Love Languages: 5 Ways to Earn Brand Loyalty
“I love this brand.” Marketers can measure the lifetime value of this sentiment in terms of ROI and influence, but when customers say it about a business, it’s really about feelings. As important as hard metrics are — and they are more critical now than ever — it’s essential to keep the feelings behind the results in mind when striving to foster brand loyalty.
Research from customer experience management company InMoment found that brand loyalty, like true love, usually takes time to develop: 80% of shoppers surveyed said they “grew to love” the brand over time vs. 15% who experienced “love at first sight.” The survey also revealed that people tend to be more loyal to brands than products, especially millennials.
Brands are paying more attention to hard metrics these days, and that’s how it should be. But it’s also essential to speak to customers with their love language, demonstrating shared values and going deeper on personalization to truly become part of customers’ lives. Let’s explore five ways brands can earn loyalty by creating closer relationships with customers.
5 ways to foster brand loyalty by forging deep connections
- Don’t be a dishrag — stand for something! Some brands try to be all things to all people, and they end up being nothing to anyone. Living your values is a more honest and effective approach. Stand for or against something important that links back to your values. For example, outdoor clothing designer Patagonia puts the preservation and restoration of the natural environment at the center of its corporate values, and the company pledges 1% of its sales to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups. Other companies, including Amazon, are donating to relief efforts in Ukraine and waving processing fees for customers who want to donate, too. It’s all about expressing shared values.
- Try to make it to the main folder. The way people manage SMS and text messages is evolving on a trajectory similar to email in that people are starting to divert messages into different folders using apps. Some newer model smartphones have this function built in, which means the window is closing — by the time everyone has spam folders, it will be difficult for a business to break through. You’ll need more than opt-in consent for effective text marketing; you’ll also need to make the cut for the customer’s main folder, along with friends and family. This will require building trust — plus offering a compelling value exchange.
- Show that you know more than names and birthdays. Addressing customers by name and using data gleaned from your loyalty program (such as birthdays) is table stakes these days. To truly become a part of customers’ lives, you’ll need to make an effort to perceive customer needs using all the data you can get your hands on, including partner data, as appropriate. You’ll need accurate information on which stores the customer favors, what season it is in their location, etc., to communicate with customers in a hyper-personal way.
- Stop feeling weird about what you know. Related to the point above, if you have data that allows a high degree of personalization, don’t feel weird about using it. What might have felt a little creepy in the early days of digital outreach is more acceptable now — customers expect you to make good use of their data. Of course, you have to maintain the right balance; inferring from data that a customer is expecting a baby is probably still a bad idea! But embrace the idea that customers share data with you because they want personalized offers and communication.
- Find things to celebrate. Over the course of the pandemic, many of us have rediscovered how humanizing it is to share events and recognize special occasions with family and friends. That’s what friends do — they celebrate together. Brands can aspire to friend status by building relationships and creating a sense of shared humanity by celebrating milestones that are related to values they hold in common with customers. For example, if your brand sponsors a school, you could celebrate student achievements with your customers.
For any customer, the experience with your brand is the sum of all interactions in person, online, and via mobile. If your goal is to create brand loyalty, it’s critical to monitor customer sentiment through mechanisms like surveys. You should absolutely solicit feedback, collect and analyze data, and use the insights you gain to calibrate outreach.
But it’s also critical to keep the human factor front and center. Creating brand loyalty is about building a relationship, and relationships are about feelings. As the saying goes, people might forget exactly what you said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel. So, make your customers feel special and create a sense of love, safety, and connection. That’s how you’ll create brand loyalty.
Tara Kelly is Founder, President, and CEO at SPLICE Software.