The price of brand loyalty

The price of brand loyalty

What are the best strategies for getting loyal customers and brand ambassadors in a multichannel world?

Savvy customers are not as loyal as they once were, switching brands and services freely and using an increasingly complex mix of channels to find the best deals. The customer journey is now dynamic – presenting fresh challenges for marketers aiming to build brand loyalty. So what are the most effective methods?

Engagement and loyalty

“The first thing to remember is that your customers are everywhere, whether that’s in-store, on your website or social media,” says Maria Vardy, managing director at marketing solutions company Jaywing. “So it’s crucial to understand how customers are interacting with each channel and the journey they take in order to build a strong connection with them.

“Just having access to this data isn’t enough. Marketers have to be able to analyse that behaviour effectively in order to create a truly joined up approach. Finding the appropriate platform and moment for the message allows you to direct a well-informed creative process that tailors content to suit each channel, while still following a core message.”

Integrating marketing systems and technology is essential for an effective multichannel strategy, but it’s not just about the tech: “Marketers should research what their customers want, design the user experience they want to give, structure their teams so they can collaborate and share insights, then look at the technology that can make all of this happen,” says Stephen Morgan at marketing technology firm Squiz.

“Multichannel marketing is really about making sure that the wide base of outlets such as email, support and social, can all be tracked back to a single source of truth. This means that you're deploying successful multi-channel marketing, not just multiple campaigns through separate channels to the same person.”

“Having a complete view of the customer is critical,” says Mike Blanchard, head of customer intelligence solutions at SAS UK & Ireland. “It is vital that you understand how your customers behave across all channels, at each and every touchpoint, and that you also understand each customer’s value to you.

Establishing a multichannel marketing platform enables marketers to integrate traditional and emerging channels, says Blanchard: “You will also greatly simplify the creation and execution of cross-channel campaigns by enabling marketers to create, in essence, a single campaign that can be replicated across various channels. And all this puts the holy grail of marketing within your grasp – reaching the right person with the right offer through the right channel at the right time, while reducing costs and improving the effectiveness and performance of your marketing efforts.”

The customer experience must be consistent across all channels, says Blanchard, and personalised to individual needs. “Customer experience is one of the most powerful competitive differentiators. And while the quality of the customer experience is important, consistency is equally important. That’s because your customers experience your brand as a whole, whether their interactions with you are online, in store, by phone, or a combination. If you treat each channel as a distinct entity, you run the risk of turning customers against you by failing to deliver consistency."

Vardy from Jaywing agrees that the message must be genuine and consistent: “Equally, messages need to be targeted at the right time. A customer will be consuming information in a very different way on their desktop at work compared with their smartphone on the commute home. Building a narrative that develops with the different movements, and which considers the mindset of the consumer, is critical. It is not enough to simply release a message onto as many platforms as possible.”

Practical points

Vardy says: “A multichannel strategy also needs to be customised with personalised content, creative and messaging that extends across all channels, be that mobile, email or social. To create a truly successful multichannel strategy, marketers need to pull together a true view of the customer journey across all touch points. This information can then be used to drive strategies for long-term customer engagement and connection, as well as conversion. In reality, initiatives need to play the right role at the right time in the purchase funnel and the overall journey of your customer segments.”

“One of the best ways for brands to build loyalty among their target markets is to add value to consumers' online experience through carefully crafted and targeted native content,” says Nick Brown, CEO of Avid Media. “Creating supporting branded insight that can be integrated into editorial on relevant web channels resonates with readers, directly engaging them in the brand far more effectively than traditional advertising.

Brown has the final word on how to best win customer loyalty: “It shouldn't have to be costly and time-consuming to understand the type of content demanded by your clients and target audience. It is a well-established concept to be reactive to social behaviour – if you listen to the consumer, understand what they are interested in, the content they are reading and what piques their interest, you are able to create and distribute content that is far more useful to them.”

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