People Buy from People
In a world that’s increasingly digitized and connected, consumers are, paradoxically, feeling more disconnected than ever. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupting in 2018, shoppers are feeling cautious. They now have a heightened sense of awareness around the importance of safeguarding their personal data, and who might be accessing it. This suggests trouble for the mega-retailers of the world, with consumer confidence in big brands declining steadily. According to a study, 63% of customers would rather buy from a company they trust and consider to be authentic over and above a competitor they are unsure about.
As an independent retailer or small business, you need to leverage your unique brand identity. You have the distinct advantage and opportunity to weave a narrative that shoppers can identify with, in a way that giant corporations simply can’t do. Be sure to identify the things that make your business uniquely you and tell your customers about them, often. Use a loyalty program to engage your customers in an authentic way by welcoming them into your community and rewarding them for being there.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Whether you’re using an app or gamifying your blog, create a loyalty program experience that has some sparkle. Customers are more likely to remember a brand that goes above and beyond just the delivery of their purchase. For example, Urban Outfitters’ UO Rewards scheme gives members access to special offers and one-of-a-kind prizes exclusive to members.
Similarly, photo entertainment website The Chive has put community at the heart of its gamified blog by rewarding customers for photo uploads and social sharing. As a result, it has gained an active community of engaged customers. The Chive now attributes 6% of annual revenue to its loyalty strategy and generates 6,800 referred visits per month.
Tell Your Story
Today’s shoppers are wising up; they no longer mindlessly buy from brands but instead seek out stores that they can extract purpose and value from. According to the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study, 65% of customers buy on the basis of their beliefs, giving you the opportunity to connect with them by showcasing how you align with their personal values.
Utilise your loyalty program to show exactly how you align with your ideal customer. Make sure it embodies who you are throughout – from the points customers can earn to the rewards they can claim. This builds consistency throughout your on-site experience so customers have a clearer idea of the type of brand they’re interacting with.
For instance, Beauty Bakerie rewards customers with points for following them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This demonstrates how the brand is focused on its dedicated community of makeup fanatics.
Another method Beauty Bakerie has used to foster community is including a user-generated “inspiration” section on their loyalty program page. Here, existing customers demonstrate how to use Beauty Bakerie products in creative ways. This connects shoppers to one another to create a community of like-minded users.
Create Social Bonds
When Instagram Shop was introduced to the UK in March 2018, it opened the doors for brands to convert audience members into active, paying customers with just a few taps of a screen. The percentage of website traffic coming from social media channels has doubled as more customers use social media as a shop window. Not only does social media showcase items customers might want to purchase, but it’s also a vetted way of shopping. Reviews and opinions provide evidence and justification where customers can’t experience the products in real life.
Consumers value the opinions of others: according to one study, 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, with 68% forming an opinion after reading between one to six reviews. Clearly, having another shopper’s buy-in goes a long way towards validating a brand as credible and trustworthy. Use your loyalty program to reward customers for leaving product reviews. It’s a win-win. They gain points for their feedback and you gather up more social proof.
While mistrust grows for faceless corporations, independent retailers need to leverage their unique brand story to forge authentic connections with customers. The three key ways to build long-lasting relationships are by standing out from the crowd with a unique loyalty program, educating the customer by relaying the brand narrative, and creating social bonds through reviews and referrals.
About Loyalty Lion
LoyaltyLion is a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform trusted by thousands of ecommerce brands worldwide. Merchants use LoyaltyLion when they want a fully customised loyalty program that is proven to increase customer engagement, retention and spend. Stores using LoyaltyLion typically generate at least $15 for every $1 they spend on the platform.