Beyond Bribery: Building Customer Relationships Through Engagement

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It’s hard to overstate the importance of brand loyalty. Marketers know how difficult it can be to win new customers. Once you have brought a new consumer into the fold, it’s important to take steps to ensure that they will not only keep coming back, but that they will also refer others to you.

Strategies for driving brand loyalty often include financial incentives, such as discounts for repeat purchasers, reward points based on the number of purchases made, or referral bonuses based at least in part on the referred customer being a subscriber for a set period of time.

But, you don’t have to rely on monetary bribery to ensure brand loyalty. Jeffrey Hayzlett recent wrote an article for Entrepreneur titled “4 Strategies That Drive Brand Loyalty” in which he shares some non-monetary tips for cultivating a strong relationship between brand and customer. Let’s take a look at some possibilities:

“Use technology to create a better customer experience.”

The rapid evolution of technology to improve the customer experience offers ample opportunities for marketers to set themselves apart. Demonstrating in meaningful ways to consumers that technology can improve their experience can increase the odds that they’re willing to share their information, which can aid in analysis that can drive better marketing in the future. “That symbiotic relationship is extremely valuable — it helps create trust, which should be the ultimate goal for every brand,” says Hayzlett.

There are a number of tools available to help companies pull together enough relevant data on their customers to help personalize the consumer experience. It’s important, though, that customers understand the value to them, or they could resent the data gathering and feel their privacy is being threatened. But if the process is communicated effectively and customers are on board, they will appreciate the effort being made at greater personalization and engagement.

“Personalize the message with an opt-in data policy.”
Sharing relevant and meaningful news about your brand with consumers can help establish brand value and build engagement.

Hayzlett points out, though, that this needs to be done carefully, or it could backfire. You don’t want your customers to feel like you are invading their privacy or spamming them. That’s why the opt-in element is key here. Let customers feel a sense of control by telling you what, how and when they will get targeted information from you.

“Use social media to show brand value and customer appreciation.”
As marketers have discovered over the past few years, social media can be a very cost effective way to build brand loyalty. Hayzlett points to a BRANDfog study which found that when a brand executive has something relevant to say via social channels, people will listen. “In fact, 81 percent of respondents in the study said they had more confidence in a company when its executive was using social media,” Hayzlett writes.

A great recent example of this is Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky’s Twitter request for suggestions on 2017 initiatives for his company. In less than a week, he received over 1,000 ideas after asking, “If Airbnb could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?” Chesky didn’t let the question hang; he actively engaged with customers and replied to responses.

“Sell the company, sell you.”

Hayzlett suggests: “Leverage executives within your organization by using their personal brand to reflect your company’s brand.  Recognize that CEOs or other executives — whether they be someone like Elon Musk at Tesla Motors and SpaceX, or Tim Cook at Apple, are aligned with the brand, top to bottom. These executives can help put a personal face to your brand.”

Introducing the market to the personalities driving your business serves several purposes. For one, it puts a human face to a corporate brand. Customers are more likely to feel a sense of connection (and hopefully loyalty) to a person than a corporation. Secondly, by showing customers some of the inner workings of your company, you are building trust — like in the Chesky example above.

Customer engagement is an important goal for any business, and it doesn’t necessarily require any of the oft-used financial incentives. In fact, personalizing the consumer experience through technology and letting customers get to know and interact with key executives may be more effective in building a true relationship than handing out cash and points.

What non-monetary ways have you found to engage with your customers?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement



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