No matter what generation you belong to all of your actions are driven by basic values. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials all operate on their beliefs but they gather information and make decisions in different ways.
Millennials have grown up in an online world with hyper connectivity, and often the lines between their real lives and digital lives are blurred. Digital media matters more than ever because it can build lasting, profitable, and loyal customers in the social age.
Patagonia clothing is a perfect example of a brand that appeals to consumer values to build loyalty, both online and in real life. Patagonia makes good quality outdoor gear that is similar to many other offerings such as Columbia. However, Patagonia is able to command a premium price because it has established a clear identity that lines up with specific values and feelings. People feel powerful and strong against the elements when they wear Patagonia. In addition, without any research you can probably guess a few of the values that Patagonia stands for. Think about it for a second, what values does Patagonia stand for?
?Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.? -- Patagonia?s Mission Statement
The best brands appeal to specific values and feelings, this in turn builds engagement and creates droves of loyal customers. However, values and feelings alone will not create loyalty and engagement. If you are looking to connect with people, whether online or offline, you must talk to them in their language and meet them where they are. To reach baby boomers, radio ads are great because they spend lots of time in their cars. Millennials, on the other hand, spend more time behind a different kind of dashboard.
Common Traits Of Loyal Customers
A loyal customer is worth far more than a return customer because they are willing to not only pay a premium for your product, but they would be lost without your product in their life. Just like a real life loyal customer, digital customers buy from you again and again because their buying decisions are based on values, feelings, and a relationship, not a price. That means you need to connect with your digital customers in meaningful ways, similar to how you would build connections with real-life customers.
For digital customers, awareness, engagement, and purchase decisions are made through a variety of online platforms. These include review sites, your website, and social media. Still, you can?t completely digitalize or replace a personal interaction with a customer review, blog post, or tweet. The best way to create loyalty among digital customers is through online interactions and conversation across digital channels such as your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Missing Link In Digital And Real-Life Interactions
Quality relationships both online and in person have frequent and regular interactions and conversation. Engagement matters to brands because it builds loyalty and is often a precursor to purchase. There are a series of small steps customers go through before buying, often referred to as a sales or marketing funnel. These steps look something like this:
Notice the action that customers take right before purchase? It?s engagement. We know that engagement is a key ingredient to loyalty and purchase so it makes sense that we want to optimize for it when possible. Engagement is the missing link in many online sales strategies because traditional radio strategies focus on awareness and reach rather than engage.
For marketing executives to compare advertising across channels (radio, print, digital, etc.) they need a common denominator. Since it?s nearly impossible to measure how many people talk about a radio ad inside their car, executives rely on impressions and reach to compare their marketing tactics. However, engagement is further down the sales funnel than awareness or reach so in places where you are able to measure engagement, like digital, it makes sense to optimize for it.
One of the beautiful things about digital media is the ability to easily measure and trace conversation and engagement. You can measure what people respond too. With time you will become more successful and be able to apply what you learn to radio ads. Put even more simply, engagement helps to build relationships and create loyal customers online.
Flip The Script On Social Media To Build Engagement
Many people think that social media is a tool to simply publish headlines and content similar to how radio stations broadcast information. However, social media is more effective if you use it to build conversation. Think of social media as an interpersonal dialog with customers. It needs to include talking, listening, and a meaningful exchange.
When you flip the script and use social media to reinforce real-life conversations and interactions rather than synthesize them, it will be much more effective because the connections will be much more meaningful. For example, say you meet a listener at an onsite promotion then take their photo and post it to social media. It?s only natural that they will re-share the photo if they are excited about where they are or who they met. This interaction builds engagement and, as an extra benefit, awareness.
This approach to digital engagement is extremely effective. It builds rapport with the people you meet in real life and it activates them to be a brand advocate. Now suddenly your brand has flipped the script on social media and started a conversation with a real live human. In essence, you can turn paid media into owned media. Said another way, you have built a bridge between real-life customers and their digital audience.
Bridge The Real-Life / Digital Gap
Over the last couple of years we noticed that there are three secret ingredients to bridging the gap between real-life interactions and digital interactions. Here?s the best way to do it through social media.
1) Connect In Real Life
There are many places you can connect with current and potential customers in real life. Live events are one of the best places to do this because there are large groups of people gathered who often represent a specific demographic. This makes it easy to target potential customers. In addition, AdWeek said that 92 percent of customers are more likely to purchase from a brand after they have interacted with a representative at an event (this is also an effective tactic for B2B sales).
2) Share Branded Photographs Of Your Customer
Did you know that photographs get more than double the engagement of text-only items on social media? Also, did you know that people love to have their photo taken at events they attend? It costs your brand almost nothing to take a photo with a customer and publish it online, and these photos will generate lots of engagement.
3) Write Great Headlines And A Call To Action
Headlines catch attention when attached to a photograph. Just like in a newspaper, headlines draw readers in. A better headline will get more clicks and directly increase your engagement from the friends of the person in the photograph. This online conversation is key to building loyal digital customers.
There are several reasons this approach works. First, the thing people like about social media is that they can see photos of their family and friends. However, most customers hate the ads. Taking a branded photograph hits a perfect spot in between. When the customers you meet share these photos they advocate your brand to all of their family and friends. This demonstrated that your brand is a real live thing and that it is invested in people. That effect will make your social media more personal and profound. Build A Better Mouse Trap
Just as in real-life relationships, interaction, conversation, and engagement foster loyalty in digital relationships. For brands to successfully create loyal customers in a digital age, it is important to focus on the simple things. Customer engagement is a critical component in the social age as it builds loyalty and predicts purchase intent.
Steve Anderson is cofounder and CEO of Snapifeye (www.snapifeye.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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