If you’re a Starbucks enthusiast that lives for their pumpkin spice latte, think about the lengths you’ll go to get one when fall hits. Maybe you’ll get up a bit earlier before heading to work and drive just a little out of the way to the nearest location to get your cup of sweet pumpkin goodness — sounds pretty harmless, right? That kind of brand loyalty is hard to earn, but doesn’t have to belong only to the marketing pros at Starbucks head office.
Regardless of the actual effort you put into tracking down one of these delicious drinks, Starbucks has already done their part to lock you down as a loyal customer. Sure there are plenty other choices for cafes or even chains (Dunkin, Blenz, Tim Hortons, you name it), but you made the conscious decision to get your pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks.
We all have brands we love. Wherever the attachment stems from, there are certain brands we find ourselves constantly drawn to because we trust them. Establishing that trust is something that content marketers are always trying to achieve. You want your customers to believe in the product or service you’re offering so much that even when the competition is heating up, the loyal customers you have will always stand by your side.
Of course, establishing that kind of extreme brand loyalty is much easier said than done, and it’s harder than ever in a very fickle digital marketplace with so many options. There are a host of factors that can change a customer’s mind at the flip of a hat, and the challenge is making them stay even through business growing pains and other controversies.
There is a lot that can be done to earn a customer’s loyalty with the right content marketing strategy which understands their needs and puts them first.
Really Get to Know Your Competitor’s Customers
Most content marketers do their homework and have done their by-the-book competitive analysis. They’ve seen what other similar products or services are out there and know what they bring to the table versus the product or service they’re marketing — but it should be a bit deeper than that.
Instead of simply acknowledging your competition, spend some time with it. More specifically, spend some time with the people who love it. Go online and do a deep dive of why people are so mesmerized by their product or service and find out what you can do within that same space to make it even more compelling for customers.
Aligning yourself with complementary brands also became a big trend in 2017. With the right partner, you’re not only increasing your customer reach, but providing your current customers with added value as well. There are aspects of your business model that another brand might be able to help with. For example, if you’re having trouble maintaining a strong social media presence, it might be a good idea to team up with a brand that has a significant following on different social media platforms to help cross-promote and boost your own audience.
Transparency Is a Virtue
When it comes to keeping customers loyal to your brand, honesty is always the best policy. Remember Starbucks? Well, everyone’s favourite coffeehouse came under fire earlier this year when two African-American men at one of their Philadelphia locations were arrested for no apparent reason.
Instead of running away from the potentially crippling incident, the company decided to own up to its mistakes and close down 8,000 stores in the United States for racial bias training. Though the success of the training program has been argued, the fact they treated the issue with the importance it deserved ultimately helped them avoid any further damage to the brand.
As much as telling the hard truth about a particular situation can harm a brand at the moment in time that it’s unearthed, having it exposed online by an outside source is far worse. Staying completely silent in a media firestorm can also be devastating and turn customers off. Your most loyal customers need to know that there is some kind of accountability and action taking place in response to controversy.
By constructing a piece of content that addresses the situation and keeps your brand accountable, it allows you to control the dialogue around the issue. Whether that issue is a controversial customer service move or even just a poor product review, being honest and acknowledging the situation garners far more respect in today’s hyper-critical online ecosystem.
Evolve With Your Customers
Admittedly, content marketers can get wrapped up in creating content to win over customer trust — but what happens after they’ve done that?
Once a customer is using your product or service, you need to further the dialogue you’ve started with them in order to continue being the unequivocal solution to their challenges. To do this, you need to take their feedback, constructive criticism, and common questions into consideration at all times. Build pieces of content that reflect your current customers, including education resources, so you can evolve with your customers.
It’s important to remember that content should never revolve around the vanity of a brand — it should revolve around inspiring and empowering the customer. It’s the difference between “our company offers the best SEO software” and “the SEO software that makes it fast and easy to do technical audits to save you time and money.”
Remember to always shine a spotlight on the customer and the value you can provide them. Above all else, adapt your content strategy as their expectations, concerns and challenges change over time to continue building brand loyalty.
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