I’m working really hard on being brave, but some things are just too much for these nascent phases of my new dedication to self-improvement. For example, last weekend, I saw a very scary, very still spider. I can’t decide if still spiders are worse than ones scurrying across the ground, but this particular arachnid seemed like it was definitely ready to lurch itself through the air and close the distance between us. So, when I suddenly found myself staring down the terrifying barrel of its eight-eye stare, I just knew I wasn’t cut out for this type of heroism.
Instead of using the large piece of wood I brandished to deliver the spider’s demise, I called in reinforcements. My husband, who was minding his own business and enjoying a campfire, graciously arrived to destroy my foe. It’s this type of behavior that makes our relationship so great.
Building brand loyalty is a lot like building a good relationship. Your partner responds to your needs—killing scary spiders—and you each put in the work needed to build the relationship. When your brand goes the extra mile to grab the two-by-four or use a heavy boot stomp to solve your customers’ spider problems (is the metaphor dead yet?), you build valuable trust that keeps them coming back because they know you have their needs covered.
Building loyalty starts with your customers feeling like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Humans have an innate desire to be part of a group; it signifies safety, acceptance and puts them in a better position for survival. In modern times, we don’t have to worry so much about physically surviving, but we are concerned about surviving the social scene.
One way to attract new customers and existing customers alike is to give them a place to congregate. Social media is an easy place to create social circles where your entire customer base can interact with your brand and each other.
Social Platforms to Consider for Creating Community
When someone mentions social media channels, the first two that pop into most people’s heads are Facebook and Instagram. Both of these platforms make it incredibly easy to gather your audience in one place and make connections. In plenty of scenarios, your loyal customer base will even become brand advocates by sharing posts—the modern version of word-of-mouth marketing.
In terms of community, Facebook is slowly going out of style. The current customer landscape is shifting more toward millennials holding the power, so community building has been following them to their social platform of choice: Instagram.
Instagram influencers have started to really embrace creating communities for their favorite brands within the platforms. One of my favorite examples of this is a company called Go Clean Co. They are a Canadian cleaning company that is really passionate about cleaning, and when the pandemic hit, they became super famous. They started to call themselves the #cleaningarmy and anyone who followed them on Instagram was considered part of it. Members of the #cleaningarmy are bound together by the satisfaction experienced when cleaning particularly dirty parts of a house. Might sound silly, but it works.
Why is this a brilliant marketing strategy? Because it immediately connects a group of people with an emotional connection to the brand. It could encompass current customers, people looking for a job, or people who just love the view of a sparkling clean home. (I may or may not be one of these people.)
Another unique platform that you don’t hear much about is Discord. This platform is designed for communication; you can send text messages, have voice calls and video calls or share media files. Users can build niche channels with only friends added or join worldwide groups with similar interests. This personalized connection can create a unique customer experience and is great for building online communities among brand loyalists.
I had one client who built an entire community of developers on Discord. They own a SaaS company and knew that their product wasn’t necessarily on the Average Joe’s radar. So instead of piling tons of money into marketing campaigns and advertising, they focused on creating thought leadership in their industry.
To further their education efforts, they decided to establish a community of like-minded individuals. They created a channel on discord and had tons of software developers join in to discuss the topics my client was blogging about and discussing on their podcast. All of the sudden they had this huge community made up of their audience, not as a sales tool, but as a way to be a key part of an important community in their space.
We had a chance to interview the VP of Marketing at that company so if you want to hear more about what they did, check it out. 👇
When we get married, you don’t stop doing nice things for your spouse. At least, hopefully not. This is the same approach you should take to your customers. When prospects become customers, you want to keep finding ways to make them feel special. You don’t have to become a pro bono business to do this effectively, either. Things like rewards programs, loyalty programs or VIP access to products are a few common ways successful brands keep the spark alive. You just want to make your customers feel special. And sometimes making someone feel special is letting them know you thought of them.
How You Can Give to Customers
Exclusive content is an easy way to give customers a sneak peek at new products or insider insights about services your brand offers. It’s an incentive for repeat customers to keep coming back to your brand. Some brands offer VIP status that allows loyal customers first looks at new products. Others might offer exclusive podcast episodes or a free video series that only customers have access to.
Another tactic that can both reward or foster customer loyalty is sending a birthday gift. I know...classic. But everyone likes free stuff and there’s nothing better than getting a surprise present on your birthday. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to send over some free stuff! Whether it’s samples of new products or a discount code for your website, showing you care can keep your customers feeling warm and fuzzy when you’re around.
👉 Also Read: How to Leverage Buyer Behavior in Your Business
Customer service is key when you’re building a relationship with your customers. If you’re friendly and helpful pre-purchase but unresponsive or difficult to get in touch with after the fact, then those new clients will feel like they were conned. It’s like going on a great first date, but then the person never calls you again. You’re left wondering if you misread all the signals.
Tips for Post-Purchase Service
Customer satisfaction drives customer retention and both are easier to maintain than you’d think. All you have to do is be there. Just like my husband was there to kill the spider, be there to solve your customers’ problems.
First and foremost, you want to be quick to respond to issues and questions as they arise. Your customers’ needs don’t always stop when they click “buy now.” Having a dedicated customer service team or protocol in place to promptly respond to requests shows you care about your customer.
In those answers, you want to be helpful. Like actually helpful...for real. If you’re quick to respond with, “That’s not our problem” or “Try turning it off and back on,” then you’re not actually helping anything. And that’s almost worse than taking forever to respond because you gave the customer false hope that turned into wasted time and more frustration.
I had the pleasure of experiencing exceptional customer service recently. I built a buffet table and ordered some wooden legs from a website I’d never heard of. Have you ever done that? It always seems a little sketchy but you just take the leap into the void and hope for the best. Anyway, it turned out to be a family-owned operation that simply makes and sells high-quality table legs.
I ordered mine with a bolt installed in the leg so I could easily attach it to my table, but one had a miscut bolt, so it wouldn’t screw on correctly. *Womp, womp, womp.*
I emailed the company to let them know what happened, and a real person called me the next day to figure out exactly what was going on, confirmed my issue and sent me a new table leg, free of charge. It was so nice to know there was a real person on the other side of the website and that they owned up to the mistake and corrected it without issue, hassle or pressure.
This type of customer service makes it easy for customers to offer referrals to new clients and make repeat purchases because they know your brand will honor its customers and do everything it can to create a positive experience.
Say Thank You
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Take any opportunity to thank your customers for being part of your community/clique/clan etc. It gives you the opportunity to do two things:
- Remind them they’re part of something bigger.
- Get them excited about being part of your group.
How to Create a Meaningful Thank You
Thank your customers when you hit a milestone in your business, like the number of employees you’ve added or after achieving a goal you set for the company. For example, TOMS could celebrate when they’ve given one million shoes to those in need because their customers were part of making it happen. They could share pictures of people receiving shoes and show the countries where they’ve distributed shoes.
Your thanks and the evidence that come with it can establish a gracious element to your brand identity. Customers will know that you consider them part of the business family and appreciate their contributions to your success.
And while we're on that note, don’t forget about free stuff! You can send your customers a little present when you hit milestones to show how much you appreciate their help. It doesn’t have to be anything huge or even have your brand name on it. You could send out Starbucks coupons or a thank you sticker. I know of a video game company that celebrated its 10-year anniversary by sending certain loyal players a bronze statue. That might not be your style, but I’m sure those gamers were stoked.
Enjoy Your Loyal Customers
Building brand loyalty not only encourages customers to make repeat purchases, it also opens up a whole new channel of lead generation. Happy customers love telling their friends and family about the brands they love. In fact, 81% of customers trust recommendations from family and friends over those from companies.
So for my loyal Lone Firnians, thank you for being part of our agency! Hopefully we are the attentive spider murderers you need in your life. If you’re not part of our group but are interested in how we can help, reach out to us! We love talking shop and would be happy to help.
👉 Keep Reading: Nike's Brand Positioning: Just Do It...But Differently