Your best customers have all along been right under your nose.
Talking about none other than your existing customers who buy, re-buy, and refer your business to their friends and families. They like your products; they trust you with their money; they may even be rooting for you. They’re your brand ambassadors, and you can trust them.
For most businesses, this comes as a no-brainer.
Because you don’t have to spend big bucks on these customers to win them over.
That’s what we mean when we talk about brand loyalty.
It’s no secret that brands want to grow loyal customers who will still want to buy their products or services even with so many other options out there.
So, What’s Brand Loyalty?
In the simplest of terms, brand loyalty is when a customer prefers or opts to stand by your products or services despite having other options.
For example, a customer that owns an iPhone is more likely to buy a Mac computer or iPad.
That’s because they’re loyal to the Apple brand. They trust the brand and have all the reason to believe it topples all the other brands out of water.
Creating this kind of loyalty doesn’t come easy, especially if you’re in a cutthroat or super-competitive field.
Why is Brand Loyalty Important?
Focusing on building brand loyalty will drive more customers to your business.
This is because you’re giving them a reason to stick with you over the long haul, hence more visits and bigger purchases over time.
A loyal customer brings in as much as six times the revenue of a casual customer.
So, it’s clear that building brand loyalty makes good business sense. It’s much more profitable than constantly looking for new customers or being dependent on word-of-mouth to get the job done.
How Can Your Business Achieve Brand Loyalty?
You can achieve brand loyalty by creating great customer experiences, especially in the following three special ways:
Give Customers What They Want
Brand loyalty begins with your products or services.
It’s your job to make sure your customers are getting the most value of what they’re spending on your products and services. This could mean having a wide variety of products and services to choose from or giving them more than what they were expecting for their money. Follow a customer-centric strategy instead of making everything be about your business alone.
Don’t Be Selfish Or Greedy
It’s easy to see why many brands choose to “screw the customer” to focus on making a profit.
Come to think about it, building a loyal customer base can be an expensive endeavor. But if you want your business to thrive for years to come, this isn’t the way to go about it. See, every time you make a decision that only benefits you, your brand loses a piece of its identity and mystique.
Make Them Feel Special
There’s a fine line between being customer-centric and playing “nice”. But there’s one thing that helps you get it right all the time: empathy.
As much as possible, try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and look at things from their perspective.
7 Successful Examples of Brand Loyalty
There’s no better way to learn how to create brand loyalty than learning from the best.
Here are some of the companies that have successfully mastered brand loyalty:
Apple is the poster child for brand loyalty.
They have a 100% customer retention rate, which essentially means that they have been retaining every single one of their customers.
Starbucks is right up there with Apple as far as brand loyalty goes. They’re not just known for their coffee or their iconic red cups. Sometimes, people can’t help but go to Starbucks just because this is the place their friend or colleague loves going.
Southwest Airlines is another example of a brand that has mastered the art of customer loyalty, especially when it comes to air travel.
These days, some people will pay a premium just so they can book ahead with southwest instead of flying on a different airline.
John Lewis is a departmental store with a well-earned reputation, especially for its customer service. John Lewis has been voted the best department store in the UK many times, making it a prime example of how brand loyalty can be cultivated.
Amazon doesn’t just sell products and services – they also provide convenience, entertainment, and amusement.
It’s not hard to see why Amazon has been so successful at building brand loyalty over the years.
McDonald’s has enjoyed a loyal customer base 40+ years since they started, mainly because they always think about their customers first, bottom line second.
W. L. Gore
With a worldwide workforce of over 12,000 people and over 4,500 patents to its name, W. L. Gore is one of the most successful companies when it comes to building brand loyalty for its products and services.
Can Anyone Build a Brand Loyalty Empire?
If you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is a resounding YES. While having loyal customers can be an enviable achievement, there’s a lot more to it than just being popular and getting regular sales.
Your brand loyalty strategy should also aim to create a culture of deep appreciation and admiration in your market segment. Customers will stick close and keep coming back if they feel like you genuinely care for their well-being.
This may sound hard to achieve in a business setting, but it isn’t. All you need are these three essential elements:
- Exceeding Your Customers’ Expectations: Make your customers want a dreamlike offer from you. From there, you’re to do everything in your power to give them these experiences every day of every week. In other words, your product must go beyond what your customers envision.
- Love: Be genuinely interested in your customers’ wellbeing, as well as that of your staff.
- Pride: Cherish every single accomplishment, big or small that you are a part of, be it customer acquisition or staff training and development.
In other words, brand loyalty isn’t just about keeping customers happy – it’s about encouraging them to be loyal to you.
Brand Loyalty Vs. Customer Loyalty: What’s the Difference?
Brand loyalty and customer loyalty don’t mean the same thing.
Customer loyalty, also known as “shopping loyalty”, is a feeling of brand attachment that customers experience with a certain product or service provider. They are essentially the people you can depend on to buy from you, year after year.
When customer loyalty runs deep, it’s likely your brand has achieved market dominance.
On the other hand, brand loyalty refers to how much people are willing to buy from you again and again despite having other options that are quite as good. It happens on a psychological level, where customers are attached to your brand for reasons that go beyond your products or services.
Brand loyalty is more likely to happen if your target market segment decides that they want to trust, love, and watch over your business as it grows. In a way, it’s an emotional attachment that comes from within. It also happens when you’re truly committed to making your customers happy, rather than just getting them to make a one-time purchase.
The Difference Between Brand Loyalty & Brand Advocacy
According to the Harvard Business Review, brand loyalty is a commitment that consumers make towards your products or services just to be associated with your identity, personality, aspirations, and values.
Brand Advocacy, on the other hand, has a direct effect on your bottom line.
This happens when customers influence others to buy from you by reviewing your product or services online or with word of mouth.
People can and will buy from you if they believe that a friend or family member (or even a stranger) has personally recommended your products to them.
Brand loyalty is more about the emotions associated with buying from you, while brand advocacy is all about what happens after the sale.
Who’s Responsible for Achieving Brand Loyalty?
The good news is that it’s not just up to you.
It takes the cooperation (and sometimes even participation) of everyone involved in delivering your brand experience. That means finding the perfect balance between what your customers want and what you’re offering – a common goal, but one that can be hard to achieve when each person has an agenda.
The most successful brands are focused on achieving mutually beneficial outcomes, where everyone involved is invested in a common goal. Or to put it quite simply: if it’s not good for your customer, it’s not good for your brand either.
Factors that Influence Brand Loyalty
As we mentioned, brand loyalty goes beyond customer satisfaction.
There are a lot of things that influence brand loyalty, ranging from tangible benefits to intangible customer experience. Here’s how some marketing experts classify these components:
- Tangible Benefits: These refer to physical or monetary rewards and incentives associated with a brand/product/service purchase.
Examples: complimentary gifts, discounts, money-back guarantees, free samples, and so on.
- Intangible Benefits: These are the ones that a customer can’t see or touch, but they’re very real and play a big role in increasing brand loyalty. Examples: convenience, trustworthiness, professionalism, etc.
- Rewards & Recognition: This is an important component of brand loyalty that can be achieved by rewarding your customers for their involvement and dedication.
Examples: personalized rewards, public recognition, and peer-to-peer recommendations.
- Customer Experience: These are the experiences that build a strong bond between your brand and customers. They’re to help you to gain customer loyalty by showing them that you’re doing everything you can to give them a good experience.
Examples: product quality, level of service, brand identity, etc.
32 Effective Ways to Build Brand Loyalty
Looking to build brand loyalty? Be sure to follow these 32 brand building strategies:
#1 Create a Loyalty Program
Create customer loyalty programs that reward your most loyal buyers, all while attracting new ones.
This should give them a reason to keep coming back. The point is to try and make sure your customers feel special and appreciated.
Customers appreciate the fact that you’ve taken a personal interest in their preferences and have tailored your rewards program to suit them.
How to Make It Work: You need to give your customers a strong incentive – and no, discounts are not a good reward for loyalty. Customers don’t just buy things because they’re cheaper; there’s more to it than that.
2# Provide Personalized Solutions for Your Customers
Customers are more likely to leave the brand when they don’t feel acknowledged, let alone appreciated.
Learn to treat your customers as individuals, not just numbers. For example: call or email them by their name, ask them about their family, and how they’re doing, and so on.
You should always try to take time to exchange emails with customers who have entered your loyalty program.
3# Tell Your Story
When your customers know about your brand’s history and mission, they will feel more connected with your brand.
The story of how your brand started is important because it shows customers that you have a vision and an identity, and you’re not just selling products.
When your customers feel connected to your brand because they know its story, that alone is enough to motivate them to continue doing business with you.
#4 Provide Regular Updates on Your Brand’s Progress
You want to update your customers on everything related to your brand: product launches, new features, employee awards, and so on.
#5 Offer Your Customers New Ways to Engage With Your Brand
Learn to involve your customers in your brand’s story as it unfolds.
Create contests, competitions, and other means of engagement that allow for a two-way dialogue between you and your customers.
You’re not doing this to win followers or fans; rather, to create meaningful relationships with customers who choose to stick with your brand.
#6 Reward Your Loyal Customer Base
It goes beyond offering them discounts and coupons; you need to reward your customers for their loyalty.
One good way to do this is by giving them VIP treatment when they come to your store. You should also send out birthday cards and offer special perks, in addition to offering them simple discounts and promos on holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, etc.
#7 Form a Partnership With Your Customers
Let your customers know that they matter to you by asking for their input, feedback, and suggestions.
This is especially important when you’re launching a new product or service. You want to hear opinions from the people who are going to be using it every day, so ask them what they like/don’t like about it.
Listen to their feedback and criticism – you will be surprised by how much this can help to strengthen your brand’s reputation and make future products even better. Your customers are your biggest allies, so treat them well!
#8 Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
You want to give customers a real reason why they should stick by your side, so get out of your comfort zone and do something new.
Given a choice between sticking with the same old boring brand or getting something that’s completely different, most customers would choose the latter. Don’t underestimate the power of surprise!
#9 Put Your Brand Before Money
Most companies are only concerned with the bottom line, but your brand should be driven by a higher purpose.
Your brand is more than just products and services; it’s the ‘why’ behind what you do, not just the ‘what’. Sure, you need to turn a profit and make money from your customers, but you also want them to know that you care about more than just their income.
You should also remember that all businesses eventually go out of business; what’s important is how you conduct your business along the way. Don’t compromise your values for a quick buck – customers will see right through you and live to hate your brand.
#10 Make an Impact on Your Customers’ Lives
Are you providing your customers with a real reason to be loyal? Or are they just sticking around because of convenience or price alone?
A great way to motivate your customers is by making an impact on their lives. Do you remember how much Walmart’s ‘Save Money, Live Better’ campaign resonated with customers? That was because it was designed to help them improve their lives by saving money on shopping.
#11 Appreciate Your Customers’ Input
When your customers join a contest, fill out a survey, or give you their opinion on what they want from you – do you take the time to listen? The truth is, most brands don’t appreciate their customers’ feedback and opinions. So, making an effort to do so.
Be honest with yourself – how well do you know your customers? Because it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to start a dialogue with them effectively unless you understand their needs and preferences first. Run customer surveys, hold focus group discussions, and set up a live chat service to find out what’s on your customers’ minds.
#12 Build Relationships With Your Customers
All companies say that customer service is important to them, but how many live by this principle? There are two types of customer service; the first one is call center support, which only deals with basic inquiries and complaints. The second one is relationship management, which keeps customers happy with the help of human interactions, not just a well-designed computer system.
Great companies make an effort to get to know their customers on a personal level. You should always be as friendly and helpful as possible, even if the customer is being rude or annoying. Always keep in mind that the person on the other end of that line is one of your most valuable business assets.
#13 Appreciate Your Customers’ Loyalty
Your customers owe you nothing. They aren’t tied to you by a contract, nor do they have to buy from you. If they are keeping their money with you, it’s because your products and services provide value for them.
That being said, a little appreciation goes a long way! Every great business knows that loyal customers are priceless, so acknowledge the fact that they decided to spend their money with you. You don’t have to overdo it – just a simple “thank you” will do the trick!
#14 Run Contests or Giveaway Promotions
A little fun can go a long way. Find a way to engage your existing customers with competitions and giveaway promotions, and get to tap into their competitive nature. You can hold a social media contest, give away freebies to customers who purchase a certain amount of products or just offer special discounts on your website.
If you’re a new or small business, you probably don’t have the resources to run an expensive competition. While it’s important not to underestimate your customers, make sure that they have a chance of winning something at least once in a while!
#15 Become Part Of Your Customers’ Network
Every great company is connected to its community in some way. Participate in local events, attend trade shows and network with your customers on a personal level. Having a physical presence is just as important today as having an online one. So, don’t despise the conversations you have with your customers in the real world.
#16 Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Your employees are the face of your company. You want to see them wear a smile, always.
Keep in mind that customers always come first, even if your company is having a bad day or reaching its peak hours.
Give your employees the much-needed training courses on customer service so they can learn how to deal with difficult people and difficult situations. Be sure to reward and recognize customer service champions within your company – a few small perks (like gift cards or tickets) can go a long way!
#17 Publish Customer Testimonials
Any effective marketing strategy starts with customer testimonials. You want to publish them on your website and social media profiles. Make sure that the testimonials are real – nobody has time for fake reviews!
Ask your customers to send you their comments and testimonials by email, and tell them that you will be happy to publish their words on your website. You can also add a comment box for customers to leave their reviews behind.
#18 Do Away With Computerized Customer Support Telephone System
There is no doubt that customer support telephone systems can be effective, even beneficial for your business. They can help keep the cost down and provide a way to deal with huge amounts of customers daily. However, don’t let that become an excuse for poor service!
If you have a computerized system, don’t allow it to hide behind automated messages. Take control of your business and talk to people!
#19 Follow up with Your Customers
Follow up is important even with loyal customers. Staying in touch with your customers works to ensure your business remains at the top of their minds – and it’s also a good way to pick up new clients!
Some companies send out newsletters or special discount offers every month or so, while others ask their customers to sign up for regular emails or to receive information about new products and specials.
You can also use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to send out occasional updates, but it’s best not to get too spam-y!
According to a recent study, half of the people who complain admit they could do with more communication, so don’t be afraid to follow up with your customers now and then.
#20 Hold a Customer Appreciation Breakfast or Party
To show your gratitude for loyal clients who support your business year after year, you should try holding a customer appreciation breakfast, party or workshop. It doesn’t have to be complicated – you could ask your customers to bring pictures of their families for a fun activity. Alternatively, try organizing a small raffle.
#21 Reward Your Top Customers
Once in a while, there is always someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty. If one of your clients managed to increase the number of sales, refer other clients, or even gave you an idea for a new product or service – then it is time to show your gratitude.
How can you do that? One of these situations might be enough incentive for him or her:
- Sponsor his/her gym membership and offer personal training sessions;
- Take your client on a weekend vacation;
- Buy him/her an expensive gift from the company catalogue, or take him/her to dinner at a local restaurant.
#22 Invest in Your Employees – You’ll Be Rewarded for It
You can get your employees to help you create loyal customers. All you need to do is make sure they’re happy with their jobs. Keeping your employees content, well trained, and motivated is key to creating sustainable growth in your company.
If you are thinking of investing in customer loyalty programs for your employees, don’t forget that the more loyal your team is, the more likely they will spread positive words about you (and maybe even take an interest in helping you grow your business).
#23 Contact Your Clients by Email – Even if They Don’t Receive It… Yet!
More and more companies are sending newsletters, compliment cards or special offers via email. There is no doubt that this is one of the most effective ways of staying in touch with your clients. However, there’s always a chance that some of them won’t receive your email. If you want to be sure your customers will see your message, try sending it via snail mail.
#24 Be a Leader in Your Industry
One of the best ways to ensure that your business is successful is to lead the way when it comes to customer service. By providing excellent service and listening actively to your clients, you should be able to understand their needs and make better business decisions!
#25 Attack the Competition with Customer Service
A recent survey revealed that two-thirds of executives felt they were under attack from competitors trying to steal their market share – but it’s not all bad news!
You can even turn this into an opportunity to show your customers just how good customer service can be when it comes from a company that is willing to fight for them. If you manage to provide something your competition doesn’t – or give better service than they do – then you are golden!
#26 Partner with a Local Non-Profit Organization
Another great way to get involved in your community is by partnering up with a local, non-profit organization. You could provide some of your services or products to them to help raise funds for their cause while also keeping your name out there! It’s the best of both worlds!
#27 Partner with a Local Business
If you want to help your community and make new friends at the same time, think about pairing up with a local business – maybe one that sells products similar to yours. You can partner on deals or events or even have some of your customers come to visit their stores!
#28 Give Your Customers an Award
One of the best tactics for customer loyalty is to throw a party – get all your clients together and give them a big award.
Imagine the kind of buzz you would create, not only with your existing clients but also with new ones who want one of those “award-winning” products or services that everyone else seems to be talking about!
#29 Mail a Thank You Card
You might think that only businesses in the service industry should be sending out thank you cards to their clients.
“No matter what type of business you have,” says Column Five Media’s Jeffrey Zeldman, “you should send thank you cards to your customers. It’s easy, it takes almost no time at all and, most importantly, it makes a real difference in your relationship with the customer.”
#30 Give Unexpected Gifts
Everyone loves gifts – even the hard-to-please customers.
If you want to keep your clients happy, getting them a gift every once in a while will make them feel special. It also helps to strengthen your relationship with them.
#31 Give Your Clients an Editorial Credit
One of the most effective ways to keep your customers loyal is by giving them some type of editorial credit in your company publication. This is an excellent way to help them stay involved in what you are doing and show everyone else how awesome they are for helping you out!
#32 Take Your Clients on a Trip
Taking your clients on a special trip will keep them loyal – as well as make them feel like they’re part of the family! Make sure you take good care of them – and don’t be surprised if they come back with new ideas for your products or services!