It’s no secret that with skyrocketing acquisition costs and competitors looming at every corner waiting to tempt your audience away, customer loyalty has become the Holy Grail of sales and marketing. It stands to reason, loyal customers spend more, more often, and are resistant to competitors’ offers.
So, if you want to scale your business, maximize revenue, and increase customer loyalty, you need to create and deliver the kind of highly relevant, personalized customer experiences that turn fair-weather shoppers into loyal brand advocates.
But what is customer loyalty, why is it important, and how can brands foster more of it?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this powerful retention strategy, complete with actionable advice on how you can start growing loyalty within your own customer base.
What is customer loyalty and why is it important?
Customer loyalty can be defined as a person’s willingness to interact with and buy from a specific company on an ongoing basis. If you can create memorable, positive experiences for your customers, you’ll increase the chances of them not only coming back for more, but spending more per purchase.
Studies show that loyal customers spend 67% more on products and services than new customers. So, even though your most loyal customers might only make up 20% of your audience, they provide up to 80% of the revenue.
When it’s 5x easier to retain a customer than acquire a new one, numbers like these are hard to ignore.
This is why brands that focus on creating valuable experiences and stand-out service for customers they already have reap the rewards of repeat business and increased customer lifetime value.
In an over-saturated marketplace, loyalty matters now more than ever.
7 Ways to Grow Customer Loyalty
Looking to increase your customer loyalty? Here are seven proven techniques that leading brands use to bridge the gap between them and their customers and grow long-lasting loyalty.
1. Utilize Integrated Data
Batch-and-blast marketing is a thing of the past. If you want to attract, retain, and win loyal customers, you need to understand who they are and what they want. The key to making this happen lies in your data.
92% of leading marketers believe that using first-party data to build clear customer profiles is crucial to brand growth.
But when your data is split across multiple platforms and sources, you run the risk of inaccurate analytics taking your marketing strategy in the wrong direction.
By using a customer engagement platform that has a built-in data layer, you can connect product, sales and customer data from multiple sources into a single, holistic view of your customers, giving you the data you need to make the right marketing decisions and create meaningful cross-channel engagements.
2. Personalize Your Customers’ Buying Experience
When 92% of today’s consumers expect relevant messaging that’s tailored to them, generic campaigns just won’t cut it. If you want to foster loyalty and keep your customers coming back time and time again, personalization is your new best friend.
By consolidating and leveraging your product, sales, and customer data, you have the information you need to elevate personalization beyond first names in subject lines and create relevant, meaningful experiences that drive repeat purchases and cultivate customer loyalty.
With the right personalization platform, you can create meaningful cross-channel content that drives sales, complete with marketing analytics to prove revenue contribution.
Data powers personalization — and personalization drives loyalty. By taking the time to create tailored shopping experiences for your customers, you show that you understand them, helping to bring them closer to your brand and build trusted relationships.
3. Embrace Customer Lifecycle Automation
Manually creating impactful cross-channel experiences for each step in the customer lifecycle can be a seriously time-consuming process.
And when time equals money — and as purse strings tighten for marketers around the world — there’s tremendous pressure to create engaging, meaningful content that resonates with each and every shopper, which can be overwhelming.
This is where marketing automation comes in.
From single-send campaigns to sophisticated customer journeys, marketing automation platforms can help you reach your customers across your key marketing channels in real time.
With the right marketing automation platform, you can quickly launch cross-channel campaigns, and often this technology will give you the agility to easily test and change your strategy based on performance.
You’ll be able to fuel your marketing automations with key data points like:
- Lifecycle stage
- Loyalty status
- Product affinity
- Average Order Value (AOV)
- Churn risk
Enriched with this information, you can build automated email and SMS campaigns that reach customers in the moments that matter.
4. Deliver Stellar Customer Service
Customer loyalty goes both ways — if you want to cultivate it, you need to show your customers that you’ve got their backs when they need help or support.
Only 19% of consumers believe that standard customer service interactions exceed their expectations. That low bar gives you a valuable opportunity to set yourself apart from competitors.
By focusing on a compelling, effective customer service strategy, you show your customers that you care about their business even when they aren’t 100% satisfied, and are committed to giving them a positive brand experience.
Delivering stand-out customer service is an investment, but lackluster customer service will cost your business more. In fact, studies show that half of consumers will consider buying from a competitor after just one poor customer service experience — with that number increasing to 80% if their next customer service interaction falls short, too.
When customer loyalty and long-term repeat business is at stake, investing time and resources in improving customer service is a small price to pay.
5. Create a Consistent Cross-Channel Experience
Consistency creates trust, and trust leads to loyalty.
If you want to drive loyalty, you need to meet your customers on the channels they spend the majority of their time on.
This goes beyond simply being present on multiple channels – your content, brand and messaging needs to be consistent across all of them, too.
With multiple teams, freelancers and agency members working across your channels, this can be tricky to achieve. Create a set of Tone of Voice (TOV) and brand guidelines that govern the language and design themes that should be used throughout.
Keep things consistent cross-channel, and you’ll help to build engagement, get closer to your customers, and drive loyalty.
6. Ask for Feedback and Act on it
Customers are loyal to brands who understand them and are receptive to feedback. Your ability to collect, analyze, and action this feedback can be the make or break of your retention and loyalty strategy.
Some of the best places to gather feedback from your customers include:
- Email: Send out surveys via email to gauge customer satisfaction levels and identify key ways to improve them.
- Landing pages: Create feedback pop-ups on key customer touchpoints asking non-converters why they didn’t take action.
- Loyalty programs: Build feedback into your loyalty programs to gather feedback from your most loyal customers, offering them rewards in return.
Act on the feedback you receive and you won’t just improve your core metrics, you’ll also build a deeper understanding of your customers and build valuable trust.
7. Remove friction from the customer journey
Nobody likes friction, and if you want your customers to keep coming back, explore new product lines and recommend your brand to their personal networks, you need to make those processes as clear and easy as possible.
You can cut down on friction in your customer journey by following these three steps:
- Map out your customer journey: Define your customer personas, and map out their paths to purchase across your core marketing channels.
- Track how customers engage across key touchpoints: Use marketing analytics and customer insight tools like Hotjar to gather data on how customers interact with your content.
- Identify areas for improvement: From emails to landing pages, highlight bottlenecks in your customer journey and create A/B split tests to work towards removing friction
Decrease the friction in your user journey, and you’ll increase engagement, acquisition, repeat sales and customer loyalty.
6 Benefits of Customer Loyalty for a Business
Customer loyalty can take time to get right, but loyal customers pay dividends once dialed in. From increased engagement to reaching previously-unidentified sales opportunities, here are six of the top benefits you can achieve by focusing on customer loyalty.
1. Build Meaningful Relationships
In a world where your audience sees endless competitor ads and marketing campaigns every day, you need to think differently if you want to stand out.
This begins with switching focus from sales to loyalty and putting the customer at the center of your marketing strategy. By creating relevant content and engagements that go beyond simple discounts and incentives, you won’t just differentiate yourself from the hordes of competitors vying for your customers’ attention — you’ll build meaningful relationships that grab attention and build brand trust.
This goes deeper than simple sales psychology of getting customers to take the same action repeatedly. Other unique ways to build a connection with your customers include:
Aligning with their values: as the sustainable fashion movement has shown us, modern customers factor their personal values into their shopping habits. From charity partnerships to environmental pledges, if your brand has values that align with those of your customers, display them front and center in your marketing to show your customers that you care about what’s important to them.
Partnering with relevant brands: your customers have lives outside of your industry, and that presents opportunity. From cinema tickets to dining offers and even collaborations with similar brands that your audience is likely to shop with, partnerships can be a great way to deepen your customer connections outside of your business ecosystem.
2. Drive Repeat Business
Meaningful connections build brand trust, which is both a powerful sales driver and a robust defense against competitors.
The traditional sales funnel is built upon 3 core components:
In a digital world, your customer’s journey through these stages will occur across multiple channels — giving competitors the opportunity to swoop in and steal them away with targeted advertising and well-timed engagements. However, when customers have tangible, loyal connections to a brand that they trust, they circumvent the consideration phase and jump straight to conversion, often spending more.
This isn’t marketing theory that doesn’t translate to practice. The numbers are there to back it up.
Customer loyalty research shows:
So, whether it’s down to a positive customer service experience, an emotional brand connection or simply a stand-out product range that they can’t live without, customer loyalty is key to keeping customers coming back.
3. Increase Revenue & ROI
Most businesses agree that it costs 5x as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain a current one. In a climate where acquisition, manufacturing, and shipping costs are rising, this statistic is more relevant than ever.
This is where the power of customer loyalty really starts to shine.
Repeat customers who trust and are loyal to your brand are more likely to explore other product ranges that they might not have previously considered, as well as ordering their favorite products in increasingly large quantities.
This has a substantial impact on Customer Lifetime Value. Research shows that customers with a loyal connection to a brand are worth 306% more across their lifetime than non-loyal customers who might return but are likely to purchase infrequently and in smaller quantities.
4. Reach New Customers With Brand Advocates
Work on customer loyalty, and your audience won’t just keep coming back themselves — they’ll bring their friends and family with them, too.
From relevant online engagements to stellar products and positive customer service interactions, create positive customer experiences and they’ll spread the news via word-of-mouth marketing.
Many people trust recommendations from friends and family more than online reviews, which means your biggest brand advocates can help you tap into new customer bases and attract buyers outside of your typical marketing reach, with traffic that will convert at twice the rate of non-referral audiences.
Pro tip: Turn customers into brand advocates and drive more referrals with targeted incentivization. Build referral offers into your loyalty program with rewards that unlock at different stages, and add referral offer blocks into emails sent to repeat customer segments.
5. Gain Valuable Customer Data
If a new customer bounces from your website without making a purchase, the likelihood of them taking the time to tell you why they didn’t convert is slim — even with on-site feedback request tools.
It’s a different story with loyalty programs. Packed with engaged customers eager to share their thoughts and feelings with a brand they are dedicated to, your loyalty program is a gold-mine for customer feedback you can trust.
There are a number of key ways you can extract value from loyal customer feedback:
- On-site improvements: Reveal key bottlenecks on your site and/or your app that prevent customers from converting and impact their online shopping experience
- Loyalty program optimization: Uncover the features of your loyalty program that customers love the most, as well as underperforming areas that could benefit from optimization.
- Customer acquisition: Use the information you’ve collected from your loyal customers to uncover the offers, incentives, and products that will entice new customers to convert.
When data is power, your loyalty program is one area worth your attention.
6. Increase Customer Retention
Getting first-time customers to return to your store instead of taking competitors for a spin is a challenge that many marketers lose sleep over. However, keeping first-time customers coming back couldn’t be more important.
Studies have shown that even a 5% increase in customer retention can increase revenue by 25-29%. With today’s marketers being pushed to deliver more results with less budget, numbers like these are hard to ignore.
Loyal customers stay around longer — and spend more per transaction. With this consistent, steady cash flow, you get the stability you need to scale and continue to grow with your customer acquisition strategy.
Grow Customer Loyalty with an Omnichannel Customer Engagement Platform
If you want to maximize the revenue potential of your business and increase customer satisfaction, it’s time to set your sights on customer loyalty. However, delivering customer loyalty-building experiences across multiple marketing channels can be a challenge for businesses.
This is where Emarsys comes in.
The Emarsys Customer Engagement Platform helps you create and deliver seamless, personalized experiences to customers throughout their entire lifecycle, ensuring more satisfied customers and long-lasting loyalty. Discover what Emarsys can do for your brand. Watch the 3-minute demo now.