How important are your customers? To the majority of businesses, their answer would be that their customers are everything, hence the thousands they have spent on marketing over the years. SEO, Google Ads and even TV and radio advertising, too, all form part of our drive to attract new customers to our business. But what happens once we have them?
If you have heard of the idea that 20 per cent of your customers will bring in 80 per cent of your revenue, then you’ll already know how important existing customers are to your business. Building brand loyalty is as much a part of a successful business strategy as new business acquisition is, and striking a balance between the time spent on this and the ROI it achieves is a tough thing to do.
The benefits of loyalty marketing
Loyalty marketing might seem like a big task, but the reward for your efforts can be huge. Increasing customer loyalty can:
- Yield massive profits in the long run
- Be more cost effective than acquiring new customers
- Creates a fan base of customers who will promote your products free
- Engineers direct referrals, getting you new customers for zero investment
- Make the business more predictable all round
So how can you engender brand loyalty effectively when the majority of customer interaction has moved into the online world?
Increasing online loyalty
The short answer to increasing online loyalty to your brand is to give your customers what they want. To please your customer you need to think like a customer, starting with taking a leaf out of your competitor’s books. See what they offer, what stands out about their products and customer service, then go away and do it better than them. Here are just some of the ways you can assist more brand loyalty online:
1. Customer service excellence
In a recent survey by Harris Interactive in association with inContact, it was clear that the biggest influencer of brand loyalty in the modern world comes down to customer service communication. Modern customers expect to deal with a modern business, and 86 per cent of the survey respondents said they expect companies to offer flexible timing and multiple options for customer service contact. Think about:
- Social media – does your business respond in a timely and effective manner to questions or complaints on social media channels?
- Mobile market – do you have a mobile and tablet friendly website? Could your business benefit from a mobile app?
- Telephone service – call centres still have their place, but if yours only operates between nine and five, you could be missing out.
- Online chat – live chat is a big bonus for companies, as it is easy for CSRs to deal with multiple enquiries at once this way and respond to customers in a quick and efficient manner.
2. Loyalty programme
Customer loyalty programmes are far from outdated. Supermarket giant Tesco have built a multifaceted business on the Clubcard principle, so who wouldn’t want to get into this lucrative customer retention strategy?
Think about whether you can offer a ‘freebie’ for X amount spent, or an exclusive gift for your most regular shoppers. Discounts work too, but be aware they do give out the impression that your products are worth less than you say. Cashback sites are coming into their own as well, so make sure you’re listed there with a similar rate to your competitors.
3. Stay in touch with your customers
Keep telling your customers about your products and services, and be on hand when they need you for anything. When you launch a new product, offer it to your loyal customers first, at a reduced price if you can. Send out a regular newsletter telling them about your recent developments. And most importantly, respond to enquiries and comments in a timely and effective manner.