From First-Time Customer To Loyal Brand Ambassador In 5 Stages
As marketers, it’s too easy to focus resources on acquiring new customers or reducing churn. So how can you ensure your most loyal customers are getting the exclusive experience they deserve? The 5 Principles of Customer Loyalty.
Most businesses understand the importance of keeping your existing customers happy. Increasing your retention rates by just 5% has been shown to improve profits by 25% to 95%, according to research by Frederick Reichheld.
The impact of Covid-19 has changed the way brands seek to interact with their consumers, with empathy required above all else. A recent survey we conducted found that 83% of respondents would be more likely to purchase from a brand they have an emotional connection to. Brands realise that they need to make their customers feel valued as individuals and not be treated as a statistic.
The question is: how can brands make the journey from first-time customer through to loyal brand ambassador as streamlined as possible?
This five-step guide will help you cater for your customers at each stage of the process and give you the best chance of establishing a genuine connection founded on empathy.
Step One: The First Engagement
Whilst it’s clear that not all of your first-time customers can go on to be part of your brand community, it is important to provide the opportunity for any one of them to do so. Think of it more as a gateway. You want every first-time customer to be aware of the benefits they can reap from continuing their relationship with you, and to make starting that journey as simple and inviting as possible.
It can help to determine exactly who your ideal demographic is, narrowing the field and increasing the number of customers who chose to take the next step.
Step Two: Initiation into the Brand Community
Once customers have expressed an interest in your brand community, it’s time to show them how much they are valued. Brand communities and loyalty schemes can sometimes be perceived as a shameless money grab, and it’s your job to dispel these preconceptions.
A welcome email can only go so far. A physical gesture that exceeds expectations can strike a chord with customers and make a fantastic first impression. Loyalty cards are a simple and cost-effective example of this, but why not go even further and do something truly unique. Get creative and come up with something specific to your brand that you can offer new customers and make them feel valued.
Step Three: Continuity
At this stage your customers have been initiated and have formed a connection with you. One of the best ways to solidify this further is to map out a plan of milestones that can serve as reinforcement points. This can be achieved through simple notifications on key dates, or even pre-notice of an upcoming sale that matches their taste.
By personalising the process, customers will naturally feel valued and rewarded for their continued loyalty to your brand.
Step Four: Creating a Shared Space
Once you have established a communicative relationship with a customer, creating a shared space can be a huge benefit in making them feel part of a community. This can expand the relationship from being a two-way channel into something wider and more collaborative.
When physical retail returns, inviting customers to view new products or attend an exclusive event can not only create a sense of value, but also allow them to integrate and converse with like-minded individuals.
If you are not in a position to host physical events, a shared space can be equally effective online in the form of a forum or a chat group. This takes the channels of communication to a whole new level, and can make an individual customer feel part of a wider like-minded community.
Step Five: Rewarding Loyalty
The final step consists of ensuring loyal customers are provided with enough incentives to continue their relationship with your brand.
One of the most effective ways of achieving this is to establish a tiered system. This provides a clear path of reward for customers, giving them short-term attainable milestones whilst also reminding them of the benefits of continued loyalty.
Do not be afraid of investing resources in this area. If customers can easily identify long-term incremental value from staying with you and become ambassadors for your brand, then the initial outlay will pay for itself.
As tempting as it may be to focus your time and money into sourcing new customers, it is well worth making the effort to ensure your existing relationships as strong as they can be. This year has been a rough ride, and a brand that makes the effort to ensure their existing customers feel valued will help set them apart from the competition.
By offering value at every stage of the process, first-time customers are given the best chance at forming a connection with your brand and are incentivised to invest themselves with you going forward.