For brands today, the battle for customer loyalty is more difficult than ever before. Rather than sticking to one brand, many customers are selecting products based on a variety of factors like price, overall purchasing experience, and reviews from family and friends. In fact, recent studies show 81 percent of consumers trust their friends and family’s advice over advice from a business. With trust waning and customer acquisition becoming more challenging, brands need to develop emotional loyalty with customers to truly make an impact.
What is Emotional Loyalty?
True loyalty isn't just a points program or a rewards card. It’s a deep connection achieved when every action, input and communication a customer receives from a brand makes him or her feel valued. Establishing an emotional connection between a brand and its customers is the ultimate goal for any marketer, as it builds lasting relationships that keep customers coming back again and again.
However, achieving this level of intimacy requires a complex balance of activities and behaviors between the brand and customer to drive engagement at every point of contact. Emotional loyalty comes with various benefits, including high customer retention, increased marketing spend effectiveness, and brand advocacy. These benefits can be achieved by practicing the following elements.
3 Core Components of Emotional Loyalty
Emotional loyalty is constructed of three components: affinity, attachment and trust. Yes, it’s possible to like a product without being fully loyal. Or you can be attached to a brand simply by subscribing to its email program. When affinity, attachment and trust all exist, emotional loyalty is easily fulfilled.
Or in other words, I like you ... but I don’t love you. Customers find an affinity for a brand when they enjoy what the company has to offer. As previously stated, liking a brand doesn't necessarily mean being loyal to it. When a better option becomes available, or a more competitive price is discovered, customers who only like a brand tend to be swayed easily and spend their dollars elsewhere. Affinity without attachment or trust is a watered-down version of loyalty.
- Make customers aware of how your company gives back.
- Invite customers to explore products that your brand provides.
- Appeal to customers' initial emotional reactions by sending personalized communications that invite them to join your rewards program.
Attachment is less about liking a brand and more about making an everlasting connection. Customers can tell if they're valued by the relevance of the company’s communication and attempts to engage. When a brand successfully makes the effort to connect in a personalized way, customers feel appreciated and confident in the company’s ability to meet their expectations. Build relevant campaigns and messages that showcase a unified brand voice.
- Keep customers close by rewarding their loyalty with special treatment. Create tiered programs that acknowledge and treat your best customers with benefits that keep them coming back.
Trust is the cornerstone of emotional loyalty. When a customer feels respected, their willingness to trust increases dramatically. Once trust is established, respect is then shown to customers in many ways, but one of the most meaningful is communication. Customers will put their trust in a brand if every interaction and channel display similar genuine behavior.
- Prioritize customer privacy and security, which starts with asking permission to market to them.
- Maintain a healthy balance with your communications.
- Build brand authenticity.
By following the three main components of emotional loyalty, brands can go beyond transactional relationships by creating intentional brand experiences and, in turn, creating meaningful customer engagements.
Judd Marcello is the executive vice president of global marketing at Cheetah Digital, the largest independent enterprise marketing technology company in the world.
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Judd Marcello is the EVP of Global Marketing at Cheetah Digital, the largest independent enterprise marketing technology company in the world.
Marcello oversees a global team that is responsible for all aspects of the brand, demand generation, digital marketing, corporate communications and sales development. A marketer at heart, Judd has more than 20 years’ experience delivering high-impact B2C and B2B marketing leadership in the software, consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics and food and beverage industries across the UK, US, Australian and European markets. Prior to joining Cheetah Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several companies, including Canon, Salesforce, ExactTarget and Smartling.