By Matthew Fitzsimons, Head of Planning, EHS Brann Cirencester
At a time when consumers are increasingly searching for the best deals before making a purchase, it has never been more important for brands to cultivate and maintain customer loyalty.
As marketers, we need to remember that customers are people and keep their very real concerns at the forefront at every stage when planning and executing a loyalty marketing scheme.
To achieve this you have to know who your customers are, only then can you understand how to engage them with your brand. By analysing and understanding your individual customer profiles you will be able to prove your understanding and can gain customer’s trust through informative and relevant communication. If you can genuinely help a customer through an honest and an upfront approach, over time this will build customer trust and it is this which engenders loyalty.
The importance of robust and rigorous data insight is wildly discussed but it really cannot be underestimated, as it is then that you are left with a clear picture of who you are speaking to and can then create a personalised message to create dialogue that they will want to engage with.
The ability to know what they want, when and how is the best means of producing effective communication. So it is imperative that you firstly collect as much information on your customers as possible and then make sure you use it – and properly! What’s the point in knowing a lot about your customer and not using that information to inform your marketing decisions?
By knowing exactly what messaging your customer responds to you can then plan your communications. We all engage in integrated campaigns to ensure that your customer is met through the relevant touchpoint, but equally it is no good e-mailing communications to someone who owns an email account but never responds. A young adult who is just learning to drive may respond better to receiving information about cars over email, but the customer insight may show you that the parents are the people in the household with the purchasing power so amend your communications to involve them as well.
Think very carefully about every communication customers have with your brand. You need to think about creating a comprehensive view of a brand which is personal at every touchpoint. Brand consistency can have an amazing effect, but a bad brand image at just one stage of the customer journey can damage the customer experience, which could ultimately lose you your customer. You can have the best piece of dm in the world but if the call centres don’t know about it or worst still don’t have customer data available, you will fall to deliver the brand experience you are trying so hard to build.
Using a channel holistic approach works to prevent situations where you let the customer down. This means using appropriate avenues of communications to individual consumers. For example, you could wow a customer with an interactive e-mail that is filled with information that is insightful and relevant to them which directs them to a website for further information. If the website that the customer ends up at does not provide any more information, or has bad functionality then at this touch point you are likely to lose your customer.
One of the most important factors in engendering customer loyalty is sustaining communications to build a mutually beneficial relationship. In a climate where consumers have less money to spend and are even more careful with how they spend it, brands need to maintain open and intelligent communicative approach to ensure consumers want to return to their brand when they are ready to buy. You will only know the appropriate frequency of communication through knowing the demographic and the individual you are marketing to and testing what works best. The communication needs to be genuine and aim to help the customer. There is no use bombarding them with information if that is not what they want, if you know your audience you should be able to give your customer what they want, and more importantly when they want it.
Whilst some customers will instantly buy a product, in order to engender customer loyalty you cannot abandon them after this but understand what information they want next by creating a dialogue with them to build loyalty. The open and honest approach initially built will not be sustained if you don’t engage with them because you have already got what you want.
Ultimately, by respecting the consumer and fully understanding exactly what they want, you can engender trust. The brands who will survive through these times will have sustained and successfully demonstrate how to maintain customer loyalty
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