Getting your ads seen and clicked on are vital steps to securing customers, but what next? How do you keep your customers coming back after they click on your ad and buy for the first time?
To understand this, the people who study brand loyalty have come up with a couple of new concepts – updated framing of the way we explore what customers want and how brands must reciprocate. Let’s take a look.
1. Languages of Loyalty
In a report on the “loyalty illusion,” Accenture examines loyalty programs as an investment. The findings suggest that loyalty programs are costing companies more and bringing in less, and that it’s time to rethink what loyalty means for the customers.
According to Accenture’s research, more than 90 percent of companies run some sort of loyalty program, and membership grew at a rate of over 26 percent from 2012 to 2014. However, businesses are spending billions on non-cash loyalty incentives and to maintain the programs themselves. Meanwhile, many consumers are not demonstrating the loyalty those companies had hoped for:
- Seventy-one percent say being part of loyalty programs doesn’t create true loyalty.
- Sixty-one percent switched business accounts from one provider to another in the last year.
- Seventy-seven admit to retracting loyalty more quickly than they did three years ago.
- Twenty-three percent have a negative or neutral reaction to loyalty programs – younger consumers especially.
The idea, then, is to reinvent loyalty. Accenture suggests the following:
- Examine every loyalty investment, and cut the ones that don’t drive margin gains. Then, focus on the loyalty efforts that can be monetized.
- Nurture highly satisfying experiences for existing customers, who are then more likely to refer others and improve your customer acquisition.
- Pay particular attention to how Millennials talk about loyalty, because they number almost 2 billion and are expected to have a lifetime value of $10 trillion (per Accenture’s resources). Hint: They’re not thrilled with current loyalty programs.
- Gauge loyalty by customer actions, such as promoting or defending a brand on social media. This is more tangible than self-reported “satisfaction.”
- Consider partnering with organizations that can help lower the costs of loyalty programs. For example, American Express has a program for rewarding customers who buy from partners, and then supports those partners with IT and financial services.
Accenture looked to brands experimenting with creative digital experiences to determine five new “languages of loyalty” that go well beyond low prices and reliable service and drive customer relationships:
- Tokens of Affection: Think personalized discounts, gift cards and special offers, and how they might play into your advertising strategy.
- Get to Know Me: Letting customers personalize products, communicating through their preferred channels and protecting privacy and personal information show that you care.
- Thrill Seeker: Offer new experiences and opportunities to try out new technologies.
- If You Like It, I Like It: Connect by partnering with celebrities, social influencers and shared causes. Recognize that consumers like brands chosen by friends and family.
- Hook Me Up: Allowing customers to exchange loyalty points with other providers, as well as offering the latest and greatest, keeps you on the cutting edge.
For e-commerce brands, Kissmetrics offers data on loyalty program acquisition and retention. The programs must be easy to understand, have relevant rewards and not make it too tough to earn those rewards.
In fact, an easy-to-understand program appears to be the best way to keep customers participating.
Wantedness is a new loyalty marketing concept from Wunderman that’s all about proving to people that you want them as customers, and continuing to do that on every step of the customer journey.
Wunderman defines wantedness as: “The degree to which a brand proves their commitment to earning a customer’s business across every touchpoint and throughout the entire path to purchase,” and highlights some specifics of how U.S. customers choose brands and form loyalty:
- Seventy-nine percent only consider brands that show they care about and understand them, and can adapt to their needs. This can play into your advertising strategy, especially with all the targeting options you have with Facebook advertising.
- Ninety percent believe mobile helps them make better purchasing decisions and feel empowered to choose.
- Eighty-seven percent measure all brands against a select few, such as Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks – advertisers are in a culture, not a category.
- Eighty-eight percent want to engage with brands that set new standards, not just provide surprise and delight.
- Seventy-four percent say brands can set those new standards with a higher level of customer service, and want companies to treat them better.
- Fifty-six percent feel more loyal to brands displaying an understanding of priorities/preferences and needs/wants.
- Eighty-nine percent are loyal to brands that share their values and reflect what they stand for and believe in.
- Sixy-two percent believe making life easier is what the best brands do, and demand convenience.
- Eighty-eight percent want brands to push boundaries and blaze trails with new ideas.
Brands are expected to do more than just offer great products and services – they must exceed expectations across the entire customer journey.
Keeping customers and nurturing their brand loyalty is much bigger than what you sell and how you sell it. Your company culture and values come into play now more than ever, along with the expectations of originality and convenience.
The languages of loyalty and wantedness are just two ways of looking at the new wave of brand loyalty. After the click and the buy, is your brand ready to embrace these concepts?