Create Loyalty With Connected Experiences

The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.

In categories where frequency is high and competition is fierce, there are a few key steps to engaging your best customers to deliver an experience that can create durable brand loyalty and brand fidelity. Brand fidelity essentially translates to the strength of the brand bond with consumers.

Here’s how to fix your brand loyalty and drive brand fidelity:

Understand the customer.  Use the most rigorous research approach you can to understand what tactics or benefits could cause customers to change their behavior. This may include habit illumination research, social listening, generative qualitative research, or quantitative segmentation research, all of which should be grounded in behavioral science to uncover rich insights.

Balance satisfaction and delight.  Customers always want more free stuff.  But challenge your thinking to see what else they might like that doesn’t cost much -- or even anything, like skipping to the front of the line. Mystery offers, challenges to unlock bonus points, optimizing UX and feedback loops are all ideas to brainstorm.

Design experiences that are effortless. Sometimes, the key to innate preference is simply making it easy to buy.  Seek to remove friction from the process wherever you can, whether it’s in the way you merchandise or communicate, based on what you know about your best customers.

Actively engineer the behavior change you want.  Using tools from behavioral science like habit loops, seek to reinforce specific behaviors for specific customers.  Sometimes rewards and incentives can be the best way to increase purchase frequency.  Does someone shop three times a month? Give them a big bonus for their fourth trip in a month.

Create a platform for sales acceleration.  Think of your loyalty strategy like a platform -- the connection between your brand, your customers, and your value proposition.  There is no more efficient way to reach and shape behavior than with intimate direct relationships based on a fair exchange of value.

In the last 18 months, the pandemic has accelerated brands’ digital transformation, particularly in restaurants and retail, where there have historically been fewer direct relationships. The challenge is for brands to embrace the power and responsibility of those direct relationships. Create intimate, relevant relationships with your customers by shaping their messaging, their offers, and their experiences with the data and insights gained through interactive engagement.

As privacy becomes more important to relationship gatekeepers in mobile and social, we believe that authenticity will be rewarded with customers who choose to join and engage with loyalty programs.

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