Category Archives: Customer experience

Loyalty or Frustration: What Are Your Rewards Programs Fostering?

reward program

Over the past decade, as online shopping has grown in popularity so has the customer reward program. In an effort to encourage more repeat sales, retailers all over the web – and the world – have started to offer points-based systems. These allow customers to earn rewards or even cash toward future purchases just for buying something from a store.

While the underlying purpose of these programs is obvious – to boost customer loyalty – the truth is they often do the exact opposite of that.

In fact, if done improperly, rewards programs may even turn a customer off to a brand.

It’s true: Retailer reward programs have the power to create long-term customer relationships or actually prevent them.

How the Reward Program Can Go Wrong

It may sound weird that a reward program may actually push customers away from your brand, but I promise you it happens – and a lot more often than you’d expect.
Here’s the scenario: You offer customers points for every purchase they make. Say Sally buys two shirts from your store. She gets 20 points per shirt. At the end of her purchase, she finds out she has earned 40 points.

But to turn those points in for a reward, she needs a minimum of 50 points.
That means she’s merely 10 points away from something free … and who doesn’t love freebies?

Though you’d think this would make Sally say, “Great! When I buy a new bathing suit this summer, I’ll use this shop and get the reward then!” That’s logical. But is everyone logical? Definitely not.

In reality, you leave Sally thinking “They do that intentionally. They make their shirts 20 points each, so you have to buy a bunch in order to qualify. That’s how they get you!”

Even if her purchase arrives quickly and Sally loves the shirts, she’s still likely to leave your store with a bad taste in her mouth. You tried to con her. You tried to get her to spend more money than she should.

Now, I’m not saying every shopper thinks like this or even that rewards programs can’t work. The moral of this story is that you need to know your customer first. How much is the average person going to spend? Are your products something they will need to purchase often or just once in a while?

You don’t want to make your rewards too hard to come by. In fact, if you can help them get a reward on their first purchase, you’re even more likely to get repeat business after that. That’s definitive.

You also need to be careful about how you advertise your rewards programs. Make sure customers know about it – and the rewards you’re offering – before they make their purchase, and be very detailed in describing the system and how it works.

Poorly articulated programs will only make your customers feel ripped off and frustrated!

Implement the Right Program

Rewards programs can certainly work, but they’re not for every brand. If you’re looking for a way to inspire customer loyalty and foster long-term buyer relationships, let Haley Brand Intelligence help. We can craft a customized solution that can help your company reach the right buyers in the right way. Contact us today to talk.

 

Using Emotion to Boost Your Branding

Using Emotion to Boost Your Branding | Haley Brand Intelligence

Branding may be a business tactic, but it doesn’t have to be cold and faceless.

In fact, it shouldn’t be. The most effective branding is personal. It’s emotional. It’s human.

This is true no matter what type of industry you’re in – B2B, B2C or somewhere in between – because the person purchasing from you is always human. Whether they’re buying an autopilot for hundreds of government planes or they’re purchasing a carpet cleaning product for their home, they’re a person, and they want a real, human connection with a brand before they do business with it.

Sadly, many brands struggle with providing this connection. They try to remain “professional” and they draw a very clear line between “me,” the business, and “them,” the customer. And let me tell you: The customer feels it.

This distance doesn’t endear a customer to the brand. In fact, it usually sends them looking elsewhere for the help, service or product they’re looking for – and that’s never a good thing.

You see, emotion is one of the key components of a good branding strategy. Not only does it make customers want to buy from you, it also keeps them wanting to buy from you time and time again. It’s what creates long-term buyers and passionate brand advocates – two things every company needs to be truly successful.

So how do you use emotion in your branding and start making those connections with your buyers and potential customers? Here are a few places to start:

  • Know what your customers need. Do serious customer research and find out why they’re coming to you. Do they need help with a problem or issue? Are they looking for guidance? Do they want a product that will better their life in X, Y or Z way? Find out what it is they’re looking for emotionally out of their transaction with you, and start tapping into that.
  • Build trust and security. Make your customers feel safe in your care. Meet their expectations, live up to your claims and always deliver. Don’t let them down in their time of need, and show them they can count on you for whatever – fixing a broken product, helping them make the right purchase or even just sorting out a shipping issue.
  • Include them. A big way to tap into your customers’ emotions is to make them a real part of your brand. Don’t just push promos and sales on your social accounts, but tag customers, post buyer-submitted photos and include them as a part of your strategy. Keep them updated on important brand news and happenings, and loop them into conversations that affect them. Erase that line in the sand between business and buyer, and make them feel like they belong with your brand.
  • Be flexible. Emotional branding sometimes requires changing on the fly, especially as your customers or external situations change. Take the elections, for example. This is the perfect time to tap into your customers’ emotions – maybe their fear of what’s to come or their hopefulness of a new and changing government – and use that to improve their connection to your brand. Again, this requires knowing your customers intimately, so make sure you’re doing consumer research often.
  • Empower them. Everyone likes to feel in control – like they have the power to do anything and everything their heart desires. Position your brand to do just that; give them the tools and resources they need to succeed, and show them how they can do it on their own. Of course, make sure to show them how your products and services can help as well, but put the real focus on them – their abilities to achieve anything they set their minds to.

Are you using emotion to boost your branding? If not, you might want to consider tweaking your strategy. Emotional branding can go a long way in improving customer-brand connections and increasing long-term, repeat buyers. Contact Haley Brand Intelligence to learn more.

 

How to Increase Customer Loyalty Through Your Branding

brand ambassadors

Good branding doesn’t just help increase leads and bring in new customers. In fact, it’s actually best at improving the loyalty of existing customers who already know about your brand, have bought from you and have used your services.

Now I know that doesn’t sound as exciting … the same old customers? Don’t you want new ones to improve your profits?

Actually, there’s a lot more money to be gained from a passionate, loyal following than just a bunch of newbies. For one, they’ll buy from you again and again – that means no advertising costs, no sales pitches, and no added expenses. Just regular income from them month after month or year after year.

They’ll also become your biggest brand ambassadors. Without any payment, they’ll start shouting your name from the rooftops, getting their friends and colleagues to love your brand too. You can’t get much better than that!

So how do you make this happen? How do you increase loyalty with existing customers simply through your branding? Here are a few simple ways:

  1. Give them an experience. Your customers should experience more than just an exchange of money and goods. Make their experience memorable. Make it easy, fun, helpful, valuable and anything else you can. Get everyone from your sales team to your customer service specialists on board, and create a consistent level of care and service that customers can learn to love and rely on.
  2. Make a human connection. Sure the web makes everything easier, but there’s something to be said for human connection, too, and don’t forget that. Whenever possible, add personal touches to your customer experience to make buyers feel more at home. Reach out with a personalized thank-you email, call them up and make sure their purchase is up to par, or check in a month later to see if there’s anything you can help with.
  3. Get to know your customers. Take time to find out what your customers like and don’t like, need and don’t need. Then use that information to tailor your brand exactly to them. Add them to an email list specifically aimed at buyers in a certain sphere or positions in a company. Direct them to landing pages that address the unique challenges they’re going through. Use their first name when they call for customer service or email your team for help. Make them feel like a part of your branding – not a victim of it.

What has your branding done for you? If it’s not encouraging repeat business or turning customers into outright brand ambassadors, you’re doing something wrong. Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today to learn more.

Spark Social Media Engagement With Brand Storylines

Spark Brand StorylinesYou’ve read the blogs and downloaded the apps. You post content to your social media pages on a daily basis.  The problem is, you’re seeing little, if any, traction. Odds are, you’re falling into the same trap as countless other brands that attempt to manage social media as a one-way push of information instead of a two-way conversational opportunity.

One-way conversations on social media do not cultivate vibrant, purposeful conversations with your consumers, nor do they serve as an avenue for building brand advocates. However, when you change your game plan and open up your daily posting activity to two-way conversation starters, you’ll spark engagement with your consumers and light a fire under your social media strategy that will grow and grow.

Brand Storyline Conversations

It’s so easy to ignore a brand that doesn’t engage with you, but it’s hard to ignore a brand that strikes up a conversation with you. Conversations build relationships, demonstrate what sets your brand apart from the others, and keeps your brand top-of-mind with consumers.

Brand storylines take the conversation from general to something very specific – storylines create two-way conversations that revolve around a brand’s offerings, brand lifestyle and core values. It’s a great way to engage users and to discover what they truly think about your brand and where they’d like to see you take your product roadmap in the future.

Elements of a Brand Storyline

What makes brand storylines so effective is that they are crafted to connect with and focus the conversation with your target audience specifically around your brand. It’s subtle and, if done correctly, won’t come off as a commercial or marketing blurb.

A brand storyline is comprised of three essential elements:

  1. Expertise: It’s a topic you and your team know well and draws from your company’s core expertise.
  2. Strong Opinions: It’s a topic your company is passionate about. You can take a stance on it and boldly share your opinions.
  3. Point of Sharing: The topic resonates with your target market and encourages others to participate in the conversation.

As with anything, craftsmanship matters. If any elements are missing from the social media strategy architecture, much like a three-legged stool with only two legs, it won’t be useful and will fail to achieve the end goal.

Spark Your Social Media Engagement

Most companies today have some sort of online social media presence. However, to stand out, your brand needs to go further – you have to find ways to spark engagement and keep your brand top-of-mind with your target audience.

Brand storylines shift the customer experience from a one-way marketing pitch to a two-way conversation wherein you are able to plant the seeds of a relationship. And after all, relationships are the core of any fundamental business development strategy.

So, what conversations can your brand spark within your marketplace? Defining those conversations and creating strategies that will ignite and engage your target audience is what we do at Haley Brand Intelligence.

When you’re ready to create your brand storylines and spark two-way conversations for relationship and business success with your consumers, contact the team at Haley Brand.   We’ll design a social media storyline of success for your brand!

Tips for Creating Better Brand Content

Brand content as a term differs largely from other forms of content creation, in the way that it is designed to build brand consideration and affinity rather than to directly sell a product or service. Though there is only a fine line of difference between brand content and the traditional content creation, when done right brand content marketing tends to build trust, appreciation and loyalty among the consumers and the brand.

A multipronged approach works best while creating the right brand marketing campaign:

Identify and Categorize Consumer Segments

Identifying and categorizing consumer segments within your target audience helps create the right branding content topics for each specific marketing campaign. Understanding these segments within your audience also allows you to better understand your target audience and cater your content, promotions and social engagements toward them.

Build the Brand Around Trust

The biggest commodity from any brand marketing campaign is a loyal following. Educational, fresh, targeted content that offers complete transparence is a key driver in creating brand loyalty online.  Consumers don’t want to be told what to do, but rather, why the product or server is better and how it can make their lives easier.

Open two-way conversations on blogs and social platforms allow the user to engage with your brand.  This practice will extend the life of your content and give consumers true insight into your brand and the type of customer service they can expect.

Relevant and Entertaining Content Is Key

Creating content that adds value, but also entertains, is hugely important to any successful online brand content campaign. Content deemed entertaining, truly educational or thought-provoking is more likely to be shared by consumers. The effects of sharing can increase a brand’s reach exponentially.

Create, Measure and Sustain  

The role of a brand content marketing campaign does not end with a single one-way push of content. Continually interacting with consumers online and measuring feedback and performance are critical in judging a campaign’s performance and in guiding future content.

Research, constant innovation and content evolvement, driven by a healthy dose of creativity, hold the key to a successful brand marketing campaign that could surpass even the most ambitious expectations.

Building Brand Trust Online: The Rules of Engagement

18445830_sAny successful brand marketing portfolio now includes social media.  Although it has been a growing trend for years, many brands are still trying to get their hands around how to best impact their bottom lines via the social sphere.  As brands try to navigate this space that is still new and ever growing, many are overlooking one very important element – the concept of trust.

Basic human nature prevents our relationships from ever going past a certain level if there is no trust.  It’s a protective mechanism that is housed and deeply rooted in all of us.  The same goes for brands seeking to build relationships with consumers online: without trust, the relationship will only get so far.

In order to develop trust online, brands must first build a social media dialogue that will grow and evolve into a trusting, fruitful relationship.  Unlike traditional marketing, social media gives brands a chance to interact directly and immediately with consumers.  This direct access is a powerful tool and one that must be monitored in order to ensure it is always being used in a manner that builds on trust and moves your relationship with consumers forward.

As social media audiences have grown substantially over recent years and demographic reach continues to expand, brands can no longer ignore the opportunity for communicating their brand value and building brand trust by engaging with customers online.  But how can brands take advantage of social media without compromising the relationship and trust they have developed with their consumers?

Here are five ways brands can build trust with current and future customers online through social media:

  • Transparency:  In today’s world, transparency is an inherent reality.  Consumers will be talking about your brand online, so you need to embrace this and get involved in guiding the conversation instead of just letting it happen without you.  Mistakes happen, so own up to them online. Consumers will respond much more positively to a brand that takes ownership publicly and explains the situation.  The same goes for growth and new products.  Let your customers know what’s coming and thank them for their input in guiding your decision.  Being truly transparent creates a natural sense of trust.
  • Always Be Available:  Consumers need to know you’re online and that they can always reach you.  The ability to connect anytime is a great catalyst toward building trust. This online channel is also a great opportunity to provide additional service in front of a larger audience.  But what if the customer voices a complaint?  Have no fear!  These opportunities can often turn into great testimonials when customers are handled with care and honesty, and quite often these customers will become some of your strongest brand advocates.
  • Project Accountability:  Brands who openly engage in social media and encourage their customers to interact with them project a certain level of accountability.  In using social media aggressively, brands can essentially hold themselves accountable to their consumer base by providing better products, services and customer appreciation.  And what’s even better is that it will all be done on a global stage, providing additional marketing leverage.
  • Engage With Enthusiasm:  An easy way to gain trust and strengthen your relationship with your customers is to simply entertain them.  Don’t always focus your online message on your company – show a lighter side and talk about what’s going on around you, introduce your staff or share thoughts on a hot topic.  Provide value to your customers in a fun and creative way through daily content, videos, contests and infographics.  This is an excellent way to keep your customers engaged, and typically, if they find it entertaining, they will also share it with others, increasing your overall marketing reach.
  • Always Practice Social Responsibility:  Letting your customers know that you care about others more than yourself or your bottom line is an exceptional way to foster trust.  Socially responsible brands traditionally gain more momentum and support because their customers know they aren’t just about profits but also are interested in giving back to the community.  Social media is the perfect platform upon which to promote your brand’s social involvement.

When marketing your brand online, remember to embrace the customer, stay true to who you are and engage openly.  These basic rules will provide the foundation upon which to build a long-lasting relationship of trust with your customers.

Customer experience – it isn’t just for B2C companies anymore.

This article by Jennifer Barron, Jesse Purewal and Nancy Lu in January’s Marketing Daily discusses the bottom-line benefits traditional B2B companies like GE, Caterpillar and UPS have enjoyed by focusing on the customer experience.

Key take-away: The attributes that drive purchase and loyalty in B2B categories can be delivered as a customer experience for competitive advantage.

In today’s global marketplace, products and services will evolve and change, but the drivers of customer loyalty will remain the same. According to Barron, there is no better way to create this loyalty than to define, develop and deliver an experience that defines the brand and makes competitors irrelevant. Click here to read full story.