Interview: Professor Mike McGuirk on How Brandwatch For Students is Used in His Classroom
By Olivia SwainSep 6
Published June 20th 2016
The power of brand loyalty is probably stronger than you think. A study of Apple fans found that the brand’s products activated the same parts of the brain that religious imagery triggers in a person of faith.
This effect is undoubtedly amplified by the near totality of the recognition of the Apple brand.
The importance of brand awareness should not be underestimated. Building brand loyalty on top of that will ensure customers keep coming back. But more than ever it can also help bring in new customers.
Brand loyalty describes consumers who remain loyal to a brand because they believe it offers a better experience and higher quality than the competition.
They also are likely to remain customers regardless of pricing. This loyalty is based on an emotional bond that has been developed over years.
That emotional connection is earned through product quality, customer experience, and the brand’s values. In an age where people are easily able to compare prices, these three factors are increasingly important.
Building your brand loyalty is obviously great for retaining customers, and retaining customers is cheaper than winning new ones.
However, these loyal customers are likely to be the heavy buyers, meaning they are not really an area for growth.
Similarly, loyal customers are more likely to be social media fans and followers, making them likelier to consume brand content.
The problem is that they are often not the intended target of the marketing when the aim is increasing sales. What they can be is an important conduit for sharing your message.
Building brand loyalty by giving the best experience possible will complement your social selling strategy to entice new customers to your brand.
To make sure your strategy is aligned with your audience, employing a social listening platform can help maximize your offering.
A quality product might be obvious, but it’s worth stating as it is the foundation on which to build. You can get all the other ingredients right but people won’t stick with you if your products let them down.
Ultimately, the first step in choosing to be a customer of a brand comes down to them having a reliable, good-quality product.
The quality of your offering can be improved by listening to conversations about your product, to discover what your current customers like and dislike about it.
You can also listen to conversations about your product category, discovering if there are any desires for the industry in general.
These insights can also be used to emphasize certain features in your marketing, or develop the product itself.
A pharmaceutical company has used social listening to harness this approach and listen to conversations around HIV treatments.
They discovered that what mattered most to people was not a cure, as you might expect, but concern over passing the virus on to loved ones. This unexpected insight informed the strategy to align their positioning with their audience.
Customer service has increased in visibility since the advent of social media and plays a large role in customer experience.
Research company Access Development reports that 79% of customers would take their business to a competitor within a week of experiencing poor customer service.
The estimated cost of customers switching their choice of businesses due to poor service is $1.6 trillion.
It’s not just about ensuring you don’t lose customers however.
Research shows those who receive a positive customer service interaction on Twitter are more satisfied with their experience, are more willing to recommend the company, and are willing to pay more in the future.
Social customer care teams can deal with questions directed at your official channels. Done well you can turn failure into advocacy.
But to stand out from the crowd and increase brand loyalty, you need to go beyond this simple tactic.
Customer care is a chance to delight your customers. By using a social listening tool you can make your customer service proactive as well as responsive.
Our research suggests that up to 96% of conversations about a brand happen outside official channels.
With social listening, you can discover conversations that would have gone unnoticed. Relevant mentions might not even include your brand at all, but could be someone looking for advice in your product category.
A brand is in part formed by “a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships”, as Seth Godin has stated. Without these, you have what used to make up a brand – a product and a logo.
Where brand positioning was previously expressed, it was through one-way communication – billboards, TV spots, and the endorsement of sports stars that were uncontactable.
Now, connected devices mean friends influence each other through sharing, branded content is much more interactive, celebrities can be reached directly on Twitter.
There is a dialogue between brand and consumer that didn’t exist ten years ago, and values play an important part of this.
Social listening can be used to discover the associations consumers in your vertical have with your brand. Segmentation of the data can also unearth the topics and values matter to your customers.
Online clothing company ASOS has used this approach.
By focusing on people who are regular customers, they looked at the topics talked about that didn’t involve ASOS.
They then segmented further, understanding the gender, profession, and geographical breakdown of their audience, and how the conversation topics vary for these different groups.
By emphasizing brand values, businesses align with their audience and increase the likelihood of content being shared on social media.
In a study into why people share content online, the New York Times revealed that 68% of people share to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
For larger brands, these values may extend into support for society.
Again, demonstrating these values make the customers more likely to share content to their social peers, with 84% of people sharing as a way to support causes or issues they care about.
An important aspect of communicating these values is to join the customer where they are. Again, social listening can help you uncover where the conversations are happening, and to move into new channels to join the conversation.
Brands that have a quality product, offer great customer service and have a clear sense of their values will cultivate loyal customers who can act as brand ambassadors.
These consumers will help market the brand by sharing their content and talking positively about it among their friends.
A social listening tool offers detailed insights about your brand that can inform strategy in each of these areas, helping to retain existing customers and win new ones.