How to build brand loyalty that lasts

Consumers have endless options when it comes to the things they want to buy and yet 90% still report being brand loyal.  Brand loyalty will build ambassadors and help you retain customers long term. If you can give your audience an experience they won’t find anywhere else, you can keep them coming back.

This might seem like a tall order, but you can break this down into attainable tactics and goals that can become part of your social media marketing strategy. Read on to learn how you can bring the concept of brand loyalty into focus through your marketing.

What is brand loyalty and why is it important?

When people strongly favor a particular brand over all the others, that’s brand loyalty. They don’t need to be convinced, or heavily marketed to because they already enjoy your products and prefer them even to competitors with similar offerings.

A consumer survey from Yotpo found that almost 80% of consumers surveyed said that it took at least three purchases before they considered themselves brand loyal. Noteworthy reasons for claiming brand loyalty included great deals, sales and above and beyond customer service. They also said that they’re more likely to become brand loyal sooner if they get access to exclusive discounts through a loyalty program.

There are plenty of marketing tactics that companies use to improve brand loyalty, including providing stellar customer service, rewards programs, having a strong brand story, community building and more.

Let’s go in-depth on some of the best ways to build brand loyalty that lasts.

Provide stellar customer service

The level of customer service provided by a brand to customers plays a huge role in whether or not a customer returns.

These days, a lot of companies handle customer service via social media. If you get a lot of customer service requests on your social media platforms, then you should have a dedicated team or person whose job is to answer questions on social media. Try to make sure someone is monitoring those accounts to respond in a timely matter and answer customer questions. You can use a social media tool like Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox to help different team members quickly delegate and assign each social media message as it comes in.

The way you interact with customers on social media takes a lot of poise and strategic planning because it is entirely public-facing. Everyone can see how you interact with potential customers. The last thing you want is to go viral as a brand that is rude to their customers on social media.

Sprout’s Inbox not only lets you assign tasks to individual team members, but you can also enable approval permissions so that these critical messages are reviewed for brand voice and tone before they get published.

Don’t overlook instances where a customer isn’t asking a specific question, but just mentioning your product or offering positive comments. Acknowledging them by responding to their comment will build trust. Keep an eye on what people say and how they say it when discussing your brand online. You can build trust and connection by being transparent and responsive, and by understanding sentiment towards your brand you’ll be able to get ahead of any issues before they become a serious problem.

Create a system within your team that helps everyone maintain brand standards when responding to customers on social media. One way you can do this is by saving reply templates to common concerns in Sprout’s asset library. Excellent customer service can turn a negative review into a positive customer experience that can change their entire view of your brand. How you interact with customers will impact how they remember your brand and how it makes them feel.

Find your brand voice and story

Create a unique voice that represents your brand and makes it feel approachable to people in your audience. Maintaining a consistent brand voice across all channels will make your brand more recognizable and memorable.

Nike has solidified itself as one of the most recognizable brands in athletics. With every launch, eager fans wait by their computers to get their hands on the latest limited-edition sneakers or celebrity collaboration.

Through compelling storytelling, such as striking imagery like that used in the post below, Nike uses its voice to share inspiration with its audience daily.

By telling a powerful story, Nike also attracts people who resonate with their message, even if they’re not specifically interested in athletics. Their approach to brand storytelling has inspirational and aspirational elements that draw in new audiences and get them invested in the brand.

Use rewards programs

If you want to incentivize your audience to return to your website or shop with you again, a great strategy is to create a rewards or loyalty program. These programs typically offer discounts or coupons to repeat shoppers. Brands that give their repeat customers extra perks can encourage return shoppers, especially if they provide an experience that people enjoy.

Starbucks has virtually gamified its rewards program in a way that makes their customers excited to use it. The Starbucks Rewards Card and app make it easy for customers to get their Starbucks with simplified purchase options and collect perks along the way.

Starbucks also rewards people who aren’t necessarily repeat customers. Their birthday rewards and different holiday promotions are ways to spread awareness among less frequent customers and incentivize future visits with discounts and free items. They use social media to promote their rewards program and get new customers in the door.

Starbucks is an example of taking a rewards program to the next level with their extensive app, but even a punch card towards a free item or a discount will encourage repeat customers. Even if you don’t have a digital rewards program, you can use social media to get the word out to a wider audience about these options.

Using social media to build brand loyalty

Ideally, your social media marketing strategy has set goals like increased brand awareness, higher conversion rates and overall better customer experience. Using social media to build brand loyalty is not just about posting new products or updates, but when done right it can drive results to these goals. You want your followers to invest in your brand story, and social is the perfect platform to tell that ongoing story and delve into all the facets of your brand identity. The way to do this is to create compelling content that generates engagement with your audience.

GoPro capitalized on its loyal fans by launching numerous social media marketing campaigns comprised solely of user-generated content.

Taking this approach builds social proof among new audiences, and tells them that people love GoPro and continue to use it. It also helps demonstrate that GoPro makes consistently high-quality and user-friendly video cameras. By building a social media presence that deeply resonates with their target market, they build brand loyalty, as demonstrated by their #goprofamily hashtag. This brand loyalty leads to tangible results when customers choose to replace their old ones with the latest model rather than seeking out new brands.

Use social media to support every aspect of your brand story. Think about the goals you want this narrative to target–such as the social proof and key product stories reflected in these examples–and you’ll find plenty of inspiration to build out social media content.

You also want to use these opportunities to interact with your audience and show you care–which leads to our next key tip for brand loyalty.

Build a community

To build a thriving and tight-knit online community, you need to know your audience and their commonalities as a group. A loyal community of followers will do a lot of the work for you. These brand advocates will spread information about your brand, tell their friends and give honest reviews of your products, but only if they feel proud of being a part of the community. Communities take a lot of patience, consistency and time to build. You can create a community, like a private Facebook group, or specific hashtag that lets you authentically interact with your followers on a 1:1 level.

SoulCycle achieved its goal of creating a massive community of people who think fitness should be joyful and fun. Their community-oriented classes and studios generate a sense of belonging for their visitors and make them want to come back.

SoulCycle uses its community to crowdsource customer feedback. The company asks for customer feedback on everything from the way the studios look, feel and even how it smells when looking to make improvements.

When community turns to brand loyalty is when your community begins to grow and sustain itself without your direct involvement. SoulCycle instructors and local studios regularly bring their community together through different events. Taking the community offline and gathering people together in person is a powerful way to create a sense of camaraderie that your customers will want to continue to experience.

The long-term impact of brand loyalty

The goal of building brand loyalty is to create long term ambassadors that support your brand. After all, loyal customers are more likely to recommend you to their friends, support future launches and talk about your brand on social media.

Brand loyalty has the power to grow your business and sustain long term growth. Stay engaged and in communication with your audience and listen to what they’re telling you. This will help you learn more about their needs and allow you to set your brand up for long term growth. The more you prioritize the long-term effects of brand loyalty, the more you’ll see the impact.

For a classic example of brand loyalty, take a look at Coca Cola and Pepsi. Both brands have a massive amount of awareness and yet each brand has its own loyal customers. Customer’s loyalty for one brand over the other might be because of the taste, product or branding. But it’s safe to say that most people have their preferences.

The two brands have solidified their loyalty among customers who rarely switch between the two. Their individual approaches branding also appeals to different audiences. Customers might resonate with one message over the other, helping sway their loyalty. Coca-Cola places emphasis on positivity and community. Pepsi, on the other hand, uses bold and out of the box marketing tactics to market their products.

If you can leave a lasting impact on your audience, you’ll be able to do less hard selling long term. In the end, brand loyalty is about meeting your customer’s needs and creating an experience that keeps them coming back.

This post How to build brand loyalty that lasts originally appeared on Sprout Social.

This content was originally published here.

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