Creating a Loyal Customer Base in the Digital Age

Chris Delany

Partner

Back in the dinosaur days, businesses built their relationships with their customers largely on face-to-face interactions. In the modern marketplace, this has changed dramatically thanks to the emergence of the internet. Yet even though many business owners don’t interact face-to-face with their customers anymore, the value of building positive relationships is just as important. Cultivating trust is necessary as customers have higher expectations and become more aware of things like cyber theft and privacy.

Building a loyal customer base increases sales, but it’s also good for long term reasons. By forming positive relationships, you will have a strong following of brand advocates who will support your brand. Half of small business owners report that most of their customers are repeat customers. Also, the cost of attracting new customers is 6 to 7 times higher than the cost of retaining existing customers.

Let’s explore some of the ways that you can enhance customer loyalty and build a fanbase that is bigger than the Deadheads.

Connect with fans on social media.

It sounds obvious, but it’s an easy place to start. And you probably aren’t using it to your full potential. Social media gives you a great platform for connecting with your fans and reaching more people. If your product is selling, then it means you have fans somewhere. You can start by getting a feel for what people think of your product. Ask questions. Take a poll. As you get more feedback, you’ll know which direction to go in.

One study from Deloitte found that 75% of online Americans say product information found on social media greatly influences their shopping decisions and encourages brand loyalty. Not having an active profile can scare people away. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a presence on social media, even though there is a lot of noise to cut through.  

Offer customer service assistance online.

The internet is usually the first place that people turn to when they have a question or want to talk to a brand. Consumers want to avoid the long wait times that are typically associated with phone inquiries, and they don’t want to wait for a response as they would have to if they sent an email. So, online they go.

To help streamline customer service questions, it helps to create a thorough and informative FAQ page. It’s one of the first places that customers look when they have a question, but you can also remind shoppers about your page on social media, an email newsletter or the home page of your site.

Having an FAQ page is beneficial for both you and your customers. Being able to answer common questions can reduce customer calls and live chat messaging. It can also increase customer satisfaction and lead to a boost in sales. Plus, your customers get the answers they’re looking for in a fast, efficient manner. This makes them feel good about your brand and the purchase they’re about to make.

Establish a loyalty program.

Customers like to be rewarded for their loyalty. When brands notice this, they are more likely to stick around because they feel that their purchases are appreciated. One of the best ways to show your customers that you notice them is by building a lucrative loyalty program. A Nielsen study found that 76% of North American customers are more likely to choose a company that has a loyalty program. If that’s not a bit of encouragement, we’re not sure what is!

There are many ways to reward your customers such as by giving them points for purchases, contests, coupons, free shipping, etc. Just make sure that whatever you do offer your customers is attainable. There’s nothing worse than signing up for a loyalty program, only to find that you have to spend a fortune to get a small reward. When a pizza place gives me 50% off a pizza after I buy 20, I’m not too impressed.

Encourage honest customer reviews.

Consumers trust other consumers. Because online shoppers aren’t able to hold the product in their hand, they rely on feedback from other people just like them. If other customers feel that the product is cheap or too expensive for what it is, the feedback weighs heavily on those sitting at home. In fact, studies show that consumers trust online reviews just as much as opinions from friends and family.

Knowing that customer reviews can make a huge impact on how people feel about your business, ask your current customers to write reviews. This shows that you care about their opinion and are open to both good and bad feedback. If you aren’t given great reviews, do take the time to respond appropriately. People won’t trust you if they see that you only respond to the positive comments.

Provide insightful content on a regular basis.

A final way to enhance customer loyalty is by offering insightful content on a routine basis. This reminds your customers that you are there and keeps things fresh. Your blog is a place to inform, entertain and enlighten your readers, so don’t go heavy on the sales talk. There’s a time and a place for that, and it’s not here.

Content is successful in building loyalty because it shows that you are a trusted expert in your field, and you’re happy to educate your readers so that they can become smarter shoppers, too. It also helps build relationships by stirring up conversations on social media. Just make sure you are available to respond to comments! Readers like things in real-time, not hours or days after the fact.

And a final reminder: Be sure to mix up your content. You don’t want to bore your readers or come off as being predictable. Offer a steady assortment of short posts, long posts, videos, infographics, top 10’s, how-to’s and slideshows.

Final thoughts for the day.

Customer loyalty is invaluable. Even in a digital age where most businesses don’t see their customers face-to-face, you should still make customer service a priority. With so many channels to manage, we understand that providing customers with a good experience can be more complicated. It requires you to be on your toes and monitoring things in real time. That said, taking the steps to be available for your customers reminds them that you are a brand that can be trusted, which is the very core of brand loyalty.

About the Author: Chris Delany
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