IN THE SPOTLIGHT

How to Strengthen Brand Loyalty and Trust

Lauren Gall

Establishing a loyal following of customers is a colossal undertaking for most companies and their CMOs. As the mandate of the CMO continues to expand, establishing loyalty is the next great undertaking as a natural segue from their mission to inspire and guide the overall brand vision. Creating loyalty is that next logical step to drive increased business and repeat sales.

With enticements like discounts and free shipping flooding email inboxes daily, modern consumers need great incentives to remain loyal to a brand. It is time for organizations to take loyalty to the next level, beyond discounts and towards a deep, emotional bond with their customers.

Here are 8 steps today’s CMO must undertake to create brand loyalty:

1. Be your company's ideal customer: 
How can you serve customers when you don’t know who they are or what they want? The first step is to put yourself in the shoes of your company’s perfect customer, which will enable you to more naturally come up with products customers need and want. To kick this up a notch, make beneficial and insightful discoveries about your customers by doing one-on-one intelligence-gathering and incorporate more listening techniques to truly understand your customers wants and needs.

2. Make connections: 
Connecting with your customers at a deeper, more human level helps create a sense of inclusivity and community. Turn your social media pages into a fandom where your customers will bond with you and each other. You can share exciting new developments and products, special deals and discounts, and keep your customers up to date on trends. Encourage your users to start conversations with you and other customers to make them feel involved, which will foster deeper emotional bonds between your customer and your brand.

3. Be consistent: 
Your brand experience should be the same for customers every time they interact with it. From your social media networks to your website to commercials and print ads, the aesthetic should be familiar and evoke an immediate recognition of the brand. It’s also important to keep brand messaging, tone, and point of view consistent. While localization efforts to reach individual consumers across various demographic segments is important, it is equally important not to lose a sense of brand identity in doing so.

4. Highlight what your brand does best:
This may only be one thing but you’re more likely to create a big following if you become known for doing it well. The more identifiable you are, the more affection you foster in your fans. Don’t take on more, thinking it will drive more people to you. That approach is often counterintuitive. It’s better to be a master-of-one than a jack-of-all because it helps you to improve on the products and experience you already provide, and provides you with the ability to hone in on your target customer with pinpoint precision.

5. Use status and polarity to your advantage: 
We’re living in the FOMO era of social media. People are highly influenced by others who have status and live large. They want the designer tote bag, not because it holds things any better than a $15 one, but because it has a label that promotes exclusivity. Take a page out of a luxury product’s book and make your branding look and feel high end. Use polarity in the market to make your product stand out against competitors. Compare it to things that make it look like the easy choice in quality, price, and even the type of buyer who would own it.

6. Align your brand values with your customers’ values: 
Successful loyalty programs start with customer incentives that line up with brand identities. For example, if your company is known for making products out of recycled plastics, you might also give a charitable donation to Rainforest Alliance for every purchase made. This makes people feel good about spending money with you because they feel like they’re getting something back they can enjoy immediately. Consider the values of your customer to make loyalty more than just a transaction.

7. Engagement-based incentives:  
Don’t rely on “spend and get” incentives alone as eventually, the competitive market might drive your customers to find a better deal elsewhere. Engagement-based loyalty programs allow brands to create meaningful connections by inviting customers to attend events, complete product reviews, share marketing materials and more. This involvement with a company gives consumers a sense of ownership and makes them feel more valued, thus making them want to support the company.

8. Use micro-influencers to advertise your brand: 
Consumers find recommendations from everyday people more reliable than celebrity endorsements. It’s easy to guess why; they rightfully assume celebs are paid to rep a brand but a great review from a person just like them is genuine. An online influencer, whether on a blog, Instagram, or Facebook, might already have connections with people interested in your product or brand. They can help you quickly advertise and create a buzz about your product. Best of all, this method of advertising is often a much cheaper option and you can have many micro influencers posting all at once or consistently.

Building your brand loyalty and trust depends on your ability to both guarantee your customers consistently receive a great product and service at a great price, as well as create that deeper bond with your customers. Evolve customer engagement strategies with tactics that drive trust and a deeper connection, and you’ll ensure loyal customers that will keep coming back.

Lauren Gall, Co-Founder of VaVa Virtual Assistants, offers administrative and marketing services to reduce lengthy to-do lists for overly busy entrepreneurs and overwhelmed small business owners. VaVa provides an expert team to be your back-office support and take on tasks such as calendar/appointment coordination, social media management, e-newsletter execution and graphic/website design.

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