Ever wonder why some of the biggest brands seem locked in a perpetual state of battle — for market share, new customers, and insulation from budget cuts — while some others stand rock-solid, seemingly unaffected by business challenges? 

💡 Read Brand Reputation 101: Monitoring, Analysis, and Management Tools

The first category of brands has fair-weather customers who will drop them at the first sign of a better offer.

The second category enjoys brand loyalty: the dedication of its customers to continue to buy from a brand despite overarching factors like competitors, price, and convenience.

And yes, brand loyalty may be rare these days, but everywhere you look, you’ll see businesses — Apple, Tesla, the grocery store around the corner — in operation solely because their customers refuse to go elsewhere. In this blog, we’ll cover the elements of building brand loyalty that pushes brands to build unbreakable connections.

How to Build Brand Loyalty That Lasts

That kind of unswerving brand loyalty doesn’t develop overnight. Building brand loyalty takes time.

It has to be nurtured and embodied by the brand itself towards its customers before it can expect some back.

Before turning into a brand loyalist, the average customer undertakes a journey with three stages:

  • Awareness
  • Preference
  • Insistence

If you want an all-weather customer base that insists on doing business with you and only you, here are a few ways to get started:

Understand Your Customers 

There’s no substitute for customer research. Building brand loyalty means delving deeper than basic ICPs and buyer personas.

  • What are the values your users share? 
  • What are they moved by?

If you know what makes them tick, you can position yourself as their friend, ally, and problem-solver.

Ask them:

  • how they view your brand, 
  • if and how often they think of competitors, and 
  • how frequently they use your product. 

The more relatable they find you, the closer they feel to your brand.

And the more incisive and unnerving: 

  • Is there a market for what you offer? 
  • If not, do you have what it takes to create one?

Use a CRM to track consumer behaviors that indicate loyalty as well as churn.

Study if your customers are first-time or repeat visitors, what they interact with, and for how long.

Social listening arms you with the knowledge you need to know customers inside out. Coupled with emotional analysis, it’ll help you establish strong, meaningful ties with audiences.

Check How Happy Your Customers Are

Returning customers are almost, if not always, happy customers. If they’ve had a positive shopping experience with you, they’re not just more likely to make a repeat purchase, but also to recommend your brand and advocate for it. 

Assess existing brand loyalty and ways to encourage it by asking customers if they’re satisfied with your brand. 

  • Do they trust your brand?
  • What made them trust you?
  • What can you do to protect that trust?

Conduct NPS surveys and study website actions to monitor emotional data. 

Net Promoter Score Template

NPS surveys directly measure satisfaction, while website actions reveal emotional cues through clicks and browsing patterns.

Analyze engagement metrics like click-through rates, open rates, and social media interactions. 

If a customer is dissatisfied, schedule a follow-up email or call to clear up doubts and objections. 

Prompt satisfied customers to leave positive reviews or testimonials on review sites, social media platforms, or your own website to enhance other customers’ perception of your brand.

Always Offer Great Help and Support

The customer retention journey begins where the customer acquisition journey ends. How long a customer remains loyal to your brand is often a question of how good your after-sales service is. 

If a customer has a run-in with your product, how quickly can you address it? 70% of customers want their brands to reply within 24 hours. 

Acceptable response time for brand's customer service according to consumers in the US

A multi-pronged customer service approach can help you meet customer demands without burning a hole in your pocket.

  • A knowledge portal, FAQs section, and video tutorials form the self-help component.
  • 24*7 chatbot support redirects customers to existing database entries they couldn’t find themselves and eases the workload of human reps.
  • Automate ticketing and queuing and give customers a concrete timeline for representative follow-up on persisting issues.

Converge complaints received on other platforms, via phone call, social media, or email, with the redressal mechanism on your website to provide a seamless exchange of information across channels.

Keep in Touch Regularly

Customer loyalty doesn’t develop overnight, it has to be sustained and nurtured over a period of time.

Use omnichannel communication – email, messages, and social media posts – to stay top-of-mind with your audience. Leverage different channels for maximum impact.

Send targeted emails, newsletters, and notifications based on segmentation and personalization that resonate with customers and make them feel understood. 

On social media, update them about company developments, product features, industry news, etc. Alternate between sharing thought-provoking, educational, or entertaining content to leave a lasting impression. 

Engage with followers in the comments section, and make it a point to respond to both positive and negative comments. 

Create hashtags for Instagram and Twitter to drive engagement and track popularity. 

Hashtags help build brand discovery

To foster a further sense of community, create exclusive clubs or groups on community platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Reddit where customers can talk to other customers.

Organize virtual events, webinars, or online workshops. Create opportunities for interactions between audiences and founders, employees, and celebrity endorsers. 

Social listening tools and topic analysis allow you to monitor online conversations, sentiment, and trends surrounding your brand, industry, and competitors

Positive negative sentiment ratio offers a glimpse in brand loyalty

Use these data points to create impactful content.

Stay True and Consistent in Your Branding

Most customers have a subconscious bias towards uniformity. Because on an intrinsic level, they understand that uniformity doesn’t come cheap. It takes planning, skill, and efficiency to maintain consistency in dealing with customers, no matter who and where they are.

Take McDonald’s for example. When asked to picture it, most people would list the same things. Yellow arches superimposed on red backgrounds. A Big Mac. The smell of French fries. 

Right down to the decor, lighting, staff uniforms, and plastic trays, McDonald’s strives to provide the same experience to a customer in Singapore that it does to one in Slovakia.

And that is exactly what branding consistency looks like. A strong brand image and its cohesion at every touchpoint.

The more tethered a brand remains to its core identity, in quality, messaging, and visual elements (logo, color palette, website design), the easier it is for customers to associate with it.

If you provide a uniform brand experience irrespective of channel and location, it brings about

  • Brand recognition
  • Brand differentiation
  • Increased perception as a high-value brand
  • And ultimately, customer affinity and loyalty.

Listen to Customer Opinions

Honest feedback is incomparable in its usefulness when designing better products and customer experiences.

A customer expressing their opinion, no matter how bad, is doing you a service. They could simply go and take their business with them, leaving you none the wiser about your mistakes and shortcomings.

By listening and visibly taking actionable steps to address customer feedback, you demonstrate your willingness to learn and adapt. You become the brand that ‘gets them’, and more importantly, one that’s willing to change when it doesn’t.

Don’t stop at customer feedback provided directly to you, actively search for customer opinions expressed on social media channels, review websites, and personal blogs.

Twitter audience insights as a starting point for building brand loyalty

Use a combination of social listening tools, feedback generation mechanisms, and old-fashioned tête-à-têtes with customers to collect and decipher opinions. 

Close the loop by implementing necessary changes to products, services, or PR strategies based on customer input, and demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Treat Your Customers Like VIPs

Your customers defy competitive markets and economic uncertainties to choose your brand over all others. It’s only right that they be treated like the royalty they are.

Make customer expectations the baseline, not the ceiling of your customer experience. 

If they expect you to respond to complaints within an hour, give them immediate responses. If they expect a feature upgrade, give them two. 

Give faster social media responses, and personalize all communication. Go the extra mile in showing them you care by sending a handwritten thank-you note or giving a free gift.

Strive to provide an all-around superior customer service experience. Train your staff to be friendly and helpful at all times.

Reward repeat customers with early access to new products, discounts on future purchases, or special VIP events.

Offer free shipping, provide a dedicated customer service line, or give customers a discount on their next purchase to create a loyal customer base that will keep coming back for more.

Make Your Marketing Feel Personal

We’ve all received cookie-cutter, gimmicky emails that are the thoughtless brainchild of a tired marketer throwing words at us like rubber balls on a wall, hoping they stick.

Not only are these emails infuriating to customers, they’re also a tragic waste of the goldmine of data insights every brand with an online component to their business is sitting on. 

Use customer preferences, user behavior, and purchase history in marketing automation to personalize customer experiences. 

There is more to personalization than just first name merge tags in emails. 

Factor in age, gender, location, past purchases, browsing history when sending automated emails to make promotional messages feel like one-on-one conversations between lifelong acquaintances.

Move past transactional emails, and send out thank you emails, holiday emails, birthday emails, or half-birthday emails that even your customers might not remember, like this one from Drizzly

Birthday emails help consumers feel more connected to the brand

Special birthday discounts won’t find any haters either.

All these remind them that you care about them as people, not just sources of revenue.

Emotionally Connect with Customers

Most of our decisions are swayed, if not dictated, by emotions. Once customers are emotionally drawn to your brand, there’s very little that can dissuade them from buying. 

One of the most powerful ways to evoke emotion is via storytelling. 

Apple’s 1984 commercial is a masterclass in storytelling. 

Apple's 1984 commercial is a masterclass in storytelling. 

As is the inspiring message in Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. 

Inspiring message in Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. 

Build narratives that resonate with your audience’s values and humanize your brand in a crowded marketplace. 

Team up with influencers that fit your brand’s core audience traits, value system, and aesthetic. They provide you access to an already emotionally attached audience, and long-term influencer collaborations establish credibility for newer brands and those facing an erosion of public trust.

Treat your customers like micro-influencers. Encourage them to create UGC showing unboxing, reviews, and demos, and promote their tweets and posts on your accounts.

Create New Ways to Reward Brand Loyalty

In 2022, it cost $29 to acquire new customers, a 222% increase from 2009. In comparison, the chances of repeat purchases increased by nearly 40% since 2013.

With customers around the globe tightening purse strings, getting a stranger to part with their money is only going to get more difficult.

Direct your attention towards the customers you already have and make your staunchest supporters feel valued through loyalty and referral programs. Develop tiers within the loyalty programs to encourage bigger or more frequent purchases. 

Incentivize referrals by offering discounts, cashback, free extensions, or other perks. AdiClub, Adidas’s creator club, for example, has a point-based reward system that users can redeem during purchases.

How Adiclub Works

Gamified challenges and contests can encourage engagement and fuel referrals. 

Celebrate high achievers within these programs via weekly or monthly updates.

Remember, customers are spurred by different motivators. A 10% discount may not appeal to a customer who prefers public recognition. Use sign-up forms, email surveys, and interviews to understand and reward each customer accordingly. 

By recognizing and rewarding their commitment to your brand, you create a sense of affinity and involvement in customers and turn the most loyal ones into brand ambassadors.

Conclusion

Building brand loyalty isn’t a one-way street. 

Customers react and respond to brand behavior. 

So research audience preferences, make customer satisfaction your primary goal, build meaningful connections, heed their opinions and advice, personalize messages and offers, and reward them for choosing to do business with your brand. 

All these changes require a fundamental shift in the way you think and act with customers. 

Implement them gradually, and watch as you mobilize an army of fiercely loyal customers that will enable your brand to weather all storms and scale new heights.

Author Bio Antonio Gabric is an outreach manager at Hunter. For the last three years, he’s been helping SaaS companies grow their organic traffic and revenue through link building. At Hunter, Antonio is leading a link-building and outreach team to build backlinks that move the needle and connect with industry leaders. To get in touch and follow his experiments, say hi on LinkedIn.

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