Your business probably has hundreds, or even thousands of customers who have interacted with the brand in the past. But how many of those would choose your brand, reliably, over every other competitor?
Brand loyalty is incredibly valuable, but it’s also a bit nebulous. It’s hard to define, it’s hard to measure, and it’s definitely hard to achieve, even with the best content curation strategy on your side. So what exactly is it that turns a customer into a brand loyalist and how can you inspire more of your customers to become loyal to your business?
The Value of Customer Loyalty
Let’s start by taking a look at the value of customer loyalty. This is not a concept that you can afford to ignore. Customer loyalty impacts your business in several important ways, such as:
· Future purchases. Loyal customers are much more likely to make future purchases with you. That could mean remaining a loyal subscriber and paying your fees month after month, or placing new orders for products and services in the future.
· Total value. Similarly, loyal customers tend to spend more with your brand overall. They tend to make bigger purchases, they are more willing to add extra items to their order, and over the lifetime of their relationship with your brand, they’ll place more orders.
· Forgiveness and accommodation. Loyal customers are also more willing to forgive and accommodate missteps. If someone loyal to your brand encounters a problem with one of your products, or a disappointing experience like a shipping delay, they might look the other way and not worry about it.
· Evangelism and content opportunities. On top of that, your most loyal customers may become practicing brand evangelists. In other words, they’ll be doing marketing and advertising on your behalf, preaching about the values of your brand and recommending it to other people. They’ll be much more likely to contribute user-generated content to your cause and will engage more with your existing content, helping to share it to more people and make it more visible.
Measuring Customer Loyalty
Image Source: https://delighted.com/net-promoter-score
There are a few different ways to think about and measure customer loyalty. For example, you could calculate Net Promoter Score (NPS), a relative measure of how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to another person. You can calculate this using simple, minutes-long surveys, asking your current and prospective customers about the quality of your products and services, their current satisfaction, and of course, how likely they are to recommend you.
It’s also a good idea to study metrics related to your customer acquisition and retention. If you have high rates of customer churn, or if you see other troubling signs of customers leaving, it could be a sign that your customer loyalty needs serious attention.
Factors Influencing Brand Loyalty
Now to the central question. What are the factors that influence someone to become loyal to a brand?
Think about how this relates to your own life. Are there any brands you’re completely loyal to? If so, why?
It’s probably some combination of the following:
· Brand values and personal alignment. For some people, brand loyalty is mostly a matter of alignment with brand values. If the company is committed to environmental sustainability, and you’re very passionate about environmental sustainability, you might deliberately choose this brand over its competitors. This is also true if the company is especially laid back, if they’re focused on efficiency, or if they solidly embody any other important value. What matters is that the company has values similar to the individual.
· Consistency and predictability. Brands that inspire loyalty tend to be very consistent and very predictable. People make repeated decisions when they know what the outcomes of those decisions are. If your company consistently provides great experiences, customers will confidently return to you to replicate those experiences. One great experience and one negative experience won’t inspire the same sort of loyalty.
· Product and service quality. Of course, we also need to mention product and service quality. If your products and services fail in some way, even loyal customers may avoid purchasing with you. But if your products and services are exceptional, even the most reluctant customer will eventually come around.
· Price. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that price can also influence customer loyalty. Let’s say you’re offering a specific product for $10, while most of your competitors are charging $15. Even if your product isn’t quite as good as theirs, and even if your company has other issues, some customers are going to continue buying from you, no matter what, simply because you offer the lowest price.
· Support and conflict resolution. There’s no such thing as a perfect business. Most businesses make occasional mistakes and commit actions that their customers find annoying or troubling. This is to be expected, but how you handle these situations goes a long way in securing customer loyalty. The better your customer support is, and the better your conflict resolution is, the more loyalty you’re going to inspire.
· Surprises. Pleasant surprises tend to stick out in people’s memories. Surprising your customers with additional freebies, extras, or exceptional instances of service can instantly make them more loyal.
· Time. Thanks to the mere exposure effect and other cognitive biases, people tend to think more highly of brands when they have more time to interact with them and get to know them. The longer someone is a customer, the more loyal they’re going to be, and the higher your brand visibility and awareness are, the more loyalty you’ll inspire.
Content Marketing, Content Curation, and Brand Loyalty
If you’re interested in improving brand loyalty within your organization, one of your best tools could be content marketing, and (by extension) content curation.
Content creation and distribution allow you to address almost every motivating factor for brand loyalty simultaneously. You can use content to showcase your brand values and connect with specific audiences. You can publish and share your content consistently to build familiarity and take advantage of the mere exposure effect. You can develop it to highlight your product and service quality. You can even use it to pleasantly surprise your customers with novelty.
As an added bonus, content-related metrics are an ideal way to indirectly measure customer loyalty. For example, how many people are visiting your blog to read your content and how many of those people are returning visitors? How are these figures growing over time?
Why Brand Loyalty Is Fragile
There are countless tactics you can use to support these factors and ways to nurture your customers to become more loyal to your brand. If you’re diligent in this area, and you’re consistent, you should be able to boost customer retention and brand loyalty. But even then, it’s important to remember that brand loyalty is fragile in the modern era. Customers have almost infinite access to knowledge, they can easily review your competitors, and because of how easy it is to start a business, new competitors can emerge very easily. If you want to maintain customer loyalty and continue improving it with new customers, it’s important to keep investing in this element of your business strategy.