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Earning brand loyalty through brilliant communications and great customer experiences

17th June 2016

Big budget marketing campaigns designed to get your brand seen will help create brand awareness, establish presence, build excitement – and even convert brand interest into customers, but what then? How do you retain your hard-won customers and establish your brand as their brand of choice?

Brand loyalty is the answer.

Earning brand loyalty and the coveted, brand ‘feel-good factor’ depends, to a large degree, on consistently delivering outstanding individual experiences through relevant, customer-focussed brand communication.

And we don’t just mean the very obvious brand communications channels. Yes, spot-on web copy that perfectly reflects your brand tone of voice, brand appropriate social media content and brilliant blogs and video content are all crucial, but when it comes to making a lasting impression with individual customers, your brand’s approach to customer service communication (in person, by phone, by email, by social media, by order confirmation – essentially, at every single customer interaction point) will dictate its success (or otherwise).

Like any successful relationship, earning brand loyalty means helping your customers build an emotional attachment to your brand. So how do your communications play a part?

How to earn brand loyalty through customer-focused communication

Earning brand loyalty demands a subtle understanding of your individual customer preferences; personalising communication and content to make it relevant, useful and valuable. Get it right and watch your unsubscribe rate plummet and your referral rate soar.

Through earning brand loyalty you’ll also be helping to nurture brand advocates – loyal customers who will happily and readily recommend your brand to their friends, family, colleagues and peers. Given that for many individuals, brand advocacy is the most trusted form of brand marketing it’s worth investing time and effort to get it right.

For imaginative, thoughtful customer communication opportunities, think of:

  • Personalised newsletter and marketing emails

By which, we mean tailoring the content to make it relevant – not just slapping the recipient’s name into the [name-field].

A strong CRM database, together with a clever, customer-focussed digital marketing strategy means that brands can connect with customers to provide maximum value. Customer profiling, segmentation and an analysis of customer behaviour and purchase history all help brands deliver relevant, value-added emails about products, services and offers that are likely to be of genuine customer interest – all helping keep engagement up and the spam-factor down.

  • Friendly, brand-appropriate online order confirmation pages, email confirmations and progress updates

The bare minimum is a ‘Thank you for your order, your order number is 123456789 and will be delivered by [date]. For questions, please contact xxxx’, but brands can and should do so much better than this.

Just because the order has been placed doesn’t mean the customer journey has ended. Far from it. For the customer, it’s just the beginning of the process, and every stage from purchase to delivery (and beyond – ‘how are you finding your new xxx?’)  is an opportunity to continue brand↔customer engagement, building the brand story, injecting brand personality and style into communications, building trust and the emotional connection between the customer and the brand.

Rave rates: Oasis

Fashion store, Oasis, delivers order updates with delivery progress information, tracking information and a reminder of the order details. “Love, Oasis”.

Oasis

Rave rates: Novatech

Novatech, ‘one of the UK’s most trusted technology providers’ provides consistently good customer communications. Its order confirmation email is functional, friendly and proactive, with plenty of reassuring detail about order status – “Your order will have been scanned into the main delivery depot at about 10.00pm tonight…”

Novatech

Rave rates: Adidas

Adidas send customers an order received, a ‘how long it will be’, a shipped and a delivered email. The packaging contains a ‘from Adidas with love’ card, and a voucher for 10% off or free delivery. Customers are then emailed an invite to review the product for another 15% off.

  • Inventive ‘donotreply@’ email auto replies

Soften the feeling of rejection your customers get when they innocently reply to an unmanned ‘donotreply@’ email address by setting up a crammed-with-brand-personality auto response: ‘Sorry, we’re out. If you’d like to get in touch with one of our customer service colleagues, drop us a line @….’  – or similar.

  • Brand appropriate, customer-focussed enquiries and complaints responses

At the forefront of delivering great customer experiences, the customer service team need to balance brand positioning and tone of voice, with the ability to get to the heart of each customer’s issue. Customer enquiries and complaints need to be responded to in a personal and friendly manner.

Help customers know they are not part of a ‘tick-box’ process by ensuring customer service communications read like they’ve been written by a human being, rather than a brand automaton – an important step in building brand trust and credibility.

  • Proactive ‘we value your custom’ auto-renewals

Customers want to feel valued and appreciated. It’s human nature, after all, and when faced with the prospect of parting with hard-earned cash for products or services, the need to feel valued is amplified.

Take the insurance or car breakdown recovery industry. In a cluttered market, with quote comparison websites highlighting the best comparable price at the click of a button, it’s easy for customers to vote with their feet and defect to alternative providers. Why would you want to stay with an organisation that values you less than a potential new customer with no brand loyalty?

A proactive email or letter offering a suitable incentive for loyalty and for automatically renewing may help keep existing customers feel valued – and stay loyal.

  • Deliveries with hidden surprises

Sweets with your trainers?

Jellybeans with your bookkeeping? (We’ve heard the bean counters at Freeagent like to say thank you with some rather more edible beans).

Air freshener with your sweets? (Thanks FunkyHampers.com for the yummy hamper and bonus gift to leave the office smelling lovely).

Rather like when you get a free bag of prawn crackers with your Chinese takeaway, or poppadums with your curry, bonus gifts with online orders are a light-hearted and low-cost way of saying thank you for your custom.

Rave rates: Asos

From chocolate to suncream, the online fashion retailer has sent it all. Freebies don’t come with every order, but often enough to build brand loyalty and that lovely feel-good factor.

Don’t forget the basics

We had thought ‘make sure you contact your warm leads’ should go without saying, but research suggests that a reminder of communication basics wouldn’t go amiss.

Clickz.com refer to a research report from Practicology which shows many email marketing campaigns have substantial room for improvement. During a six month test period in which Practicology actively signed up to newsletter mailing lists of 91 well-known retailers , 15% failed to contact Practicology at all, whilst only 67% sent a welcome email.

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However you choose to show your customers that you value their custom and loyalty, keeping your brand communication consistent is essential. From tone of voice, to content and messaging, consistency will help position your brand as reliable, with a clear focus and identity.

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This blog post was written in conjunction with Jo Quint.  Click here for Jo’s website


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