Building Customer Loyalty: I’m Ready for a Change

You know me. I'm a working mom. I have two school-aged children. I shop at your store. I signed up for your credit card. I opted into your emails. You’ve labeled me as "loyal." But I’m not nearly as loyal as I could be. 

The fact is, I continue to shop with you because I like your product. It’s familiar. It works for me. I buy things when I need them – not because your emails drive me into the store. At least, not usually – that’s not the way to build customer loyalty. Every once in a while, the timing is right and your email features a product that’s ideal for me. But why is it only once in a while? You know that I have a six-year old boy and a four-year old girl. I've certainly purchased clothes in those sizes. You know I live in the South. You know my exact address. Why is it that your emails only resonate with me occasionally? 

As a marketer, I know why: You’re not being relevant enough.

Today's environment has changed. It’s no longer about customers being loyal to brands; it’s about brands being loyal to customers. If you really want to get your customers’ attention−consistently−you need to cut through the noise and truly recognize and relate to customers to build their loyalty. Show me that you know me. Tell me what other moms in my area have been buying for their children. Show me how they're pairing outfits together. Make recommendations. Feature local content. Share tips on the best parks and summer camps in the area. Be more engaging. Be more relevant. building customer loyalty

Does it take more time to be relevant? Definitely. Is it worth it? Definitely. 

I've been a marketer for a long time. I understand the complexities of synching databases. I understand the challenges and additional work required to version emails. I understand the desire to go with the tried-and-true and the belief that you need to send an email every day to drive business. Conversely, I’ve also seen what can be achieved when you start being loyal to your customers by recognizing that they might prefer one, beautifully relevant email each week, instead of being bombarded with generic messages every day.

Building customer loyalty requires connecting on an emotional level−that’s the ticket.

Right now, I know I'm viewed as an active, loyal customer; but, I’m not. I’m a shopper making rational decisions based on reviews, sales and recommendations from friends. But there’s so much more to win by building customer loyalty. If you start using the information you already have about me to better relate to me, my relationship with your brand will become more personal and emotional. I'm more likely to tell you more about myself. I'm more likely to trust you. I'm more likely to talk with my friends about you. I'm more likely to cut you some slack when you miss the mark. I’m more likely to come back. 

Where to begin? Pilot, pilot, pilot. 

Truly getting to know your customer takes time and perseverance. However, the payoff is big. Here are some initial steps to get the ball rolling for building customer loyalty:

  1. Get leadership buy-in across the organization. 
  2. To build customer loyalty, you must understand your customers.  Pull all data together. Look at the products they’ve purchased, length of time they’ve been a customer, how they shop (on sale/full price), frequency of visits, etc. Build segments.
  3. Really, really know your segments. Who are they? What makes them tick? Where are your greatest opportunities? How should you talk to them so that they’ll listen? What do they want to hear?
  4. Develop a marketing plan for each segment. Outline objectives, channels, relevant offers, relevant positioning, etc.
  5. Create a pilot plan for building customer loyalty. Typically within a couple of key segments and in a smaller geography. Don't forget to have a control and treated group. Let's make sure we can measure results at the end of the program. 
  6. Build a customer journey map. What are all of the key touch points in your customer’s lifecycle? Welcome them at sign-up. Nurture them as they learn about your brand. Share tips about how they should shop with you, how you’re different from everyone else and why they should care. Recognize when your customers have fallen off and try to win them back. Acknowledge a purchase and make a recommendation on a great outfit pairing. Wish them a happy birthday. Recognize that they’ve shopped the brand for five years. Thank them for their business.  
  7. Don't give up. Optimize your plan as you learn more with each campaign and don't succumb to the batch-and-blast pressures or the need to “make this month's numbers”, etc.
  8. Give it time. Building customer loyalty through relationships can't be accomplished through one touch. It's a layered approach that’s built over time. 

And, please when you start piloting your “relationship building 2.0” − please make sure to include me in the list. I'm ready for a change.