Creating loyalty through better communication

How committed are your customers to your brand? And what does your communication say about your commitment to them?

With your personal relationships, you can tell when others are genuine, when they have skin in the game, and when they have your best interests in mind. Additionally, you can tell when they are committed to the relationship. Customers are no different – they are loyal to brands who are loyal to them.

For example, Starbucks understands the concept of a relationship; they want to be your “third place”, or what we refer to as a “third office space” to compliment your at work or home office. The brand provides a welcoming experiencing where consumers can stay as long as they’d like to use their complimentary Wi-Fi, plug in their laptop when the battery is on low, or get recharged and refueled with their favorite caffeinated beverage (while enjoying a sweet or savory snack). Listening to your customers is essential – there are two sides to every relationship. Walmart understands this, and they want to help busy families live better. With Walmart’s focus of being a lifestyle brand (save money and live better), their efforts are focused on providing convenience for their customers with the free in-store pick-up of grocery orders, two-day shipping, etc. The brand promise is to save busy families time while still giving them everything they want at their low guaranteed prices.

The question is how are you helping customers with their journey? Do you know them well enough to have a meaningful conversation, and a two-way relationship?

The art of conversation in any relationship requires a meaningful dialog. Fortunately marketers, now have the tools to know our customers well enough to have that meaningful conversation. We’ve gone from cookies, to device IDs, to households and finally to person level identity. With tools like persistent IDs, it is possible to understand what customers do outside of their transactions. We can get to know customers in a way that wasn’t possible before – personally and at scale.

This technology puts us one step closer to getting back to face-to-face commerce; back to the “corner grocer” way of life as I often say. That sounds backwards in today’s connected world where everything seemingly happens online. However, with the help of first party data from your loyalty program and the vast amounts of information coming in on our customers, we can put their needs first and build a real commitment through personalized and relevant communications.

So, what can you do today? Leverage technology to treat customers as individuals, and market to their individual needs. As you’re embarking on your communication strategy, consider these tips:

First, make sure you understand your customers’ journey:

  • With the abundance of first and third party data, marketers can paint a more complete picture of their customers
  • Use the data to find more than the next sale, use that data to find a connection with consumers

Always take an audience first approach towards communication:

  • Before you can get a commitment from your customers, you have to make a commitment to them.
  • Ask yourself if you have their best interest in mind – how are you helping them with their journey?

Recognize the stage of the customer’s lifecycle and market to their current needs:

  • Just like any personal relationship, you have to meet customers where they are.
  • Getting their attention with advertising is the first step. Finding the right promotions to engage them will give you transactional loyalty. But to get a real commitment from them, you need to commit to them first – by showing that you understand them and have their best interests in mind.

According to research by Wharton, our perceptions of brands are the result of spontaneous judgments on warmth and competence – which are the same elements that drive our impressions of other people. By humanizing your communications- just as you would have a conversation with someone, you can show customers that you know them to win and sustain their loyalty.