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The Key To Customer Loyalty

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If you want to double your results, you can either double the number of visitors (very expensive), double the conversion rate (possible, but increasingly harder as there’s a max limit to your conversion rate) or double repeat purchases – loyalty.

Jakob Nielsen has mentioned that 2010–2020 will be the loyalty decade. Investing in loyalty is as important as investing in usability and conversion optimization.

If you plan to be around with your business, you have to plan for loyalty.

Shared values before interactions

A common narrative shared online is that you build loyalty by interacting with customers (sending them emails etc). It is only true when a critical criteria has been met first – shared values.

If you don’t form relationships, your customers will just want discounts. If consumers share values with your brand, you can spend less on messaging, less on discounting, and you’re less affected by the turbulent economy.

In a study of 7,000 consumers in the U.S., the UK, and Australia those who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason. That’s by far the largest driver.

Do you stand for something?

In order to have shared values with your customers, they need to know what your values are. If you’re running a vanilla company trying to please everybody, you’re not touching anyone’s heart.

In 1983, Harley-Davidson was almost going out of business. By 2008 the company was valued at $7.8 billion, being one of the top brands in the world. Central to the company’s turnaround and success was Harley’s commitment to building a brand that stands for something. Its customers organize around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of the brand.

Shared values lead to loyalty

What are consumers really loyal to? People at Corporate Executive Board were looking into this for over a year.

Long story short, what they found out was that people are not loyal to companies. They’re loyal to what the companies stand for.

We saw that emotional attachments to brands certainly do exist, but that connection typically starts with a “shared value” that consumers believe they hold in common with the brand.

- Aaron Lotton

Real thing, not stick-on emotions

If you’re successful and/or original, your products, prices and marketing messages will be copied. Those things are not your unique competitive advantage, nor will they create loyalty.

The companies who focus on values, community building and relationships are building assets that can’t be easily replicated. The best and most sustainable way to create emotion and build relationships: mean it.

You show hot women in your ads or feature happy families on your website, but those are merely stick-on emotions. The real thing is something intrinsic about your business.

A great example: Toms’s Shoes. You buy a pair of shoes, they give a pair to a child in need. The company has been around only a few years, but has become a known brand people love – because they’re the real thing.

Patagonia has a following. As does Harley-Davidson and Whole Foods. They stand for something real.

Tom’s that have been used and loved. Image source

Here’s a good article on the real thing vs stick-on emotions.

People will buy from you if who you are aligns with who they are. Make it known who you are and what you stand for.

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