Go further in customer loyalty practices to build brand

The American businesses that have the strongest bottom lines right now are those that enjoy the strongest brand loyalty. More and more organizations have come to this realization and as a result are looking at how their online marketing activity can help to gain visibility for and engagement with their brands.

Marketers have always known the value of brand building. Once consumers begin to trust a brand, their loyalty to it grows – and loyal customers have far higher long-term value than opportunistic customers. However, the greatest challenge has always been how to create customer loyalty.

Consumers have shown that they will defect from brands that bombard them with impersonal and irrelevant information. Similarly, they are more likely to make a purchase after a personalized interaction with a brand.

Those organizations that initiate personalized customer engagement will be rewarded with loyal customers. First impressions can’t be taken back, so it’s important to identify interested consumers effectively – to not damage your brand for future customers – and then to ensure that the initial engagement does not try to hard-sell, which may be rejected by the consumer.

Online lead generation is now used by marketers to initiate long-term customer engagement. Customer information and some basic preferences can be captured through most techniques in this arena. The latest approaches promote softer engagement at the outset and ongoing interaction to gather insight into the customer as well as increase exposure of the brand.

Creating a one-on-one dialog between a brand and an interested consumer is the kind of soft-sell that promotes long-term benefits. The customer is given more time in which the brand can nurture trust, as well as continually discover more information that enables further personalized engagement.

It’s important to ensure that engagement with the customer is varied and always relevant to the preferences you have established with them. Sending the customer coupons for free trials or a purchase discount are valid outlets for customer engagement. However, this is one part of the conversation, which should go further. Organizations should use communications, such as newsletters, to deliver company updates as well as consumer-oriented advice that will appeal to the customer. This engagement builds trust and also creates further context for the engagement. The more that you know about the customer, the more precisely you can target those special offers and promotions – and the more warmly they will be received.

Christopher Petix is president of Clash-Media in the US, an international online lead generation and database company.

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