I've come across many online stores that implement loyalty or reward programs, only to set it up and forget it. They hope that the platform will bring some added value for new or existing customers, and hopefully generate some recurring revenue.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret. You don’t actually need a loyalty app to increase brand loyalty. In fact, I normally err on the side of caution because just downloading an app doesn't help build brand loyalty. It’s just not that easy.
In this blog post, I’ll share three different ways to build brand loyalty without ever downloading or paying for a loyalty app.
Before continuing, I should probably mention that I have nothing against loyalty platforms. In fact, I think they can be extremely valuable and tied to your loyalty strategy. However, if you think downloading it and just letting it run is going to increase loyalty, you’ll probably be disappointed.
If you have any chance of building a strong relationship with your customers, you’re going to need something that will make them want to support your brand.
Sure, there are a lot of brands that provide unique products, but there are far more brands that tell unique and engaging stories. And while every story is unique on its own, most brands are able to capture consumer interest by 2 simple things:
Revealing issues, concerns, values, or a mission that consumers can relate to.
Including the consumer in their story.
I’m sure you’ve come across many online stores that share their story by expressing their core values, what issues their products solve, or their mission. But what exactly do I mean by including the consumer in the story?
Well, it’s simple. Make the customer the hero of the brand story. Not you.
This isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s become a widely known strategy since Donald Miller (the marketing expert behind this genius idea) shared it in his bookBuilding a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.
Although there are many brands using this strategy, I’m going to highlight one that has always stood out to me: Thinx.
If you haven’t already heard of this successful store, Thinx is an underwear brand specifically made for female menstruation. Aside from sharing what their product does and who Thinx is, the brand invites the consumer to join them on their journey of breaking the period taboo. Not only that, but every customer who purchases their product (or wants to add an in-cart donation) is directly funding their GiveRise program, an initiative that advocates for period equity and menstrual education.
So while customers are buying their products for their menstrual needs, they're also advocating for female health rights.
So instead of just telling your story. Think about how you can make the customer the hero.
Honestly, sometimes I feel like I don’t have to mention this, but it’s surprising how many online stores continue to get this wrong.
Let’s be honest. No one wants to be treated like just another number. As consumers we want to be acknowledged when we have questions or concerns. Really, all we want is to just be treated like a human.
So with that said, it’s not enough to just have “OK” customer service.
Treat your customers the way you’d want to be treated. Try not to make everything automated. Try to add personalization. Add some human element that makes the customer want to purchase from you again.
As your business grows, it can become more challenging to provide excellent customer service. Perhaps you don’t have the resources to take on the current demand yourself.
Regardless of the reason, never let it take a backseat. Hire someone, create chatbots to handle incoming questions or requests, do anything! Just don’t let your customer service become an afterthought.
Getting back to the idea of the customer as the hero, there’s a lot that can be said about user-generated content. Simply put, it makes the customer experience authentic.
While this can easily be done by collecting text reviews from your current customers, collecting images and videos can turn it up a notch.
This is especially true for fashion, home decor, or travel brands. Allowing customers to publish a video or photo of themselves using your product will provide social proof to attract new consumers and drive conversions.
Turning your social media into a social shopping experience will also help provide the necessary proof for new consumers. There are several Shopify apps that integrate with Instagram or Facebook to publish user-generated social content on websites. Many of these apps even offer the option to add these images or videos to product pages, so that consumers can see the specific product in action.
Why does this increase brand loyalty? It shows that other people are actively using your products and are happy to share their experiences with others.
Like I previously mentioned, loyalty platforms can be extremely useful for some stores, but if your current app is doing nothing for you, I suggest you try the recommendations above.
The truth is that there's no one solution that will help build your brand loyalty. Start reaching out to your customers and asking what they want. Make sure they feel seen and heard. And make them the hero of the story.