Making an emotional connection with your customers is increasingly critical to retaining them and turning them into what we refer to as “raving loyal fans” of your brand.
The internet, for all its advancement and for all of its flaws, has enabled businesses to do something they’ve never really been able to do before: connect with their consumers, quite literally, on a one-to-one level. While those connections might not always be literally human to human, even a “bot”-to-human connection can feel very real to the loyal consumer, if handled properly.
Making that emotional connection with your customers is increasingly critical to retaining them and turning them into what we refer to as “raving loyal fans” of your brand. Catherine Walts is Marketing Manager at Xceleration, and she says creating an army of raving loyalists is critical.
“Fans who are willing to ‘brag’ about you on social media or refer their friends and family to you are invaluable.”
Their customer journey, Walts says, must include a reason (or several reasons) to keep coming back. There are just too many options to leave their loyalty to chance.
“No longer are consumers limited by what is in their brick and mortar stores in their hometown, but they now have the world at their fingertips on their computers and smart phones,” Walts says.
This ability to order practically anything they want in the moment they want it makes it even more important for your brand to be top-of-mind when the mood strikes. Reaching the consumer on an emotional level helps assure they’ll be thinking about you in the moment. According to the Harvard Business Review, an emotional connection with a brand is even more valuable than feeling “highly satisfied” with the same brand. More research shows consumers are five times more loyal when they feel valued by a brand. The most effective way to form these emotional attachments is to offer a consistently positive customer experience.
Clearly, this starts with having a quality product. After that, engaging with them and gathering data (as discussed in this previous blog entry) develops a profile of who they are as individuals and creates an opportunity for you to take them on a journey that allows them to interact with your brand frequently in a variety of ways.
Gamification is an example of an effective way to connect – by applying elements of point-scoring, sweepstakes or competition, you can create a reason for your consumers to return to a website or branded app. This method is particularly effective on millennials, who are increasingly less likely to trust traditional advertising but will interact with an engaging platform like a trivia game in exchange for points or rewards.
“Gamification can drive brand awareness, reinforce company or product education, and increase engagement in an exciting, fun way,” Walts adds. “Implementing a game into your loyalty program is another way to more authentically drive retention.”
Offering rewards, discounts and free product in exchange for loyalty might seem counter-intuitive. In fact, customers who receive rewards for their loyalty buy nearly twice as often and spend up to 300% more annually than non-members.
There was a time when you could expect your customers to remain loyal solely on the basis of your quality product, but in today’s competitive environment, it takes an engaging customer journey with multiple touchpoints to create your army of raving loyal fans.