Posts tagged brand loyalty
Last week, I talked about the risks to your brand if your reputation suffers. You lose time and money, and more importantly, you fail to attract new customers and talent. We know that you cannot have your business in the state. So, now it’s time to find out how to protect your brand and maintain a good reputation.
Time to Start Being Social
Let’s be honest. If you are not advertising on a social media channel, then you are behind the curve. Part of maintaining a good reputation is to always be active on these channels. Your business is going to run into a few pitfalls, especially with customers online. How you and your employees interact with them determines your customers’ perceptions of your brand.
Get Your Customers to Spread the Word
Ratings are important. Most new customers know nothing about you except for what you tell them. Where do they go for an honest opinion about your service? They visit popular websites that rate your service.
Excellent reviews lead to a good reputation. However, they require some motivation on your part. You need to encourage your customers to leave reviews on these websites, especially when your known that they have enjoyed your service. A little push goes a long way.
Don’t Ruin Your Good Reputation Out of Spite
Trolls, pranksters, and downright unreasonable people seem to be a standard when it comes to the online world. The biggest mistake that any business owner or marketer can make is letting them get to you. Responding in any negative fashion will result in your customers thinking less of your brand.
They are not worth your efforts. You have a legion of loyal customers who like and buy your products or services. Remember be courteous and mature for the sake of your brand. You customers will respect your professionalism.
Here is an example of how important market research is when you’re targeting a specific group or niche market. They are perhaps the most diverse of generations, yet — Millennials — are grouped together as one, and because of this, we are constantly fed a stream of ideas on how to market to them as homogeneous. While some of those suggestions are good, a lot of it is junk. Let’s clear up a few of the marketing myths:
Myth #1: Millennials Prefer Connectivity to Interpersonal Relationships
Just because this was the first generation to grow up with smartphones does not mean that they hate human interaction. Not all Millennials dream of working in a room filled with technology and no people. In fact, one recent study showed that Millennials prefer interacting with others at work rather than performing tasks remotely. While this generation appreciates the tech they have grown up with, personal relationships with family and friends are still among the most important things in their lives.
Myth #2: Millennials Are All Identical
We really shouldn’t make such a blanket statement about any generation, especially when it comes to Millennials. Socially, institutional, and even racially, this is the most diverse generation to date. So why do we insist on creating a stereotype for marketing purposes?
Millennials have the stereotype of being:
- Always connected
- Extroverts… at least when online
That stereotype describes a little less than half of Millennials according to a recent survey. If you want to lose out on reaching over half your audience between ages 15 and 34, be my guest. I’ll be focused on still reaching my targeted demographic within this generation.
Myth #3: Technology Is Priority One
Yes, Millennials love their phones and tablets, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that they couldn’t live without them. Nearly half of Millennials responded exactly the opposite in a recent survey, saying that they could function smartphone-free. In fact, less than half said that they are at the forefront when it comes to new tech. Less than a third were using their smartphones to make purchases, which puts them well behind several other generations.
In fact, more than 80% of shopping done by Millennials takes place in brick and mortar stores. A far cry from the idea that Millennials will only shop from their devices.
Myth #4: Millennials Have No Loyalty
This is the worst of the marketing myths. We’ve dismissed an entire generation of potential lifetime customers. Surveys show that over half of Millennials choose quality over price, and that is with two-thirds of Millennials admitting to being on a tight budget.
In summary, don’t sell this generation short or any other when there’s so much market research available. For example, Millennials love human interaction and are shopping in your brick and mortar stores, and may be loyal for life if you provide a decent product at a reasonable price.
People have a lot of stuff, so customer loyalty is becoming more and more difficult than ever. If you don’t believe me, check your closets, garage, and storage unit. What people don’t have a lot of is interesting and positive experiences. How many of your fond memories revolve around a possession? It is a great experience that turns into a cherished memory, and people respond more strongly to that form of engagement.
It comes down to this: to sell your product, you need to create a good experience.
Why do experiences trump things? Consider the following reasons:
- We get used to things. When you get a new toy (or article of clothing, or piece of technology, ), it becomes your favorite… for a little while. Once something has been around for a while, it is not as exciting. We become dissatisfied with things over time.
- We live to share. Eating the best of meals is still ultimately forgettable if a person is alone. Having a great time out to dinner with friends can produce lifelong memories even the meal itself is just okay. It turns out that humans like sharing experiences with one another (just not dessert).
- You are the sum of your experiences. The things that you have owned throughout your life do not define you, but experiences shape who you are.
- You can’t keep up with the Joneses. You will never be the one person on the planet who has the most stuff, so having things ultimately leads to dissatisfaction when comparing ourselves to others. No one else will ever get to have the same unique experience as you, however, and that makes it more valuable.
Okay, that’s great. How do I create an experience for my customers, so I can get them to buy my stuff?
There are many ways, and you can create great experiences for your employees too (to increase productivity).
- Sweepstakes – Winning something is a great experience.
- Rewards Programs – Reaching a points goal and cashing it in for something you want is a satisfying experience.
- Employee Events – A special outing for employees builds team morale and makes workers feel like the company cares.
- Reward Employees – Have you ever met an unhappy Starbucks employee? Perks don’t always have to be a bag of coffee (although coffee may create a great experience). Vacation time is a great way to create experiences for your employees.
Experiences, ultimately, turn into revenue. When a person has a good time with your brand, you are building customer loyalty and loyal employees.
The digital age has added many points of contact to engage consumers. Unfortunately, brands often misuse these opportunities and end up upsetting consumers rather than improving brand image. Here are some practices to avoid in your digital advertising strategies.
The Repetitive Ad Spot
I don’t know about you, but when I see the same ad during every commercial break while I’m trying to watch something on Hulu, I want to lose my mind. Yes, I’m talking to you Bush’s. There are rules here, and one of them is that I don’t want to see the same commercial from you 15 times tonight.
Content that isn’t relevant is a waste of everybody’s time. It shows a lack of knowledge in regards to what your audience wants to see. If you don’t know your audience well enough to provide them interesting content, why should they trust you to provide a decent product?
Lying About Your Product
People are skeptical, and if they have any reason to doubt what you say they will most certainly ask Google about I to make sure. If it turns out that you are lying, misleading, leaving out facts, or just plain wrong, your credibility as a company is shot. Here’s a simple rule to remember: Honesty is the best policy.
Driving the Hard Sell
Do you like getting a hard sell when you walk into an auto dealer? Then why would a consumer want that when they are trying to surf the Internet, connect with friends on social media, or stream their favorite show? Produce content that tells a story and engages the consumer emotionally. Then they might forgive you for interrupting what they were doing before your ad came on.
Force-Feeding Your Story
This is where all of the above tips come together. If you are constantly hitting me over the head with a plot-driven ad that has nothing to do with my interests, I’ll be more likely to try and find something wrong with it, to view it as worthless, and to be aggravated with your brand for making me watch it. You have to tell a story, but it can’t just be any story, and you can’t cram it down the throats of your viewers. These are simply some common sense digital advertising strategies when it comes to ad development.
Back in the day, all you had to do was produce a quality product, and you had loyal customers for life. All you needed to do was to get someone to make one purchase. Usually, you found a consumer through a newspaper ad, a billboard, or a door-to-door salesperson.
Today, customer service and brand image have multiple points of contact with a consumer throughout the customer pipeline. For example:
- Before a Sale – A consumer may follow your sbrand on social media. They may read reviews of your product online. They may hear about your product through a friend. They could see an ad on TV, on a social site, while streaming video, or on another website.
- When Purchasing Your Product – The customer will either be interacting with the sales team at your store, your eCommerce site, a phone system, or a catalog.
- After Becoming a Customer – Now the customer is concerned with billing and product support. You may also contact them for email marketing campaigns, to thank them for their patronage, or to offer further service and support.
Having so many points of contact may help keep a consumer engaged and bring them back to your brand over and over again. It may even result in acquiring brand advocates. There is one downside to having so many points of contact, however.
You now also have more opportunities to provide one disappointing experience that may trump selling a quality product.
Unfortunately, that’s how things go in a world where people have so many things that the items themselves are forgettable, and the experience is what truly matters. It only takes one rude person on a customer service call to transform an advocate into someone who tells others to run screaming from your business. A mistake in billing can lose you a customer forever. An offensive tweet can turn public opinion against your brand as a whole.
More than ever, brands have to be on their toes at all times to offer a great experience during every step of the customer lifecycle. That’s the only way to ensure that a customer will come back, regardless of how good your product is.
It’s a common and expected practice to ask new customers for their email address. Unless they opt out, this means your customers will be receiving either email updates or a newsletter from the company. When someone first signs up, they get the company’s welcome email. How important is this email when it comes to whether or not future email campaigns will successfully reach the consumer?
The fact is your welcome email is a part of effective email campaigns, and such welcome emails have a tremendous impact as opposed to bulk emails. Your subject line is a vital part of whether or not the email gets opened. What are some trigger words to remember and which should you forget?
Subject Words That Increase Open and Click-Through Rates
Subject Words to Avoid
Another thing to pay attention to is the timing of your welcome email. Conversion rate increases when a welcome email is sent immediately after the consumer signs up. Welcome emails that are sent as a batch at a later time see a sharp decrease. It simply isn’t personal. Plus, the consumer may no longer be thinking about your brand.
Your return address also makes a big difference. No one wants to open an email from a generic or a NOREPLY email address.
Next, you need to pay attention to the copy. Using the wrong wording can land your email directly in the spam folder. For example, many receivers flag email that throws around terms such as:
Using all caps or tons of exclamation points also throw up a red flag.
Those are a lot of don’ts. What should you do in your welcome email?
Handling the welcome email properly is a big first step in successfully communicating with a customer via email.
A security blunder can lead to major embarrassment for a company. Just ask Heinz, which experienced a QR code error that sent customers to a pornographic site instead of the intended company site. Oops.
The fact is that getting hacked is a fact of life for modern businesses. The question is, how will you respond when it happens to your company?
Secure Practices Limit Damage
The first thing everyone wants to know when a major hack occurs is whether or not the company was negligent in security practices. That means your security needs to be top notch for damage control to result in forgiveness. The main factors in avoiding a hack are:
- Security Software
- Administrative Control
- Software Updates
If you have these three things in place, the blame can often be shifted from your company, which was doing everything right, to the hacker.
Regaining Consumer Trust
Most digital ad agencies understand how important it is to limit damages to any company because restoring trust is always vital to your brand. There are three main ways to keep consumers on your side.
- Fix the Problem Quickly – Take the site down until you can figure out what is wrong and repair it. Try to identify the root of the problem instead of just fixing the effect. Check office computers for malware. Have the staff change all of their passwords. Make sure things are clear before you go live again. An isolated incident is forgivable, but patterns destroy trust.
- Communicate with Consumers – If personal data was lost, let everyone know immediately. Usually, email is a good method. Take a lesson from Anthem BCBS, who offered an identity guard service for free for two years to everyone affected by a recent hack.
- Use Social Media – This is a great place to provide updates and answer questions in a public forum.
Most digital ad agencies understand the rapid response necessary to limit damages to any brand. The key to fixing the problem is transparency. The public will find out what happened eventually. The longer it takes to communicate, the more damage occurs to brand perception. By fixing the problem and being honest, you can avoid much of the backlash that comes from getting hacked.
First of all, we need to recognize that most customers are no longer hearing about a company for the first time from an ad. The Internet and social media has made word-of-mouth recommendations a ubiquitous practice. Unfortunately, it also leads to bad publicity spreading like wildfire. Your company needs to provide consumers with the right information to be interesting and relevant enough for shares, retweets, likes, and other digital referral methods.
The other major factor is that customers want to be educated about products both before and after they buy them. You need to understand the journey that a consumer makes from discovering a product to finding out about the benefits of the product and then finally making a purchase decision. Plus, customers want to know how to use the product when they get home without having to download and read a 200 page manual. Product education now makes up a much larger slice of the customer life cycle and leads to long-term business relationships.
Thanks to social media, it is now possible to take your loyal customers and turn them into brand a advocate. However, you cannot expect an ambassador for your business to be willing to go without compensation. Here are some suggestions on how to use incentivized marketing to turn a repeat customer into your company’s personal brand agent.
First of all, it is important to understand that the younger generation does not necessarily trust branding. Yes, they may have heard of your company and seen the commercials, but most Millenials want confirmation from a friend that a product is worth purchasing. This means that turning customers into advocates is a vital part of modern marketing. Everything from brand awareness to customer acquisition is affected by reviews and social media shares/likes.
More than one-thirds of consumers in the US now shop on a mobile device. Combine that with the fact that the average smartphone owner checks their device every six minutes, and you have the recipe for where you want to have your advocate promoting your brand.
So how do you create advocates? Rewards, rewards, and more rewards! Developing different rewards levels for advocates and creating the right amount of incentive to perform various social media actions is the key. You can’t put yourself out of business by offering ridiculous deals for just tweeting about your brand, but by developing a point system that gives the customer enough of an incentive to keep taking action, the benefits will quickly outweigh the promotion. Some brands have even rewarded consumers for posting a selfie while in their store and using a particular tag. Others give points for checking in at a shop, retweeting (or reposting) the brand’s Twitter or Instagram post, and other social actions that promote the brand.
It will take a little math, but developing such a rewards program can take a regular customer and turn them into an ambassador, a brand advocate, for the company.
Well-established corporations have some serious advantages over startups. For example, their brand may be well known and respected in the industry. They also have credibility with banks and can acquire funds quickly. Plus, steady income allows them to sink money back into marketing campaigns. The digital business world, however, has made it feasible for a small business to compete successfully with a giant rival. Consider some factors that are leveling the playing field in our modern business environment.
Thanks to the Internet’s ability to catch an error and spread it around the world faster than a company can respond, many corporations have been involved in scandals requiring major apologies to the public. When this happens, an opening occurs, and new businesses can sneak in to grab some disgruntled consumers. This is one way that technology has served to even the odds between corporations and small business branding.
Technology has also led to the depersonalization of customer service and marketing techniques. Many automated technologies leave consumers with a bad taste in their mouth. Whether it is a campaign aimed at quick traffic or boosting revenue with ad dollars, customer relationships are what suffer. This is another area for strategic engagement on the part of smaller businesses.
Of course, many of these technologies are an excellent way to contact new consumers in your target audience. There is a balance to be struck, however. You still need to reach the widest audience possible while maintaining personal relationships with your potential customers.
Small Business Branding Advantages
Providing solid customer service and personalized services are two ways that small companies can catch up to their larger competitors. Another benefit of the tech age is the ability of small businesses to not seem that small online. Consumers get small business service while feeling like they are shopping with a larger company. The quality of your product will keep that illusion from being shattered.