5 tools to make customer loyalty a top priority
Getting customers through the door, as any marketer will tell you, is a feat in and of itself. Retaining them is another story, especially in the modern business landscape. Customer loyalty is what you should really strive for.
Loyalty requires an entirely different mentality from retention. Loyal customers engage with you well beyond a simple transaction. They return again and again, and those in the top 10% of your customer base often spend three times more than the typical customer.
And if you provide the right mix of experience, satisfaction, and value, brand loyalty can become brand advocacy. Few things can match word of mouth in driving business, which is why loyalty should be your top priority.
In need of attention
The question then is, why do so many brands opt for acquisition over loyalty? Part of this has to do with results. Acquisition efforts can be instantaneous, moving the needle each quarter. Loyalty, on the other hand, is more of a marathon than a sprint. It takes time to see results.
Focusing on acquisition over loyalty also has something to do with resources. You need to commit to consistent contact with a loyal customer base. However, this can result in higher marketing spend and more manual work, especially if you lack automated marketing technology.
Then, of course, there’s the reliance on vanity metrics. Many marketers focus on clicks, likes, and downloads that don’t necessarily correlate to loyalty — or retention, for that matter.
Instead, marketers should focus on actionable metrics to get a true picture of the business. These include the average cost per lead, cost of customer acquisition, customer lifetime value to acquisition cost, cost per sale, and conversion rate.
A necessary shield
When customers are loyal, they’ll return despite outside factors such as price or distance. They trust that your brand will provide high-quality products and superior services no matter what. Should a disruption occur or another recession hit, you can rest assured you have people who will stick with your brand.
What’s more, putting in place levers in case of a downturn can actually result in gains in market share. Building a loyal customer base is an initiative no brand can do without in the current market, and some would argue that it’s table stakes for doing business today.
Earning customer loyalty often starts with the service you provide. After all, 77% of customers surveyed by Gladly said they would return for great service. What’s more, 68% said they would pay more — even upward of 20% more — for that kind of customer service.
In other words, good customer service pays dividends by converting the average consumer into a loyal customer, lessening your marketing load. This doesn’t mean you can lose focus, though. You still need to employ the right marketing strategies to maintain your momentum.
The following tools and tactics can help you reach the desired results:
1. Social media
Social media provides a wealth of opportunities to connect directly with customers. An increasing number of brands handle customer service through this channel. It’s a quick, personal, and cost-effective method of fielding questions and concerns. Just make sure to dedicate enough manpower to quickly respond to customers. The last thing you want is to leave people waiting.
2. Social listening
People talk, so you need a means for monitoring social channels for any direct (or indirect) mentions of your brand. Use a social listening software to do so. Many are free and can immediately notify you when someone mentions your brand. Providing a timely response, as mentioned, can help with customer satisfaction and lay the foundation for greater customer loyalty.
3. Reputation management
Like social media mentions, monitoring your online reputation is essential. If you’re not already tracking online reviews, do so now. A disgruntled customer is much more likely to leave a bad review than any other customer. And with 84% of people trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, you need to make sure you’re resolving complaints in a timely manner.
4. Loyalty programs
According to Annex Cloud, 87% of customers want brands to offer loyalty programs. Keep customers coming back by rewarding them for recent purchases. You can go a step further and ask them for feedback on how to improve products and services. You may even want to include a referral program, offering a discount to customers who bring you new business.
5. Marketing technology
A martech platform that sends triggered communications is a great way to keep in contact with customers. It can send them messages at common points of defection, remind them of upcoming service appointments or a missed appointment, offer service coupons, and much more, all without much work on your part. From purchase to repurchase or lease, your dealership will stay top of mind and in constant contact with customers.
Every business has its ups and downs, but loyal customers will remain with you over time. By improving customer service and integrating social listening, reputation management, and loyalty programs into your marketing plan, you can be sure that your average customers become your most loyal ones.