Today’s shoppers can discover the perfect gift through dozens of channels, online and off. But there’s one type of customer who needs nothing more than their past experience to tell them where to go. Enter the brand loyalist.
As the COVID-19 pandemic affects the worldwide economy, brand loyalty is more important than ever – a September 2020 KPMG Australia COVID-19 consumer report found that personalisation leads the charge in driving customer loyalty, closely followed by time and effort, and integrity. Being able to adapt to the new and uncertain circumstances of customers and providing safe shopping experiences has seen businesses both large and small bolster their brand loyalty.
Strive to take care of your most loyal customers during this festive season, perhaps offering discounts and specials to reward consumers who have been loyal to your brand. By doing so you’re likely to also attract new customers.
By understanding what these shoppers care about, sellers can optimise their outreach and create an experience that keeps brand loyalists coming back.
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What is brand loyalty?
Brand loyalists divulge their dedication in everyday interactions. Here’s what you need to know about them.
They know what they want. And they keep coming back for more. Repeat purchasers who visit your online store convert at around nine times the rate of first-time visitors, according to Adobe.
They give your products and services to others. Brand loyalists know they’re bestowing a quality experience instead of gambling on unfamiliar, risky items from unknown merchants. Forbes analysts say referrals are the best way to reach new leads. A brand loyalist goes even beyond that, putting your offering into the hands of new customers.
They engage more publicly. Repeat purchasers interact with brands they love on social media, applauding, commenting on and sharing your content more than casual followers. What’s more, their enthusiasm is likely to be shared freely with friends and family. According to Qualtrics, people are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend.
They’re self-appointed “insiders.” Proud to be privy, dedicated customers often help quell rumours and pacify skeptics by pointing out true insider knowledge and company news.
How to meet the brand loyalist’s expectations
Brand loyalists aren’t necessarily found – they’re created. It’s up to merchants to deliver quality customer interactions and products that customers love and come back for.
Surprise and delight with personal touches. Keep customers happy by going above and beyond in creative ways. The summer holidays offer plenty of opportunities. Tuck product samples into packages with handwritten notes, offer free gift wrapping, or upgrade newcomers to expedited shipping. To make your top customers feel festive, send notes or cards with special Christmas and New Year discount codes.
Keep friction low. Time and effort is the second reason, after personalisation, that repeat purchasers devote themselves to a retailer, according to the KPMG report. During a difficult year for all Australians, brands that have been able to offer timely, trustworthy information and a frictionless customer experience have reaped the benefits in sales and repeat business.
Offer rewards and incentives. Setting up a digital rewards program gives customers a strong reason to return. Since the emergence of COVID-19 in our lives, many businesses are looking to initiate or grow existing loyalty programs. Offering points toward future purchases motivate buyers to come back, and timing these for the festive season can put your shop front of mind for when customers need to check gifts off their list. Consider doubling their first loyalty reward for an irresistible deal they won’t want to miss out on.
How to catch (and keep) the eye of a brand loyalist
The end-of-year rush can be a stressful time for shoppers. Use this moment to build the foundations of a long-term relationship by providing a positive, reliable customer experience. If you can meet the brand loyalist’s needs during their most hectic time of year, they’re more likely to come back long after New Year’s.
Here are some tips for creating a consistent, memorable shopping experience.
Prioritise customer service. According to a Square study, 63% of customers said the number one thing that keeps them loyal to a business is great customer service. This is especially important at this time of year, when shoppers are pressed for time. When someone contacts you with a problem or question, take the opportunity to build trust (which is the foundation of loyalty). Online tools, such as chatbots and messenger apps, not only help improve communication between sellers and shoppers but also offer the immediacy and speed customers are looking for.
Share your brand story. Customers want to feel like they know you, and this extends beyond your “About” page. Predictive emotional connection intelligence firm Motista found that people who felt emotionally connected to a brand spend up to twice as much, have over 300% the customer lifetime value (CLV), stick with the brand longer and recommend the brand to others at a much higher rate. Connect your goods and services to the festive season and to your brand’s story. Crafting this unique narrative is also essential for garnering customer support as a small business.
Remind them we’re all in this together. As part of forging a connection with your consumers, emphasise that times are tough for everyone and that supporting a brand they value ensures the brand will be there in the long run. If a consumer likes a business, supporting it now during these trying times is going to help the business weather the storm. This is also a way to make brand loyalists feel important.
Encouraging Brand Loyalty Checklist
- Offer rewards or incentives to encourage loyalty.
- Utilise sales, deals or promotions for repeat customers.
- Prioritise customer service and memorable shopping experiences.
- Share your story about your brand to inspire a connection with shoppers.
- Connect with brand loyalists to make them feel a part of something.
- Show your gratitude for them supporting your business.
By focusing on brand loyalists during these trying times, you can create an emotional connection with your brand and provide shoppers with special support to help them with their gift lists and perhaps take something off their very full plates. In developing a defined strategy for retention, sellers can quickly build a solid foundation upon which they can grow their brand throughout the year, online and in-store.