Customer acquisition will only be one chapter in your company’s success story. Looking for long-term profitability? You’ve got to make people want to stick around.
Having loyal customers or clients is the ultimate goal for any kind of brand, so being able to form healthy relationships with those people is crucial.
But how do you do it? How do you even start?
Well, we can give you 5 game-changing tips. First, though, let’s start by exploring what loyalty looks like.
The four types of loyalty
That’s right, loyalty comes in more than one flavor. Understanding the user relationships you could end up with is vital for understanding how to nurture them.
Spoiler alert: there’s only one kind of customer loyalty you really want to strive for.
This type of loyalty really isn’t good for anyone. Customers or clients are finding it hard to leave, but not because they like staying.
In this scenario, a business might have trapped users with contracts that are impossible to cancel. Inertia loyalty also happens when there are no closer alternatives.
It’s also likely that the company’s efforts to impress just faded away after the acquisition stage.
We’re probably all guilty of only using a business when they send us discount codes. Mercenary loyalty is purely transactional: a company basically paying people to use them.
It can be tempting to fire out coupons to inactive customers, but that can lead to zero engagement at any other time.
This type of customer relationship will really stunt your company’s growth.
Think of the biggest brands in the world, and you’ll probably find that they have a cult-like following. From Disney to Nike, cult loyalty is an incredible indicator of success.
When customers or clients love your brand – like, really love it – they can start to blend their own values with yours. But cult loyalty isn’t what you should aim for.
See, falling in love with a brand is organic: it can’t be engineered. This is a game of luck.
Now this is the type of loyalty you want to have from your customers. It’s based on a healthy, two-way relationship where you both get what you need.
With true loyalty, the customer finds real value in using the business. They’re more likely to want to pay that loyalty forward with more custom or referrals.
For businesses, they’ve managed to make customers feel like they belong.
How to get and grow true loyalty
So, how does your business capture that ideal type of loyalty? With some pretty obvious but underused tactics, that’s how.
1. Create an impressive rewards system
Having a rewards program doesn’t automatically give your business that all-important true loyalty status – far from it.
Plenty of companies offer points, discounts, and free things, but still lack engaged and truly loyal customers.
That said, there’s no big secret to creating a rewards system that sets your brand apart. It all starts with understanding what your customers or clients will value, and offering that.
Think about why people start using your business to begin with. What do you provide that is of value to your customers, and how can you use it as leverage?
The Starbucks effect
Let’s take a look at Starbucks. Its customers may have a cult-like admiration for the brand, but it has an impressive rewards program that inspires other businesses.
Users are encouraged to download the free Starbucks app to get started.
As a Starbucks customer you’ll earn stars for every dollar you spend, which can be redeemed for a number of tempting rewards.
The coffee chain cleverly has levels to its star system, so that customers don’t need to wait for ages to earn a treat. For example:
- 25 stars will get you a free shot of syrup
- 150 stars and you’ve earned a free drink of your choice
- 400 stars will get you a whole bag of coffee to take home
Customers get other perks from the app, too. You’ll be able to order ahead, boost your star count with daily games, and enjoy random rewards like free refills.
This rewards system taps into exactly what Starbucks customers value – easily accessible daily coffee and snacks – and gives them an enhanced version of that.
2. Stop focusing so hard on the sale
We get it, you’re running a business and businesses need to make money. But that doesn’t mean that every bit of communication you have with customers should be sales-focused.
Think about why you started your company – it was to solve a problem or address a need, right? That’s what all the best business guides say, anyway.
Whatever that problem or need is, that’s why your customers are using your business.
They already know that you have what they’re after, but they want you to impress them. Show people what else you can offer – why should they use you and not your competitors?
Always keep the sale in mind, but don’t let it take over every customer interaction.
3. Be more transparent
When talking about loyalty, it turns out it’s easy to start blurring the line between a business-customer relationship and the relationships between loved ones.
You can easily draw a comparison when it comes to trust, though. In order to nurture loyalty with your customers or clients, they have to find you trustworthy.
Once you have identified your repeat users, don’t start sending them your company’s financial reports or internal pricing structures.
Just give people a more rounded view of your business. Show them behind-the-scenes photos on social media, or write a newsletter about your ideas planning sessions.
By opening up the channel of communication to reveal the humans behind your business, you’ll go a long way in gaining customer loyalty.
4. Give a personalized experience
Personalization should be at the forefront of your brand’s strategy for communicating with repeat customers or clients.
It can be as simple as addressing people by their first name on email newsletters, or as unique as adding handwritten thank you notes to product shipments.
Implementing a great rewards program will give your company easy leverage to personalize user experiences. Just like Starbucks, you can offer birthday prizes.
Take simple actions that will add value and convenience to customers’ dealings with your business. Allow them to save their usual orders or preferences on your website.
A personalized approach has a couple of advantages. It’ll deepen the relationship you have with customers, but it can also make life easier for them, too.
5. Deliver on customer service
Don’t stop shining after the transaction has gone through – to get and grow loyal customers, you’ll need to give top-notch customer service at every step.
As with the rewards program and personalized communication, your company’s great service will add to the convenience you bring to customers.
Things go wrong, but it’s how you deal with issues that’ll set you apart from competitors.
In order to really nurture customer relationships, make sure that nothing is too big of an issue. Consider the whole journey from onboarding to beyond.
Offer user tutorials, provide forums, create a chatbot, allow easy returns, and provide a repairs service.
Gain that true loyalty status by ensuring that (from the customer’s viewpoint) using your business is easy – so easy, it becomes second nature.