Less than one third of consumers say that they are loyal to a brand or company. Without loyalty, there is a great possibility that the consumer will switch to a different brand to the tune of $6.2 trillion up for grabs. To get your share of this pie and retain your existing customers, loyalty can be developed by making your clients feel important.
Create a Relationship
According to Relationship Marketing Theory, the goal of all marketing is to create an honest relationship with the customer. When a relationship is established, loyalty is created and sales are a natural byproduct. It proposes shifting the focus from sales to interaction. Social media has offered us a platform to communicate with customers on a very personal level. We can have guided but non-advertorial conversations, finding out the consumer’s needs, struggles, and limitations. Then we can tailor our services to their requirements. Nothing cements loyalty more than a product developed from customer’s input. Use Facebook as a good way to open dialogue and gather information.
Foster Membership in a Community
Relationship marketing as it stands in social media is community based. It goes beyond individual involvement. When customers feel important, they become part of a membership composed of loyal clients. Research into virtual community development shows that integration and satisfaction are key components to sustainable community formation. Tire retailer Goodyear did a good job of blending the physical community with their online presence when they ran a contest to name the newest blimp in their fleet of iconic air vehicles. The winner, from Akron, Ohio, immediately connected her 72 years of life seeing the blimp in the air with tire company’s brand image. This made Akron into a Goodyear community.
Blend Real and Virtual Locations
One of the benefits of the Goodyear contest is that it had national exposure but local impact. This is the same loyalty driving conduct that is used with restaurant reviews and Yelp evaluations. Social media, with the help of GPS enabled smartphones, let users report their locations using a check-in function. The action of checking-in motivates social involvement. Stripping away many layers of sophisticated psychology and boiling down to the meat of the action, check-in on social media is a way to let everyone know where the cools kids are hanging out.
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Another way of creating customer loyalty is through the reciprocity of deeds. People like to get something back for being part of a group. It makes them feel nice and keeps them around for a long time. Reciprocal behavior can be as grand as a gift or as simple as a thank you. Credit card companies have taken this idea to an extreme, inadvertently creating a whole new marketing strategy. Originally, points for purchases were a reciprocal behavior, rewarding customers for using the card. It has since evolved into a selling point with card companies advertising their point systems and specializing in industry specific reward accumulation.
Market Through Education
Like any relationship, boundaries are important. Too distant and bonds are not formed but too close and relationships lose their individuality. In business, this means that the marketing message gets lost. To avoid overworking the marketing channel, try creating educational dialogue. This adds value for the consumer which increases loyalty and importance but is relatively easy to create, minimizing the need for manpower.