Customers' attitude towards brands has changed a lot over the last decade, particularly online. The range of choices and rise of the likes of fake news has seen it become more difficult for businesses to secure a loyal customer base.
According to research done by telecommunications company TollFreeForwarding, online shoppers now do extensive research about brands and their products before making a purchase, so how can businesses work to build a loyal customer base in such a competitive market?
1. The Rising Influence of Online Reviews
Customers are now more heavily influenced by online reviews than ever before. 90% of Americans consider online reviews from fellow customers before purchase, 89% say that published online product reviews are important, and 90% said the same for word of mouth recommendations. This shows the value of generating positive reviews and feedback for brands chasing success online.
So, businesses who are looking to build a loyal customer base should look to generate positive reviews for their products. Make sure you provide a good online experience for people visiting your sites and are honest about the products you’re selling.
You can also use the reviews you receive to work on improving your brand image, respond to customer feedback and listen to what they have to say.
2. Business Ethics and Values
Other important factors to the modern online customer are the practices a company operates within and the principles that they support. 89% consider a businesses’ ethics before purchase, and 87% research their values. These numbers are very high and should not be ignored.
The stats show that customers will remain loyal to businesses who maintain responsible business practices or support a cause they believe in. The research looked into the business ethics and values that people consider the most when making a purchase.
This modern trend is going to play a big role in businesses securing loyal customers. The biggest consideration customers have when it comes to ethics and practices is a businesses’ stance on environmental issues (45%). Being environmentally conscious in the way you operate could be the key to securing new customers and promoting a positive brand image.
Supporting worker’s rights (44%) and not testing on animals (44%) are also important, a respectful reputation of providing a good working environment and taking care of the well being of animals will help you secure a loyal customer base and edge out competitors.
Completing the top five business ethics and values are businesses showing support for local communities (32%) and having partnerships with charities (28%).
Identifying with your audience and sharing similar values could be the difference between them choosing to buy from you, rather than a competitor, it will also motivate them to come back.
3. Building Trust in Your Brand
Fears of data breaches and the rise of fake news have made customers in modern times more distrustful – Making it more difficult for businesses that don’t already have a reputation to gain customers. The research shows that online shoppers are hard to win over when it comes to digital advertising. The top five most untrustworthy digital platforms were revealed as:
Businesses partnering up with celebrities and influencers to advertise to their followers has become increasingly popular in recent times, especially with the rise of social media. But these stats prove that nearly half (44%) consider this to be dishonest. Email marketing also isn’t well-received, with 38% wary of what lands in their inbox.
Over a third (35%) believe social media to be an untrustworthy platform, so despite the huge audiences you can reach, this may not be the route to go down if you’re looking to secure loyal customers who come back regularly.
The research also showed that more traditional advertising is likely to be better received by your customers. Only 27% of people said they don’t trust what they see on TV, 25% said the same for radio and 22% for physical newspapers.
Building a secure loyal customer base doesn’t have to be about reaching as many people as you possibly can through the likes of social media, it’s about building trust between you and your customer, and traditional methods may be the way to do so.
4. First-Class Customer Service
The factors influencing customers' decision making online has changed a great deal, but some remain a constant. One evergreen influence is good customer service. 71% of American consumers said good customer service would make them more likely to remain loyal to a company.
Providing a memorable experience for your customers will encourage them to come back, and this can be as simple as reliable delivery or quick responses to queries.
As with the reviews, take on board what your customers have to say and constantly work to provide the best possible customer service. Customer service came out as the most likely factor to keep people loyal to a brand across all four generations, this is something that will always be valued and should never be underestimated by businesses.
5. Generous Rewards and Competitive Prices
Other factors that will always be well received by potential customers are good prices and rewards for loyalty. After customer service (71%), the rest of the top five factors influencing customer loyalty were related to prices and rewards:
- Consistently low prices (56%)
- Loyalty program (50%)
- Discount codes (50%)
- Free gifts (40%)
Consistently low prices are enough to make over half (56%) of customers more loyal to your business. As well as maintaining competitive prices for your customers, offering rewards (50%) and discount codes (50%) is also an effective way of securing loyalty. If you’re looking to build your loyal customer base further, the promise of free gifts (40%) may help you attract new buyers to your site.
While new trends emerge when it comes to online buying habits, prices and customer service is something businesses should always consider in their marketing strategy.
Keeping up with the times without leaving behind what’s always helped attract and retain customers is the key to success. Customers now like to know much more about the brand that they’re buying from, be it the opinion of fellow customers, or the businesses’ ethics and values.
While this is true, factors that have always brought success such as good customer service and competitive prices remain just as valuable. Following the insights provided by the research in this article can assist businesses looking to build and retain a loyal customer base.
Author: Sam Cropper
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