Trust and loyalty are two components of human behavior that go hand in hand. Whether it’s in relationships built on friendship or a relationship forged in commerce, humans are hard-wired to give their trust to people and brands that make them feel valued, respected, and heard.
Today’s uber-crowded e-Commerce world means that there is a significant amount of competition for customers and getting a customer to stay loyal to your brand means understanding not just what your customers want, but who they are and how they live their lives. While most companies understand the value of customer loyalty many have trouble finding and retaining loyal customers, and still more struggle with accurately taking the pulse of what modern consumers expect in return for giving a brand their loyalty. Customer loyalty is an evolving field that has new trends arising each year which impact customers’ needs. If businesses expect to meet these needs, then it’s important for them to monitor industry trends and statistics for changes that may influence customer loyalty.
If your company is looking to build a truly loyal customer base, then you need to understand that customer data and developing a long-term loyalty strategy that integrates and acts on that data is the key to doing it. It also involves staying on top of current trends in loyalty marketing and forecasting for the future.
The customer loyalty experts at Group FiO have created a list of 7 key trends to bake into your customer loyalty strategy for 2021.
1. Strategic Loyalty Program Partnerships
All good things come to an end, and no matter how effectively you’re using data and personalization to enhance the customer experience, eventually, you reach a plateau point with any rewards or loyalty platform.
Luckily, you can circumvent this inevitability with one of the bigger trends in customer loyalty: strategic partnerships.
By identifying businesses that share a large portion of your customer base, you can create a loyalty program that builds upon itself, rather than one that maxes out at a certain point. For example, if you’re an outdoor adventure clothing retailer, if you partner with a travel company that specializes in outdoor adventure packages, sporting equipment, camping gear, etc. you can continually renew the offerings that and perks that you present to your clients, keeping your engagement fresh and your customers consistently satisfied with your loyalty program.
2. Provide and Ask for Great Content
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past 10 years or so, you’ve probably taken note of the fact that anyone with a smartphone can and does post content on social media. This trend continues to grow nearly exponentially, with an estimated 5 billion videos watched every day, and 30 million people visiting YouTube daily.
What do those massive numbers mean to the future of customer loyalty?
A significant portion of those videos include every day customers made influencers sharing content that includes product reviews, unboxing experiences, how-to videos, and reviews on various products and services that can be an incredibly useful tool to your customer service strategy. By asking your customers to go beyond a simple star review on your customer loyalty app and share User Generated Content (UGC) of themselves using, enjoying, and recommending your products or services to others, you’re showing both interest in your current customers experiences and feedback and also demonstrating to potential patrons that your products are useful and valued by others, and that you care about both. It also indicates that you’re knowledgeable about current trends in social media and a forward-thinking company, something that means a great deal to target audiences like millennials and Generation Z.
In lockstep with this strategy is providing value-add content to your customers. By providing social media posts, blogs, white papers, etc. that showcase how your products and services can relieve customer pain points for your clients, you’re demonstrating the need for your brand to be a part of their lives. You can also ensure you’re developing relevant content that is getting seen by an interested audience through segmented email and social media campaigns that are informed by the data you have collected on your audience.
3. Demonstrate You’re a Brand with a Conscience
The days of customers not wanting to know how the sausage is made are long gone. Today’s savvy consumer is deeply invested in causes and developing a social consciousness. They are also significantly more invested in living with authenticity, and they want the products they buy and the brands they patronize to reflect their growing commitment to social consciousness. This is especially true with the Millennial Generation, which a recent Forrester Research study says is 87% more likely to be loyal to a brand they feel shares their commitment to social causes.
As millennials and Generation Z continue to amass more buying power, it is vital that brands showcase their involvement in their communities, in social causes, and in developing both manufacturing and marketing principles that reflect a commitment to sustainability as much as profitability. Digital loyalty programs are a fantastic platform for promoting your brand’s dedication to good corporate citizenship and telling the stories of how your brand is advocating for positivity in the world. Additionally, by finding ways to weave corporate social responsibility principles initiatives through your loyalty points accruement and rewards redemption process, you can provide customers with an easy avenue for doing their bit.
4. Omnichannel Marketing
A recent study by Aspect Software found that businesses implementing omnichannel techniques are experiencing 91% higher customer retention rates than businesses which aren’t.
Omnichannel marketing is built to effectively market to the way consumers research and shop for products and services today. Today’s consumers are likely to start researching a product or service on one device, like their phone or a tablet, revisit it later on their laptop, possibly go check it out in person at a brick-and-mortar store, and then finalize the purchase a day or two later.
Brands that offer omnichannel experiences to customers boost loyalty because they give shoppers a consistent, unified experience every time they access your brand via any device or touchpoint. Omnichannel brands make shopping easier for customers by remembering their activity, letting them pick up where they left off. Coupled with this, they also boost customer loyalty by providing them with personalized recommendations and interactions that makes them feel valued.
5. Instant Gratification
While research indicates that instant gratification is a higher priority for the millennial and Z generations, more and more consumers are voicing their desire to have online purchases arrive quicker, and reward programs pay off sooner.
Offering options like skip-the-queue perks, mobile payment and instant messaging for customer support are desirable attributes for a brand to have in modern commerce and promote true brand loyalty because they clearly demonstrate that customer satisfaction is a major focus for your organization. The more “instant” you can make various aspects of your loyalty program and its rewards, the better.
Providing a benefit or reward upon first joining a loyalty program or on their first purchase is also a great way to begin building brand engagement and loyalty immediately. Gone are the days where making someone buy “10 items and the 11th is free”. You need to demonstrate the benefits of customers participating in your program and engaging with your brand right off the bat.