Brand marketers have always sought to build relationships with consumers to encourage brand loyalty, but their tactics most of the time fail short.

Most marketers are still trying to drive loyalty through traditional channels such as maintaining a CRM database, launching a loyalty scheme, and even using a social media following as a de facto “community” (here’s the free marketing nugget: it’s not). Yet, loyalty is getting hard to come by, and consumers cheat on brands all the time. A recent survey stated the 71% of people retract their brand loyalty faster today than they did four years ago.

Marketers still make two significant errors when using traditional loyalty tactics: trying to develop a relationship built on transactions; and not listening to consumers.

Marketers often try to get consumers to stick around solely by offering points, levels, and reward discount codes, only to find that consumers ignore these outreach methods: 76% of Brits abandon or never activate loyalty schemes they signed up to.

Another way to quickly lose loyal customers is to ignore them. 68% of consumers say they would be more loyal to a brand if they knew that the brand would act on their feedback and make improvements. In a study of 1,420 Brits, 85% said they have given some form of feedback to a brand or company, but just 39% of those people said they feel their feedback was used in a constructive way.

When companies listen to their customers, they succeed and grow. When companies don’t listen, they flounder and die!

A shift is happening, and marketers who act on it are ahead of the game. Traditional loyalty tactics are actually missing some of the critical components that make loyalty possible. Points and one-way communications do not define the future of loyalty. The X factor for building loyalty is emotional relationships built from a customer-first dialogue.

The brand director from one of the pet retailers we deal with said, “We made a conscious decision not to offer a rewards program because we felt it risked cheapening the authentic relationship we have with our community. Instead, we aim to cultivate emotional loyalty by listening closely to what our customers have to say.”

The phrase “community” is roaring back to life for brands as a central strategy to build direct relationships with consumers.

Here are three keyways to do it right.

1.Build a channel to showcase shared values

A successful community is built around a common purpose. It is an effective way to embody the brand’s core values: Consumers overwhelmingly choose brands that match their values.

But shared values are not just about telling a story of who you are as a brand. Many think of community-building as focused entirely on brand fandom, with the brand at the centre of attention. But a community is about empowering people to tell the story of who they are and what they stand for.

Consider a brand like Jaguar. The purchase of a vehicle entails much more than just the vehicle itself. The brand represents a lifestyle filled with adventure; owners embrace that owner lifestyle fully. Jaguar helps build on sense of community by hosting “Track days,” events where owners gather together.

2.Offer an outlet for consumer-driven innovation

Creating a positive feedback loop not only facilitates emotional bonds but also helps your brand stay ahead of trends. Most marketers live in an echo chamber, and very few can gather organic feedback.

By changing “consumer” to “collaborator,” brands can crowdsource new ideas while increasing customer satisfaction. When marketers have a community at their fingertips, they can solicit feedback through focused discussions, surveys, and reviews. Four out of five say they enjoy offering feedback and making a difference to brands. Truly a win-win scenario.

 

3.Create a centre of mass for a brand

As is the case with any marketing strategy, a community cannot be a siloed effort. For a community to achieve maximum results, it must be in harmony with overall business goals.

Almost always, brand-led community-building starts as a means to support the brand, but for a thriving community an exciting shift can happen. Successful communities flip the script: A community stops supporting the brand, and the brand starts supporting the community. And that’s when companies hit cult-like followings, and the brand becomes a part of one’s identity.

Such loyalists are willing to seek you out; they are immune to competitive promotions, and they are willing to pay more just because it’s coming from the brand.

In short, those consumers don’t cheat on you.

 

 

If you would like to find out more from the UK’s leading pet product marketing agency with over 1.7m social followers, and a digital reach of over 111m and consumer engagements of over 3.3m interactions every single month – how did that happen for our brand, maybe we are all quite skilled marketers? Take a look at our website www.petsubjects.co.uk or email our COO graham@petsubjects.co.uk