5 Ideas On How Media Can Influence Customer Loyalty

Coffee Loyalty

I have been asked several times on how one might "increase loyalty" through media, marketing, and communications? My questions right away were:

  • What is an indicator of being loyal?
  • Can you measure it? and
  • Is it possible to move the indicator in a specific direction?

Marketing Profs offered ideas with 10 Tips for Building Customer Loyalty. This one article highlights the key points of understanding the true purpose of marketing, never take loyalty for granted, tap into what customers want, and integrity leads to trust=> which leads to a relationship.

So what do you measure to see what direction loyalty is trending between you and your customers? Revenue is going to be a key indicator. Monitoring the transactional data (size, frequency, gross receipts, etc. per customer over time) will help quantify some customer loyalty indicators. Surveying both your staff and your customers will reveal some indicators.

The article Why a Loyal Customer Isn’t Always a Profitable One (Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2009) offered a perspective on customer loyalty, stating "knowing how customers feel about a company is a poor predictor of how they will behave toward the company." The article continued with the observation "The target audience for any company should be customers who are not only loyal in both attitude and action, but also profitable."

Update Sept 15, 2020: Seth Godin wrote a great short post on loyalty "Loyalty is what we call it when someone refuses a momentarily better option." and "Treat different customers differently, and reserve your highest level of respect for those that stand by you." are two great key points.

So how does media play into developing loyalty? Media channels act as filters for streams of data. The value of the media channel comes in the form of being the right filter for the right person. In a simple view, a media channel builds an audience by providing information they find useful. If the information continues to be useful to the audience they will (ideally) return for more. And along the way they will develop a trusted (loyal) relationship with that media channel.

5 ways media can develop customer loyalty

  1. Share Experiences.
    • Help share the experience. This can be a dedicated website or it can be through platforms like LinkedIn groups, Google groups, or Twitter conversations. Key is not to focus on the technology or tool but to understand what works for your customers and allow for customers to truly share their thoughts and experiences. In fact, it is better if the tool or platform is not owned by you; highlight an open path for customers to cross share information, get out of the way, and listen.
  2. Exclusive information.
    • Provide exclusive information to solve your customer's problems. Provide personalized perspectives on industry issues. Talk about trends that will effect your customer's business. Be that expert people turn to for solutions for their needs. A great example is MailChimp.com's email marketing resources. They provide email marketing how-to's, industry trends, training videos, and opinionated blog posts on marketing, to anyone, for free.
  3. Consistency.
    • Getting a note once a year from a company about a product or service will rarely be remembered. The connection with customers through a media channel has to be regular and consistent. If your media channel is print then the audience will expect regular on time delivery. If the channel is a blog, they will learn its frequency and continue to expect periodic posts. Whatever the media channel, you have to live up to your audience's expectations.
  4. Continued Experience.
    • Much time and energy is spent attending exclusive conferences and recognition events. It s not possible to see it all nor absorb the value all the sessions. Provide a way to extend that conference out over a longer period of time. Seek to highlight conference segment over different channels. An example of this are the TED conferences: $6K, four days, lots of energy! But you can continue that TED experience through video, audio, blogs, and images at TED.com.
  5. Remember and Listen.
    • A key element of loyalty is the feeling of being remembered and listened to. Use media to remember people and thank them for their continued support and understanding. Think of pictures with the President of the USA as one example. On the other side of the spectrum are systems that remember personal preferences to send birthday cards or grant access to special events. Feedback loops through tools like Get Satisfaction, Disqus, or Echo provide ways for not just listening but a dialog around a customer need or issue.