Retail and e-commerce brands love their loyal customers. And why wouldn’t they? After all, loyal customers return to brands and spend 31% more than new customers, and 46% of loyal customers are likely to keep purchasing from a brand after a negative experience. 

Those are huge results if you’re a business where customer purchases are your lifeblood. 

But how does a brand foster true lasting loyalty anyway? And why is it that some brands struggle to build an active customer base of loyal shoppers, while others have loyal customers in droves?

Simply put: It comes down to your customer engagement strategy

If you aren’t able to drive the loyalty your brand needs to increase revenue and accelerate business results, the problem could be in your approach to customer engagement. Read on to discover five reasons why customer engagement is the key to brand loyalty.

Customer Engagement and Brand Loyalty

First, let’s get clear on what we mean when we say “customer engagement” and “brand loyalty.”

Customer engagement is about how a business forms and grows relationships with customers through various interactions over time, and very often, across multiple channels. 

Brand loyalty, or commonly referred to as customer loyalty, is the long-term commitment of customers to continually purchase from, and stay loyal to, a specific brand. The difference between customer loyalty vs brand loyalty is slight but nuanced. 

Another way to look at it: customer engagement is all about how a brand interacts with its customers, and loyalty comes as a result of those interactions.

But to truly understand the relationship between customer engagement and brand loyalty, let’s dive deeper into how your interactions with customers influence the way they think and feel about your brand.  

1. Building Strong Emotional Connections

Your customer engagement strategy defines how you interact with customers. If you’re consistently delivering positive, satisfying experiences to your customers, they’ll start to develop an affinity for your brand.

Today’s marketers can take that affinity one step further by incorporating personalization into their customer engagement marketing

By crafting experiences tailored to their customer’s unique needs and preferences, and by delivering content that is relevant and meaningful, a brand can demonstrate that it actually understands its customer as an individual. This type of personalized engagement helps build stronger relationships with customers and ultimately helps build stronger emotional connections between the customer and the brand. 

2. Enhancing Customer Experience

When you perfect your customer engagement strategy, you can enhance customer experience (or CX). This is important because brands that deliver exceptional CX are the ones that experience better sales and customer retention. 

Customer experience and customer engagement are similar, but not the same. 

Whereas customer engagement is about the strategy and execution of customer interactions, CX refers to how the customer’s collective experience (hence the name) with a brand. CX is shaped by everything from a brand’s website, the checkout process, customer service experiences, product quality, and so much more. 

If your customer engagement strategy is ineffective and you’re not able to engage customers in a way that makes them happy, your CX suffers. Conversely, when you focus on steller customer engagement and making sure each and every interaction is as satisfying for the customer as possible, you inevitably enhance their overall experience. 

Better CX increases the likelihood that a customer will keep returning to your brand to shop, and thus, lays the groundwork for long-lasting customer loyalty

3. Encouraging Brand Advocacy

One surefire way to create brand loyalty and increase customer loyalty program members is to engage your customers in a way that encourages brand advocacy.

So what is brand advocacy? A great definition of brand advocacy comes from Kat Wray, Director of Strategic Partnerships at MentionMe. Wray defines brand advocacy as “the natural social behavior of individuals to share a positive impression of a brand by any means.”

If a customer has a great brand experience, they’ll want to rave about it. Often, this can be done through word of mouth, on-page reviews, social media, or other channels. And since, according to Nielsen, “92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above other forms of advertising,” these “ravings” can be a potent form of marketing. 

Brand advocacy brings more high-quality customers to your brand, and often, these customers are more likely to be engaged from the start. This means their road to becoming a loyal customer is shorter. 

Now, let’s connect this to customer engagement. Driving brand advocacy is a two-fold endeavor:

  • You need to deliver amazing customer experiences worth advocating for.
  • You need to provide customers the opportunity to advocate.

Make sure your customer engagement strategy includes opportunities for leaving product reviews, refer-a-friend campaigns, customer surveys, and social media engagement. Do this, and you’ll see your base of loyal customers increase rapidly. 

4. Increasing Customer Retention and Repeat Purchases

A strong customer engagement strategy, unsurprisingly, revolves around the customer

When you put the customer at the front and center of everything your business does — essentially becoming “customer obsessed” — you’re going to see better results across the board. This is especially true for driving loyalty (and/or loyalty program membership) and increasing retention, as research from Forrester, commissioned by Emarsys, shows that “56% of customer-obsessed companies see better customer loyalty and improved retention from their omnichannel efforts.” 

Without a doubt, your approach to customer engagement will impact your ability to hang onto customers. To drive those all-important next purchases, you want to make your engagements as customer-centric as possible. Here are a few tactics you can use. 

“Complete the Look” Campaign

Implementing a “Complete the Look” strategy involves launching a campaign that suggests complementary products or services, essentially offering an up- or cross-sell. By customizing content for each customer based on their unique purchase history, this approach surpasses bland, generic follow-up messages and offers a truly personalized experience. Do this, and you’re much more likely to bring that customer back to shop again. 

“Back In Stock” Campaign

Experiencing an unavailable product can be exasperating for customers and puts them at risk of switching to a competitor who offers a similar or identical item, which means they might not come back. 

With a “Back In Stock” campaign, you can engage customers in a personalized way regarding a product they have either previously bought or expressed desire in, but were unable to purchase due to unavailability. Customers will appreciate that you kept them in mind, and by automating marketing tactics like “Back In Stock,” you’ll never miss an opportunity to alert customers when they can once again get their hands on a product they adore.

Personalized Birthday Campaign

Customers intuitively understand you probably have a database of customers you blast with birthday messages. However, even a standard birthday campaign can be a really powerful way to build loyalty and increase retention — with a little marketing know-how, that is. The key is making it feel truly personalized and special. 

Distinguish your birthday messages by using more personalized content beyond the fact that it’s their birthday, and make your gift-based incentives enticing and meaningful. This is a great tactic to use across your entire customer base, assuming you have the data, but it’s really powerful for engaging members of your loyalty programs

5. Gaining Valuable Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is an essential tool for improving your brand’s performance. When you actively seek and listen to your customers’ opinions — even the critical ones — you gain valuable insights into your business’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Your customer engagement strategy should incorporate a direct line of communication with customers, so you can start to understand the needs and preferences of your customers. 

The benefits are numerous — for one, feedback reveals trends, patterns, and areas of concern so you can swiftly address them. Also, that same feedback is essentially data you can use to improve personalization. And finally, inviting customers to engage with your brand can be endearing, because it shows you value their opinion and view your relationship with them as a two-way dialog, rather than one-way communication. 

Through customer feedback, you’ll be able to deliver superior experiences that lead to greater long-term loyalty. 

Loyalty-Building Customer Engagement with Emarsys

As we’ve revealed in this article, your approach to customer engagement will dictate your ability to foster long-term brand loyalty that leads to greater growth and revenue. Better connections to customers, better CX, and better retention — these all result from customer engagement. So the brands that have their customer engagement strategy dialed in will achieve the best results, while those still struggling to piece together a cohesive customer engagement strategy will falter. 

Fortunately, a loyalty-building customer engagement strategy is something any brand can learn and execute. So if you want more loyal customers for your brand, prioritize personalized omnichannel customer engagement so you can deliver the satisfying 1:1 experiences your customers truly want.