How to build more-sustainable brand loyalty in the digital age
by Marco Broccardo (@marcobro) In today’s hyper-connected world, where consumers arguably have more choice (and more information) than ever before, has the term “brand loyalty” become a misnomer?
Indeed, with the growth of ecommerce around the world and the increasing automation of certain brand functions, many are questioning whether brand loyalty is still possible. Countless reports, such as Accenture’s 2017 “Seeing Beyond the Loyalty Illusion”, have documented the erosion of brand loyalty, revealing that 61% of consumers surveyed switched some or all of their business from one brand or provider to another in the last year, and with 77% of all consumers admitting that they now retract their loyalty more quickly than they did three years ago.
What many brands don’t realise, however, is that the digital world actually represents an opportunity to achieve stronger, sustainable brand loyalty and more-authentic customer engagement than in years past. The key is to understand that it’s no longer ‘blind’ loyalty — brands have to work much harder, and smarter, to build trust and loyalty with the new-age customer. This means that brands have to be proactive and agile, and leverage new and emerging technology platforms. As many are already discovering, it’sicertainly worth the investment…
So where do brands start? Here are four key factors to enable you to achieve sustainable brand loyalty in a digital-first world.
1. Provide fast, seamless customer service
Like it or not, the pace of business, and life, has sped up considerably in recent years. The always-on nature of modern business and retail now means that customers expect results within minutes, or seconds. Increasingly, reports show that brands which fail to provide prompt customer service face the risk of permanently losing market share. Ecommerce platform, Shopify, has stated that “expectations are changing rapidly, and the speed of customer service is becoming critical for the velocity (quickness of motion/movement) of enterprise IT.” Indeed, while service quality is undoubtedly key for brands, the speed of service overshadows all other aspects of customer service today.
2. Craft highly personalised retail experiences
While ‘personalisation’ has become yet another buzzword in the digital sphere, it’s arguably nothing short of a necessity within every marketing strategy today. According to a report by software-as-a-service company, Eagle Eye (which works with retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer in the UK), 75% of consumers are “unhappy” with generic offers, and prefer products and services to be directly aimed at them. Moreover, 58% of consumers are “most likely” to redeem promotions sent via digital channels such as mobile, email and social media.
In a retail environment saturated by overwhelming choice, brands have to leverage data, in real-time, to offer personalised, highly targeted offers to their customers.
3. Embrace social commerce
While social commerce is still an emerging trend within global retail, brands should already be exploring and investing in key platforms. Put simply, social commerce is the ability to make a product purchase from a third-party company within the native social media experience.
For example, users can now can browse and compare products on Facebook, and then make the purchase on Facebook instead of going to the company’s site. With a Facebook store, brands can upload products and product information, sell directly from their page, and use the site to glean key customer insights. According to analysts, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest currently dominate the social commerce space, although it’s not a channel that automatically works for every brand…yet. Notably, according to TIME magazine, both Twitter and Facebook have claimed that around half of their users come to their sites to seek out products for purchase.
4. Create unique content to engage and inform
With so much digital ‘noise’ and the constant barrage of push notifications, customers will only pay attention if you have a unique story to tell — or an engaging experience to offer. This is why storytelling and smart content creation has become a critical part of every forward-thinking retail marketing strategy. Good content can build connections with customers and even motivate them to take action. Increasingly, brands can harness new tools such as augmented reality (AR) that make consumers part of the brand story themselves. In the US, for example, to promote National Donut Day, Dunkin’ Donuts sponsored an AR lens on Snapchat that let users turn their faces into donuts — complete with animated sprinkles dropping into donut mouths.
Finally, always give customers an easy and quick way to opt out of any marketing and digital communications. Nothing will erode brand loyalty as radically as pestering consumers with unwanted messages, and not giving them a way to respectfully decline.
Today, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to reach customers in an engaging, meaningful and sustainable way — the key is to use the right tools and platforms, at the right time, and in the right way.
Marco Broccardo (@marcobro) is the CEO and founder of COLONY Live, an international radio analytics platform first developed in South Africa. Marco is a passionate leader who has successfully built and piloted three companies from conception.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.
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