How to Strengthen Customer Relationships

How To Strengthen Customer Relationships

boost your customer relationships with digital marketing strategy tips

Developing strong customer relationships is essential for business success. This is common knowledge, or at least it should be.

One common mistake I see business owners make is this: They put so much focus on connecting with potential new customers that existing customers get put on the back burner.

According to a recent Acquisition vs. Retention survey, The likelihood of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the chances of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%. Additionally, when compared to new customers, existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and typically spend 31% more.

Without customers- especially those that return for your products or services again and again- your business wouldn’t exist.

How does cultivating stronger relationships with your customers benefit you?

Let me count the ways.

  • Stronger relationships lead to repeat business, which establishes a loyal customer base.
  • Having an established customer base allows you to save money by cutting back on customer acquisition marketing spend.
  • You’ll fully understand and easily anticipate the needs of your customers regardless of what stage of the relationship you’re in, giving you the opportunity to provide excellent customer service.
  • The number of organic referrals will increase.
  • Your business has a higher chance of generating positive reviews.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point.

No two customers are exactly alike, but each of them will pass through the same stages of the customer journey your brand provides for them. Strengthening relationships is an ongoing process, and if you’re wondering how to connect with customers in each stage of the relationship, keep reading!

How To Build Customer Relationships In Each Stage Of Their Journey

customer-relationship-process-infographic-digital-marketing-greenville-nc

 

Connect

Your relationship begins the moment your potential customers first become aware of your brand. This stage of their journey includes the action that occurs before a formal relationship is established. This connection could come from a Google search, a social media campaign, or even word-of-mouth.

How do you ensure potential customers make a connection in the first place? Strategic marketing. The right people need to see the right content at the right time. Research and analyze everything from your target audience to your industry leaders to your direct competition. A solid strategy is a must if you want to connect with quality leads.

But don’t get ahead of yourself. While connecting with new consumers is worth celebrating, they will not convert to paying customers this early on. Your goal during this stage is to capture consumers’ attention. Once that’s happened, you keep building from there.

Collaborate

 

So, you’ve connected with a potential customer, and now it’s time to nurture that connection through collaboration.

If you’re a business owner, you likely recognize the value of collaboration between colleagues. But did you know that you can benefit even more by collaborating with customers?

Collaborating with customers may look and feel a little different than collaborating with colleagues. It can happen in a variety of ways, big and small, including:

  • Engaging with them on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other social platform they’re active on.
  • Inviting them to attend business workshops or webinars.
  • Developing personal connections via customer centric events.

Our customers are the lifeblood of what we do, and therefore we want them to feel they are a part of our decision-making process and our brand. Whether it is through social interactions, live workshops, or feedback surveys, we are constantly listening to them, and based on what they are telling us, improving the customer experience.
– Sahar Meghani, Trunkaroo CEO

Create

Relationships are built upon trust. After the collaboration phase, there should be a level of trust between you and the customer, and now it’s time to create!

And, for you business owners thinking something along the lines of: But, I own a clothing store/accounting firm/dance studio… I don’t create anything! 

Wrong!

Every business, whether knowingly or unknowingly, creates a customer experience. A customer experience refers to the impression you leave with your customer, which directly influences how they think of your brand.

How do you create a great customer experience?

  • Create a seamless UX (user experience).
  • Respond promptly to their questions or comments.
  • Understand and solve the customer’s challenge.
  • Build a positive connection with your customers.

Confirm

Let your customers know that you value their opinion. Ensuring customer satisfaction is key to getting repeat customers, positive reviews, and referrals – all of which can increase ROI and improve relationships.

Here are 5 easy steps to measure and confirm customer satisfaction:

  1. Outline your goals, and make a plan.
  2. Create a customer satisfaction survey.
  3. Choose your survey’s trigger and timing.
  4. Analyze the survey data.
  5. Make adjustments and repeat.

Commit

Let me tell you something I’m sure you already know- there is no business without a customer.

Now, let me tell you something else you probably already know but might not always remember – what you want your customers to give you, you must first offer them.

It’s not enough to send a customer satisfaction survey. Customers want to know that you’re thinking about them and still eager to help them.

How can you show your customer base that you’re committed to helping them?

  • Show appreciation by rewarding long-term customers with a loyalty program.
  • Tell your brand’s story and promote your solutions on platforms that your customers frequent.
  • Follow up with them periodically after their purchase to ensure that they’re still satisfied and assist them further if need be.
We live in the digital age where building relationships with your customers is more important than ever. Whether positive or negative, customers will share their opinions on a variety of channels. The effort your brand puts into maintaining and strengthening relationships will make or break your business. Just like any relationship, successful customer relationships are an ongoing work-in-progress, but the benefits are SO worth it.

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8 Generation Lead Tips for Small Businesses

8 Lead Generation Tips for Small Businesses

Small businesses have to overcome numerous hurdles before making a name for themselves and ensuring an ever-increasing revenue stream. Naturally, some of the biggest obstacles are generating leads and inspiring loyalty.

At first glance, it seems simple enough – find a market gap and have your business fill it. Customers will flock to you without much effort on your part. In practice, it’s not nearly as effortless.

If you don’t want to be in the 70% of businesses that fail within a decade, you need to ensure that your lead generation tactics are flawless.

Let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks that will help set you up for success:

Start with an Impeccable Website

Most members of your target audience will have one thing in common – when they need products or services (that happen to be in your offer), they’ll first look them up online.

Over 97% of users search online to find local businesses and make purchases. So, only having a website will immediately up the ante on your lead generation.

Still, it’s not enough to simply have a website. You need to make it a great one if you’re going to generate and convert your leads.

Create a clean design that makes it easy for your website visitors to scan your pages and find the information they need. Be clear about who you are, what your business does, how it can help your audiences, and how interested prospects can contact you.

It’s also always a good idea to take a look at what your competitors are doing with their websites and gather some inspiration from that.

Perfect Your Landing Pages

With your website done, it’s time to start developing landing pages. One of the worst mistakes you can make in this regard is to use your homepage as the go-to landing page for all your ad campaigns.

Your homepage is already the most frequently visited page on your website, so there’s no reason to keep directing your audiences to it during your campaigns. Instead, create dedicated landing pages focused on converting visitors.

You’ll need to make your landing pages enticing, relevant to your ad content, concise, and direct. Present your offer, highlight your brand’s value, and include a clear call to action.

The better your landing page, the higher your conversions will be. Do some A/B testing to find out which landing pages perform the best, find out what your audiences want, and keep tweaking your pages until you get the desired results.

Improve Your SEO 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the biggest prerequisites for successful lead generation. By enhancing your SEO, you will:

There are a number of factors that impact your SEO ranking, including:

  • Page loading speed
  • Internal and external links
  • Quality of your content
  • Security
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Keyword usage

If you want to rank on search engines and attract audiences, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive SEO approach. You can’t just improve your page speed, neglect all the other aspects of SEO, and expect to rank first.

SEO is a slow and steady approach, so take your time perfecting it.

Provide Relevant Content 

One thing that will help you improve SEO and boost lead generation is content. In the online environment, content is king.

Content marketing allows you to improve keyword usage, take your external and internal linking to a new level, engage audiences, enhance your visibility, and display your expertise.

 Whether you’re creating blog posts, e-books, video guides, infographics, Facebook Stories, or any type of content in between, your focus should be on quality. Keyword stuffing and improper backlinking are a no-go. Here’s what you should do instead:

  • Provide valuable information that will help your audiences
  • Offer solutions to your target customers’ most common problems
  • Provide relevant insights
  • Entertain your audiences

Before long, you’ll notice just how helpful content marketing can be for your lead generation.

Make Use of Social Media

We can’t talk about lead generation for small businesses without mentioning social media. It’s a gold mine for attracting customers and inspiring loyalty.

Whether you like it or not, you need to have a social media presence as a small business owner – it doesn’t matter if you’re running a small antique shop, a dropshipping business, or a family-owned pizzeria.

However, before you join all the most popular networks and get in over your head, analyze your target audience. See which platforms most of them use and examine how they interact with other businesses on them.

Then, only join those platforms that you can easily manage. After all, you’ll need to stay active on these platforms by regularly posting fresh content and responding to comments and messages. If you’re on more than a couple of platforms, you’ll likely find it difficult to keep track of them and use them to your advantage.

Take Advantage of Lead Generation Quiz Makers

A reliable lead generation quiz maker is ideal for engaging your audiences. It makes quiz creation a breeze, allowing you to know your target customers better and offering you a chance to stand out from the crowd.

You can create any type of quiz you want:

  • A fun personality quiz that grabs the viewers’ attention
  • An assessment quiz that tells you how much your audience knows about you and your products
  • A market research quiz, which allows you to assess your target audience’s most common pain points 

Share your quizzes on social media to reach a wider audience, add them to your lead generation emails, and embed them on your website to convert visitors.

With a lead generation quiz maker, it will take you no more than a few minutes to create engaging quizzes that boost your visibility and help you attract customers. You can also integrate it with email marketing tools or customer relationship management tools to nurture leads efficiently.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

To generate leads as a small business owner, you need to keep a very close eye on your online reputation.

You could have the perfect brand persona, excellent products and services, top-notch support, and a bulletproof content marketing strategy – and yet your reputation could still suffer. You need to be careful to pay attention to what people are saying about you and your brand.

Your customers and even competitors will talk about your brand on forums, social media groups, review sites, personal accounts, and more. Keep a close eye on all brand mentions.

If someone is harming your reputation online, you’ll need to be ready to clear things up, highlight your brand value, and present your business in the best possible light.

Respectfully respond to negative reviews, engage in discussions on public forums, offer solutions to public complaints, and ensure that your online reputation is excellent.

Spread the Word About Your Business Through Different Channels

Even with the best strategies at your disposal, it can sometimes be challenging to significantly increase lead generation on your own. Sometimes, you’ll need a little bit of help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!

Spread the word about your business through different channels. For instance, you could try guest blogging, wherein you create content for other websites in your niche. Doing so will help you expand your reach, showcase your expertise, and attract a wider clientele.

Alternatively, you can reach out to influencers who make sense for your industry and who can connect you with their followers. Influencers inspire trust among their followers, enjoy an excellent reputation, and can easily impact their fans’ purchasing decisions.

Final Thoughts

Lead generation for small businesses can seem like an insurmountable challenge. But it’s easier than you may think when you have a few tricks up your sleeve and know what you’re doing.

So remember, if you want to boost your lead generation and conversion, you’ll need to: 

  • Create a great website 
  • Perfect your landing pages
  • Work on your SEO
  • Create relevant, engaging content 
  • Make use of social media 
  • Use a reliable lead generation quiz maker 
  • Monitor your online reputation
  • Spread the word through channels, such as guest blogging and influencer marketing

Follow these tips to ensure the success of your small business and start generating leads like a pro. Your business could also benefit from some creative experimentation on your part to complement the ideas discussed above.

If you need further help developing a lead generation strategy for your business, reach out to the small business experts at HighClick Media. We’ll take the time to get to know your business, identify its particular needs, and come up with solutions that will help your business grow. Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here.

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Guest blogger Angela White is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing. Specifically, she writes in the areas of product research and marketing using quizzes and surveys. She is a researcher at a brand that’s known for creating delightfully smart tools called ProProfs Quiz Maker.

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Make Your Holiday Marketing Stand Out

Make Your Holiday Marketing Stand Out

 

So, we’re seven days deep in November, but most stores have had Christmas decor and a Holiday Marketing plan in place since before Halloween! If you’re one of the ones grumbling about “premature Christmas decorating” or rolling your eyes at the sight of twinkling lights, glitter, and PURE CHRISTMAS JOY- First of all, shame on you. It’s never too early to get into the Holiday spirit! Secondly, keep reading.

In the wild world of retail, the Holiday season doesn’t wait until after Thanksgiving to kick off. In fact, it starts way earlier.

You see, Holiday marketing is really no different than everyday marketing. Your brand should not exist to sell a product. Your brand should exist to solve your customers’ problems. 

People don’t care about your business. They care about their problems. Be the solution that they’re looking for.

Consumers start Christmas shopping as soon as Fall hits- some even sooner! So to make the most out of your Holiday marketing, you need to be ready way before Black Friday rolls around.

So, do you know what it takes to get your Holiday marketing plan working in time to capitalize on the Holiday rush? I’m going to discuss how to approach your target audience and craft campaigns that show them that your brand has the solution to their problems!

Understand your audience

Like any marketing campaign, the key to a successful Holiday marketing plan is knowing what you have to offer to the audience you’re selling to. And I’m not talking about the products you’re trying to sell. I’m talking about the thing that makes your brand the most desirable: value proposition.

Are your products or services more cost-effective than your competitors’? Higher quality? Do you offer more options? Is your brand socially aware? More consistent?

An effective value proposition will:

  • Be brief and easy to understand
  • Tell others what you do
  • Allow your brand to be easily found in an online search
  • Explain how your product solves customers’ problems
  • Answer the question: “As your target customer, why should I give my business to you instead of your competitors?”

Specific value propositions attract specific consumers, so understanding what your value proposition is will help you identify your target audience.

In digital marketing, the competition is only a click, swipe, or tap away, so it’s vital that you pitch your brand to the right people in the right ways. Understanding who your value proposition attracts and why will give you the confidence to create a compelling Holiday marketing plan that consumers can’t resist.

Win them over

While knowing your unique value proposition is beneficial, Holiday marketing is an intense game, and standing out from the competition is typically more difficult during the most wonderful time of the year.

Whether it’s your needy Aunt Nancy or a stressed-out salesman, the appetite for your attention during the holidays is insatiable. And while it’s nice to be wanted, it gets exhausting.

For your brand to stand out in the midst of the madness, customers attention has to be earned, not demanded.

If you can give customers a campaign they actually enjoy, you can break through the Holiday marketing fatigue and create an experience that customers love. Try not to frustrate or overwhelm them. Create content that will warm their heart or make them laugh or smile. They’ll be grateful to your brand for evoking positive emotions and be more eager to buy from you.

Send a message that perfectly fits the needs of your target audience, and gives them an experience that will make their lives easier.

Think ahead. Build brand loyalty

In the holiday rush, it’s hard to think ahead. The nature of the season can easily attract first-time customers, which is great, no doubt, but the goal is to keep ’em coming back in the first quarter of the new year.

To build your base during the season, strive to make sure customers have a smooth experience. Often times, a spike in store traffic can also mean a spike in technical issues or customer confusion. Backtrack to last year and take note of any issues that can be solved ahead of time this year. Create a customer service plan specifically for the Christmas season.

When you take care of your customers, you’re building brand loyalty.

Another way to keep customers loyal is to invite them to connect with your website, email list, and social media channels. Post a balanced mix of engaging, entertaining, and informative content throughout the season and once the season ends. To put things simply, withstand the urge to ONLY promote in November and December. Your customers want a relationship with your brand all year long.

So, next time you walk into a store that is decked out in all things Christmas, don’t roll your eyes. Use it as a reminder that it’s time to get your butt in gear, and get to work on your Holiday marketing plan!

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Millennials Mean Business

Millennials Mean Business

I Have Never Met Someone Who Doesn’t Have an Opinion on Millennials.

We are condemned for our love of avocado toast (it really is good – you should try it!) and pinned as the self-absorbed generation.  But, on the flip side, we are known for being open-minded, collaborative, tech-savvy problem solvers. Making up a quarter of the U.S. population, it should come as no surprise that Millennials have a huge impact on brand marketing.

Who We Are:

According to the Pew Research Center, if you were born between 1981 and 1996, you are a Millennial. There are currently over 76 million Millennials in the United States, and this number just keeps growing. More diverse than other generations, nearly half of Millennials are people of color.

Having been raised in a damaged economy, we are drastically more socially and technologically connected than any other generation. It’s true; We are the generation of iPhones, social media, apps, and streaming.

To put it plainly, we have a different perspective than the generations before us. Millennials are all about transparency, culture, and moral responsibility.

Our Generation Stays Connected

A whopping 86% of Millennials stay updated on brands through social networks – 82% of us are active Facebook users, with Gen X not too far behind at 76%. Not only that, but we are 2.5x more likely to adapt to new technology earlier than members of older generations.

The Millennial Income

A minority of this generation is wealthy, but for the majority of young adults, this isn’t the case. The average Millennial today earns $10,000 less than young adults in 1989.

help me im poor

Millennials Are a Health-Oriented Generation

We tend to make healthier eating choices and develop stronger exercise habits than prior generations. Using fitness apps and the internet helps Millennials research the healthiest options – and we’re willing to spend more on compelling brands.

How Millennials Shop

We are more likely to search for a deal. Nearly half of us use our smartphones to search for a better deal on a product while in-store, and 92% have made a purchase on their phone. Approximately half of Millennials spend 1 to 3 hours researching their finance options before making a major purchase. More brand-loyal than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, 69% of Millennials have chosen the same brand for a major purchase in the last year. When Millennials were asked if they would try a new brand when making a major purchase, only 17% said they would.

Millennials Perceive Your Brand Differently

We appreciate brands that are truthful, ethical, and unrestricted. Seeking products and services that improve their lives, Millennials enjoy interacting and engaging with brands on a personal level. Thirty-six percent of Millennials expect an interactive experience when looking for solutions.

All of this matters to your marketing.

Having such remarkably different characteristics, tastes, and expectations than prior generations, Millennials challenge stale marketing tactics, emotionless branding, and lackluster customer service. They want their voices heard, they want to trust your business and they are looking for a brand that will be an experience.

If your audience is young and you lack a creative strategy for marketing to this fresh generation, reach out to us to schedule a meeting with one of our marketing geniuses! Marketing to Millennials is one of our specialties!

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How to Build A Values-Based Social Media Presence For Your Brand

How To Build A Values-Based Social Media Presence For Your Brand

In today’s fast-paced digital world, maintaining a clear and consistent voice in the crowded field of social media can be challenging. A solid social media presence keeps people informed about the latest news concerning your brand while also advertising your products or services. Additionally, it helps you engage with customers by responding to feedback and answering questions.

Perhaps the most pivotal element of our interconnected online world is how easily messages are spread, analyzed, and potentially misconstrued. Dealing with online backlash or criticism is a position that no brand wants to be in. Thankfully, there are methods for addressing these issues that can ultimately create a healthier and more effective dialogue between your brand and your audience.

Being aware of the personal values of your customers is critical in building a lasting following, though effective communication strategies are equally important. Using correct context, tone, and even timing can help you avoid controversies that could potentially harm your brand. By examining the latest engagement trends that lead to success on social media, you can learn how to grow an active and empathetic audience.

Identify & Understand Your Audience

The first step towards building an effective and engaging social media strategy involves taking the time to identify your intended audience and its unique perspectives. Investigate what your audience looks for in a brand. Are quality and excellent customer service all they need, or are things like shared values more important?

While demographics vary from business to business and platform to platform, social media users tend to skew younger. Studies have also shown that people who are regularly active in online communities gravitate towards progressive concepts like diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

Monitor your social media channels to gauge how your existing audience esteems these values. If they respond positively to other like-minded brands and prominent individuals, it may be wise to consider adopting a brand voice that appeals to similar perspectives.

Build Your Strategy

Determining what your priorities are when it comes to social media is essential. Do you favor a utilitarian approach, where the account’s main purpose is announcing company news and addressing direct feedback from users and followers? Or do you prefer giving a more human face to your brand, where it feels like real people are actively running your social media? Either way, find what works best for you and stick with it.

This step in the process also requires you to take a good look at the makeup of your marketing and social media teams. Try to find a strategy that plays to the unique strengths of your staff, and be sure to seek continuous input from them. Those with experience in digital communication and internet trends can help optimize your brand’s online presence.

Building Goodwill

Once you’ve devised a social media strategy that reflects the values of your intended audience, it’s time to start engaging in a way that builds trust and goodwill with your customers. You want to come across as open to the same values as your audience without pandering directly to them in a way that comes across as insincere. Follow these guidelines to find the proper balance you’ll need to succeed:

1)  The New Brand Loyalty

The old concept of brand loyalty is rapidly being redefined by the digital landscape. Consumers no longer feel like they must stick with a company or its products simply out of loyalty. Instead, you should make an effort to sell your brand’s values. People are more inclined to support a company that they feel shares their beliefs. Expressing interest in these values is an easy way to cultivate brand loyalty.

2)  Genuine Messaging

Authenticity can be a difficult concept to pin down for a branded social media page. You’ll have to experiment to find the right balance between your main priority of serving as the mouthpiece of your brand and the secondary goal of building an engaged following. It’s important for your messaging to come across as sincere, and the easiest way to accomplish that is to actually mean what you say.

Before launching a social media campaign centered around values like diversity, consult with different voices within your marketing team. Find out what sort of message appears authentic, and what seems like a forced attempt to cash in on social trends. A discerning audience of social media users will be able to parse this out fairly quickly, so be sure that you’ve done your due diligence before you post.

3)  Embrace Positivity

Use your social media channels to tell a story. Connecting with your audience on an emotional level involves leaning into the human element that drives us as individuals and community members. Focus on the people that make your brand stand out, whether that’s your employees or your most dedicated customers.

If you’ve recently made strides towards a more inclusive atmosphere, such as by redesigning your stores or manufacturing centers to be more accessible through universal design, post about it. Humanizing your brand shows that you care about more than turning a profit and appeals to the empathetic nature of your audience.

Prove It! ~ Emily Mean GIF by Film Riot (GIPHY)

4)  Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The simplest way to market any product, brand, or service is to do nothing at all and let the results speak for themselves. This is an age-old marketing strategy, but the same principles can be applied to digital communication and social media. If your audience sees that your online presence is reflected in your real-world actions, they will be more inclined to believe in and support you.

Don’t let your posts about diversity, wellness, and inclusion just be posts. Rather than resort to the same industry-standard platitudes every Pride Month or Black History Month, demonstrate that your brand is taking an active role in the community. Start conversations, spearhead initiatives, and raise awareness on the issues that matter to you and your customers.

5)  Avoid Overcommitting

Social media is a virtually endless source of new content. Whether it’s from other brands, active power users, or infrequent commenters, it’s easy to find yourself bogged down by the sheer number of posts, replies, comments, and other forms of engagement. You might be tempted to try to respond to as much of this feedback as you can, but it’s important not to promise more than you can deliver.

When it comes to a values-based approach to social media, overcommitting can include things as simple as publicly liking or commenting on posts about popular social causes that your company cannot fully commit to. This can lead to false expectations from your customers that, when left unfulfilled, may damage your company’s reputation.

Addressing Controversies

While embracing similar values to that of your primary audience is a highly effective engagement strategy, there is an inverse effect to this approach that can cause harmful pushback. Social media controversies are a serious issue for your brand, and while you should avoid conflicts like this at all costs, there are a few easy steps you can take to mitigate the harm:

1)  Acknowledge the Problem

If your social media channels are being flooded with negative feedback and hostility, take the time to address the issue at hand. This is the first step toward easing tensions and moving on from the situation. In your acknowledgment, be sure to speak plainly about the issues your company is facing and how you plan on addressing them. However, try not to overcommit in this initial step.

Of course, not all social media backlash is the same. Use your own discretion when deciding if acknowledging a specific controversy would be good for your company’s long-term image. While some issues are best faced swiftly and publicly, a more measured, behind-the-scenes approach can also be useful in reducing further damage to your brand.

Aw, hey, let's turn that frown upside down. ~ The Simpsons

2)  Start Positive Initiatives

When facing an overwhelming degree of negativity online, sometimes the best thing you can do is find a way to turn it into something positive. For example, if your brand is criticized for a perceived lack of diversity, incorporate that feedback into a plan to hire more diverse staff. Putting your words into action is a signal of positivity and goodwill to your customers.

3)  Show Humanity

Once again, the easiest way for your audience to see your brand in a positive light is to be as genuine as possible. If you are in a situation in which your company must apologize, do so with humility and grace. Show that your brand is more than a logo by approaching your critics as human beings. A public display of dignity is a simple way to garner an empathetic response and move on from controversy.

4)  Ignore the Trolls

One potential downside of engaging directly with your audience through social media is that it opens your brand up to the darker side of online anonymity. A good social media team should be able to tell the difference between genuine, good-faith criticism from an active audience and mean-spirited, hostile negativity. As the face of your brand, it’s crucial that you not allow the trolls to take over your message.

Final Thoughts

In today’s saturated digital marketplace, it’s more important than ever to find ways to make your brand stand out. Social media is a major innovation in direct-to-consumer marketing that makes it easy to interact with your audience and build positive sentiment towards your brand. However, it can also be a tricky landscape to navigate if you don’t use the proper methods.

By building a digital brand that emphasizes genuine connection and shared values with your audience, you can establish lasting trust and loyalty that extends beyond the digital space. Creating goodwill with your customers might lead to increased traffic and sales – but more importantly, it can lead to a stable, positive, and engaged base over time.

If you need help establishing or refreshing your online presence, particularly on social media, HighClick can help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or contact us here. We’ll make it our mission to help #elevateyourbrand!

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Hazel Bennett is a freelance writer and blogger. She has a degree in communications and lives in Northeastern Ohio. Hazel loves writing about numerous topics and showcasing her expertise with words.

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How to Build Brand Affinity with Your Customers

How to Build Brand Affinity with Your Customers

Conventional wisdom says that if you put your customers front and center, they’ll stick with you no matter what. But it’s not as simple as that. You have to give them a reason to stay. The best way to accomplish this is by building brand affinity with your customers.

Brand loyalty is something many companies strive to cultivate with customers. But what if you could take the concept of brand loyalty one step further?

Connecting deeply with your customers on an emotional level can build a long and healthy relationship that’s not only essential to growing sales, but also influences how people speak about your business to others.

Brand affinity involves looking at the customer as an individual, determining how closely connected you are to them, and figuring out how to further cement that connection to secure their steadfast allegiance.

Customers become advocates for a business when they feel connected to its purpose and personality. Defining what you stand for as a company can help cultivate a long-lasting affinity for your brand.

 

What Is Brand Affinity?

Brand affinity is the most enduring and valuable level of a relationship between a business and its customers. It’s based on the mutual belief that the customer and the company share common values. When businesses are able to form this kind of deep emotional connection with their customers, there’s nothing better than that!

Every buying decision a customer makes is based on a mixture of emotional, rational, and behavioral factors. When a customer feels an affinity toward a brand, the emotional aspect is likely to play the dominant role in their decision.

Consumers demonstrate their affinity in a number of ways, including: the likelihood that they’ll stick with the brand over time; the high probability that they’ll purchase the brand when free to choose among others; the good chance they’ll refer others to the brand; and the tendency to describe high levels of overall satisfaction with regard to the brand.

Branding Terminology: What’s The Difference?

You may hear marketers like us kicking around a number of different words to describe the brand-building process. Between brand awareness, brand loyalty, brand equity, and now brand affinity, it can be difficult to determine the difference. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Brand Awareness

This is, quite simply, the extent to which consumers are aware of your existence; or, more specifically, how familiar they are with your brand. Being the first brand name that pops into someone’s head when they’re asked about a particular product is a clear indicator of strong brand awareness. When a consumer is aware of your brand, they may buy it or they may not – but at least they know it exists.

Brand Loyalty

A customer might be loyal to a brand for any number of reasons. It’s possible that they appreciate the quality of the product or the value it adds to their lives. Perhaps they’re motivated by compelling, or maybe they just buy it out of habit because they always have before. With brand loyalty, a customer may prefer your brand and generally choose it over others; but this a purely rational decision on the part of the buyer and doesn’t necessarily indicate a strong personal connection between the customer and the brand.

Brand Equity

Brand equity is the overall added value that a brand bestows upon a product or service. Based on awareness, perceived quality, associations, and loyalty, brand equity is how a brand justifies the value it’s seeking to get in the market. Companies with a high level of brand equity can set higher price points for their products, knowing that most consumers will be willing to pay.

Brand Affinity

This factor is measured at the individual customer level. Customers with brand affinity don’t just like your brand – they love it! They don’t just buy your products – they tell others about your brand and encourage them to buy your products as well. Creating brand affinity with consumers is the pinnacle of any brand-customer relationship.

THE BENEFITS OF BRAND AFFINITY

From promoting trust to building stronger relationships, brand affinity comes with a variety of unbeatable benefits:

  • Minimizes the Competition:  Customers who are emotionally connected to your brand are far less likely to run to your competitors the first chance they get. In fact, customers with a high level of affinity tend to buy more in general, shop with you more often, and complain less about inevitable price increases.
  • Helps Build Relationships:  People would much rather do business with a brand that’s not afraid to get personal with customers. Humanizing your business can go a long way toward building relationships with your customers.
  • Develops Brand Personality:  If your brand was a person, what would they be like? What would their goals be? Once you’ve nailed down your brand’s personality, you can use it to better target your ideal audience.
  • Creates Trust:  In business, as in life, trust is the foundation of any solid relationship. Customers are more willing to trust a brand if they know it treats its customers and employees well. Communicate the things that you do well, as a brand, to take care of your clients and your workers. Being open and straightforward with customers – especially when something goes wrong – can also improve a client’s impression of your company.
  • Improves Satisfaction Levels:  When people like what you do, they’ll want to shout about it. If they also have a strong emotional connection to your brand, they’ll want to shout about it even louder. The more that potential customers hear about how satisfied your clients are, the more they’ll come to realize that you’re a brand worth doing business with.
  • Boosts Your Bottom Line:  Perhaps the biggest benefit of brand affinity is that it can convert “regular” customers into brand ambassadors for your business. When these brand advocates share their positive opinions about you to others in their social networks, it’s likely that you’ll receive an increase in word-of-mouth referrals – which can turn into more leads, which can translate into greater sales.

HOW TO BUILD BRAND AFFINITY WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS

Brand affinity isn’t something that you can force or manufacture – it must evolve naturally between you and your customers. However, if you are willing to invest some time and resources into cultivating this level of connection with your customers, the payoff can be huge.

Here are 11 tips to get you started:
1)  Improve Your Customer Service

Determine what your customer base values in terms of customer service, then do everything you can to meet and exceed their expectations. Once customers have come to identify your brand with excellent and responsive service, you’ve created a way to set yourself apart from your competitors. Ongoing positive customer experiences help build strong, rewarding relationships with your customer base.

2)  Encourage Customer Engagement

Give customers motivation to keep coming back to your brand and interacting with it. Encourage comment engagement on all of your social media posts. This gives your audience a forum to interact with each other as well as with your brand. Try to determine the ideal platform for reaching your specific customers and consistently post content that followers will be excited to engage with. Photos, images, and videos get a higher number of likes and comments as compared to text-only posts, so keep this in mind.

3)  Keep Your Customers in the Loop

Be sure to keep your audience up to date with new announcements and features. Whether you’re launching a new product, going through organizational changes, or giving your website a facelift, make sure you let customers know what’s going on. Being transparent with your objectives and taking the time to communicate with customers can help build trust and organically boost affinity for your brand.

4)  Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Engage with your followers on social media by replying to messages, commenting on posts, and participating in groups and communities. Interacting with customers on a personal level increases brand awareness and develops trust in your company. Establishing strong connections with your audience boosts the likelihood that they’ll share your content and spread the word about your brand in a positive way.

Monitor and listen to online communities to find out what people are saying about your brand. Spend some time talking to people and reading comments online. Try to figure out what motivates consumers to buy or not buy from certain brands.

5)  Connect with Your Audience Using Targeted Messages

Remind your customers on a regular basis that you’re there for them, to alleviate their pain points and address any specific concerns they might have. Reinforcement helps customers continually associate you with the value they originally experienced with your brand.

Track and study how your customers interact with your products, services, and website in order to figure out what interests them. This will allow you to build messages that are customized just for them, which demonstrates that you’re more genuinely interested in your customers as people, not just as potential sales.

Email marketing is a great way to stay in constant contact with your audiences. Whether you’re sending out promotional emails about upcoming sales or conveying important information, keeping an open line of communication with customers is key. This will help keep your business at the forefront of their minds, while reminding them why they chose you in the first place.

6)  Create a Seamless Customer Experience

Customers don’t like it when you make them work in order to contact you or to purchase from your store. A previous stressful experience with your business will linger in the back of customers’ minds and make them hesitant about doing business with you again.

Whether you set up a 1-800 number that connects customers to a live service rep or design a website that’s easy to navigate – if buyers can purchase what they need without any issues or significant delays, they’re likely to think more highly of your company when considering your products and services in the future. Make it a point to regularly review your customer’s journey so you can continue to find ways to make their interactions with your business smoother and simpler.

7)  Use Affinity Tools to Analyze Your Customers

You can’t be everything to everyone, so don’t waste your time trying. When companies try to appeal to everyone, they often lose the unique, emotional connection upon which brand affinity is built. A number of online tools are available which you can use to help home in on your target audience.

Google Analytics offers a wide range of audience demographics including age, gender, location, and browsing behaviors. Its “Affinity” category helps inform you what type of lifestyle choices your website’s visitors make. For each “Affinity” category, you’ll also be able to see data related to website visits, new visits, bounce rates, pages per visit, and visit duration. For websites that are set up for ecommerce, Google Analytics displays data detailing transaction, revenue, and conversion rate information for each “Affinity” category.

8)  Offer a Personalized Experience for Customers

Personalizing their experience makes each of your customers feel that they’re valued. One way to do this by allowing customers to create a profile on your company’s website. Set up form fields that specifically focus on which aspects of a user’s profile will help create the most personalized shopping experience. Offer customers some type of reward around their birthdays. Consider offering a one-time discount that customers can use on their birthday month – instead of just on their actual birthday – to make this reward experience easier to redeem.

9)  Implement a Loyalty Program

Setting up a points-based reward program allows your customers to earn points by making purchases with your business. After earning a predetermined number of points or spending a certain amount of money, members receive a reward. In many cases, these types of rewards come in the form of discounts toward future purchases.

Tier-based rewards, by comparison, are based on how much a customer spends with your company within a set amount of time, typically within a year. Higher tiers unlock greater rewards – these might come in the form of deeper discounts or access to exclusive sales.

10)  Understand Your Brand Associations

Social intelligence will provide you with knowledge on how consumers currently view your brand personality and the brand associations they make. Create a search for all “mentions” of your brand. Take a look at topic clouds in order to identify common themes when people talk about your brand. If there are specific qualities that you wish to be associated with your brand, search for those words within all the mentions of your brand. Conduct a comparative study to see how you stack up against your competitors.

11)  Be “On-Message”

When you have identified your targeted audience and come to an understanding of how customers associate your brand, you can better determine how closely your perceived image aligns with the reality of your audience. Work on highlighting the areas that fit the message you wish to convey.

Make sure your brand stands for something, and that it’s a well-defined “something.” If you communicate that message effectively, you’ll soon have customers buying into your brand values.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Building brand affinity is one of the most effective ways to nurture both short-term and long-term growth. But it isn’t something that happens overnight. Like any other relationship, one between a customer and a company takes time to grow, mature, and strengthen. But by integrating these approaches into your business, you can secure a more successful relationship with your customers today – and enhance and expand that partnership tomorrow.
 

At HighClick Media, our marketing experts are ready, willing, and able to assist you with all of your branding needs. We dive deep with you to answer the questions that matter most to your audience. What makes your company different? What competitive edge makes you worth someone’s time, energy, and money?

A strong brand identity will stick with your customers. We help you create a corporate identity that will build trust and resonate with people. From your tagline to your brand persona, we’ll help you find your brand voice.

Call us today at 252.814.2150 to find out how we can help your business connect with your target audience like never before!

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Give ‘Em Something to Talk About: A 4-Step Guide to Boosting Your Brand Reputation

Give ‘Em Something to Talk About: A 4-Step Guide to Boosting Your Brand Reputation

If you’re looking for a surefire way to win customers’ trust and grow your business, you need to pay special attention to your brand reputation. In today’s world, consumers have tons of options when it comes to online retailers. If you want to encourage more people to choose your website, it’s important to have a stellar reputation as a brand.

When people see your brand logo, you want them to instantly think of your business as one that’s dependable and passionate about helping customers. As you continue building your reputation, you’ll notice that more people are visiting your site, which significantly increases your chances that they’ll convert to customers.

Your brand reputation hinges on several factors, including established marketing channels such as social media and email. In this article, we’ll examine several things your business can do to make sure you’re establishing a favorable brand reputation.

I got a reputation! A following! My brand is on the rise!

Demonstrate Your Value

One of the best ways to bolster your brand reputation is to demonstrate your value. Many organizations like to talk about what they do that makes them great – and sometimes that approach is successful. But if you want your business to grow by leaps and bounds, you need to show visitors what you bring to the table.

There are many ways that you can highlight your brand’s value in a manner that your audience can better understand. A SaaS provider, for example, could present a full demo of the dynamic features their product offers. Instead of merely reading about how quickly someone can construct a form with your software, show them by providing a demonstration.

We would appreciate a good review.

Another great way to underscore your value is to showcase customer testimonials and reviews on your website. This method works particularly well because it’s someone else – not you – who is touting your company’s value. New visitors can see what actual customers think about your products or services, and that can be the determining factor when contemplating your value proposition.

Research proves that reviews and testimonials can help increase sales by building social proof – the idea that our behavior is influenced by the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of others, assuming it must be the correct behavior – which generates trust and a positive reputation. Adding these blurbs to your business website can improve your conversion rate by 270%!

Finally, someone's talking to me!

Engage with Your Audience

If you’re not purposefully engaging with your audience daily, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build up your reputation. Consumers expect online brands to engage with them on social media, email, and their websites.

There are several ways that you can enhance engagement across all your marketing platforms.

On your business website, you can allow comments and reviews on your blog posts and product pages. Engaged visitors will take advantage of these channels to communicate with your brand. Make sure your team is available to address users’ concerns and thank them for their feedback.

You subscribed to my email list; prepare to buy!

Email marketing is another avenue where subscribers want to see more engagement. When you send out emails as part of a drip campaign, you can expect to get responses from users based on what you sent to them. By personalizing future emails in the campaign, you can offer specific answers to customers’ questions.

When you engage with users directly, they’re far more likely to regard your brand as trustworthy.

Social media is another pivotal platform for customer engagement. Whether you’re a small, independently owned business or a major corporation, social media engagement can generate substantial results for your business.

Who here is on social?

Reach out to consumers who comment on your posts and join relevant social media groups where you can interact with your target audience. Customers recount that when a brand engages with them on social media, they typically spend 20% to 40% more when they shop on that brand’s site.

The reason for this is simple: when companies deliver targeted, interactive experiences to consumers, they’re taking significant steps toward strengthening their brand reputation.

Is there something I can help you with?

Improve Your Customer Service

Your customer service and support teams are essential to furthering your brand reputation. Should a customer have questions or concerns, your customer service team can make the difference between a completed purchase and an abandoned cart.

Let’s say you’re visiting a particular website to make a purchase. After selecting the products you’re looking for, you realize you have a question about one of the items in your shopping cart. So, you begin searching for a way to contact customer support. Upon finding the appropriate link and typing out your query, you find out that the promised response time is 3 to 5 business days. Would you patiently wait for a response or abandon your cart and seek out a competitor with a team that’s ready, willing, and able to support you?

Hmmm...I think I'm gonna pass on that one.

In this age of instant gratification when consumer patience has dwindled to almost nil, most people would choose to find the items they need on another website.

Ideally, your website’s live chat options should include a combination of real customer service agents and chatbots. The chatbot is your first line of defense. This handy tool is typically located at the bottom corner of a site’s homepage, so customers can easily access the information they need when they have questions.

When I think of chatbots....

Chatbots should be able to accommodate essential operations such as password changes and blog references. If an issue is more complex, you can program your chatbot to transfer that customer to a live agent where they can get assistance immediately.

When your team can answer customer inquiries in minutes instead of days, you’ll be well on your way toward building a positive brand image. Customers will return to you time and time again when they perceive your business as hospitable and reputable.

Implement Social Listening

Implement Social Listening

Social listening involves monitoring and cultivating your business based on what consumers are saying about you and your competitors on social media. It’s also a powerful tool for improving your brand reputation.

Nearly half the population (49%) uses social media platforms to talk to friends, watch videos, and make purchases. Identifying how people think about your products or those of your competitors can help boost your brand reputation.

Big Reputation, Big Reputation...

Through social listening, you may notice that several people outside your primary social media group are discussing a feature your product is missing. Instead of viewing this feedback in a negative light, you can use it as an opportunity to show your commitment to customers. Implement the requested features whenever possible and work towards building an all-inclusive package for users.

Overall, social listening can help you pinpoint customers’ persistent or recurring problems, as well as identify potential areas for improvement in your products or services.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to boost your business’s brand reputation. The tips covered here are broad in scope and applicable to a variety of different industries. Carefully consider where you might be missing out on critical opportunities to deeply connect with your audience, and make the necessary changes to rectify these problems.

Before you know it, you’ll enjoy a world-class reputation with both new and current customers. Bear in mind that reputation is much easier to lose than it is to gain. Build your audience’s trust, continue delivering on these standards, and you can expect to see exponential growth in the years to come.

If you’re looking to boost your brand reputation through digital marketing, HighClick Media is here to help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150!

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7 Reasons Why Businesses Rebrand

7 Reasons Why Businesses Rebrand

If you’ve been in business for any significant length of time, you might have encountered the desire or necessity to rebrand your organization. Maybe you’re tired of looking at that same old logo, customers keep getting you confused with another company, or the business simply isn’t receiving the attention you know it deserves.

Rebranding isn’t a bad thing to consider – not by a long shot. Even the biggest and the best companies do it from time to time. Rebranding can help revive a failing company and sustain a successful one. When an organization rebrands, it is given the incredible opportunity to restore or revitalize its presence and image in the collective minds of its customers.

work work work busy busy busy

But rebranding isn’t a consideration that should be taken lightly. There’s no doubt that it’s a considerable undertaking, a labor-intensive process that merits months of rigorous planning and forethought.

Notwithstanding, successfully executing a rebranding strategy can benefit your organization in untold ways. Simply put, rebranding can jump-start your business and bring about substantial growth.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common reasons why businesses decide to rebrand. In so doing, we will come to understand what key considerations businesses should make prior to implementing a rebranding strategy. Let’s dive in!

 

What is Rebranding, Anyway?

Before we go any further, let’s clarify what rebranding actually entails. When a business rebrands itself, it is essentially creating a new and distinctive brand identity by making changes to its name, logo, style (e.g., fonts, colors, and imagery), slogan, mission statement, website, and/or company culture. The end goal of rebranding is to transform the organization’s corporate image in the eyes of its customers, prospects, competitors, employees, investors, and the general public.

7 Reasons Why Businesses Rebrand

There are any number of valid, legitimate reasons why a business might choose to rebrand. Here are seven of the most prominent among them:

I wanna consider a merger. Alan Alda

Mergers & Acquisitions

When two or more companies merge – or one acquires the other – there are countless critical decisions that have to be made. In the case of a merger, both companies typically have equal involvement in the new, combined organization. This means that neither brand will be swallowed up by the other – they’ll form a completely new brand.

If the companies choose to operate the brands separately, a rebrand is usually not necessary. However, if they want to consolidate the two (or more) brands, the companies must then decide whether to conduct business under one of the existing brand identities or carve out a new, combined identity in order to establish trust, foster new brand recognition, and avoid confusion.

In this scenario, the newly integrated enterprise must appraise both previous brands’ value to determine which branding options to take. If both brands are widely recognized, it may make more sense to hang on to both existing brand identities. If neither brand has made an especially big impact on the industry, rebranding might be the best way to make a fresh start.

Well, bad publicity is exactly what they're gonna get.

Correcting a Negative Perception of the Brand

You see it all the time. A well-known brand experiences a public relations identity crisis – whether due to negative publicity, poor reviews, a bad product, or the like – that tarnishes the brand’s reputation, diminishes its market share, and threatens its future success. As a result, the brand is weighed down by negative perceptions which can linger for years to come. Despite its best efforts (and regardless of whether it was initially at fault), the brand has struggled to overcome the disaster. What can be done?

By substantially changing its existing brand identity or creating a whole new identity, a business stands a decent chance of altering the current perception of its brand. Rebranding affords the organization a fresh opportunity to jettison former associations, forge ahead with new ones, and help lay the foundations for new opinions to form.

A word of warning here: People can be rather cynical when they see yet another company undergoing a rebrand in the wake of a PR crisis. Some think it’s simply a matter of “putting a fresh coat of paint over the same rotten interior.” So proceed with caution, and make sure your intentions are pure.

The Brand Looks & Feels Dated

When an entrepreneur first embarks on a business venture, it’s not uncommon to be a tad haphazard when it comes to branding. A logo and other brand elements are thrown together hurriedly and without a lot of advance planning. But as the company grows, its branding must evolve with it. A logo design that might have seemed fitting initially may now appear outdated in light of newer logos and design trends.

Whether it’s your overall design scheme, a company name that doesn’t easily roll off the tongue, or a color combo that looks like it belongs in the previous century, modernizing your brand identity is an essential step toward stimulating growth.

All companies – regardless of how profitable they are – have to remain on the cutting edge in order to stay on top of their game. Making sure that your brand image is ever ahead of the curve demonstrates to customers that your business is following trends within the industry and signals your intentions to not only keep up with competitors but to surpass them. As one marketer so eloquently put it: “If your company looks like it belongs in the past, it might soon end up there.”

Who exactly are you? Well, that's the question.

Your Company’s Mission, Vision, & Values Are No Longer Reflected

Your business’s mission, vision, and values (MVV) should impact every decision you make, including your branding, marketing, advertising, and customer support. If you are shifting gears with your MVV, expanding to offer new products or services, or have set new goals for your business, you may need to adapt your branding to reflect those changes.

After a thorough self-analysis of the brand, you’ll be better able to establish whether these changes are momentous enough to warrant revamping or refreshing your brand identity to parallel your new positioning.

He's shamelessly catering to his demographic.

Tap Into a New Demographic or Target Audience

As your business grows, you may want to expand your target audience in order to reach a totally different demographic. In doing so, it may become necessary to modify your branding to reflect the new consumer base.

Refreshing the look and feel of your brand is an effective way to catch the eye of prospective customers. If you concentrate on newer facets of your business and market them appropriately, people are sure to take notice.

At the same time, you don’t want to alienate your existing customers. Subsequently, as you develop your rebranding strategy, you should look to adopt a new brand identity that aligns with new and old customers alike.

How many of your competitors are doing that? Zero!

Set Yourself Apart from Competitors

Even the most successful businesses rebrand, particularly when it becomes obvious that brand recognition has begun to wane or when their target audience starts to show preference to its competitors.

Rebranding can help establish your business as an industry leader with a personality that appeals to your audience. When your audience regards your brand and your competitors as interchangeable, that’s a clear indication that a rebrand may be needed. Differentiating your brand signals to potential clients that your services are unique, your approach is different, and you’re the expert.

I've been ahead of you every step of the way.

Keep Up with the Market

If your business is part of a volatile, fast-moving market, your products and services may be ever-evolving as well – and your brand image has to keep pace. 

Stale, stagnating brands – or those that are unable to stay on the cutting edge – may get left in the lurch.

By implementing a solid rebranding strategy, you can reposition your company as a trendsetter in the new landscape.

Okay, what now?

Final Thoughts

Whether your business just needs a makeover or an entirely new brand identity to coincide with its evolution, rebranding provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen and support your brand’s identity and values – both internally with your employees and externally with your customer base.

A number of determinants factor into the enduring success of a rebrand. If customers were passionate about your original brand image, there may be some resistance toward the changes. Be mindful not to alter your brand so much that it’s no longer identifiable.

Before you begin the rebranding process, you should make certain that you and your team are fully dedicated to the cause you’re about to undertake.

Are we ready, people?

Rebranding isn’t something that can be accomplished in a day, a week, or even a month. In most cases, a comprehensive rebranding project calls for at least three to six months worth of work. Nonetheless, the results are well worth the time, energy, and resources expended. If coordinated well and executed properly, rebranding can help your company become more successful in the long run.

Want to know more about how HighClick Media can help your business succeed with a solid branding or rebranding strategy? Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or visit our website to learn more!

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The Basics of Brand Loyalty: Transforming Your Customers Into a Lifelong Community

The Basics of Brand Loyalty: Transforming Your Customers Into a Lifelong Community

Chances are, we all have that one brand which has effectively, in its own way, stolen our hearts.

Brand loyalty is when a customer consciously chooses your product or company over that of any of your competitors – not just every now and then, but each and every time. It’s when customers don’t have to be pitched or pressured in order to make a purchase; they will invariably choose a particular brand over any other brand’s services or prices – even if they’re cheaper! Having cultivated trust with their customers which goes deeper than details like pricing, these companies often command their corner of the industry.

It’s critical to differentiate between customer loyalty and brand loyalty. Customer loyalty is primarily concerned with prices and services, while brand loyalty involves people’s perception of your business and the emotions connected with it. In this day and age, many newer companies lack brand loyalty because shoppers have easy access to compare details such as pricing and online reviews.

Establishing brand loyalty is no simple matter. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best strategies for building brand loyalty and transforming your customers into crusaders for your business.

Engage with Your Customers Regularly

It’s crucial that you’re connecting with your customers across every marketing channel. This includes – but is not limited to – emails, social media, and text messaging. Customers are people, and people naturally respond well to engagement.

Being available to engage with your customers on all the channels helps to humanize your brand. Doing so can build confidence in your brand and let your customers know that you and your brand can be trusted. Listening is half the battle. To really demonstrate to your customers that you’re paying attention to them, you need to bring about change based upon what they have to say.

With that being said, it’s essential that your brand is consistent in your communications in order to establish and maintain a high degree of brand loyalty. It makes no difference if you’re reaching out to people across all channels if you’re not doing it consistently.

Customers spot inconsistency and regard it as evidence of what it is – a business that’s disorganized and unprofessional. By maintaining a powerful brand voice and outlook, customers will come to embrace that tone as who your company is and will instinctively remember. Apple is a great example of a brand that is continually interacting with their customers across all marketing channels. Subsequently, their brand loyalty is among the highest in the world.

Reward Your Customers

People like to be appreciated. When your brand rewards customers for their loyalty, they feel cared about – and in exchange, they’re likely to demonstrate even greater brand loyalty. This is a progression that becomes stronger and stronger each time a customer redeems a reward.

Consider Starbucks – a brand that offers a commonplace product at a premium price, yet has consistently clung to a boatload of brand loyalty. Part of why Starbucks is so adept at this is because of how they’ve “gamified” their rewards program in a way that engages customers and gets them excited about using it.

Take the time to download the Starbucks Rewards app – as well as those of other prominent companies that loom large over their respective industries (e.g., McDonald’s, Nike, etc.) – and you’ll notice how seamless and innovative they’ve made it for customers to claim their rewards. Draw inspiration from these examples and attempt to recreate their success on your own website or via a company app as a means to further build brand loyalty.

Another spectacular strategy for rewarding your faithful customers is to do so in astonishing and unexpected ways. Sending them a small complimentary gift or even a simple text message on their birthday or during the holidays goes a long way toward showing your customers that you’re thinking about them. People enjoy being pleasantly surprised, particularly when it’s from someone they might not expect it from.

Building Trust and a Community Takes Time

Even the top brands didn’t achieve brand loyalty overnight. For all the brands mentioned above, it has taken decades to build up the loyalty they enjoy with their customers. So if you don’t get the results you want immediately, it’s understandable. You’re playing the long game, and boosting brand loyalty is one of the things that takes the longest.

A good place to start is by establishing your business as a trusted authority in the field. Accomplishing this demands taking your reputation management seriously and being diligent when it comes to adjusting your tone in order to win the trust of your customers.

Reviews are extremely critical in 2021. Responding to negative reviews can be tough, but it is essential. When you can effectively deal with unfavorable reviews, it illustrates to customers that you value what they have to say and will reply in a manner that resolves their concerns.

It’s only natural for people to want to demonstrate loyalty to their own communities. Take advantage of this characteristic of human psychology to establish greater loyalty and trust in your company.

Form online communities either on your website or even through social media with a simple, straightforward hashtag. This will serve as a nexus for your customers to interact with each other as well as with your brand.

Celebrate Your Customers By Sharing Their Positive Brand Experiences

Customers trust other customers above anyone else, including company representatives and paid spokespeople. Never underestimate the value of word of mouth. An excellent way to draw attention to this and impart it to your customers is by creating a testimonial page on your website.

A testimonial page allows you to highlight the positive experiences that other people have had with your brand. This varies from a review section in that you have the opportunity to handpick and highlight the exact testimonials that you want to be shared.

When a customer sees the testimonials, they may be inclined to think: “If those customers had a great experience with this business, then so will I.”

Even now, word of mouth is still the most tried-and-true method of marketing. If you celebrate your customers by rewarding them or sharing their experiences, there’s a good chance that they’ll tell their friends and family about your business. So don’t doubt what you’re doing simply because you don’t see instant results – these results will ultimately manifest themselves in your sales.

Working with Influencers

You can boost your brand loyalty by capitalizing on relationships with people who have already established loyalty with their customers or fanbase. Whether that’s collaborating with another brand or with social media influencers, it’s a remarkable way to encourage new consumers to trust you.

Take the average influencer, for example. Tens of thousands (sometimes millions) of followers already value their opinions and trust them implicitly. When an influencer promotes your brand, thousands of people will see it and – at the very least – be interested in learning more about your company, if not place their trust in you without question.

Final Thoughts

It’s essential to keep in mind that building brand loyalty isn’t something you can accomplish overnight. Keep at it and don’t lose heart if you don’t realize immediate results. Ultimately, you’ll be extremely gratified when you have a passionate customer base that will stick with your brand no matter what other brands in similar categories may have to offer.

If you’re looking to “up your game” when it comes to increasing brand awareness, marketing through social media, or updating your website design, HighClick Media is here to assist you! Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or visit the Services page on our website to learn all about how HighClick can help #elevateyourbrand!

 

A similar version of this article previously appeared on Business2Community.com.

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How To Develop & Maintain a Consistent Brand Voice

How To Develop & Maintain a Consistent Brand Voice

When you think about branding, probably the first thing that comes to mind is a logo. A close second would likely be a specific color scheme that you closely identify with the brand. But any properly developed brand must also have a distinct style of writing and speaking. This is commonly referred to as its brand voice.

Having a strong, cohesive brand voice is one of the most important components in building a successful business. Research has shown that consumers prefer brands with unique personalities. When asked which factors help a brand stand out in the crowded social media space, 40% of consumers surveyed cited memorable content, 33% noted a distinct brand personality, and 32% stated that compelling storytelling was key. And what do memorable content, distinct personality, and compelling storytelling have in common? You guessed it: brand voice.

Every time you send an email, answer a customer support call, or speak to someone face-to-face, you’re exercising your brand voice – whether you realize it or not. With each of these interactions, people are building up an impression in their minds about your brand. If this impression is to be a true reflection of your brand to followers, readers, listeners, prospects, and customers, you must be intentional about how you use your brand voice.

Identifying your brand voice isn’t easy. It demands a great deal of introspection as well as an intimate understanding of who you are as a brand. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into what brand voice is, why it’s important, and learn how to develop and refine your own brand voice.

Brand Voice vs. Brand Tone: What’s the Difference?

You may have heard of brand voice before, but what about brand tone? Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but there are a few distinct differences.

Brand voice is how you express the personality of your brand through your chosen communication channels and to your target audience. It helps potential customers recognize and relate to your brand, get a feel for your mission and core values, and ensure that your message cuts through the noise.

Your brand voice encompasses everything from the words and language you use to the image your marketing assets evoke. Simply put, it’s the overall impression you wish to leave on your audience at every point of interaction in the customer’s journey.

Brand tone is the emotional inflection you apply to your brand voice. Your tone may need to be adjusted depending on who you’re talking to, what you’re talking about, and the platform you’re using to communicate your message.

While a different tone may be called for in specific situations, your tone should always feel consistent with your brand voice. If your tone is off in some way, your audience may end up feeling insulted or angry. Whereas if your tone strikes the right chord, the audience may be convinced to stay and listen.

WHY IS BRAND VOICE IMPORTANT?

 

A Strong Brand Voice Creates a Favorable First Impression

According to Forbes, it only takes 7 seconds for your target audience to form an initial opinion about your brand. Whether this first impression is positive or negative relies heavily on your brand voice.

A consistent voice lets consumers absorb your brand quickly and easily, allowing you to capture their attention and keep them interested in your content as well as your company. 

If you can craft a brand voice that effectively communicates what your company stands for and “who” it is, you’ll have a much easier time converting web visitors into loyal customers.

A Consistent Brand Voice Enhances Brand Recognition

Time for a bit of self-analysis. If your company logo didn’t appear alongside your content, could your audience easily identify the content as coming from you? Would someone viewing your content on different channels be able to recognize that it all originated from the same brand? If the answer to either of those questions is “no,” you probably have some work to do when it comes to brand voice.

Frequent or dramatic shifts in brand voice may cause confusion about your brand identity. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a random assortment of voices and tones in the content you produce, which doesn’t provide potential customers with a consistent picture of who your brand is.

Maintaining a consistent voice across all your media channels delivers a cohesive feel to your brand. Brands with strong voices will “sound” the same on social media, in email communications, and blog posts – even if three different individuals or teams create content for these channels. Ultimately, potential customers should be able to subconsciously associate certain words, phrases, ideas, or emotions with your brand.

A Cohesive Brand Voice Helps Build Trust with Your Audience

People prefer to support brands that they trust. In fact, a recent survey found that more than 80% of consumers want to feel like they can trust a brand before they’ll consider buying from them.

A well-crafted brand voice offers a unique opportunity to humanize your brand and demonstrate to your customers that you’re sincere and trustworthy in each interaction you have with them. If consistently applied, your brand voice can help establish enduring relationships with your existing followers as well as attracting new prospects. 

Think of your brand’s voice as a character. Stay “in character” and your audience will come to view your brand as a friend or a trusted expert. “Break character” and you’ll confuse your audience and risk breaking their trust. By being transparent, personal, helpful, and knowing your products and services better than anybody else, you can not only build trust with your customers but maintain it for the long haul as well.

A Compelling Brand Voice Helps Increase Brand Loyalty

Consumers are becoming increasingly selective about which brands they prefer to regularly support and align themselves with. When people solidly connect to the way your brand communicates online, a relationship begins to form in their minds. In the event that these consumers need to purchase a product or service that you offer, they are much more likely to become your customers and remain loyal to your brand if they perceive this emotional connection.

When your brand voice changes constantly, you may be forfeiting the opportunity to demonstrate to consumers that they can trust your brand to understand their “pain points” and dependably deliver solutions. A consistent brand voice assures consumers that the brand is carrying out the company’s mission and fulfilling its promises to the customer.

A Powerful Brand Voice Positions Your Business As an Authority in the Field

Whether you sell a product, offer a service, or both, you have specific expertise that could be valuable both to customers as well as to other businesses. By communicating consistently in the brand voice you’ve created, you can help position yourself as an easily identified and authoritative source for your area of expertise.

One of the primary reasons that customers side with certain brands is not necessarily the quality of the products, but rather the quality of the content they produce. By providing useful tips on various topics related to your niche or products, you’re not only demonstrating your expertise but also increasing awareness for your brand.

When your business is regarded as an authority in the field, people will come to you to solve their problems. And that means business!

Distinctive Brand Voice Helps You Stand Out From The Crowd

A Distinctive Brand Voice Helps You Stand Out from the Crowd

In the digital age, brands are faced with growing competition for consumer attention, interaction, and loyalty. You can only stand out so much on the strength of your visual content, logo, or product features.

The most enduring companies have a strong personality and a clear sense of purpose. The distinct voice they’ve created is used to consistently convey their message everywhere the brand has a presence.

A unique brand voice can help attract new prospects before they even become aware of your products or services. If you can quickly and effectively prove to consumers that your brand is different than – and superior to – every other brand out there.

A Credible Brand Voice Helps Boost Sales

This is where the rubber meets the road. As we’ve seen thus far, a consistent brand voice can help you better relate to your customers, establish your company as a reliable solution provider, achieve your company’s mission by following through on promises, and build your audience’s trust in you. 

All of this ultimately adds up to more closed deals and higher revenue. In fact, research has proven that brands that invest in developing and exercising a cohesive brand voice will see their revenue increase by an average of 23%! Simply put, when consumers feel like your brand voice connects well with them, they’re much more likely to buy from your business.

Dwight Schrute in The Office ~

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN BRAND VOICE

Companies that have developed a strong brand voice haven’t approached the process lightly or haphazardly. They’ve taken active steps to define what and how they want to communicate their message and documented it in detail, so that every point of contact with their customers is positive, on-brand, and consistent.

This is extremely important, since the manner in which you deliver your message to customers and prospects truly matters. In fact, it’s one of the key factors that can make or break a deal.

Finding your brand voice can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. Your brand voice already exists – it’s up to you to recognize it, articulate it, and share it with the world. But how do you unearth your voice – and where do you start?

DEFINE YOUR BRAND

To really home in on and refine your brand voice, you need to come to a deep, intimate understanding of who your brand is and what you’re trying to achieve. This is the heart of who you are as a company – your brand is simply a tool to express it.

A good place to start in developing your brand voice is to take a hard look at your company’s purpose, vision, mission, and values.

Purpose

Who are you? Why do you exist? How do your clients benefit from what you have to offer?

Vision

What kind of future do you want to create? What goals do you want to achieve? Do you aim to make a difference in your community or the world at large? What sets your company apart from the competition?

Mission

What do you plan to do to create the future you’ve envisioned? What are you trying to accomplish as a company? What do  you want your audience to say and think about you?

Values

Define your company culture and the core principles that guide your business. What’s important to you? What does your company stand for?

If you’re still struggling to pin down the particulars of your brand identity, imagine your brand as a person and try to describe its personality. How do your brand’s personality traits differ from those of your competitors?

This is an exercise you can get creative and have some fun with. Determining what type of person your company would be if it were a human being can help you gather valuable insights into the people who are most likely to connect with your brand.

What does this “person” look like? What kind of language do they use? Are they energetic or more laid-back? What does their ideal day look like?

Oftentimes, in order to determine who you are as a brand, it helps to first figure out what you’re not. Knowing this will help you better define your voice.

That’s where completing a “We’re ______, but we’re not ______” exercise can come in handy. Fill in the blanks of the sentence and duplicate the process several times until you’ve settled upon three or four sentences that best describe your brand. Once you’ve determined what your brand is not, then you can begin outlining what your brand actually is and how to 

When you’ve gained a better understanding of your brand’s DNA, you can begin to consider how you will express it through your brand voice.

GET TO KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Understanding exactly who you want to appeal to with your messaging is a crucial step toward developing your brand’s voice. In order to do this, you’ll have to get to know your audience on a personal level.

Research your target audience’s characteristics, habits, and behavioral patterns. Collect as much info as you can about their demographics, age range, education, job title, income level, likes/dislikes, and buying motivation.

As most of your customer interactions will transpire online, the words you use will leave a lasting impression in the minds of your target audience. The more you can align your voice with the language your audience uses, the easier it will be for potential customers to identify with you.

In addition, it’s critical to determine your target audience’s preferred method of communication. Not all demographics communicate the same way – some may prefer to be contacted on social media, while others may prefer email. Knowing how your audience prefers to engage with brands allows you to home in on the most appropriate marketing channels in an effort to create your brand voice.

Questions To Ask Your Target Audience:

  • What are their interests?
  • What are their beliefs and values?
  • What will offend them?
  • What will hook them?
  • How do they speak? Does this change across different channels?
  • What kind of content do they usually engage in?
  • Who are they following on social media?
  • What are they buying?
  • What are their expectations when they engage with brands?
  • How do you want them to feel about your brand?
  • How can you provide value to them?
  • What might make them care about your company, product, or service?
  • Does what they care about align with what your brand stands for?

AUDIT YOUR CURRENT CONTENT

Every piece of content you publish makes a statement about your brand, whether you’re purposefully crafting a voice or not. If the voice your readers are already hearing from you isn’t in keeping with your brand’s values and purpose, you may need to make adjustments in order to align your content with your brand.

Your audience will be the ultimate measure of whether you’ve created a successful brand voice. If your voice doesn’t resonate with your audience, then it probably isn’t the right voice.

To gain greater insight on how your brand voice currently sounds, conduct an audit of your existing content across all marketing platforms, including webpages, blog posts, social media posts, videos, e-books, print collateral, in-store signage, etc.

Cast a critical eye on the content samples you’ve collected. Pay especially close attention to your best-performing pieces, as these are what your audience is currently connecting with.

Extrapolate the key characteristics of the voice used in these pieces. Take note of which aspects you feel can, and should, be reproduced across your brand as a whole.

Which of these examples could have originated from one of your competitors? Set those aside. Narrow down your examples to only those that embody the brand voice that you want to represent.

DECIDE ON YOUR BRAND’S TONE OF VOICE

Once you’ve decided what your voice is, it’s time to focus on the tone of your brand. Think about what your product or service does for people. How does it solve their problems or enhance their lives? Your tone of voice should reflect and reinforce that.

When people interact with your brand, how do you want them to feel? If you want to make your audience laugh, then your tone might be whimsical, engaging, and accessible. Whereas if you want to raise awareness for a specific issue, your tone might be more compassionate, inspirational, and heartfelt.

Knowing the answers to these big-picture questions can help you pinpoint the emotional brand experience you’re attempting to deliver. Cultivating your brand tone of voice is an effective way to accomplish this.

Remember, brand voice is what you say and brand tone is how you say it. As your tone may vary across different audiences or platforms, it’s a good idea to document in your brand style guide – which we’ll talk about shortly – how content creators should utilize certain tones in specific situations.

Copycat, Literally

DON’T COPY THE COMPETITION

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery; but with regard to branding, it won’t do your business any favors. Sure, it’s worthwhile to analyze how your competitors craft a certain tone and engage with their customers, but you shouldn’t try to imitate their style.

Attempting to emulate your rivals’ success may attract people’s attention – but not in a good way. Branding decisions that too closely resemble those of your competitors will make you look like a wannabe or a blatant ripoff. 

Aspire for something different instead. This doesn’t require doing a total about-face from your competitors. Rather, seek out qualities and traits that their brand voice obviously lacks.

Conducting a competitive analysis can not only help you identify with whom you’re competing; it can also help you distinguish between your brand and theirs.

CREATE FORMAL BRAND VOICE GUIDELINES

When developing a brand, businesses often create a style guide which defines standards for copywriting, graphics, colors, fonts, images, and all other branding details. This guide serves as a framework for all members of the team to follow when developing content.

Much like your brand style guide, your brand voice also needs documentation. Creating a brand voice document will help keep your social media posts and marketing copy in check and consistent – especially if you have more than one content creator on your team.

By creating a brand voice chart, you can organize and further elaborate on the brand attributes you’ve defined so far. Try to come up with three to four words (typically adjectives) that best represent your brand and complete a chart consisting of four columns – “Characteristics,” “Description,” “Do’s,” and “Don’ts” – explaining how each trait should and shouldn’t be represented in your marketing.

Your brand voice chart is a great starting point for creating a larger brand voice document – a crucial reference guide that helps your content creators understand what does and doesn’t align with your defined brand voice.

Your formal brand voice document should begin with your company’s core values and mission statement; but it should also include other key components of your brand, such as personality traits, common vocabulary and phrases, as well as your desired tone of voice. Additionally, you should include examples of content that “hit the mark” as well as pieces that aren’t necessarily reflective of the brand voice you’ve defined.

Establishing well-defined brand voice guidelines helps make sure that brand standards are upheld, and that every customer-facing asset your company creates sounds like one cohesive brand – even if you have a number of different people creating content and writing copy.

 

REVIEW & REVISE YOUR BRAND VOICE REGULARLY

Developing a brand voice isn’t supposed to be a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. As your brand messaging progresses over time or new competitors enter your market, it’s a good idea to revisit your brand voice guidelines and rejuvenate them with fresh examples.

Make it a point to meet with your key content creators and communicators at designated times – whether on a quarterly basis, during major brand makeovers, or during large-scale events that could significantly alter your company’s marketing strategy – to reevaluate your brand voice.

Identify any voice attributes that haven’t performed well or, for whatever reason, are better in theory than in practice. Without regular reviews of your brand voice, you risk sounding outdated or out of touch with current events.

You want to ensure that everyone who may have a hand in creating communications from your company is on the same wavelength about what both the brand’s voice and tone should sound like.

Use your voice. ~ Lillee Jean

FINAL THOUGHTS

Your brand voice is the first impression you leave with consumers, as well as the cornerstone of developing relationships with them as customers. It’s a critical step toward becoming a company with dedicated clients and a long-standing place in the  market.

Much like a writer develops a character, your brand voice also demands careful development. Successfully keeping your brand “in character” calls for meticulous attention to detail, but it will prove profitable for your business.

While brand voice consistency is essential, flexibility is equally important. Be prepared to modulate your brand voice as customer priorities – and the market – change over time.

How will you know when you’ve found the right voice? It’s pretty simple, actually. When you publish a piece of content or launch a new marketing campaign and a reader recognizes that it’s your company before they even click, you’ll know you’ve found your voice.

Now that you’re equipped with more information about brand voice, it’s time for you to go create your own! If you feel like you could still use a bit more guidance, HighClick Media is here to help with all your branding and digital marketing needs. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to learn how we can help elevate your brand!

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know someone that needs to hear this? share it!