Building customer loyalty should be at the front and center of every business decision that you make. Without customer loyalty, you’d waste time, money, and effort, always trying to generate new leads and bring in new prospects. It’s an unsustainable practice that adds to your staff’s stress levels and lowers your performance.
Of course, generating leads and expanding your audiences is a must for any business, regardless of how small or large it is. But not at the cost of losing existing customers.
Just a 5% increase in customer retention can boost your profits by anywhere from 25% to 95%. But you won’t improve customer loyalty and retention by simply offering rewards or creating marketing loyalty programs. These are bribing strategies – they can work to an extent, but they won’t generate true loyalty as their focus is of an economic nature. Your goal with such programs is solely to boost transactions.
To boost loyalty, you need another strategy. You need to build a community.
Why You Can’t Buy Loyalty
Traditional marketing efforts with disruptive ads and limited-time deals are quickly fading away. Today’s consumers don’t want to be bombarded with impersonal emails or flashy banner ads. They want to be courted. They want to conduct business with brands that care about their customers, not those that only care about their sales.
Even if you offer the most affordable prices, you’ll get higher churn rates if you don’t deliver an impeccable experience. Over 86% of consumers will pay more just to get a better customer experience. With the rise of ecommerce and online retail, they can easily find your competitors who always put the customer first.
So, no. You can’t buy loyalty with cheap advertising and low prices. You can only earn it by improving the customer experience and engaging with your audiences in meaningful ways. You can earn it by building a strong community.
The Basics of Community Building
Community building can be somewhat of a challenge for those new to it. It requires patience, dedication, and a true focus on your customers. Boosted sales and increased profits should only be a welcome side-effect.
Establishing a strong brand community that inspires customer loyalty cannot happen overnight. It takes time to build an authentic community and enable your company to develop long-lasting relationships with customers. If you’re in a rush, your entire approach will feel forced. Instead of attracting your most loyal customers, you’ll push them away.
So, start slow. Share your brand story, organize events where your customers can get to know your company culture, inform and educate your consumers, and provide them with valuable content.
The inside-out approach
Your brand community needs to start from the inside out. You first need to unite your team and give them a unified purpose before extending your community to your customers.
Your own employees are your best ambassadors and your most significant assets. Suppose they don’t belong to your brand community. In that case, every marketer, customer support agent, sales consultant, and project manager will leave a different impression on the customer and present your company as disorganized and inconsistent.
Your community needs consistency, and it needs to start internally.
If you don’t take hold of your community culture, someone else will. So, you need to set the tone for your community, establish rules of conduct, and ensure your community members’ safety.
You need to decide whether your community will be serious and formal or friendly and casual. You need to determine what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not inside your community. You need to set up the rules and make sure they’re followed.
Without some rules and guidance, your community can quickly get out of hand and grow into something that you hadn’t intended. So, take charge of your community culture and ensure it’s in line with your brand persona.
Every brand community should have intrinsic value. Why should your customers want to be a part of your community? What are they getting from it? What are they missing out on if they’re not in your inside circle?
If your community doesn’t bring any value, it won’t appeal to your audiences. And keep in mind that value isn’t just about discounts or rewards. Value can lie in the support your community gives to its members. It can lie in the friendships and opportunities created within it.
You can offer value through relevant, informational content, unique experiences, or charitable activities.
Understanding the Benefits
Inspiring customer loyalty through an engaging brand community brings distinct benefits to your company and your team.
Your community can boost your brand awareness. After all, satisfied customers who feel connected with your brand are more likely to recommend your company to their friends, family, and even internet followers. If your services and community are deemed excellent, over 94% of your customers will offer their recommendations for your business.
Your community will also provide you with priceless feedback on your company’s strengths and weaknesses. By interacting with your community, you’ll learn about your customers’ main pain-points, identify their needs and desires, and understand just how well you’re meeting their expectations. No survey or customer interview can give you such detailed insights.
Additionally, you’ll build stronger relationships with your consumers and inspire lifetime customer loyalty.
Maintaining a Community Is a Separate Challenge
Of course, building and maintaining your brand community are two very distinct concepts. You’ll need to stay dedicated and continue engaging with your community if you hope to maintain it.
You need a thorough engagement strategy that keeps your community active. Develop a strategy that will detail how and when you’ll communicate with your community, how you’ll start two-way conversations with your audiences, and how you’ll ensure that you listen to community requests.
You’ll also benefit from establishing a dedicated community management team that can overlook and analyze your community 24/7. This team will interact directly with the members, moderate conversations, and ensure that the community rules are being followed.
Tools That Help Businesses Keep up
Since communities have a way of growing into their own unique entities disconnected from your brand, you’ll need to rely on cutting-edge tools that’ll allow you to keep up.
Reputation management tools
Your community members won’t only remain active on your website or within your store. They’ll talk about your brand on review sites, discussion forums, separate social media groups. You can keep track of your brand mentions through reputation management tools.
Communication tools and platforms
By creating a platform where your community members can freely start relevant discussions and conversations, you’ll provide a safe space where every member will feel welcomed. Moreover, you’ll create a space where your community management team can easily overlook discussions, engage with customers, and post updates.
Building and maintaining a strong brand community can have a significant impact on customer loyalty and satisfaction. Regardless of how big or small your company is, you only stand to gain from an active community that brings your customers together.