Let’s face it, brand loyalty is a concept that has changed and continues to evolve every single day. Especially so with the advent of web and mobile. In the past, it was simpler for a business to somehow “cultivate” loyalty from its customer base through non-differentiated discounts and other such offers.
Challenges of cultivating customer loyalty in this digital age
The latest developments in the tech space have altered consumer behaviour. People have become increasingly exposed to and aware of the many options available to them.
In the past, you would have used print, then web and email to deliver your message but now, the channels and share of attention makes it more challenging for brands to win. Furthermore, consumers' attitudes toward providing personal information has also considerably shifted from what it was in the past.
It’s not all negative of course. In fact, the principles and strategies of growing loyalty have not changed that much (however, the tactics have changed dramatically).
Customers today are still willing to provide their personal information, but they have to know that the exchange will provide them something that is, not just good in value but also, unique.
Businesses and marketing leaders have to put more effort and work into understanding their customers' needs and wants, as well as motivations.
There is no excuse for lazy marketing, poor targeting and segmentation and overall lack of customer-centricity.
If your business is not putting in the hard work, then it is going to risk losing it's most loyal customers, as the switching costs are so much lower and the information about competitors is just a swipe or click away.
A simple formula that businesses should fully understand and embrace can be focused around three important ingredients of customer loyalty, which are need, desire and experience.
The Need refers to what the consumer really feels is going to solve their problem. Desire, on the other hand, refers to brand fit — the idea or feeling that draws the consumer to a brand. Finally, Experience refers to the relationship between a brand and a customer which extends beyond the seller-buyer relationship.
So where do mobile apps fit in this formula?
Unlike desktop and laptop computers, mobile devices (and the apps inside them) give today's consumers a more personal and experiential relationship with the brands they are loyal to. This has much to do with the fact that we've gradually become addicted to always being connected and not wanting to miss out on what may be happening right now.
For businesses that are looking at new ways of increasing loyalty and leveraging mobile, the selection of the right strategy, partner and mobile application to deliver that strategy, can allow for a more relevant and just in time offering - which will in turn provide for a much better user experience.
This will help eliminate the hurdles that previously hindered businesses from fully connecting and engaging with their customers, in the right place and at the right time.
Mobile apps, (together with the right strategy) can also give businesses the possibility of learning so much more about their customers, from location data to preferences, to time spent on the apps themselves, all of which can be used to really personalize the whole experience.
This all sounds quite simple and intuitive, and you might be saying to yourself, why don’t we just go out and build an app, and copy what this or that company is doing, but it really is not that simple.
You have to understand, that in order to take full advantage of the power of mobile apps to drive loyalty and engagement. Businesses need to put together and deliver on some crucial ingredients: value, design and connection.
What does this mean for your business?
First, the content, offering or service that you provide to your customers should be relevant to their needs.
As mentioned previously, consumers have access to lots of information and they are becoming more and more savvy, so make sure that you give them a clear reason to both download your app and engage with it.
Next, pay attention to the design and the user experience, as this is going to either make or break your app. You need to be data driven and have a great understanding of your customer and what they are trying to achieve when they are in your app. You need to know what motivates users to stay and use an app, what value drives them to engage and ultimately stay loyal.
Finally, your app need to win the heart of your customers, to create a connection with them that is going to move them to a point where they will be loyal to you and your brand and refer you to their closest circle of friends, family and colleagues. A key part of this is making sure that you are able to seamlessly communicate with your audience.
Using machine learning algorithms to better target your customers, as well as a great segmentation strategy together with the right communication triggers is going to ensure your app not only gets opened, but gets used and becomes an everyday part of your customers lifestyle.