Every entrepreneur and SMB owner knows that the customer is one of the most important assets of any business. Your product or service can be top-of-the-line or one-of-a-kind, but without customers, your business won’t survive.
So, you invest in traditional and digital marketing efforts and initiatives to build brand awareness, drive traffic, generate leads, and finally gain conversions. You’re on the right track and you’re growing your business. But how do you keep that business going? How do you continue your momentum, gain new customers, and most importantly, keep customers coming back? This is where customer loyalty comes into play.
What is customer loyalty?
Customer loyalty is when a customer chooses to purchase from or work with a brand or business again and again. This loyalty is usually the result of a combination of factors:
- Good rapport
- Positive experiences
- Customer satisfaction
- Quality and value of the product or service
It may seem like a no-brainer for your brand to provide stellar customer service and to hope that customers will continue to purchase your products or use your services. But customer loyalty is vital to the success of your brand or business, because loyal customers mean consistent and growing business.
Why is customer loyalty important?
If you are a for-profit company, customer loyalty should be an innate aspiration, because attracting, satisfying, and retaining customers is what drives revenue. Loyal customers tend to spend more money more often with brands they are loyal to, and they’re more likely to refer friends and colleagues to those brands as well.
Because a loyal customer has repeatedly had positive experiences and they’re satisfied with your product or service, they’re much more likely to share your information with others. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing, so loyal customers help continue and increase your revenue.
Studies have shown that acquiring new customers is significantly more expensive than retaining existing ones—sometimes 5-25x more expensive! So, ensuring that your existing customers are satisfied with their experiences and with your product or service not only maintains and increases your revenue, but ultimately saves you money.
How to cultivate and maintain customer loyalty?
There are several different ways to cultivate and maintain customer loyalty depending on your business, industry, and audience.
One common way to cultivate customer loyalty is to offer a loyalty program to incentivise customers to return to your brand and continue to make purchases. Here are a few types of loyalty programs you can use depending on the nature of your business:
- Points-based systems. This method is commonly used by retailers, coffee shops, restaurants, and other similar establishments. This method allows frequent customers to earn points based on purchases (e.g. one point per dollar or one point per purchase), and these points translate into a reward (e.g. a discount on their next purchase or a free item). This method works best for businesses that encourage frequent purchases. (Tip: when implementing a points-based system, it is best for both the customer and yourself to keep the point value, earning process, and reward redemption as clear and simple as possible. Complicated point systems can frustrate customers and appear less valuable.)
- Tier systems. This method offers customers a small reward for participating in the program, and gives opportunities to earn rewards that increase in value for each tier. This encourages loyalty and repeated purchases, and can make it an easier or more enjoyable experience for many customers because they don’t feel the need to track points or redeem them in a certain timeframe. Many hotels and resorts offer tier groups (e.g. silver, gold, platinum) with rewards and benefits that guests can earn over time by choosing to stay at locations managed by that specific brand, and these rewards usually don’t expire. These tiered systems offer a long-term value that works great for businesses with higher price-points.
- VIP benefits. Depending on your industry or audience, consider offering a few exclusive benefits to customers for a one-time or annual fee. This can easily be done by determining what factors may deter customers from making a purchase or cause them to abandon their cart (shipping costs or delivery timeframes, for example) and offer a solution to alleviate these inconveniences. Amazon Prime is a fantastic example of this method—frequent customers pay for the benefit of fast and free shipping (plus a few additional bonus benefits like specials and streaming options), which makes their future purchases more convenient and satisfying.
Alternatively, depending on the age of your company or your product itself, consider avoiding a program and opt for a more no-strings-attached approach. Maybe you’re offering a new and innovative product or service that your potential customer is unlikely to find somewhere else. In this case, a loyalty program isn’t really necessary. Instead, build loyalty by providing an awesome experience with awesome benefits for your first-time user, and continue that experience in future purchases. Even simple gestures like a few free samples included in their order or a coupon for their next purchase will get their attention, leave them more than satisfied, and encourage a second purchase.
But with or without loyalty programs, your business can cultivate customer loyalty overtime by simply providing quality products or services and being a trustworthy brand. When a customer has confidence that they’re purchasing a great product or service from a great brand or business, it’s likely that they’ll continue to support and patronize that company.
Above all, the best way to cultivate loyalty is to build relationships and rapport. When you care about your customers as individuals, and when you seek to meet their needs and help them succeed, this builds a rapport with them. This kind of relationship with your customers adds value to each transaction or exchange, and naturally cultivates customer loyalty.
Ready to give your customers an experience they’ll love?
When we develop a website for one of our clients, we design it to represent their brand and to build awareness and trust. We also keep UX (user experience) at the forefront of our building processes to ensure that each visitor has a stellar experience utilizing any part of the site. Having a website that exceeds your clients expectations in experience while remaining consistent with your brand (in-store or in other areas online) strengthens awareness, facilitates trust, and encourages loyalty. We can also set up a customized loyalty program for your ecommerce website, so your customers can begin earning points with each purchase.
If you’re ready to make the most of your online presence and digital marketing to amplify your customers’ experience and increase your customer loyalty, contact our team today.