Marketing TechnologyEcommerce & SalesDon’t forget your brand loyalists during the holidays

Don’t forget your brand loyalists during the holidays

Before the holidays are over, ask yourself: Are we paying enough attention to our brand loyalists? How Barbie, Trader Joes, and others keep their focus.

They spread the love better than you can.

During the holidays, marketers too often focus on acquiring new customers rather than finding creative ways to build loyalty with those they already have.

Jim Rohn, the late direct marketing pioneer, once remarked:

“One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”

Rohn was speaking to the power of brand loyalists, who, thanks to memorable shopping experiences, repeat their patronage time and time again.

What’s the benefit of focusing on brand loyalists?

Marketers, especially those in ecommerce, will benefit from focusing on brand loyalists during the holidays and beyond. Consider that an online retailer typically sees 40 percent of revenue from returning purchasers, who account for just eight percent of all site visitors.

Repeat customers are also 50 percent more likely to try new products compared to first-time customers and spend on average 31 percent more.

Repeat customers and brand loyalists aren’t necessarily one and the same. Brand loyalists are super fans and drive sales significantly more than the average repeat customer because they spread the word. They are enthusiasts who regularly recommend your company to others on social media and in real life—endorsements that are particularly important during the holidays.

Offering coupons, discounts or giveaways that are shareable on social media is an easy method to promote both loyalty and evangelism. At the same time, such ideas are transactional tactics. And while it may be lucrative to go this route to move the sales needle, you should really devote your team to long-term strategies for developing brand loyalists.

Cultivate community

Brands like GoPro, Starbucks and Zappos have succeeded in establishing loyal customer bases and should be looked upon as role models in building community. What do they all have in common? They combine proprietary online forums and popular social channels to create various touchpoints with brand loyalists.

Barbie may represent online community marketing at its most sophisticated. The iconic doll brand’s website has 25 sections for categories such as vintage looks, Hollywood and silkstone.

What’s more, Barbie actually charges people $19.95 per year to author and read posts in its online forum. So, Barbie not only has loyalists, but it also has members who get sneak peeks at new products and receive exclusive offers.

Compared to other signals, the paid membership is a profound identifier of folks who can be encouraged to buy more often and evangelize for the brand. Barbie also has 22 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, which, thanks to engagement data, can be analyzed by Barbie’s marketing team to suss out loyalists. (Interestingly, the brand’s YouTube channel even offers original programming.)

Build trust through experiences

Creating loyalists sometimes comes down to a brand’s ability to establish a two-way sense of trust with the consumer. And many times, your brand’s approach to common shopping experiences like returns or checkout can make all the difference in building loyalty and trust.

In fact, according to new research by my company, Narvar, 96 percent of consumers would shop with a retailer again based on an easy returns experience. Since returning gifts are so often part of the holiday experience, it’s an important stat for this time of year.

Trader Joe’s, another brand beloved by consumers, offers an extremely lenient return policy. The brand trusts customers to be honest about a product’s quality and automatically delivers a credit for recalled products. Trader Joe’s, which doesn’t buy advertising and calls free food samples the biggest piece of its marketing budget, shows the power of building loyalty through an outstanding consumer experience.

Amazon Go, which is a cashier-less store experience, is another example of a brand and its customers trusting one another. The stores are equipped with smart cameras and sensors that record when something is taken off a shelf, zapping purchases to the shopper’s Amazon Go app.

Customers opt into that surveillance in exchange for the novelty of the experience and the convenience of not having to get in a line. It’s a feature that saves them time and makes them feel empowered—such emotion can only build loyalty.

The time is now

Fostering brand loyalists is crucial, particularly at a time when retailers are under the highest pressure to deliver. Marketers in the United States and Europe must bring in five and seven new shoppers, respectively, to equal the revenue of one repeat purchaser.

And according to McKinsey associate principal Joel Maynes, moving customers from the 80th to the 90th percentile of satisfaction will significantly boost how much they spend.

So, before the holidays are over, send your marketing team a memo: Are we paying enough attention to our brand loyalists right now?

Amit Sharma is founder and CEO of Narvar.

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