The Best Way to Build Brand Loyalty
As a business, embracing two-way communication is vital to establishing and maintaining brand loyalty with customers. Brands need to apply two fundamental aspects of effective communication online: first, listen, second, reply to show recognition.
Well-known marketing and brand agency executives, John Marshall (Of Lippincott, which coined the term “corporate identity”) and Graham Ritchie (of 13th largest ad agency, Hill Holliday), recently produced a report that stated, “One of the easiest ways to show you care about people and to engender their trust is to talk with them, on their terms, asking and listening. Real dialogue, with real words and real listening, is how humans communicate”.
Customers will talk about a company’s brand online regardless of whether the brand listens. Customers want to be recognized when making an investment in a product, similar to how humans appreciate a good listener in a personal conversation amongst friends. Listening benefits the company; if a brand applies customer feedback it will logically lead to happier customers.
Happier customers speak more positively about the brand online. An increase in positive “this is awesome!” messaging online leads to new consumers being introduced to the brand in a positive light at the vital early stages of their purchase decision.
Reply and Recognize
Companies prove that they are active listeners by responding to consumers. Imagine a couple sitting across the table from one another on a dinner date. The woman (or reverse, no need to get gender huffy) spends ten minutes relaying her day to her date, delving in to her opinion on the day’s newsworthy topics. The man patiently listens. He never responds. His facial expression remains blank. If the man never offers a reply, would the woman continue talking? No! He would be left alone at the table with the bill and no date. The same goes for consumer-company engagement.
The couple needs to mutually engage with one another in order to maintain communication in their relationship. Humans communicate as a way to relate with one another and foster connection. In order to effectively connect on this human level, brands must respond and encourage ongoing communication from their consumers. Specific response and recognition tactics with a customer may vary by channel (choosing which channels is a topic for another post). For the purposes of this post, electing a channel where your customers can easily reach and interact with you is a good start. Don’t be left sitting at the table alone.
Is Your Company Listening? What to Ask
Hill Holliday and Lippincott, two prominent branding and marketing agencies, put together a checklist of questions in a 2013 report to help companies understand what actions may be detracting from their effort to connect with consumers on a human level.
While the questions are oriented towards larger businesses, the concepts can be applied to any size venture. All of the questions tie back to the two aspects above: listen and reply with recognition. Here are their twelve questions
Answering “yes” to any of these questions means the company is telling customers that their voice doesn’t matter.
Each question relates to a company’s choice to be open to connecting with a customer, or to be closed off. Since humans form emotional connections based on communication with others, open interactions lead consumers to feel a sense of loyalty to a brand that engages with them.
StarKist Listened and Recognized
In writing this post we came across A great example of a brand listening and recognizing; some of our friends over at Burns Marketing started having a playful Twitter discussion about tuna in the workplace. They called out Bumblebee tuna, but Bumblebee did not respond (big no-no.) However Starkist Tuna’s @handle quickly jumped in with fun banter and warm dialogue.
While Bumblebee fumbled, the StarKist brand rocked it. Which brand will these users will buy next time they are in the store? Do we even have to ask?
If you want read more of the great tuna-branding win, check out Burns Marketing’s post all about it:Reel In Your Audience’s Attention One Tweet At A Time.
Simple Ways for Businesses to Listen and Recognize Online NOW
Here are a few simple tips to apply listening and recognition to your company’s online strategy.
If your company has any sort of social media profile, don’t just share brand updates and promotions. People will notice and eventually classify your business as one that only talks about itself, and they’ll ignore you.
Be sure to share some content that is not about your company but falls in the genre of your customers’ interests. If you are a home cleaning service, share cleaning tricks, organization strategies from a blog post you find, design ideas off of Pinterest, etc.
Sharing helpful content shows potential and existing customers that you care about providing for them, not just about shouting about your business.
2. Respond to Brand Mentions: Time to Tweet, Bub
If you have a Twitter account, (which in most cases you should) make sure to do more than just tweet content. Like StarKist, interact with your audience, and especially respond to any mentions of your company’s @handle. Twitter makes it easy by providing a place to see all mentions, right under ‘Notifications’.
Sometimes people might share content that references your brand. Thank them! People love to be recognized, especially by a prominent, well-known business name. Sometimes people will have a question. Answer it (it’s not rocket science)! How do you feel when in conversation with a friend who NEVER stops talking about themselves? Don’t be that guy… with your brand. The brand will seem far more human instead of a stoic broadcaster.
Provide Cool Sh*T
Provide useful information/tools/opportunities to your customers. They will love you for it. For example, we created a Page Title and Meta Description Tool at Lawton Digital (Time to toot our own horn…remember our last point?! Oops). In doing our SEO work here at Lawton Digital Marketing, we needed a more efficient way to write, preview and count characters for page titles and meta descriptions. We decided to make one for ourselves, and our Page Title and Meta Description Creator was born! Since our clients and the SEO community would benefit from the SEO tool, we shared it with everyone creating real value for our clients. Check it out here (Preview below)
Whether it’s internal teams or customers, successful companies listen, recognize, and provide.
Tell us about your company experiences establishing a brand voice to communicate with consumers! Positive, negative, we want to hear it!