty are worth investigating. Gamifying customer activity is a good way of doing this, giving them the chance to unlock new offers and benefits for completing certain actions or reaching a certain level of order value. Connecting referral programs to this, where customers receive bonuses for getting their family and friends to buy from you, can help you spread your net of loyal customers even wider.
Encourage Customer Feedback
Being proactive in getting feedback from customers can be beneficial for two reasons. The first is that it can help you reshape your offerings and experiences to ensure customers get the service they want. And the second is that customers feel more valued if you’ve taken the time to seek out their opinion, and that you care about what they have to say.
Improve Customer Experiences Regularly
What a good customer experience looks like today won’t necessarily be a good customer experience this time next year. That’s because customer expectations, and the business landscape as a whole, are both evolving so rapidly. It’s therefore crucial to examine customer experiences on a regular basis and make changes where appropriate. The feedback mentioned in the previous point should help, as should tracking your Net Promoter Score.
Engage with All Customers on Social Media
Social media is the place where all your customers, irrespective of their level of loyalty, will talk to you and between themselves about your brand. It should also therefore be your place to interact with them, generating the conversations that can strengthen perceptions about your brand and reach the right people with the right messaging. Read our blog on community marketing to learn more about how this works in practice.
Examples of Strong Customer Loyalty Programs
Some of the biggest brands in the world have built their success upon innovative and customer-friendly rewards programs. Three in particular stand out, and the chances are that you or someone you know is signed up to at least one of them:
Starbucks: Points and Gamification
If you sign up for Starbucks Rewards, you can earn stars based on the money you spend on their coffees and other food and drink items; these can then be exchanged for free or discounted products. It sounds very simple, but Starbucks has also added a range of gamification into the system, giving customers the chance to earn even more stars by completing challenges and accessing bonus point promotions.
Amazong Prime: Paying to be Loyal
Amazon Prime costs just a few dollars, pounds or euros a month. But it’s set up in such a way that customers feel like they’d be missing out if they weren’t signed up, meaning they feel almost compelled to stay loyal. That’s because the range of offers and opportunities available as a member is so vast: free next-day delivery, access to their streamed TV programming and music, cashback options and much more.
Tesla: Experiences and Referrals
Tesla is one of the highest-rated companies for customer experience in the world, according to its Net Promoter Score.
Their experiences are so good that many of their customers buy straight into the Tesla brand and advocate it to everyone they know (if you know someone who has a Tesla, you may well have experienced this). This combines with a major referral program, which gives significant discounts for both the referred customer and the one that referred them.
Building Customer Loyalty and Advocacy Takes More
To build customer loyalty and revenue-generating advocacy, however, you need to go further than what we’ve listed above. There are too many competitors out there that can leave you in the dust if you stop there.
Think about your customer. What makes them tick? What do they want? What makes them loyal when others are not? Why do they advocate for you? If you’re not sure, you need to find out.
From what we’ve seen from our clients, building loyalty among your customers and turning them into advocates isn’t that difficult. The most successful companies have made the advocate/company relationship a symbiotic one in which they give and take.
An advocate can’t be expected to only provide you with testimonials, referrals and references. You need to help them. Many advocates want to network with others. They want to get the most out of your product so they can make money for their company. They want that promotion. They want that executive position. You need to help them to build customer loyalty and encourage advocacy.
Build Stronger Relationships with Your Customers and Promote Loyalty with Influitive
Developing a great customer community, and targeting the right people with the right messaging at the right time, can play a leading part in turning more of your customers into loyal advocates. Learn how you can make that happen with Influitive’s customer advocacy platform.
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