While consumer behavior has been slowly moving online since the creation of the internet, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital behavior by as much as ten years. Today’s digitally dominant consumers have a wider variety of options, making it more difficult for companies to hold onto their most crucial segment of customers – brand loyalists. To help understand what it takes to capture brand loyalists in the digital age we reached out to 500 consumers, using the survey tool Pollfish and asked them why they are loyal to certain brands, how they think about these brands, and what leads them to shift their brand loyalties.
After analyzing our survey data, it became clear to us that today’s consumers are loyal to brands that give them a one-to-one relationship. While the two most important things consumers point to when they describe their favorite brand continue to be price and product, brands need to offer more in today’s competitive digital environment. Once consumers have these primary needs met, they will look for a one-to-one relationship built on personalized content, streamlined service, and a robust social community. Get the full results of our survey here.
#1: Loyalists need personalized content that speaks to them at an individual level
Personalization plays an essential role in creating brand loyalty. We asked participants for three words that described their favorite brand. Only 1% of respondents replied that they didn’t have a favorite brand, leaving 99% of consumers, fully aware of their wants and needs, and ready to become loyal if the right brand comes along. As we analyzed the words consumers use to describe their favorite brands, we also found that while they were most likely to mention price and product while thinking of their favorite brand, one-third of consumers, used words like “cool”, “fun”, “great” and “loyal”, compliments that are usually paid to a best friend, rather than a fortune 500 company. Once a brand can meet a consumer's needs - in this case, price and quality - consumers will start to consider which brands they can relate to the most and build a personal relationship with.
Creating personalized content is what enables brands to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers and eventually brand loyalists. When brands can hit their audience with customized content right after a purchase, they can hook the consumer into an ongoing relationship. However, if the content misses the mark at this stage, companies risk driving potential loyalists away forever. We asked consumers why they unsubscribe from content and the top three answers were irrelevant content, underwhelming experiences, and content that didn’t address their needs. To stop your audience from unsubscribing, aim to create a great digital experience, with content that is helpful and relevant to each individual consumer.
#2: Loyalists need their problems solved fast through a high-quality digital experience
Today’s consumers are loyal to brands that can understand their problems and solve them quickly and painlessly. We asked today’s consumers what they value in a digital experience and the top two answers were ease of use (78%) and customer service (59%). Consumers want the experience to be flawless and when it’s not they want any issues to be solved quickly and efficiently with high-speed digital solutions. With 62% of consumers shopping online more because of the pandemic, it is critical that you provide the same seamless customer experience online that they have come to expect in person.
Brands that don’t focus on crafting a seamless user experience risk losing customers, with 83% of respondents saying that they are willing to switch to a brand with a better digital experience. Not only does a great user experience help brands keep customers, but it can also help your companies build long-term trust and brand authority. 70% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand, solely based on their ability to provide a great digital experience. Now more than ever it is essential that your brand provides customers with a flawless user experience, not only through their first transaction but their entire buying lifecycle.
#3: Brand loyalists want a robust social community
Brand loyalists want a robust community and the place they are gathering is social media. We asked consumers how they like to receive information from their favorite brands, and the top two answers were email (26%) and social media (24%). Email, while being an effective place to communicate with your customers about their purchase, is not as effective for connecting with your consumers at a deeper level. With consumers more willing to hit the unsubscribe button than ever, we predict the desire for email communication will continue to decline with social media taking over as the most popular way for brands to communicate.
Crafting a social media presence is not only key for creating new brand loyalists, but also essential for preventing your current brand loyalists from straying. 99% of the consumers we surveyed visited a brand’s website from a social media platform, with Facebook (75%), YouTube (66%), and Instagram (53%) being the top three gateways to checking out a new product. Social media is not only a way for consumers to find new brands, but many are also following through and purchasing directly from the platform, with 63% of consumers purchasing from a website they visited from Facebook. Ensuring an accessible social media platform for any age group will allow your brand to bring in valued customers. There's no better feeling than being able to interact with your favorite brand and providing them with your own feedback. Communication is key when it comes to providing a solution to a loyal customer.
Brand Loyalists Want to Be Treated Like VIPs
Digital-first consumers are here to stay and so are everyone's favorite brands. With customers' expectations changing rapidly, companies need to keep up with their audiences' wants and needs in real-time. A company’s dedication to building a relationship through digital marketing is now synonymous with their commitment to being a reliable name. To capture loyalists today’s brands need to do more than just provide a great product at a competitive price. To truly get ahead marketers need to focus on building a deeper relationship with their audiences, using hyper-targeted content, a seamless user experience, and a robust social presence.