The Importance of Brand Loyalty and How To Improve It
Brand loyalty is everything. It’s what people think when they see your logo, your reputation when they hear your name and even a customer’s association when they purchase your products or services. With so much emphasis on your brand, you need to make sure it looks better than ever. That’s exactly what we’re going to focusing on in this branding loyalty article.
On the internet, your brand gets the most exposure through search engines and social networks — after all, that’s where 99% of people start and end their internet usage. This means you should also spend your branding efforts in these areas as well.
What is Brand Loyalty and Why Does It Matter?
Brand loyalty is a phrase a lot of people like to throw around, but not many people have hands on experience with. If I was to ask you what “brand loyalty” was, what would you say?
Wikipedia sums it up in a quick sentence as:
Brand loyalty is where a person buys products from the same manufacturer repeatedly rather than from other suppliers.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com says:
Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks says:
If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
And in keeping with the theme of coffee, Todd William of ReputationRhino.com describes brand loyalty in a way that most of us can relate to.
“A lot of people think brand loyalty is about a catchy jingle or ads that follow you around when you are searching for something online. But in a competitive business, the best way to increase brand loyalty is to deliver outstanding service consistently. A good business that wants to be great should estimate the value of a customer over a lifetime, not a single transaction. The whole point of brand loyalty is trying to get a customer to stay with your business forever by doing the same little things right, every single time, but sometimes we only seem to look at the last receipt or invoice when we think about how much a customer is worth. That’s why we get soggy fries and slow service and that’s also why most small businesses fail. For almost three years, I have been ordering coffee online from a small microroastery in Arizona. I get my coffee in a simple brown paper bag three days after I order it and it is always amazing. Although I live in New York City and literally pass by some of the best coffee shops in the world on my way to work, I still shop from this little roastery in the middle of the southwestern desert that I’ve never been to in my life. For this small business, I’m worth a lot more than my $15 order, I’ve been spending $60 a month for almost three years, and for me, I haven’t looked anywhere else for my next cup. That’s brand loyalty.”
No matter who you look to for a clear definition on brand loyalty it all comes back to the end user and how they look at the brand, individual or organization they are purchasing from.
Now the question is, how does the internet play a part in the whole brand loyalty game and what can you do to improve yours?
Let’s get started by looking at both search engines and social networks, and how each play a pivotal role in your branding efforts.
The Search Engine is Your Brands’ Resume
When someone searches for your name or brand in Google, what do they find? The answer should be your main web site, blog, and major social profiles. If you aren’t currently ranking at the top of the search results for your name or brand, this should be your main focus. Of course this is easier said than done, especially for those of you with common names that are shared with thousands of other people around the world.
To increase your chances to rank at the top of the search results for your name and brand, you need to do the following.
- Secure a domain name and setup a website
- Setup social profiles on all major networks
- Increase backlinks to your sites and social profiles
- Contribute to other authority sites and link back to your sites
- Share and links all of your content through social media
For most online marketers and branding experts, this should seem simple enough, but if you aren’t ranking on the first page of Google for your name and brand, you still have some work to do.
To get a better understanding of how this might work, you can see an example of how Katy Perry is doing this with social media.
What the Search Results Say about Your Brand
You might not think it’s a big deal for your brand to have a professional website, blog or even the need for an active social following, but it is.
The more you can rank and take control over the first page of the search results, the better you can have control over how your online reputation and brand loyalty looks. This can mean the world of a difference for someone who is searching your name for the first time and are already in “buying mode”.
If you don’t rank on the main page of the search results, guess who will? Your competition, and potentially online review sites that could hurt your brand further. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a positive online reputation for your business.
For these reasons and many more, you should be focusing your efforts on the search results.
Social Media is Your Brands Playground
Just as important as the search results (if not more important), is the fast paced world of social media. With over 2 billion users spread across all of the major social networks, there is no doubt that your brand name is up for grabs and being tossed around daily.
For major brands like Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Apple and millions of others, it’s become a constant battle and a full time job just to monitor social media. It’s not just about monitoring, it’s about responding and taking action too!
Instead of looking at social media as just a big negative, use social media to your advantage by implementing the following:
- Customer support through social media
- Updates and special offers sent out to fans and followers
- Receive feedback and testimonials from happy customers
- Highlight your customers and their experiences
- Make social media a two-way conversation and not just promotional
Jay Baer of Convince and Convert pointed out a big correlation between social followers and brand loyalty — and yes, they actually do matter! 53% of Americans 12+ who follow brands on social media are more loyal to those brands.
There are plenty of wrong ways and right ways to use social media. One of the best ways to learn what not to do is to reflect back at some of the worst branding disasters that quickly went viral!
The Loyalty of Your Brand is Priceless
Now that we’ve covered what brand loyalty is and how the search engines and social media both play a pivotal role in how others see your brand, it’s time to take a look at your organization and how your brand is currently being portrayed online.
In addition to the many key points and influencers mentioned above, you can also do the following to improve your brand loyalty.
- Provide value and service where your competition is lacking
- Create consistency across social profiles and their branding
- Responding to all complaints, feedback and social interactions
- Monitoring brand mentions and negative companies on review sites
- Letting your customers know they are appreciated and not just a number
- Request reviews and testimonials from your existing customers for others to see
The important thing to remember is that you can’t put an actual dollar value on brand loyalty. It’s not something you can measure at the end of the year, nor is it a required focus to create a successful business.
However, the difference between those who have brand loyalty and those who don’t is an army of extremely loyal fans and customers who will wait outside of a store for days just to be the first to get their hands on your latest product, just ask the folks at Apple!
What are some of the unique methods you’ve seen businesses use to increase their brand loyalty? Share in the comments below.