The massive economic and social upheavals caused by the global pandemic over the past year led to significant changes in consumer behavior, leaving brands to question conventional wisdom on how to improve customer retention.
To hold onto their share of the market in a consistently shifting digital landscape, companies around the world are focused on finding innovative strategies for boosting brand loyalty among existing customers.
Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share unique ideas for connecting with customers in a way that builds genuine trust and, in turn, brand loyalty in 2021.
1. Deliver Personalized Experiences
Consumer expectations for personalized experiences are on the rise due to the pandemic and other factors that were already in play, such as the rise of the experience economy. If brands want to inspire loyalty from their customers, they must identify and deliver on those outcomes that customers deem meaningful in their lives, not just business outcomes as reflected in metrics such as key performance indicators. – Camille Nicita, Gongos, Inc.
2. Use Conversational Marketing
Today, customers expect connections with brands to be instant, personalized and accessible on any channel. Brands can achieve this with conversational marketing using two-way channels, such SMS text or WhatsApp, to encourage a personalized dialogue between customer and brand. Using chatbots and APIs, brands can pull off conversational marketing with minimal resources, boosting CX and brand loyalty. – Matt Ramerman, Sinch for Marketing
3. Put A Spotlight On Your Customers
I’d suggest you focus on content that is not only educational, but also puts the spotlight on your customers and clients. This works very well in the business-to-business space. For example, in B2B you can start your own company podcast or vlog and interview your clients, then repurpose that content for them to use on their channels. – Stefan Katanic, Veza Digital
4. Be Trustworthy In Your Messaging
Trust is key. Just calling this out as unique says a lot about the state of marketing. For those of us in health, distrust in messaging can cost lives. Combatting this means aligning with respected voices and influencers and placing those messages in trusted outlets. Media has become very polarized, and we’re working to make sure that messaging is attached only to trustworthy brands or personalities. – Andrea Palmer, Publicis Health Media (PHM)
5. Develop A Brand Ambassador Program
Testimonials and reviews have always been valuable and important to the growth of a business, and a brand ambassador program kicks that up a notch. Think social media: What great exposure would you receive with customer- and user-generated content that endorses and spreads goodwill for your brand? It’s priceless! – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency
6. Create An Emotional Connection
Companies can increase brand loyalty with their consumers by creating an emotional connection. Get your brand associated with influential people, find ways to show commonly shared values and build loyalty programs. By implementing loyalty programs with tailored messaging, unique offers and special offers for returning customers, you can increase brand loyalty and customer lifetime value. – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency
7. Take Part In Cultural Conversations
When it comes to brand loyalty, it’s not enough for a brand to deliver a quality product or service. Consumers are demanding that brands not only tap into cultural conversations, but also have a clear point of view on these conversations. To drive loyalty, brands must have strong values, be authentic to who they are and who they represent and be ready to take action. – Mike Popowski, Dagger
8. Give Your Brand A Social Purpose
Today, your customers are not only looking for products that solve problems, but for companies committed to creating a better world. If you can infuse meaning beyond making money into your business, your customers will reward you for it with greater loyalty and advocacy of your brand, online and off. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove
9. Don’t Sell Your Product
It seems counterintuitive, but look at the brands that did a really good job of growing during the pandemic. What they did was build a community and listen to their customers. Loyalty comes from trust and respect, and that takes time. Put in the effort to build trust now by building your community so that they know you’re in it with them for the long run. – Hunter Johnson, Xpedition
10. Partner With Respected Influencers
By partnering with influencers your target audience admires and respects, you will leverage the strong and authentic bond they have with their audience. You are not only sending the message that you share the same values as these creators, but also coming across as human and relatable. This way, you can transfer the loyalty they have built with their community onto your brand. – Emilie Tabor, IMA – Influencer Marketing Agency
11. Use Video To Make Human Connections
In a year where we are feeling disconnected, it’s easy for customers to change brands when they don’t interact with people anymore. Video is the answer to filling this emotional void, as we can look our customers in the eye through a digital lens and connect with them as real people. People are desperate for a human connection, and video is the best way to make it happen. – Darrell Keezer, Candybox Marketing
12. Reward Clients For Sharing Your Content
Our e-commerce digital marketing experts found that rewarding those customers who share your content with a unique gift builds brand loyalty and higher conversion rates. This gift doesn’t have to be much, but it does have to be unique. – Danny Star, Website Depot
13. Take A Look At Your Web Practices
Brands should take a close look at their web practices because of the high risk of losing clients who are fed up with endless advertising and tracking. The main rule is to let users see your product and content first, before pitching them an offer. Moreover, it all starts with choosing the right partners for ad campaigns to avoid losing brand identity. – Oganes Vagramovich Barsegyan, Digital Beverly Marketing Solutions
14. Leverage Amazon Live To Provide More Value
One of our clients has been using Amazon Live to bring influencers on their show to talk about how they got their first paid gig or tips for taking the best selfie. Providing value to people watching has helped it become one of the most popular brands on Amazon for selfie ring lights. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint
15. Fold Personal Interests Into Communications
In an agency setting, it can be easy to forget that reports, strategy sessions and follow-ups, at their core, are not personal. They are transactional. Is your client into golf? Include a “hole in one” image on that report, or send them free membership to Topgolf. Brand loyalty is established in the mind of the individual, not through transactions alone. – Bernard May, National Positions