Loyalty to a brand is a two-way street

Brand loyalty is what most businesses aspire to. There is nothing greater than knowing that no matter how many competitors pop up around you, your customers will always come back.

But there are different levels to loyalty. There are those who are aware of your brand and are familiar with its offerings. Then there are the loyal customers who come back for more all the time. And finally there are the customers who love your brand so much that they promote it for you just because they believe in it. And when those customers have influence over a large group, then you have hit the jackpot. Those are the kind of people many UAE companies strive to attract to promote their business.

I remember working with an international luxury brand which told me it took a while to find a brand advocate in the UAE to be a local ambassador. This was not because it is hard to hire someone such as a celebrity or a popular social media personality, but because this organisation was looking for someone who truly believed in its brand, was loyal to it, and at the same time had a large following influenced by their buying behaviour.

Here’s how to encourage more loyal customers to market your brand:

• Point them out

If you know who your loyal customers are, the ones promoting your brand on social media for instance, then point them out. Repost their photos and share their feedback. Make sure to show your appreciation by inviting them to a unique brand experience. And encourage your loyal customers’ activity on social media and other platforms by making them part of the process. Create engaging content and ask for their thoughts. If you are planning a new fashion collection, for instance, ask them which colours/trends they plan to wear for the upcoming season. Also encourage them to share your content – this will increase visibility to your brand and attract new clients.

• Ask for feedback

Ask and really listen to feedback about your brand, products and services, and any other information that makes sense to you. Make sure you not only listen but also follow up with some action to show your appreciation for their active participation. Implement the changes if they make sense to you and are feasible. This type of move shows you are actively engaging with your customers, that you value their opinion and in turn encourages loyalty. You can even send thank-you notes, or mention on social media channels those who have taken the time to submit their feedback.

• Create a loyalist community

Some brands give special nicknames to those who are faithful, providing them with a sense of belonging. For your advocates you could provide special services, such as a preview of upcoming collections, special visits to factories, more website app features or perhaps a unique discount or personal shopping experience. You could also offer their followers or group of friends special incentives such as an exclusive discount code to attract their interest.

• Make it easy to promote your brand

If you are not on social media, be on it. Make it easy for your followers to mention and tag your business. Do not opt for lengthy feedback forms, but rather a simple one. Instead of depending on customers to post a photo about your brand, upload an image you would like to be shared and ask your followers to repost it. Post competitions or special offers, with prizes awarded to those who share it.

While not all of the above may be applicable to your brand, tweak them to fit your strategy and vision. Remember not every customer will in­stantly become an avid promoter either. Just keep in mind that a few tactics and recognition here and there could have an effect on your customers’ loyalty to your business.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.


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