Commentary

What's Loyalty Worth?

As a digital media person, I'm constantly repeating my mantra, "It's not about traffic; it's about qualified traffic." Though it is a core belief of mine, (and many others) it has evolved. It's not only about qualified traffic. It's about loyalty.

I often get business because a client's traffic has flattened. They feel as if they have saturated the market and don't know what to do. In most cases, they haven't.

Whether you are on the client, agency, sales, publisher, or analytics side of the fence, ask what the value of a customer is online. When I ask that question, I tend to get blank stares, shrugs, or someone launches into a list of data cells referencing direct mail and/or telesales.

Of course it depends on the client, the objective, and several other factors -- but is there a formula for brand loyalty? As far as this writer/media gal can see, finding one is like looking through foggy goggles.

This may be a huge opportunity for some. However, most cringe and want someone else to provide us with the answer -- and quickly.

Let's take a step back for a moment. When you think about brand loyalty, what comes to mind? To me, product + personality = brand. Brand loyalty is equivalent to customer loyalty. It is the most important aspect of any branding campaign.

If I say "Safety," what comes to mind? Volvo. How about "Just do it." Of course, Nike.

Now think about this. Do you know someone at the gym that only wears Nike sneakers and gear? I do. Or how about a family that only buys Volvos? You get the drift.

When I think of these brands, they are ubiquitous to me. However, they seem more brick-and-mortar to me. Brand loyalty has been the key to growing such brands online. Driving a prospect or customer to a site and having them come back again and again is the Holy Grail of online marketing and advertising.

According to eMediaplan.com, the conversion from surfer to customer is an elaborate 5 step approach:

  1. Generating reach.
  2. Creating intrigue.
  3. Stimulating initiation.
  4. Conversion.
  5. Maximizing the customer's experience.

Most advertisers find it hard to get past #1. Items 2 - 5 are multi-faceted. They must be based on the simple foundation of the right message at the right time to the right audience. Therefore, an emphasis on creative/copy, site, placement, frequency, geography, and time of day are critical elements to establishing the proper mix. We need to determine the value of loyalty before we take these steps.

Do you have a success story, words of advice, or want to share a challenge with us? If so, post your comments on the Spin Board.

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