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Written by Uri Strauss
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How brands can win the loyalty of today’s customer

82% of companies agree that retention is cheaper than acquisition, and acquiring new customers costs 5x more than retaining returning ones. But, with the surplus of shopping options available, retaining customers is harder than ever. Today’s consumers are savage about cutting ties with brands that don’t exceed their expectations, and those brands who aren’t able to provide customers with a friction-free path-to-purchase risk them jumping ship after just one lousy experience.

On the other hand, 81% of customers want to form a relationship with a brand, and 52% of customers go out of their way to purchase from brands they’re loyal to. The brands that are able to form relationships with their customers and provide a stellar shopping experience will win out every single time. 

So, how can you ensure that you’re providing customers with the best possible offering to earn their long-term loyalty? Relying solely on discounts is no longer enough to compete with other companies that have massive scale and distribution (ahem, Amazon). It’s now all about community – or that prized stage of the customer lifecycle when a repeat buyer officially becomes a loyal advocate.

 The building blocks of brand community

1. Authenticity and transparency
Shoppers are smarter and more savvy than ever, and they want to know things like what a brand stands for, how they source or make their products, and that they’ll own up to any mistakes or missteps. Here’s a great example of a no b.s. apology from KFC, and an example of Patagonia proving how much they believe in their brand mission statement.

2. Partnerships
Authenticity has a lot of value here, too. Influencer marketing is booming, but it’s much more valuable to find a brand partner who would be a customer of yours anyway rather than someone with the biggest following (nano influencers actually have higher engagement rates). Shoot for long-term, mutually beneficial relationships where the influencer has a good deal of autonomy to stay true to their own brand while hyping yours up. 

3. Championing your customers
Brand advocates are emotionally invested in the brands they buy from. They eagerly consume branded content, tell friends and family about it, go out of their way to support new initiatives, and even create content on your behalf. User generated content is becoming more and more popular with the growth of social media, and it’s an amazing way to empower your customers while also getting very low cost, genuine content for your brand. 

4. Perfect site experience
This is something all brands strive to provide their customers with, and it should be a given. But, site issues can be happening under the radar, and it can be extremely difficult to understand where or why customers are dropping off mid-way through the buying journey. Digital experience analytics tools like Webeyez can help retailers achieve long-term customer loyalty by uncovering any points of friction in the conversion funnel and fixing what matters, fast.

5. Gamification
Gamification rewards users for doing some action within your system that is often not related to purchasing. It’s a win-win: customers get discounts, rewards, or other benefits, and brands get more insight into customer actions and which features they like best.  87% of Americans are willing to exchange personal details for more rewards and personalized experiences – capturing and using this data to gamify the customer experience in a transparent way will instill a cycle of trust, openness, and follow-through. 

6. Hyper-personalization
With so many options out there, it’s no wonder consumers expect tailor-made solutions for nearly everything in their lives. 80% of shoppers prefer to shop from a brand that offers personalized experiences, and with hyper-personalization, you can make sure you’re meeting specific customers at the right time and right place on the right channel.

The Bottom Line

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all guide to building a brand community – every company is unique and has a different customer base with different needs. But, in order to increase user engagement and loyalty, retailers need real-time visibility into any errors occurring at every stage of the customer journey, and the tools to quickly solve them. If done right, retailers can expect to reap rewards like increasing customer lifetime value, decreasing the amount of money spent trying to acquire new customers, and retaining happy customers for the long haul.