Marketing science is all the rage these days. Thanks to the wealth of analytics available to digital marketers, it’s never been easier to measure “loose” goals such as brand awareness and affinity.
Brand loyalty is no different. Though it can still be difficult to measure, brand loyalty is the ultimate goal for many marketers. Luckily, content marketing is an ideal way to achieve it.
Why It Matters
It’s hardly surprising to learn why marketers target brand loyalty as a primary objective. After all, brand loyalty translates into a slew of money-making metrics, such as purchases, recommendations and market share.
Also, consumers loyal to your brand are often the most active members of your community. They may even be brand evangelists who can deliver new purchasers into your funnel.
Yet defining brand loyalty can be a tricky task. Is it equivalent to repeat purchases, price insensitivity or the brand evangelism we just mentioned?
Like so many emotional metrics in marketing, the answer is: It depends. For example, Toyota may be hard pressed to define their brand loyalty as repeat purchases. After all, consumers rarely buy more than a few cars in their lifetime.
So, how can you define brand loyalty in your own marketing strategy? Consider your ultimate business goals, then back into loyalty from there. Some unique factors to consider:
- Who is your target consumer? As usual, your ideal purchaser persona is the best place to start. Once you have her in mind, ask yourself, “How does she define brand loyalty?”
For example, perhaps she is a busy mom who wants her favorite brands to make her a better mother. In that case, repeat purchases may be a good indicator of brand loyalty. Perhaps she is a CEO who wants brands to make her professional world more efficient. In this case, brand loyalty may be word-of-mouth recommendations to her circle of colleagues.
- Which demographics do you reach? Each demographic group defines brand loyalty very differently. On the one hand, millennials prefer brands that represent who they are as individuals. Meanwhile, Gen Xers are extremely value-focused, opting for brands that give them maximum value for their hard-earned dollars.
- What do you sell? The nature of your product or service can define brand loyalty fairly easily. If you’re a makeup brand, brand loyalty may be measured by the variety of products one consumer buys from your product line. On the other hand, a spa may measure its brand loyalty by how many customers request repeat appointments or specific masseuses.
- What stage is your business in? If your brand has over 10 years in the industry, you may want to focus less on new purchasers and more on consumers who have been with your brand for a long time. Obviously, this would be nonsensical for brands that have only been around for year or two.
Regardless of how you define brand loyalty, content marketing is the perfect way to achieve your goals. Let’s check out five ways to rake in brand loyalty using content marketing strategies.
It’s silly to believe that consumers think about your brand all of the time. In fact, you’re lucky if they think about your brand until they’re making a grocery list.
Luckily, content marketing is ideal for engaging your consumers in between purchase periods. Newsletters specifically can reach your consumers on a regularly-scheduled basis.
While you don’t want to spam your subscribers, a weekly or twice-weekly ping can yield fantastic results. Not only will your readers be subtly reminded of your presence, but they can gain familiarity with your brand voice over the long term.
- Personal gifts
It’s better to give than receive, right? When it comes to brand loyalty, that saying couldn’t be more accurate. After all, we live in a gift-giving culture where gifts are viewed as a sign of thoughtfulness and affection.
Your specific gift type depends on which brand loyalists you want to target. If you’re trying to engage a small group, go old school and send them a snail mail gift for the holidays or their birthday. If your small group includes social media influencers, be sure to include your newest product. Regardless of gift type, any snail mail package should include a personalized note.
Obviously your budget probably won’t tolerate a snail mail campaign for a large group of loyalists. In this case, consider an exclusive appreciation sale or a personalized coupon.
- Cause marketing
Even though your customers don’t think about you all the time, they still want to be treated like more than a number. If you want loyal followers, you should extend this perspective to society as a whole.
This is why savvy brand marketers look for causes or charities they can partner with. Not only does this show consumers that you care about more than sales, but it humanizes your brand in a way few other strategies can.
If you can’t donate to a cause, you can still exercise corporate selflessness. For example, host an employee charity day and share it with your audience through social media and newsletters.
You can also implement campaigns focused exclusively on helping consumers or another worthy cause. After all, Honda has built a years-long marketing campaign surrounding their “helpful Honda dealers.”
- Invite their input.
Brand loyalists form the core of your social media community. Unfortunately, the idea of “community” now often translates to nothing more than scientific analytics, such as new followers and click-through rates.
But brand loyalty is usually an emotional connection that evolves over time. This is especially true of millennials, who want to be personally involved with the brands they connect with on social media.
These emotional connections can be directly translated into your content marketing strategy. Rather than focusing on follower counts, create posts that invite feedback from existing followers. Instead of counting blog views, write content that fosters comments on them. Over time, your readers will come to think of your brand as one that listens to what they have to say.
- Own your culture.
You undoubtedly understand your brand on a deep level. You get its core mission, culture and unique offering.
Yet your perspective is a result of spending time with your brand every single day. As we’ve already mentioned, consumers will spend a fraction of that time with your brand. This is why you must offer them explicit insight into who you are during every single interaction.
What does this mean exactly? Well, clear brand voice goes beyond a company tagline. First and foremost, you need a rich voice document and visual guide that shape each and every content piece you create (yes, even your 140-character tweets).
More than that, create a list of brand traits that you want your audience to intuitively understand. Once you have your top three, brainstorm which words and images convey those concepts.
Implement those ideas into your visual and document guide, but also think of ways you can be proactive about them. For example, let’s say you want to convey a sense of adventure. Consider a user-generated photo contest that encourages users to submit photos from their summer trips. Maybe commission a video series that features spontaneous nature trips all over the U.S.
For better or worse, brand loyalty will never be something you achieve and forget. It’s an ongoing goal that should be pursued as long as your brand is around. But if you play your content marketing cards right, you’ll have a core group of followers that will stick with your brand for the long haul.