It’s hard to overstate the importance of customer loyalty to the long-term success of any given business. When customers are loyal, they resist the very temptation of most aggressive competitors and continue to generate revenue for your brand.
What does it take to keep a customer loyal to a brand?
But what exactly makes a loyal customer? Can you reliably retain your customers, even as a new business?
The value of customer loyalty
Let’s start by explaining why customer loyalty is so important in the first place.
If a customer is loyal, they’ll be more likely to buy more products from you in the future or to stay on your services. They will also be less likely to switch to a competitor. Overall, greater customer loyalty leads to higher customer lifetime value, making each new customer you acquire more valuable to your brand.
But the benefits don’t end there. Loyal customers are also more forgiving of your mistakes and more willing to work with your customer service team to resolve issues. Plus, if they have a long history of positive experiences with your brand, they may even be willing to evangelize, which will lead to an influx of new customers and increased revenue.
So what does it take to get these benefits?
Before digging into the key strategies and business elements that lead to greater customer loyalty, we must recognize that there are significant differences between individuals. What gets one person to make a strong commitment to one brand may alienate another.
While the strategies I’m about to detail work for many clients, they aren’t foolproof – and you should definitely take the time to research your audience and find tactics that work for them, in particular.
The basic product / service
The most important ingredient for greater customer loyalty is a basic product or service that serves them well. If the product is good enough, there will never be a reason for a customer to leave. Imagine the best restaurant in the world, with the best food you have ever tasted, a varied menu with tons of options, low prices and an always short wait time. Why would you eat elsewhere?
- Solve a problem. Your basic product should reliably solve a problem. For example, you could help business leaders manage their marketing campaigns with an app or improve the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles – it doesn’t matter, as long as you do it right. If you make someone’s life easier or give them something they really need, you’re off to a good start.
- Quality / price ratio. You should also provide good value for the price you charge. Your product may solve a problem very well, but if it’s too expensive or if a competitor offers something for a lower price, it may cause people to leave.
- Convenience and accessibility. Don’t forget about convenience and accessibility. If your product is hard to get, hard to use, or inaccessible, this could be a major problem on the road to customer retention.
Unfortunately, even good businesses can suffer from a low level of customer loyalty if they face stiff competition. So if you have a lot of competitors or if you face competition in the future, finding a way to differentiate your business is essential.
- Uniqueness. Overall, there should be something unique about your product or brand that sets it apart. For example, do you offer top quality to everyone? Is there a feature that other companies can’t duplicate?
- Price and value. You can also be the better competitor simply by offering better value for money. If you charge less for the same product or offer better value for the same price, you will be in a good position.
- Brand image and personality. Sometimes you can bridge the competitive gap with the right branding and personality. A brand that is particularly attractive to your target audience can compensate for other flaws.
- Other values. Of course, there are countless other ways to differentiate your brand, from hire the right people to expand into a new market.
Sometimes things go wrong. However, mistakes and accidents aren’t going to cost you customer loyalty as long as you know how to handle them properly.
- Accessibility. Make it ridiculously easy to get customer service. For most brands, that means offering service across multiple channels and always responding to inquiries promptly.
- Kindness. Don’t assume that a simple apology is enough. You really need to fix a problem (or fix a mistake) when bad things happen.
- Care. Passionate team members will enhance all of your customer service experiences in the eyes of your customers.
Keep in mind
Happy, satisfied customers can leave your business to go with someone else. Why? Sometimes it’s just because you are no longer a priority.
You can increase your brand presence and retention with strategies like these:
- Logo and branding. Think carefully about your company’s logo and branding. A simple design with bold, instantly recognizable colors can make your business easier to market – and potentially make your brand unforgettable.
- Marketing and Advertising. Your marketing and advertising strategies are also important. They are not just a tool for attracting new customers; they are a way of reminding existing customers that your brand is still there.
- Newsletters by email. Email newsletters and other regularly distributed forms of content will keep you from forgetting your brand and keep all of your best customers “up to date” with your latest offers.
- Social media posts. Regular social media posts (and, of course, engagements with your fans and followers) are an easy way to keep your brand in mind. It won’t cost you a lot of time or money.
- Commitment and awareness. Brand-consumer interactions define brand-consumer relationships. Therefore, you need to regularly reach out to your customers on different channels to keep them interested.
- New promotions / offers. Specials and occasional offers can spark interest in your brand and rekindle the enthusiasm of your longest-standing customers.
It also helps to have incentive programs to keep users around.
- Subscription models. Sometimes startups these days build their entire model around a subscription so that users pay a consistent amount. If you make the cancellation a little more complicated and give users rewards for staying on longer, it will keep your customers nearby and paying.
- Discounts and gifts. Why not give your top performing, highest paying customers discounts and freebies? For example, you can gradually reduce the cost of a monthly subscription for customers who have subscribed for years or organize periodic giveaways to reward your best customers.
- Loyalty programs. Thinking even more simply, a basic loyalty program can go a long way in ensuring continued customer traffic. People love to rack up points – and they won’t be eager to split their spending among multiple competing companies when those points are on the line.
Either way, one of your most important priorities should also be consistency. If your product only works sometimes, or if your brand values undergo a massive change after a year, you are going to lose followers.
This doesn’t mean that your business can’t change (as we’ll see in the next point), but you should strive for early consistency when possible.
Only the most traditional, conservative, and die-hard fans of your brand will stick with you if you stay the exact same. It is true that some brands draw their strength from tradition – take Coca-Cola for example – but in the modern world, you will have a much better chance of retaining your customers if you continue to evolve.
Pay attention to comments and reviews, and keep rolling out new improvements and updates. It will make your most loyal fans even more loyal – and maybe win over some potential fans from the past.
Customer retention is a difficult equation to solve for some brands, but if you have a solid product at the center of your business, you will already be in a good position.
Pay attention to your target audience, top competitors, and the broader market landscape – and always be prepared to adapt to new information.
Image credit: antonio prado; pexels; Thank you!