Chivalry may not be dead, but we’ve been led to believe that loyalty is. After all, isn’t our era characterized by intense competition, deregulation,and our willingness to switch cell phone providers every six months? The mind-boggling array of choices out there, whether we’re talking about shoes or electronics or milk, virtually guarantees that if a product or service isn’t amazing, you will simply stop buying it and try another.
In this cutthroat environment, how can you get customers to stay with your brand? Read on for three digital marketing do’s that inspire the kind of loyalty Donald Trump kept looking for on The Apprentice.
First, a crash course in digital marketing in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past ten years: Digital marketing is the use of online or mobile channels to promote products, ideas or services. The industry is characterized by its cool acronyms, like SEO - search engine optimization (sites make use of the same key words that people generally type into search engines); SEM - search engine marketing (companies pay to promote their websites on search results pages); and SMS - mobile marketing (those ads that hit your cell phone while you’re trying to figure out when the next train is due).
Now that I’ve made digital marketing sound kind of annoying, consider that it’s clearly effective, since it’s growing by the many trillions of ads per year. And come on, is it really any different from TV commercials or newspaper ads or radio jingles? All have been exhorting us to buy stuff since time immemorial; it’s the reason you can sing an entire song about Cool Whip even though you’re lactose intolerant. The digital difference is that it’s two-way communication: there is a dialogue happening between the marketer and the consumer, and this conversation is happening in real time. You’re leaving comments, asking questions, tweeting about your experience with the brand, and hopefully, the brand is tweeting back.
How is all this good news for your brand? First of all, you don’t have to be an evil genius or an island-owning recluse to be able to afford digital marketing. Commonly used applications like email, IM and RSS feeds can be used to launch inexpensive campaigns that are targeted directly to your intended audience. Then your customers do the marketing for you, by spreading the word about your product or idea through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.
Whether digital marketing will absolutely guarantee brand loyalty is a question for Cleo the psychic, but we all know it certainly helps. With a generation of consumers developing round shoulders from hunching over their computers, phones and tablets all day, if you want your brand to be out in front of them, there’s no better place to put it than on the internet.
Here’s how to use digital marketing to build a fan base that will stay with you through thick and thin.
Communicate with your customers. Engaging your customers in social media conversation can form a bond that will translate into loyalty because positive interactions, from promptly answering questions and handling complaints to posting special promotions that reward loyal followers, are all part of the experience a consumer has with your brand.
Provide value to your customers. Don’t just push them to buy, buy, buy; instead, add value by providing news, tips and insider information related to your industry, for example, in your blog. This positions you as an industry expert and makes people want to follow what you have to say.
Engage with the world at large. By getting involved in current issues and community events, whether it’s tweeting in support of a cause or sponsoring a local school’s fall fair, you humanize your business and show that you share your clients’ values.
Building brand loyalty can take time, but digital marketing puts time where you want it: on your side!!
Photo by: Trina Hoadley Photography (http://www.trinahoadleyphotography.com/)