It’s hard to overstate the importance of customer loyalty to the long-term success of a given company. When customers are loyal, they resist the temptation of even the most aggressive competitors and continue to generate revenue for your brand.
What Does it Take to Make a Customer Loyal to a Brand?
But what exactly is it that makes a customer loyal? Can you reliably increase the loyalty of your customers, even as a new business?
The Value of Customer Loyalty
Let’s start by explaining why customer loyalty is so important in the first place.
If a customer is loyal, they’ll be more likely to buy more products from you in the future or stay subscribed to your services. They’ll also be less likely to switch to a competitor. Overall, higher customer loyalty leads to a higher customer lifetime value, making every new customer you acquire more valuable to your brand.
But the benefits don’t end there. Loyal customers are also more forgiving of your mistakes and more willing to work with your customer service team to resolve issues. In addition, if they have a long history of positive experiences with your brand, they may even be willing to evangelize it – leading to an influx of new customers and greater revenue.
So what does it take to achieve these benefits?
Before we dig into the key strategies and business elements that lead to higher customer loyalty, we should acknowledge that there are significant differences between individuals. What leads one person to commit firmly to a given brand could alienate another.
While the strategies I’m about to detail will work for many customers, they’re not foolproof – and you definitely need to take the time to research your audience and come up with tactics that work for them, specifically.
The Core Product/Service
The most important ingredient for higher customer loyalty is a core product or service that serves them well. If the product is good enough, there’s never going to be a reason for a customer to leave. Imagine the best restaurant in the world, with the best food you’ve ever tasted, a diverse menu with tons of options, low prices, and always a short wait time. Why would you eat anywhere else?
- Solving a problem. Your core product needs to solve some kind of problem reliably. For example, you might help business leaders manage their marketing campaigns with an app or improve the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles – it doesn’t matter, as long as you do it well. If you make someone’s life easier or give them something they genuinely need, you’ll have a great start.
- Value for cost. You also need to provide a good value for the price you’re charging. Your product might solve a problem exceedingly well, but if it’s too expensive or if a competitor offers something for a lower price, it might cause people to leave.
- Convenience and accessibility. Don’t forget about convenience and accessibility. If your product is hard to get, hard to use, or otherwise inaccessible, it could be a major hiccup on the road to customer loyalty.
Unfortunately, even good companies can suffer from low levels of customer loyalty – if they face stiff competition. So if you have a lot of competitors or face competition in the future, it’s vital to find a way to differentiate your company.
- Uniqueness. Overall, there should be something unique about your product or about your brand that sets it apart. For example, do you offer a higher quality than everyone else? Is there some feature that other companies can’t replicate?
- Price and value. You can also be the top competitor just by offering a better value to price ratio. If you charge less money for the same product or offer better value for the same price, you’ll be in a great spot.
- Branding and personality. Sometimes, you can close the competitive gap with the right branding and personality. A brand that’s specifically appealing to your target audience can make up for other flaws.
- Other values. Of course, there are countless other ways you can differentiate your brand, from hiring the right people to expanding to a new market.
Sometimes, things go wrong. However, mistakes and accidents aren’t going to cost you customer loyalty as long as you know how to handle them properly.
- Accessibility. Make it ridiculously easy to get customer service. For most brands, that means offering service across multiple channels and always responding to inquiries quickly.
- Helpfulness. Don’t assume a simple apology is enough. You need to actually solve a problem (or make up for a mistake) when bad things happen.
- Care. Passionate team members will make all your customer service experiences better in the eyes of your customers.
Staying Top of Mind
Happy, satisfied customers may drop your business to go with someone else. Why? Sometimes, it’s simply because you’re no longer top of mind.
You can increase your brand’s presence and memorability with strategies like these:
- Logo and branding. Think carefully about your company’s logo and branding. A simple design with bold, instantly recognizable colors can make it easier to market your business – and potentially make your brand unforgettable.
- Marketing and advertising. Your marketing and advertising strategies are also important. They’re not just a tool to attract new customers; they’re a way to remind existing customers that your brand is still around.
- Email newsletters. Email newsletters and other regularly distributed forms of content will make it impossible to forget about your brand – and keep all your best customers “in the loop” about your latest offers.
- Social media posts. Regular social media posts (and, of course, engagements with your fans and followers) are an easy way to keep your brand top of mind. It won’t cost you much time or money.
- Engagement and outreach. Brand-consumer interactions define Brand-consumer relationships. Therefore, you need to reach out to your customers regularly on various channels to keep them interested.
- New specials/deals. Occasional specials and deals can stoke interest in your brand – and revitalize enthusiasm from your oldest customers.
It also helps to have some incentive programs to keep users around.
- Subscription models. Startups these days sometimes build their entire model around a subscription to keep users paying a consistent amount. If you make it slightly difficult to cancel and give users rewards for staying subscribed longer, it will keep your customers around and paying.
- Discounts and freebies. Why not give your best and longest-paying customers discounts and freebies? For example, you can gradually reduce the cost of a monthly subscription for customers who have subscribed for years or host periodic giveaways to reward your best customers.
- Loyalty programs. Thinking even more simply, a basic loyalty program can go a long way to securing the ongoing patronage of your customers. People love racking up points – and they won’t be eager to divide their spending across multiple competing businesses when those points are at stake.
No matter what, one of your highest priorities also needs to be consistency. If your product only works sometimes, or if your brand values undergo a massive shift after a year, you’re going to lose some followers.
That doesn’t mean your business can’t change (as we’ll see in the next point), but you should strive for early consistency when possible.
Only the most traditional, conservative, diehard fans of your brand are going to stay loyal to you if you remain exactly the same. It’s true that some brands draw their power from tradition – take Coca-Cola as an example – but in the modern world, you’ll have much better luck with customer loyalty if you continue to evolve.
Pay attention to feedback and reviews, and keep rolling out new improvements and updates. It’s going to make your most loyal fans even more loyal – and possibly win over some would-be fans from the past.
Customer loyalty is a difficult equation to solve for some brands, but if you have a solid product at the center of your business, you’ll already be in a good spot.
Pay attention to your target audience, your top competitors, and the market landscape overall – and always be willing to adapt in the face of new information.
Image Credit: antonio prado; pexels; thank you!
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