Are you leading the next great startup, or are you a part of an executive team at a well-established corporation? While the demands placed on executives at every organization can be dramatically different, what holds true across diverse industries is the importance of brand loyalty.
A big reason why is that just one misstep or poor customer experience can ruin a brand's reputation. So, if you're a marketer or entrepreneur, brand reputation should be at the forefront of every decision you make.
Take, for example, a brand like Disney, the leader in family entertainment. Disney’s brand doesn’t just happen. A lot of ongoing hard work goes into not just building the brand, but maintaining it. All employees (or "cast members," as they're called), all marketing materials and all internal and external communications convey a consistent message of clean family fun and service excellence.
The company makes a conscientious effort to keep its messaging and branding consistent through all channels.
While not all brands are quite as attentive as Disney, everyone in these organizations should be thinking about how their decisions impact current and future brand advocates in every aspect of the business.
The message: What you do determines whether you will have a good relationship with your customers. After all, without customers to help evangelize your brand, you don’t have much of a business, do you?
Here are four strategies that can help drive brand loyalty.
1. Use technology to create a better customer experience.
Technology can be a valuable tool to help improve a brand’s relationship with its customers. When customers trust that you’re delivering a unique service and exceeding expectations to meet their needs, they will return the favor by willingly giving you their information. That symbiotic relationship is extremely valuable -- it helps create trust, which should be the ultimate goal for every brand.
Data-driven personalization can also increase revenue for brands. According to an Infosys study, 86 percent of consumers surveyed said that personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions. Additionally, 73 percent of consumers said they preferred to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.
Once brands have the trust of their customers, and their information, they can employ user-generated profile platforms, like autoGraph, to gain emotionally intelligent insights and customer opt-in solutions. This platform enables consumers to create, edit and delete their profile and use it wherever and whenever they want.
In turn, users know -- at all times -- what they are signing up for, and can fully control the process with an icon-based user interface.
By gaining a profile on consumers, c-suite executives will have access to valuable insights about the emotional connections and preferences of individuals. By engaging your own consumers with data aligned with their preferences, your brand can build a better customer experience.
2. Personalize the message with an opt-in data policy.
How can you effectively reach your target audience? The answer is: by sharing brand news that resonates with them and reaches a level of personalization emphasizing your company’s unique value to your customers.
Establishing an opt-in policy builds trust in the brand and ensures that consumers have full control of the information shared. Just because your customers trust you doesn’t mean they’ll give you full access. Consumer data is a very powerful tool, but with great power comes great responsibility.
This first-party data equips brands with individual customer preferences and enables them to personalize the messages they send. A brand can quickly lose the loyalty of its customers with irrelevant messages (a barrage of ads, content that’s not relatable, offers that don't apply). Your customers care about how you’re providing them relevant products and services. They want to know that you understand them, their needs and preferences.
Always ask yourself, "How can I provide accurate information to the customer? Get their participation?" Consumers are willing to share information with the brands they trust. Your customers are more receptive to your message when it’s personalized to their interests.
3. Use social media to show brand value and customer appreciation.
Social media is a great way to build brand loyalty. A BRANDfog study found that when a brand executive has something to say, individuals on social media listen. In fact, 81 percent of respondents in the study said they had more confidence in a company when its executive was using social media.
When brands show their appreciation for consumers on social media, that helps build brand loyalty, and those customers then become your most loyal brand ambassadors -- across your social media channels. Replying with a personal message or commenting on a social media post is a perfect way to humanize a brand and deepen the relationship.
Here’s a pro tip: Your organization likely has some brand advocates constantly engaging on social media. So, surprise them. Go beyond the typical reply with a special gift or complimentary upgrade. The cost is minimal and you can almost guarantee that customer-recipients will post about it for others to hear.
The acknowledgment on social media brings in new customers and increases the positive exposure of your brand -- not to mention good PR. Showing the company cares about their experience outside of business transactions separates your brand from the competition.
4. Sell the company, sell you.
Leverage executives within your organization by using their personal brand to reflect your company’s brand. Recognize that CEOs or other executives -- whether they be someone like Elon Musk at Tesla Motors and SpaceX, or Tim Cook at Apple, are aligned with the brand, top to bottom. These executives can help put a personal face to your brand.
I make time to engage with my followers on social media to keep them posted on whom I’m interviewing or meeting with. Giving your followers a sneak peek at the inner workings of the company can only be beneficial in your efforts to gain an extra level of trust. Let them see behind the curtain!
Developing trust and re-emphasizing the company’s mission statement is vital to connecting with your target audience on social media. The core values of the company are important to consumers and resonate, prompting brand advocates to express similar values.
Also, having a strong brand following for the company benefits the bottom line -- and making money is one of my conditions of satisfaction. Communicating your company’s message and values is vital, so be relentless as you deliver on your brand’s promise every day.
Make sure, en route, that your customers remain your top priority during all company decisions, and maintain full transparency in regard to how their data is used.
Related: 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty
If you’re a brand, how do you drive brand loyalty? If you’re a customer, what do you want brands to do for you?