We know how important customer retention is as part of your lead nurturing strategies, but what about lifetime loyalty?
Despite the obvious benefits offered by retention and long-term loyalty, many businesses are so focused on bringing in new customers that they forget how much value long-term customers have to offer.
Last year, in our guide to retaining customers through a post-purchase marketing automation strategy, we revealed a few interesting statistics that showed just how much value retention strategies have the potential to provide. Today, carrying on from those tips, we're sharing some tips on how you can go one step further, by striving for lifetime customer loyalty. Loyalty is bar far one of the most important goals for just about any company, regardless is size or industry. Loyalty is what turns repeat customers into informal brand ambassadors, and ultimately, brand evangelists.
To give you an idea of why loyalty is so important, consider the following statistics on retention and loyalty:
- 55% of consumers state that easy access to support and information makes them far more likely fall in love with companies. (RightNow)
- Loyal customers are 4.2 times more likely to buy again, 5.6 times more likely to forgive mistakes or other minor issues, 5 times likely to recommend and 7.2 times likely to try a new offering. (Temkin Group)
- 73% of customers fall in love with a brand due to strong customer service, while 86% are willing to pay more for an improved customer experience. (Oracle)
- 36% of customers fall in love with a brand because of highly personalised experiences that they have with the brand in question. (TD Bank)
What these statistics show us is that loyalty often comes down to how brands interact with customers. Lead nurturing campaigns give you the ability to not only provide easy access to information but also provide a more personalised experience that is backed by solid customer service and smart targeting.
Luckily, thanks to the many clever features offered by digital marketing platforms, developing campaigns designed to increase lifetime loyalty are not as hard as it seems.
How to Foster Lifetime Loyalty With Lead Nurturing
Back in the pre-digital days, you would have had to pull out all of the stops to create a lifetime customer. Luckily, things are somewhat simpler these days, especially thanks to digital marketing tools that help you plan and execute lead nurturing strategies designed to target customers at every stage of their journey. With the help of your digital marketing platform, and a bit of planning, here is how you can encourage lifetime loyalty in a way that drives engagement, retention, and trust.
1. Put your fans at the centre of your campaigns
Your fans have the power to spread your word far and wide. User-generated content from fans is a highly effective way to drive loyalty and increase engagement. By embedding social media posts, comments, and other messages from fans who share your posts and those who say good things about your brand, you can turn them into unofficial ambassadors.
Putting fans at the centre of your email campaigns is also a clever way to show your appreciation and gratitude. Seeing your brand participate, reciprocate, and engage will encourage fans to further interact. The deeper and more frequent the interactions, the more effectively loyalty is established and nurtured. In this way, your fans will very quickly become a valuable marketing tool that sings your praises to the rooftops without being paid, asked or prompted.
This has a knock-on effect. For starters, happy brand loyalists are more likely to stay with your brand for longer, becoming a fan for life. For another thing, friends and family of brand loyalists are far more likely to listen, because personal recommendations carry more weight than most other forms of marketing.
2. Surprise fans with things they don't expect
You could also plan a highly targeted, hyper-personalised campaign for your top ten biggest spenders, rewarding them in unexpected ways. While not every brand has the budget and capacity to do this, it can be a powerful way to turn regular customers into brand loyalists. Select the customers who have either spent the most in value or completed the most purchases in a set time frame. From there, you can do some research to find out what these fans enjoy. You can then send them a highly unique, personalised gift thanking them for their loyalty.
This type of gesture is not meant to be done in a way that is prompting posts or shares, but rather as a way to impress your top customers and let them know that you genuinely value their support. Ideally, you want the gesture to be impressive without going over the top. A gift basket of favourite products, sports game tickets, a hand-written note with a gift voucher to your store, or even a voucher for a friend or relative to use your services or products can all be effective.
3. Ask for customer input, and actually use their suggestions
Customers love to feel included and valued. One way to make them feel like you genuinely value their input is to ask for it... and then actually use their suggestions. While this does not mean using every single idea from every customer, there are many suggestions that can add real value to your business. One way to show that you are listening is to create surveys or polls that are sent via email or mobile and shared on social media. On your surveys, make sure that you always include a free-form box for anything that has not been included in the survey.
You could also set up a personalised email autoresponder that thanks customers for their feedback, asking them if there is anything else they would like to add. Don't forget adding some incentive for completing polls and surveys – gift vouchers, discounts, or even early-bird access to a soon to be launched product or service. If you use any suggestions, be sure to credit customers and share their suggestions for future emails and posts.
4. Be there for your customers
One of the biggest mistakes to avoid is ignoring your customers. If you genuinely want your lead nurturing strategies to help you turn sometime customers into loyal supporters, customer service is something you cannot afford to overlook. When problems arise, how you handle them is far more important than the fact that the problem arises in the first place. Rather than frustrating your customers with a generic, frustrating customer feedback system, have a smart system in place that provides real value.
Whether that is achieved through a well-trained, dedicated support team, a clever email enquiry system that redirects customers to the department they need to reach as quickly as possible, live help, instant chat, personalised email follow-ups, a fast-tracked system for your top customers, or a combination of all of the above, dealing with crisis times effectively can be one of the most powerful ways to drive loyalty.
5. Go the extra mile
That does not just mean unexpected surprises, genuine interactions, streamlined support, and user-generated content. It also means doing what your competitors are not doing to keep customers engaged. How can you go over and beyond the norm to make your customers love you? This could be as simple as having a product range that surpasses industry expectations, a feature that adds enormous value, a quirky USP that is memorable and fun, an enticing loyalty programme, member-only offers and resources, or something completely one of a kind that customers can only experience with your brand. Working hand in hand with your lead nurturing campaigns, this over-and-beyond quality can very often separate sometime users from frequent users. Think out of the box, think big, and think about what you can offer that your competitors can't, don't or won't offer.
Creating brand evangelists is not the fastest or simplest strategy. One thing, however, is for sure... the more passionately people feel about your brand, the more likely they are to become lifetime supporters.
And, once they are lifetime supporters, they are far more likely to become the people who help your brand the most. Plan your lead nurturing strategies to target your brand loyalists, and you will start to see the results.