Search engine optimization (or SEO) is a valuable asset in loyalty marketing, even if the two seem far from each other. Why? Because it helps you explore your customers’ interests, so your incentives will be even more spot-on.

In this article, I will show you how to strengthen your relationship with customers using SEO and give you some specific advice on how your business can start this process right now.

Retailers and brands should start building a relationship in Google search results

One of the most common misconceptions about customer loyalty is that it starts when people make their first purchase and become customers.

In reality, a long-lasting relationship should start at the first interaction with the brand. That will likely happen on a search result page of Google.

Research shows most companies focus on either acquisition or retention – only 40% of companies and 30% of agencies put equal focus on both. Focusing too heavily on either can result in your business tipping off-balance:

  • If you only care about acquisition, you will be spending much more than you should be on sales, as returning customers, fans, and advocates are much easier and consequently cheaper to get to purchase from you again.
  • If you focus too heavily on retention, you won’t be able to grow. You might build a loyal community, but it will stagnate, and without organic traffic, you won’t have the budget to sustain it.

A balanced funnel can mean the difference for your business between mere existence and growth.

A certain level of trust is at every step in an ever-increasing level, of course. The best way to start your relationship with your would-be customers is to provide them with something useful, give them knowledge, information, or advice. In other words, give them a sense of achievement that they are going to associate with your brand.

Loyalty Marketing SEO results in Google for shaving
Searching for “how to shave”, for example, will show results from Gillette; they have very detailed guides about shaving published on their official site. This query will most likely be run by young people who have never shaved and are embarrassed to ask family or friends – so if they get a sense of success, as a brand, Gillette will be responsible for that in their subconscious from the first moment of their customer journey.

Gain trust by helping customers with useful content

There are certain types of content through which you can build trust and, as such, loyalty from the first moment. These are pieces of content that help them solve some kind of relevant problem themselves.

1. Gather content ideas from the actual customer

With real problems and solutions, your content will be not only useful but also personalized for your target audience. So, where should you get ideas?

Using a subscription SEO tool, like Ahrefs, is a good start. You can type in the keywords that are relevant to you and see what questions people are asking on Google that contain those keywords.

Answering those questions will result in useful content that is based on the actual searches your audience performs, giving them answers that you know they are looking for.

This implies that you know exactly what keywords you (or more specifically, your audience) are looking for. How can you find out what they actually care about?

Another standard method is looking for specific questions at places where you know your audience is actively communicating. Message boards, customer groups on social sites, and browsing Quora are probably the best for this currently.

Zappos website image
Zappos: a company selling shoes and clothes, and in the meantime answering your questions on Beyond the Box about what type of underwear is comfortable for hiking or how to get your guests to take off shoes.

You can also run some searches in aggregator sites, like Buzzsumo, where you can find out – based on keywords – which were the most popular pieces of content in a given niche. But let me suggest another very simple approach.

Look for keywords in the emails that customers are sending you

You probably receive emails from your prospects and customers who reach out to you via your customer support channels. This inbox will contain most of the messages, questions, inquiries, complaints, and praises your customers send you.

  1. Take these messages and export them into .txt format.
  2. Open a word cloud or word counting app or tool. One very user-friendly solution is Wordclouds, where you can upload files, provide URLs, simply type in text, and format the end result in various ways. You also get a list of the words with a word count. (If you can only get individual .txt files for the emails, use another tool like the Online File Merger.)
  3. Count the words! In reality, this is how it looks:

Recently, Antavo has published a guide about building brand loyalty programs on its blog. This is a detailed article reaching almost 2000 words in length, so it will serve as a good example. Given this example, these are the words that have a 0.4%+ density in the base text:

  • 18 loyalty
  • 16 can
  • 14 customers
  • 14 program
  • 10 purchase
  • 10 brands
  • 10 Antavo
  • 10 also
  • 8 Loyalty
  • 8 members
  • 8 brand
Worcloud image for loyalty marketing SEO
This is what weeks of a marketer & copywriter group discussion look like in a wordcloud: they care about business, marketing, clients, content, and writing.

Obviously, we can leave out words like “can” or “also” and merge “loyalty” with “Loyalty”. In the end, we get a list that looks like this:

  • loyalty (program)
  • customers
  • purchase
  • brand(s)
  • member(s)

Narrowing down the topic

A list like this will tell you the main topic of any article or post. When applied to the list of customer support emails, it provides important information about how to communicate with your customers.

If you type these as keywords into an SEO tool, like Ahrefs, you can get the most frequently asked questions and the topics that are perfectly SEO compatible with your audience.

Further examining the list will tell you what style to use – what words and questions your audience uses to describe their problems. This is important because, most likely, they will use these the same expressions in their questions on Google, and using the same style helps to resonate with them.

Gamified profiling options
Another platform where you can make good use of the carefully researched content is gamified profiling, as you can word the quizzes in a way that resonates with your audience.

2. Solving problems leads to loyalty

Following the method described above, you will get a general idea about the interests of your audience. However, never focus solely on the big picture.

If you constantly receive the same question through support, then write an article centered on that question. Even make the question your title to highlight its importance. Describe the solution to the problem, using the words and phrases you have previously uncovered, in a manner that is not only easy to interpret but also sounds familiar.

In short: optimizing your content, based on the general needs of your audience, can be flattering for your audience. Building it so it answers their actual questions may even be better.

Understanding this gives you a headstart on at least two-thirds of your competitors. According to Econsultancy, 59% somewhat understands, while 11% doesn’t understand which content strategy can be used to convince customers to make a purchase.

Au lit fine linens website image
The Au Lit Fine Linens blog is a great example: they take questions frequently asked by their customers, like “What is Cashmere?” or “What’s the Difference Between a Duvet and a Comforter?” and turn them into blog posts, answering in a useful way and creating valuable content at the same time.

3. Leverage user-generated content

If we are talking about content, we can’t leave out UGC – especially reviews and testimonials.

Asking (and encouraging) your customers to write reviews and post pictures using your products actually helps with many of the challenges described above:

  • Encouraging customers to submit reviews, you will have content written in their style, words, and phrases. Antavo’s “Incentivized reviews” functionality helps with that.
  • This will give you yet another dataset for further SEO purposes.
  • It will also be much more effective at convincing leads to purchase from you.
  • Google tends to favor sites where user-generated content, especially ratings and reviews, appear. (Not a rule set in stone, but there is certainly a correlation.)
Exposed Skin Care website image
Look at the way Exposed Skin Care uses testimonials: Their Before & After page (which is one of the highest-ranking pages on the site) contains not only photos and a few words but expandable stories containing a personal touch and even a few useful tips for would-be customers.

Spice up your loyalty marketing with SEO

As you can see, SEO, content, and marketing are tied together to help you reach, engage, and convince customers.

The most effective way to start may be to try the methods described in this article. It only takes minutes, and you will immediately see the results. From there, you can build towards the more complex optimization solutions.

As for building customer loyalty programs that are capable of utilizing your SEO efforts, check out this guide: