4 Ways to Show Your Customers Love Year-Round Here are a few proven strategies that allow you to show appreciation for your customers well beyond the season of love.

By Jim Rudden

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For most of us, Valentine's Day is all about showing loved ones how much we care. Of course, the best relationships show love year-round. Brands, like people, should treat every day like Valentine's Day. Consumers want to feel love from their favorite brands each and every day, not just when it's time to break out the red flyers and heart-shaped decorations once a year. In fact, brand loyalty is at an all-time low, yet nearly half of consumers say they would stay with a brand and purchase more if they engaged personally and authentically.

Luckily, there are a few proven strategies that allow you to show appreciation for your customers well beyond the season of love. Follow these closely and you'll see customers move from advocates to lifelong ambassadors for your brand.

Start by treating every day like it's Valentine's Day.

Like any relationship, brands need to consistently earn the love and trust of their customers, not just on Valentine's Day. Consistent communication is the key. Failure to respond to customer inquiries or complaints in a timely fashion -- or even worse -- failure to respond at all, is a recipe for disaster. If you haven't already done so, establish best practices and guidelines for replying to your customers because they will expect to hear from you. In fact, over 93 percent of all content from brands on social is 1:1, so make sure you're not left out of the conversation.

Use passion to build community.

A study from Qualtrics found that Americans are 8.1 percent more likely to purchase from a company that shares their opinions, and are 8.4 percent less likely to purchase from a company that doesn't. Develop a set of values that helps showcase the soul of your business. When brands stand for something, it often gives consumers even more to love. More than that, it inspires them to share your message elsewhere in the digital universe. This is how you turn customers into a community. Last year, Patagonia donated 100 percent of its Black Friday sales to different grassroots environmental groups. The organization, and its consumers, are equally passionate about the future of our planet. Patagonia may have given up a day of profits, but it gained a community of lifelong advocates.

Follow the Golden Rule.

Nothing leaves a lasting impression on a person like an act of kindness. It stays with us. When a brand takes the time to be kind and personal, it's just as memorable. Target did a great job of this for Valentine's Day last year with its #TargetLoveNotes campaign. After finding that over 1.4 million guests had proclaimed their love for Target the year before, the retailer took the opportunity to return the sentiment. During the week of Valentine's Day, over 1,000 people who tweeted "I love Target" received personalized, digital love letters back. The approach was not only thoughtful and unexpected, but it was also successful when viewed through a business lens. Target's average customer engagement rate increased by over 200 percent and garnered over 3 million impressions -- all without paid media support.

Incentive loyalty.

Everyone knows it's easier and more cost effective to keep an existing customer than to secure a new one. Maintaining your existing customer base is critical for a healthy business. So get creative about how you reward customers who are loyal, vocal advocates for your business. Take a lesson from Birchbox. To thank its most active Instagram followers for their support, Birchbox offered giveaways, exclusive first looks and sneak peeks. In doing this, it kept existing customers happy, coming back for more and talking to their friends about Birchbox.

Listen to your customers, reward the community you've built and use a human touch stand out in an increasingly programmatic world. That's what makes social special and that will capture people's attention today, and every day.

Jim Rudden

Spredfast Chief Marketing Officer

Jim is Chief Marketing Officer of Spredfast, where he is responsible for worldwide brand, product and revenue marketing. He has more than 20 years’ experience in technology marketing and implementation in the areas of enterprise software and holds a B.A. in American Studies from Stanford University.

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