Why is Customer Loyalty Important?
Most people will tell you to focus on attracting new customers... We disagree
Apologies for starting with the obvious but, as you’ll already be aware, customers loyalty really is everything to a business. Loyal customers are the glue that holds your business together, keeping you in the black and supporting you to keep doing what your business does best.
Yet despite this, we've found that most businesses focus their time, energy and resources on trying out new ideas and tactics specifically with the intention on attracting new customers.
But here’s the thing, and please try to stay with us on this one, attracting customers can often be relatively straightforward.
The real trick is to keep those customers returning to your business again & again, making sure that a one time sale turns into a customer for life. The best way to do this is to steadily grow and nurture a large base of returning customers.
This is where the importance of customer loyalty comes in.
A truly loyal and engaged customer base will provide a constant stream of revenue as well as a foundation for you to continue expanding your business. Despite the benefits that creating a returning customer has on businesses, however, we're still finding that many small stores want to focus their efforts on attracting new customers, despite it costing about five times the amount to attract new customers than it does to generate revenue from customers you already have.
Think about it like this, if you're focusing your efforts on attracting new customers then you're only investing time on the singular sale. But if you focus on turning a customer into a repeat shopper, you're investing time in the person, and that person returning to your business day after day is infinitely better for your business that a single sale.
A new customer could walk in, make a purchase and leave. That’s it. You may never see or interact with them again.
Now, think about the benefits a returning customer could have for your store. A returning customer regularly visits your store over & over to make a purchase. In fact, returning customers on average will spend 67% more at your store than new customers! They tell all their friends how much they love your store & encourage them to visit. They follow you on your social media channels and generally goes out there way to stay connected to your business.
Customers love feeling attached to a business and if they are loyal to your store, they’ll constantly be shouting about it to their friends.
Just think about how much business these customers could bring to you!
The next step then, is to a make sure you have a strategy in place that helps you achieve this level of customer loyalty.
How Can A Businesses Create Effective Customer Loyalty Strategies?
Long gone are tired formats such as loyalty cards that provide little connection between business owners and customers. Now, practices fuelled by the limitless capabilities of technology and ever expanding ways to communicate with your customers have created a new era where customer loyalty is more effective, more personal and, better yet, provides actual results for businesses.
This is just tip of the iceberg, continue reading below to see for yourself the ways that customer loyalty can help your business.
Alternatively, check out this article about this years biggest customer loyalty trends, such as personalisation, loyalty programs that operate across multiple channels and A.I technology.
Creating Customer Connections That Drive Loyalty
The first step to creating a loyal customer? Connecting with them.
The first thing to remember is that customer loyalty is a two-way street.
Creating a loyal customer following isn’t just about creating a steady stream of returning shoppers for your business. It’s also a way of your customers establishing a relationship with you that provides a positive experience for them. After all, your customers want to feel connected and loyal to your business, with a recent study indicating that 83% of shoppers would be willing to share their data with the businesses they visit, providing it gave them a more connected, personal experience.
The main issue to consider here is to make sure that you’re striking the right balance when communicating with customers, making sure you’re providing them with the meaningful interactions that provide them with a positive and gratifying experience.
Here are a few suggestions for ways to provide a steady line of connections that keeps your customers connected to your business.
The cost-effectiveness of running social media channels makes this a must for businesses of any size. If yours doesn’t already regularly post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by now, you probably should be. Social Media can provide businesses with the opportunities to provide inexpensive online advertising and real-time interactions that keep your customers engaged. The more visual your content the better, there’s nothing like a photo of your product with a nice filter and a few thought out hashtags to get your customers engaging with your business and familiarising themselves with your brand. You have a product that’s worth shouting about so why not do so to the largest possible audience?
Reward schemes take the best bits of a loyalty card, the connection to your customers, and enhance by providing opportunities to keep in touch with customers that old paper cards simply couldn't. Reward schemes have now gone digital, providing a more reassured way to build relationships with customers by connecting with them through the one screen they’re always attached to, their smartphones. Loyalty programs can often be mentioned as something of a tired format, but like most things there's just a right and wrong way to go about creating one. The real truth is that they're just getting started.
Let’s start with a basic example that has worked well in businesses we’ve partnered with, CTAs. A CTA (Call To Action) quite simply is something in-store or online that encourages consumers to interact with your business. It's a simple but effective way to invoke a direct action from your customers and can include anything from links in social posts to take customers to your website or signage in-store that encourages a particular purchase.
Just to show that we don't always plug our own content, here's a helpful article of how to leverage customer connections to benefit both yourself and your loyal shoppers.
Can Brand Awareness Help Increase Customer Loyalty?
To turn a one time sale into a customer for life, you first need to have a brand they will instantly recognise.
Brand awareness is everything when it comes to customer loyalty.
Consumers have an endless amount of independent businesses and national chains to pick from, both on the high street and online, so if they're going to be choosing your store as the one they'll be visiting time after time, they're going to need a brand they can feel connected with to help them conclude that your business is worth investing their time and money in.
There are many great resources, such as this step-by-step to building your brand, that give a much more in depth look at the importance of brand awareness. Alternatively you can always check out our post on it's connections to the changing landscape of customer loyalty.
Growing your brand doesn’t have to be something separate to growing your customer base. Indeed the two of them go hand in hand, with the growth of your brand helping to create a strong image that loyal customers will align themselves to, whilst your ever expanding customer base will help to solidify the identity of your business.
There's plenty of great resources on the subject. For my money if you're after a thorough way to track and measure brand awareness, this is another good place to start.
How to enhance customer loyalty through technology
The future of customer loyalty is here and it’s easier to utilise than you think.
Technology has drastically changed the way that that businesses look to grow their core customer base, providing innovative new ways to keep customers returning to your business and create a large base of returning shoppers. As discussed above, if communication is the greatest asset to effective customer loyalty then intuitive technology is your best tool to action this, providing new ways for small business to build better customer relationship platforms. Here’s an example of a way that many businesses are utilising this technology to gain an advantage over competitors and build customer bases.
Case Study: Push Notifications
As we’ve previously discussed, there’s one thing you can’t keep people away from, their smartphones. So if you’re struggling to find ways to connect with your most loyal customers, why not contact them at the one place where their eyes will always be glued? That’s where the intuitive design of push notifications comes into play. Before, if a customer stops visiting your store, you’ve lost them forever. Now, businesses have the tools to send personalised connections and push notifications to their customer base that keeps consumers connected to the store, all whilst requiring a minimal amount of effort to operate.
Still unsure about how to utilise technology to target your loyal customers? Check out this video from Onify CEO Bertie Cordingley, that should provide you with a greater insight into the topic, or check out how reward schemes are making A.I accessible for small businesses.
Recapping The Customer Loyalty Essentials
Let’s recap the importance of creating a truly loyal customer base for your business.
Hopefully by now you’ve not only learnt the importance of creating a loyal customer base, but also the endless amount of ways there are to turn that customer that visits your store once into a someone who returns to your store and spends again & again.
As we said at the beginning, there can often be a real focus on attracting new customers. We get it, this is a vital first step for businesses when generating revenue, but as we keep reiterating it’s making sure that that customer keeps returning to your store that is the real art for any business.
As we’ve discussed, keeping a truly loyal customer base requires a number of key things:
- Keep customers loyal by connecting with them on a personal level and building strong, long-lasting relationships.
- Creating a brand strategy that will ultimately feed into your customer loyally strategy
- Technology is the difference maker with any rewards scheme - make sure you make the make the most of it
Found what you’ve read interesting? There’s plenty more that we have to offer over on our blogging page, or you can visit our website to see for yourself how the new era of customer loyalty we’re entering can help you.
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