4 Ways to Create More Authentic Marketing That Builds Customer Loyalty
Attempting to get attention from retail customers, let alone loyalty, is a huge challenge in today’s marketplace. Consumers are bombarded with messages constantly, leaving little to no room for a compelling message that “sticks.” Retailers are wise to consider how they can reach their audiences effectively with the last bastion of marketing: authenticity. Here are a few ways that we recommend retail brands use genuine content and messaging to build lasting customer loyalty.
The No. 1 quality people demand from a company is honest communication about products and services. This sounds like a no brainer, but for some brands "telling it like it is" isn’t the norm.
You may remember when Snapchat got caught by the Federal Trade Commission for making false promises about the disappearing nature of messages sent through the service. The FTC alleged that the company deceived consumers over the amount of personal data it collects and the security measures taken to protect that data from misuse and unauthorized disclosure. Additional lies by Snapchat (combined with a major security breach) enabled outside parties to compile a database of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers.
Users immediately looked around for a replacement application, and according to TechCrunch: “When Snap Inc. filed to IPO in February, it revealed numbers showing that growth had plummeted. Snapchat grew just 7 percent in Q3 2016 and 3.2 percent in Q4. That means Snap’s growth fell nearly 82 percent to just one-fifth of its speed before Instagram Stories’ launch.”
Being honest with customers and investors will ensure that proper expectations are set before using your platform or buying your product, which will make for less angry tweets at the end of the day. Looking for a few ways to demonstrate that you’re honest? Admit to a weak product feature when it becomes the elephant in the room, and give credit to competitors when credit is due. Then, improve yourself! Being honest has already put you on the right path.
Many startups fail to scale their businesses (something like 90 percent, according to Forbes), and much of this floundering is due to lack of demand. The most successful entrepreneurs create a connection with their customer by bringing a personal touch to the sales and marketing process.
According to Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, finding and retaining his first customers was a result of blog posts on search engine optimization (SEO), which he personally wrote himself while working at his mother’s marketing agency. Fishkin kept a routine of writing every day, and this activity promoted voice, responsibility and good habits for the brand he wanted to build.
Since its inception, Moz has raised three rounds of funding: $1.1 million in 2007, $18 million in 2012, and $10 million in January 2016.
“For the first five years of SEOmoz's life, I blogged every night, Sunday through Thursday,” Fishkin explains. “I think that practice has made blog posting and writing in general a big part of our culture and my personal contributions to the business.”
Fishkin also says he has a “desperate, personal, almost weirdly obsessive need to share things with depth and detail.” By sharing his struggle to learn the ins and outs of SEO basics, raising capital, and team building, Fishkin was able to connect and grow with an audience that eventually trusted his expertise enough to become customers.
You probably have a horror story of being put on hold — after being passed around from representative to representative — only to then be disconnected.
Customer service departments and sales teams must be given the specific social tools to do there job, and to track customer insights of all kinds. Phone systems have the ability to sync with customer relationship management tools like Salesforce, and can give your support team access to customer data (e.g., purchase history and recent interactions with your business) when they need it most. The Harvard Business Review found that the chances of qualifying a lead fall almost 400 percent if companies wait longer than five minutes to reciprocate contact.
Be Plugged In (Prescient)
The right tool for the right job can make the difference between a good customer experience and a mediocre or poor one. Everyday, new tools become available to help you connect with your customers in more effective and pleasant ways. Not long ago, a web form or email might have been the only realistic or affordable way for most businesses without huge budgets to engage with potential customers. Then came social media, chat widgets, and the like. That evolution continues today as tools for interfacing live with your audience have launched on every major social network.
Today, that's going even further with specialized platforms for specific purposes. Crowdcast, for example, is a platform finely tuned for putting on webinars and Q&A’s, neatly packaging questions asked in the broadcast for viewers to browse later.
Successful companies invest in the technologies that allow them to interact with customers in an honest, personalized and responsive way. And with social technology available to brands, there’s no excuse for giving a customer a less than lovely/pleasant experience when they connect with you.
John Kueber is the CEO of LiveShopCast, a mobile platform that allows retailers to launch their own shopping show to thousands and sell directly from their live show.
Related story: Revamping Retail: Loyalty Pain Points and How to Solve Them