With almost 90% of audiences stating authenticity as a key factor when deciding what brands they would support, and 66% of consumers open to the idea of switching between industry competitors that offer a better experience – brands can’t afford to get complacent – poor audience understanding or illegitimate brand messaging can have a detrimental effect on consumer churn.
In our latest workshop, ‘Building and Nurturing Authentic Brand Loyalty with your Audience’, experts Hayley Goff, Chief Operating Officer at Whiteoaks International, Stephen Brunt, Planning Director at The Behaviours Agency, Alex Halls, Account Director of Hatch Group and Claire Lamb, Director of Skout PR discuss the ever-more competitive nature of brand-audience relationships, common mistakes when trying to build an audience connection, and the variety of ways in which brands can develop an authentic image and experience for the customers that matter most to them.
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In this Article:
- Understanding what brand loyalty means
- The role of brand purpose and authenticity
- Key approaches to measuring brand loyalty
- 6 ways to form authentic brand-audience engagement
- Driving buy-in, demonstrating success, and investing in support
READ OUR KEY LEARNINGS FROM THE SESSION BELOW, OR WATCH THE FULL WORKSHOP HERE
Understanding What Brand Loyalty Means
In a nutshell, brand loyalty is the commitment a customer feels towards a particular brand which forces them to consistently return when buying a product, regardless of price, competitors or sometimes quality.
Steve says, “brand loyalty looks different in different markets – to be loyal in the FMCG category is a separate outlook, in say a carbine category, or even more so across B2B categories.
He adds in general, “loyalty is just a human behaviour of what’s the easiest thing to recall and categories. For example, when a customer goes to a bar and asks for Coke but are offered Pepsi instead, it’s always accepted and that’s because what people want was the category, not the product.
Therefore, to create loyalty in that context, you must develop real relevance to the customer needs and anticipate what makes them happy by creating an experience that makes them feel this way and ensuring they remember what makes them happy.” In support of this point, a recent survey by PWC found that 73% of consumers cite customer experience as a vital factor in their purchasing decisions.
The Role of Brand Purpose and Authenticity with Claire Lamb and Stephen Brunt
Your brand purpose is a chance to tell audiences your story, the philosophy you embrace and the values you adhere to.
Buyer matters have significantly evolved over the last few years particularly amongst Gen-Z and Millennial audiences, the demand for brands to be honest, transparent and purpose driven has risen with 46% of consumers stating that they would pay more to purchase from brands they can trust and 66% of consumers choosing transparency as one of the most attractive qualities in a brand.
When it comes to marketing to millennials, 83% want brands to have the same values as they do, whereas Gen-Z consumers prioritise authenticity when selecting a brand to engage with, and are more likely to buy from those that support relatable social causes. As a matter of fact, 64% of consumers from all demographics say that they would buy from a brand or boycott it solely because of its position on a social or political issue.
In this era of authenticity, how do you begin driving brand loyalty and what role does brand purpose play in this? Our experts Claire Lamb and Stephen Brunt share everything you need to know:
WATCH THE FULL WORKSHOP PLAYBACK
Key Approaches to Measuring Brand Loyalty
Building brand loyalty can help establish a sense of identity, amplify reach across channels, improve retention rates and ultimately boost revenue.
Hayley advises to, “take a researched approach to measuring brand loyalty by directly asking customers and prospects their opinions on your brand experience, then use those insights to start to inform your strategy and understand strengths or weakness of your brand attributes.
You want to find out about things that customers care about, and are looking for in a provider:
- Are you meeting or exceeding current customer expectations?
- Do your customers trust you as a brand and how do you maintain this?
- Is the sentiment that customers have towards your brand favourable?
- What are the things that customers value?
- What brand attributes do your customers recognise and care about?
- How likely is it that a customer is going to recommend your brand?
You can then implement these measurements into different strategies and tactics to build relationships with customers.”
Hayley also highlights retention rates, customer longevity, growth of accounts, engagement on social media as key measurements when determining a successful brand loyalty strategy.
Read: Customer Retention 101 – Key Advice to Boost your Retention Strategy
6 Ways to Form Authentic Brand-Audience Engagement
#1 – Front-of-mind tactics
Alex says, “traditional methods like PR, and now digital PR help raise brand awareness and ensures your brand is in the right place at the right time. As an example, if you’re an electrical brand, it’s making sure that you are consistently appearing in reviews and ‘Top 10’ listicles.
In support of this, a recent survey by Trustpilot found that 89% of consumers check online reviews before making a purchase, highlighting the importance of getting your brand reviews in front of audiences.
View our Round-Up: 4 PR Trends to Shape your 2023 Marketing Strategy
#2 – Hero activity
Alex says, “hero activity that gets your name out there in terms of big event and stunts that catch the eye can help build brand-audience engagement.”
#3 – Talent partnerships and ‘brand ambassadors’
Alex says, “as consumers become more cynical, brands must employ the right talent partnerships that portray a sense of authenticity, we’re now moving into an age of brand ambassadors, that seem to have a genuine relationship with a brand. They use the products and have a good understanding of the industry rather than just regurgitating key messages.
#4 – Social media
Alex says, “with social media, you’ve got direct customer engagement and the use of organic content and paid ads, this can be very reactive which is good for brands as you can control the messaging.
Social media engagement can help harbour brand loyalty by recognising what audiences are engaging with and doing more of that as well as identifying who are engaging with your content to construct the type of customer that is loyal to your brand from a wider audience base – whether this be people from a certain sector, demographic, or background.
View our Round-up: Organic Social 2023 – Trends and Opportunities for your Growth Strategy
#5 – Physical activation
Alex says, in regards to the food industry, “seeing is believing, an advert might look delicious on the page but until you actually taste it, you wouldn’t know what it’s like. Therefore, having events where you give testers out for free can instantly build a real brand-audience engagement at the point of sale, which can ultimately lead to greater ROI and potentially lure consumers who have a strong brand loyalty with competitors.
#6 – Customer comms
For marketers, taking advantage of a brand’s first-party data is key to creating the type of seamless and personalized experiences that can take brand-audience engagement to the next level. Consumers consider every interaction — from emails received to purchases made — as part of their relationship with a brand.
Alex says, “email is a great way to build strong brand-audience relationships, but making sure that you follow up and don’t bombard customers with it. There are also a variety of other channels to use to strengthen communication with your audience, the most important thing is finding where your customers react the best on – based on insight – and then utilising that channel.
Read: 5 Tangible Ways to Build Customer Experience into your Strategy
Driving Buy-in, Demonstrating Success, and Investing in Support
Proof of concept when driving loyalty building
With over 82% of business leaders stating that customer retention is more cost-effective than new acquisitions and repeat buyers spending 33% on average than new purchasers - Claire argues that driving internal buy-in lies within such stats that are relevant for your brand loyalty goals.
She adds, when driving your brand loyalty strategy, “to start with something that’s easily measurable, like customer retention rates, and test it to see if there is a change – if not – you can adapt your approach with little disruption.
Frameworks and considerations
Stephen says, “The role of happiness, psychology, in creating loyalty is to understand the set expectations for audiences. Happiness is built on three things: an optimistic view of the future, a positive experience in the present, and a positive memory of the past.
If brands are building those three elements into their framework, it’s a really good way of making sure that consumers stay loyal. As you stay positive in their mind, after the purchase, you give them a positive experience at the time, which is built around their own expectations and you're making sure that the future feels positive, because their expectations are optimistic about you.
Investing in external support
Alex says, “agency relationships should be built on collaboration – they should be able to tell you why a creative idea will work based on insight and research of their own. More importantly, they should know why a particular strategy is going to deliver a greater return on investment.”
He adds, “boring ideas that are based on research is the right way to go when wanting results as opposed to a flashy idea that looks creative on paper but has little research behind it.”
Hayley highlights, that before collaborating with agencies, “you must have the resources to make it successful, such as, having upstate access to the list of customers to contacts or having the time to approve and review the materials that needs to be done, otherwise investment in external support will ultimately fail.
Alex adds, “agency support can offer an abundance of expertise for the same cost as hiring someone internally, who may not have that amount of expertise or resource.”
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