Marketers understand that the most valuable customers are not just those who buy, but those who buy often, buy and tell a friend, buy and remember.
Creating new interest in a product or service is a battle, but maintaining customer relationships and growing them is a different ball game. And it’s not a game for companies hoping to stay afloat with one buyer; it’s for those who want to turn first-time customers into buyers who aren’t short-lived or irrelevant: brand loyal.
Defining “brand loyalists” can be difficult because the purchase rate varies so much across industries and products. But despite the elusive definition of “brand loyalty”, marketers know that it is important to reach some level of brand loyalty with the customer.
Defining a level of loyalty can help customers deepen their relationship with the brand.
The brand loyalty pyramid developed by David A. Aaker contains five levels. It starts with prospects that “enter” the bottom of the pyramid and then evolve upward as they become more committed to the product, service, or overall brand.
Categories of the pyramid, from the least loyal at the bottom of the pyramid to the most loyal at the top:
- Satisfied or regular buyers
- Satisfied buyers with exchange costs
- The brand likes it
- Dedicated buyers
We can also think of these levels as stages in a traditional funnel, but of course in the reverse order: Switches enter the funnel and appear as bottom-up committed buyers.
Exchangers have made a purchase, but they do not have brand loyalty or even unity with the brand.
In order to best push the switches out of the funnel, marketers should do their best to contact them again soon after making a purchase or at a strategic time – for example, when they visit the product page of your website and spend some time there. continue the conversation.
Although exchangers usually don’t care what brand they buy from, they could put you in the next buyer category when they first come in positive contact with your brand.
2. Satisfied or habitual buyers
People who are happy or regular shoppers are happy with the brands they buy from, but stay mostly with the product or service because it’s easy.
Raising these people is important, even if you think they can buy again, because what they consider “easy” can change when competitors come to the door with deals or other opportunities.
Offer relevant discounts or offers to this category of people, if necessary, and keep in touch between purchases.
Satisfied buyers with exchange costs
Satisfied buyers who are satisfied with the convenience factor – not the brand factor – run the risk of jumping on a competitor if something about their buying and purchasing process discourages them. They stick to the brand because there are barriers that make changing the preferred brand less attractive. Barriers may include time spent on change, fees, or the feeling that change requires quality incentives.
Since they are not necessarily passionate about the brand they are buying, this is a good option increase brand awareness with these people.
It doesn’t have to be in the form of campaigns, but it’s a good time to share more information about the people behind the company and what your brand is still doing.
Finally, at this stage, the brand earns a certain loyalty from its customer!
People who like the brand may not be as committed as committed buyers, but they still feel united with the brand. It can be emotional connection as much as preferring a particular product or service. Brand friends may not even know why they like the brand so much.
This way, marketers can take the opportunity to build a deeper relationship. This includes more points of contact – perhaps email and text – that contain company information in addition to product information.
When customers enter the category of dedicated buyers, they are incredibly aware of your brand. It is likely that the identity of the brand or company is closely aligned with the personal values of the buyer.
Make sure the relationship stays bilateral; one of the best things to do is give these buyers loyalty benefits or discounts.
Keys to pushing customers down the brand loyalty funnel
Many strategies can push customers down the funnel of brand loyalty, and no company presents the exact same path. But there are two universals in moving customers from exchanges to dedicated buyers: impeccable customer service and loyalty benefits.
When someone turns to a brand to report a positive or negative experience, it is important that that person receives an authentic and prompt response. Helping someone when they are upset or frustrated can increase their confidence in your brand. Offering anything other if help can send customers to run to a competitor for their next purchase.
The bonus system may not be suitable for all products and services, but it may. The reward can be in the form of early access or a free advertising experience. Rewarding customers by climbing (or descending from the funnel) of brand loyalty pyramid is a way to deepen relationships and increase their likelihood of survival.
The customer journey is different for each brand, but what works well is often not the case. Investing in exemplary customer service and a loyalty system that rewards loyal customers can make brand changers a brand creator for years to come.