How a Brand-First Approach Builds Customer Loyalty

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Companies often try to cut through the noise of the crowded e-commerce space by building their brands around their businesses instead of the other way around. But to grow your business, you should be focusing on the heart of your company — your customers. And it’s through your brand that you can build meaningful relationships with consumers.

Businesses with a brand-first approach center their entire business strategies around a larger purpose and mission. This approach, coupled with engaging customer experiences, can help you look beyond conversions to focus on building brand equity and customer loyalty. 

Businesses struggle to build loyalty in the e-commerce space

It’s more challenging than ever to increase brand awareness and customer retention because today’s consumers have endless options for online shopping. Yet strong customer relationships and brand loyalty play a key role in driving repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth. You are also much more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one. And 82% of companies report that customer retention is cheaper than acquisition.

Customer loyalty improvements begin with your brand, which is different from your business. Your business is an entity that sells products and services, while your brand is your business’ identity — the way your business connects with consumers. And in the current marketplace, shoppers want deeper connections with the brands with which they interact: 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands with values that align with their own. 

When you align your business strategy with your purpose and values, you can better connect with customers and provide more engaging experiences. Consider Campbell’s, whose mission is to sustainably provide communities with affordable, nutritious, and flavorful food made from real ingredients. 

Campbell’s embodies its mission in everything it does, from providing healthy meals and nutrition education to underserved communities to using ingredients that are ethically and sustainably grown. In 2016, Campbell’s launched its “Well Yes!” campaign, highlighting the soups’ healthy ingredients and affordable price — and countering the misconception that canned soup is unhealthy and can’t taste good. As a result of Campbell’s initiatives and authenticity, the company’s revenue, brand awareness, and loyalty have skyrocketed.

How to align your brand with your strategy to create excellent customer experiences

Although the sheer volume of options for e-commerce is overwhelming to consumers, you can cut through the noise by providing engaging experiences that align with your brand’s values. But to do it, you’ll need to ensure that consistent messaging and customer experiences are conveyed across every channel and touchpoint in the customer journey. 

Here’s a closer look at how you can approach business with a brand-first mindset to create connected customer experiences and build long-term loyalty.

  • Define and commit to your values and purpose. 

Your values and purpose are the foundation of your brand. Defining these principles is the first step in building loyalty, so start by asking why your business exists. Do you want to contribute to a sustainable future? Are you committed to providing the lowest price for the best quality? Are your people team-oriented? No matter how you define your values and purpose, they should be authentic and set your business apart from your competitors.

Committing to your purpose and values is crucial, especially considering 86% of consumers view authenticity as an important factor in determining whether to support a business. Be sincere when defining your core values because they will ultimately be the roadmap for everything your business does.

  • Provide digital experiences that align with your brand values.

Easy-to-use digital tools are a must in 2021, from easy online checkout and organized product categories to accessible communication channels. But businesses often fail to align their digital experiences with their core business values.

For example, what if your business claims to value customer service but your website doesn’t clearly identify how customers can contact a customer service representative? Remember — to live up to your brand purpose, you need to demonstrate your commitment at every stage of the customer journey.

Your digital offerings can — and should — reflect your brand’s purpose. So, if your brand values your customers’ needs and preferences, you should use data to provide personalized offers to customers that align with their interests and behaviors.

  • Measure feedback.

Engaging customers throughout their journey isn’t a one-time initiative. It should be an ongoing process that improves with time and feedback. By analyzing data and communicating directly with customers, you can identify which experiences need improvement and determine how you can improve them. Whether you analyze cart abandonment rates on your website or post Instagram polls on your business’ social media account,  look for opportunities to capture your customers’ opinions — and act on that data.

When every step of the buyer journey reflects your brand, from the time shoppers enter your website to the time they make a purchase, you improve your ability to forge deep and lasting connections with your customers. These customers will become loyal brand ambassadors who will advocate for your business and drive meaningful improvements in revenue and loyalty — metrics that will ultimately determine your business’ success. 

Michael Bennett is co-founder and managing director at Envoy.