TapOnIt Founder + CEO
Times are changing. Between the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest, the world is evolving at a rapid pace. For businesses, the ability to reach your customers is more important than ever. In fact, it’s imperative a business do more than a simple outreach. Instead, let your customers know what your business has to offer, be clear on what your business stands for, and detail how you’re going to be there for them. This effort is vital to creating and maintaining brand loyalty during uncertain times.
Brand loyalty—sounds like a quaint concept in 2020, right? Often brands measure loyalty in terms of repeat purchases, how much money is spent, or how often a customer is visiting a business. But just as the world is evolving, so is the definition of customer loyalty.
According to Merriam Webster, loyalty is defined as the act of being faithful or unswerving in allegiance. At its core, it’s a human-to-human connection. And when it comes to customer loyalty, it’s basically the same thing. It’s the devoted relationship a brand has with its customers, and the emotions sparked within a customer by a brand. These loyal fanatics will endlessly choose a specific brand over the competition, and will ideally become loud and proud advocates of the brand.
This connection between business and customer needs to be exaggerated during times of crisis. The pandemic has given customers the time and the space to figure out new ways to do their old favorite routines. People are paying more attention to a business’s purpose or their stance on social issues. Now, more than ever, brands need to meet their customers on a human level and foster emotional loyalty.
To achieve emotional loyalty, brands need to have garnered consumer trust and attachment. Consumers want a personalized experience, open communication, as well as a clear exchange of value. A customer doesn’t owe a brand loyalty just because they’ve made a purchase or two.
The real marketing begins after the purchase has been made—customer opinions about brands truly begin once someone owns their products, or experiences their services firsthand. Harley Davidson, for instance, has reportedly spent 85 percent of their marketing budget on existing riders, not potential buyers, because they understand the benefit to having loyal fanatics spreading the good word about their products.
Jersey Mike’s Subs has been firmly focused on engaging with and retaining their customers over the course of COVID-19. In addition to donating to local community initiatives and supporting their employees through the pandemic, the sandwich shop also offered discounts and free delivery to show their appreciation to their customer base. Not only did these valuable offerings maintain loyalty with their existing customers, but also enticed new customers to purchase food from their local Jersey Mike’s.
Mark Cuban Companies didn’t hold back from supporting its workers, as well as local businesses, during COVID-19. Cuban announced early on that his employees—including those that work for the Mavs—will be reimbursed for any lunch and/or coffee purchases from local, independent small businesses. This is a remarkable way of supporting the community, supporting small businesses, as well as building brand awareness.
Brand loyalty was top of mind as my team at TapOnIt developed our technology. The texting platform was a no-brainer to focus on—it’s where customers are spending all their time, with their mobile phone almost always within arm’s reach. A text thread between a brand and a customer brings personal interactions to a new level. With open rates of about 99% (and most texts opened within three minutes of being received), text message is the fastest and easiest way to reach your customer base to fill them in on all the ways your business will help keep them safe and happy.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are three ways a text message platform can help your business garner brand loyalty in times of crisis:
- Opt-in Text Messaging: Customers must sign up to receive communication from the brand, so they’ve given permission. Also, as a first-party database, you’re able to connect with customers when you want, instead of relying on fancy algorithms developed by other companies.
- Sharing Function: Our technology’s sharing function makes it easy for brand fanatics to advocate to their friends through social media and text in order to influence them to jump on your brand’s bandwagon.
- Loyalty Rewards: Reward your fans with points for each interaction—not just purchases— using gamification. When you think about playing a video game, players are rewarded with points for advancing in the game. With points, you can purchase items needed in the game. This gamification mentality works outside of a video game too. If you reward customers for being loyal to your brand, it gives them a reason to stay loyal.
Just as brands want to be able to depend on their customer base, customers want a brand they can count on. A brand has to take care of its customers at all times, but especially in a time of crisis.