Customer loyalty and advocacy is the difference between someone occasionally buying your product and someone who will always buy your product, no matter what your competitors are offering, and let everyone know how great they think you are. It is immensely valuable, but it isn’t something you are automatically granted just because a customer tried your purchase once and really liked it. Instead, you have to earn it.
During last week’s #SEMrushchat, expert Samantha Noble joined us to discuss how you can build loyalty and advocacy with paid media. Noble is the founder of Biddable Moments and DigitalFemales, and shed some light on both the importance of this task and how to tackle it. Thanks to both Samantha and the help of our other chat participants and industry experts, this is one recap that you won’t want to miss.
Q1. What are the most important elements in building customer loyalty?
There are several crucial elements that are essential to build true customer loyalty, but the most important one is trust. Long gone are the days where businesses could hide behind closed doors; consumers are too smart for that, and, quite frankly, they have too many other options out there. If your brand isn’t perceived as being trustworthy, it will be almost impossible to build loyalty and even harder to find success with your business long term.
Showing your customers that you care is an important part of building trust. Listen to them and address their pain points without aggressively trying to sell them something they don’t need. Be generous with advice, and as transparent as possible. This will help you build the type of personal connection that is often so important to building trust.
Immediately after trust comes importance to building loyalty as a perceived value. What can your brand offer that others can’t? How valuable is your product to customers?
There are a million different options for women looking to purchase flats in every color, after all, and at least half of them will cost less than $50, and yet Tieks is an exceptionally popular brand of flats for women that cost $175 a pair thanks to their superb quality. People pay again and again and again because they perceive the value to be worth it.
There are several other factors that help drive customer loyalty, but they predominantly contribute to either trust or perceived value (or both). Consistency, for example, shows that you are reliable-- this increases both trust and perceived value because customers know they can rely on you. Your expertise boosts perceived value and trustworthiness, too. Excellent customer service also helps build trust by establishing a better rapport with customers and letting them know that no matter what happens, you will make it right. Positive reviews boost both trust and perceived value, as user-generated content is far and away the most trusted form of media anywhere. And finally, the brand messaging you choose tells the world who you want to be - make sure that your actions and products match that message.
If you are able to hone in on establishing trust and high perceived value of your product with several different strategies, you have a much better chance of your customers being loyal advocates for life.
Q2. How can someone use paid social media to increase their brand loyalty and advocacy?
When using paid social media campaigns to build brand advocacy, whether that’s paid influencer content or PPC campaigns, the focus shouldn’t be on selling directly. These customers likely already like your product, so instead of trying to drive immediate conversions, focus on relationship building. Using storytelling to build brand awareness and develop trust is a good strategy to start with.
You should also use the right messaging in your ads and focus on providing as much value as possible to your target audience. In order to do this, you should understand what they want and go out of your way to deliver it. This can be in the form of content, offers, and deals.
Tailor your messaging and your campaigns to your audiences’ exact needs. If, for example, you check and see that an existing customer is searching for a competitor’s brand, shoot them an ad with a loyalty deal to keep them with you. When retargeting, using your knowledge of the exact audience you are reaching out to in order to craft the most relevant messages possible.
You can use organic social media engagement audiences and loyalty CRM value to create retargeting campaigns that focus on providing exclusive loyalty discount codes and early access windows to shop for new and exclusive products.
To build advocacy, you can run campaigns promoting your official referral programs, incentivizing advocates to invite their friends to try their brand in exchange for a free product or discount.
You can show ads to existing customers to encourage them to leave reviews on certain platforms and/or to tag their friends in the comments, or encourage them to invite friends to see you in store. This allows you to start to build a community and generate discussion with your brand advocates doing all the selling for you, and in a very public way that other users will be sure to take note of.
Q3. What are some of your top techniques that brands can use to increase the loyalty of their customer base, and get their happy customer base recommending them to others?
Customer loyalty isn’t just something that you can achieve once and then forget about; instead, it requires conscious effort to maintain. It is more like a romantic relationship than a friendship where you can lose touch and then jump right back into things.
There are too many competitors to just be complacent. You need to be actively working to increase loyalty and advocacy, especially if you want them to be referring new customers to you. Customers may not just leave reviews on their own, for example; you may need to encourage them to do so. You can do this through referral programs or with the chance to win a prize in a contest or giveaway. When in doubt, affiliate networks always work.
Consistently reward loyal customers however you can. Offer them discounts, exclusive access to shop new products or collections first, or top-tier treatment with free advice if applicable. Even small, branded gifts like swag or giveaway items can go a long way in helping customers feel valued. You can even use customer match or RLSA with countdown ads to offer discounts on subsequent purchases after a recent purchase.
Be real and approachable, and make sure that every employee associated with your business is the same. This goes for high-level executives and business owners all the way down to entry level employees. You can do this by being generous with your time, and by teaching your customer service team to immediately do whatever they can to resolve customer problems. Recovered customer experiences can actually make customers more loyal to your brand than they were before the incident ever happened, so that’s something to keep in mind.
In addition to actively wooing your customers, you should be making sure that someone else isn’t wooing them more effectively. You should also be constantly monitoring what your competitors are doing. If they are offering great discounts and lower pricing at a similar perceived value, it is only natural to expect customers to jump ship. If appropriate, consider offer price matching, or do what you can to match other offers on the market.
Q4. When it comes to customer retention, how is marketing segmentation used? How does this improve brand loyalty?
Marketing segmentation should be a cornerstone of building loyalty and advocacy with paid media. Marketing segmentation and retargeting campaigns allow you to deliver the most relevant- and therefore effective- messages and offers to sections of your target audience. Since you already have plenty of information about the customers you already have, use that to your advantage.
You don’t want to just hit customers with ads for things they have just bought, after all. Instead, you can use custom audiences to present them with offers for similar or complementary products for future purposes. Utilize segmentation based on past purchase history and on-site activity to improve retargeting campaigns.
You can also drive engagement on Facebook or Instagram on specific posts talking about products, services, or loyalty programs, and then use custom audiences to target these individuals with re-engagement campaigns. Utilizing strategies to engage with customers on the same platforms they engaged with you will also increase your likelihood of success. This can include webinars, email campaigns, and gated content.
You can also segment not only by interest but by the length of time it has been since certain customers engaged with you. The longer it has been, after all, the stronger the incentive it is for you to get them to re-engage. You lost them somewhere, so you want to scoop them back up before it is too late by reminding them that your brand is great and that you care about them. Use re-engagement campaigns to target audiences who haven’t connected with you in awhile, offering them too-good-to-miss deals and copy that utilizes storytelling and feature-benefit selling.
Take advantage of paid media platforms. They allow you to upload your customers’ email information and gain insights on the audience as a whole. Use this information to create buyer personas and develop strong, highly targeted ad messaging. Once you do this, you can use this data to not only reach your current audience but also to use your targeting criteria to reach cold traffic that is similar to your most high-value audiences.
Q5. What are some of the techniques you use to identify your most loyal clients online?
Building a loyal client following and raving fans is exceptional, but it’s also important to make sure that you can identify them online to keep them engaged and advocating for you. Fortunately, there are several ways to do this. For best results, consider using a combination of them to monitor user engagement across multiple platforms.
Ideally, you should be keeping track of user engagements across all channels, including the brand engagements discussing you but not involving you directly. You should also be tracking the lifetime value of your customers (LTV) to determine how much the average loyal customer will spend in their entire relationship with your business. Fortunately, to make this a little easier, you can actually track LTV with a Facebook integration.
During this process, upsell value to your customers and see which ones bite-- these will be your most high-value customers, which are often likely to be the most loyal or the strongest advocates.
You can also use paid social and PPC channel insights to learn more about these high-value customers, along with social listening and brand monitoring tools like what we provide at SEMrush. If possible, you can see what they are saying and get involved in the conversation. From there, you can use lookalike audiences or the data to assemble targeting criteria to help reach cold traffic most like your high-value customers.
Use your analytics to determine what types of audience segments spend the most money, both in terms of high purchase value and frequency. Once you’ve established this, utilized segmented marketing to keep them engaged, purchasing, and referring new clients just like them your way.
That is all! Make sure to join us on the next #SEMrushchat with special guest, Michelle Held to discuss "The ROI of Social Media Marketing!"