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Building Loyalty in a Digital World

When searching for a product or service, the first port of call for most people will be to consult Google. Pages of company and product details, reviews and ratings, comparison sites weighing up the pros and cons and cheapest ways to buy – all the information you could need to make an informed choice. A recent survey showed that 63% of customers are likely to switch product or service if their expectations are not met.

The internet gives you the ability to choose the best quality, best performing, best tasting, best service, best price. I started to wonder, in this digital world where we have seemingly unlimited choice and are bombarded with messages and enticements to switch, are any of us still brand loyal?

A Clear Generational Difference

I ran a small survey amongst the Your Marketing Team team to ascertain our reasons for choosing certain products and to gauge how loyal we are to those brands. I chose product categories with brands traditionally known for inspiring long-term loyalty: Butter, Baked Beans, Chocolate, Trainers and Ketchup – all of which conjure up big brand names. I was interested to see whether we’re still loyal to these brands and also whether there was any generational difference in our decision making.

As you would traditionally expect, the big brands like Heinz and Cadbury still featured highly. The reasons for this loyalty are deep rooted, centring mostly around childhood nostalgia and because ‘it’s what our parents bought’. Aside from this, the Gen X and Millenials amongst us are mostly influenced by price and value, quality and also by an element of expert opinion. Most interesting was the response from the Gen Z amongst us, who place a greater focus on their personal experience with a brand, e.g. how they treat you in store and how they engage with you online.

Of course, brands like Heinz and Cadbury are extreme examples, the Goliaths of brand loyalty. For regular small to medium sized businesses who need to compete without the benefit of big budget advertising, the experience your customers have with your brand is paramount to retaining their loyalty. For a customer, a poor experience with a product or service or not feeling like their opinion is being heard can be all it takes to vent their frustration on social media or leave a negative Google review, before ultimately taking their business elsewhere.

In a world of overwhelming choice and increasingly faceless business interaction, it is more important than ever to maintain a meaningful relationship with your customers and to provide a human touch. The value of that personal touch, ensuring that your customers feel appreciated and even special is an essential part of building a long term, loyal relationship.

Even the smallest connection, if it makes your customers feel valued, can be enough to ensure that they remain loyal your product or service.

3 tips for building loyalty in a digital world:

1. Be human - remember that your customers are real people who will value being treated as more than a transaction.

2. Ensure your customers feel heard and valued - respond quickly, let them know you’re listening and that you value their custom.

3. Give back - where you can show appreciation, do. A little discount, a friendly communication, a way of building that feel good factor to ensure that you’re still in consideration next time they require you. Perhaps a special discount on their birthday; replying to your customers’ Facebook message/tweet/Instagram in a timely and friendly manner; offering a chance to speak to a real human where possible; providing tailored, relevant communications and offers.

If you would like to talk to us about building loyalty then please feel free to get in touch.