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Analysis

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Is customer loyalty dead? Are churned customers gone forever? Is a retention strategy too expensive for your business? Don’t believe the rumor mill; genuine customer loyalty is possible, indispensable, and accessible

Rebecca Wojno
June 01 2017

By now, you’re likely familiar with customer retention and its numerous benefits. If you’re ready to introduce customer loyalty to the rest of the team—or even if your strategy needs a little finessing—these five debunked myths will set you straight.

Myth #1: Customer Loyalty is Dead

In Greencastle, Indiana, there’s a Kroger, a Walmart, and a CVS. Most undergrads take the country road right down to Walmart for one-stop shopping; it’s (probably) less expensive, more convenient, and has a criminally cheap alcohol section.

It carries all the same brands and products as its “competitors,” and revolutionary enough—all in the same place.

But I grew up within a three-mile radius of Kroger and CVS. Their loyalty cards burned a hole in my wallet. I rarely felt disappointed by a lack of customer service. And even though Walmart would have done the job, convenience didn’t stop me from playing favorites (when I had a choice/car that is).

Many consumers choose accessibility over loyalty, but there are millions of others who prove customer loyalty isn’t dead—just ask Apple, Amazon, or even your local convenience store. Loyalty isn’t just for unicorns.

Apple knows loyalty. Every product launch draws massive crowd lines. When the iPhone 6s and 6Plus arrived, sales exceeded 4 million in pre-orders within 24 hours. Combined, the models sold more than 10 million units in the first three days after their release.

Let’s compare the iPhone 6 to Samsung’s S5. The 6 has lower battery power, half the RAM, and lower resolution on the front and rear camera. Samsung isn’t putting out an inferior product, but when it comes to loyalty, they haven’t caught up to Apple.

Apple has a 90% brand retention rate, which is significantly higher than Samsung, LG, and HTC, but they also have that je ne se quois, and in this case, it’s called blind loyalty.

Translation: despite the competition, customers will purchase an Apple product simply because they trust the brand and like what’s associated with it. So, no, loyalty isn’t dead, brands just need to put in the extra work to get there.

Myth #2: Retention is Too Difficult/Expensive to Implement

We’re living in the age of information, and the stats don’t lie; customers are cheaper to reengage than acquire, and even those customers who churned naturally can be reengaged with data. Data can be used to create discounts, pitches, and promotions tailored to your customer to lure them in.

Leading retention software companies (such as Optimove, AgilOne, and Retention Science) maximize customer spend, engagement, and retention through powerful segmentation which enables the creation and deployment of ultra-personalized multi-channel marketing campaigns.

These tools take in your customers’ data and segment it into coherent clusters according to their affinities and tendencies, transactional and demographic data etc. This granular picture of your customers lets you communicate to them the most appropriate marketing messages.

Back when retention software first came out, only the big fish could afford the platforms. But today, with the growing number of tools, there are plenty of affordable, high-performing options that turn retention into a whole new ball game – one that ensures the lasting loyalty of your clients.

Myth #3: Lost Customers are Gone Forever

Churned customers are a fact of life, and your database is probably teaming with them. This is not to say that they are gone forever. On the contrary – the rich data you have about your churned customers is the perfect jumping board for bringing them back. By parsing this data and understanding the specific attributes of your churn sub-segments, you’ll be able to communicate with these customers in a personalized and emotionally intelligent manner that will significantly increase the number of returning customers.

Moreover, by analyzing your churn customer data you’ll be able to gain further insights into your churning customers. For example, you’ll be able to predict when customers are about to churn and take proactive measures to keep them at bay. Additionally, you may want to give your back from churn customers the special attention they need in order to become active customers again.

Even customers who had bad experiences could come back if the situation was handled correctly. A data powered, E.I. approach proves you know who your customers are and what they need. By implementing these campaign strategies, you’ll regain trust in your brand and re-strengthen your relationships with consumers.

Myth #4: Loyalty Begins with a Purchase

Let’s get this out of the way; loyalty doesn’t begin with a purchase, it begins well before it. You are fighting for your customers’ loyalty from the first moment they have become aware of you brand. When a visitor first visits your website, is it hospitable and inviting? Have you thoroughly considered the U.X. and U.I.? Is there an effective CTA? Is the copy nice and clean? When a prospect stumbles upon your social media, will she be intrigued by the content? Does it speak to her pain-point? Is the content valuable? And when a person first enters your store, how is his overall experience?

All of these “little” moments inspire loyalty and are opportunities for consistent, positive interactions. Brands, take advantage of various channels of communication—product videos, email campaigns, blogs, social media, and so on–to reach consumers and inspire loyalty.

Myth #5: A Short Survey Tells you All you Need to Know

There’s nothing wrong with a well written survey. They’re a good start, but they’re not the end mark. If a survey doesn’t ask the right questions, or if questions aren’t phrased correctly, they’ll be ineffective and customers may lie/give inaccurate answers and it would all be a huge waste of time.

I’ll just say it; businesses and brands need additional ways of gathering deep data. In-depth data collections allow for more personalized campaigns that target the individual, not the masses. This is the difference between a customer loving your product or outreach efforts and staying loyal, and the ones who feel spammed and then check out.

Basically it’s like this:

Customer loyalty and retention is crucial for any business, and understanding customers through data leads to an increase of all loyalty KPIs. There are many ways to approach customer retention, so let’s address the most critical do’s and don’ts:

DO

o           Do learn to embrace data. Your customer data is an asset you already have, so make good use of it

o           Do remember brand loyalty isn’t dead. Apple has it. Amazon mastered it. You can have it too

o           Do use technology to get to know your customers on a deeper level. Think less speed dating, more quality time

DON’T

o           Don’t think a purchase is all that’s needed for loyalty, because one product won’t a fulfilled relationship make

o           Don’t think loyalty is a one-time deal. People are fickle and they will drop you like its hot if you can’t deliver personalized attention and service

o           Don’t lose hope when customers churn: data can bring them back

 

Knowing how to retain customers and build a better, stronger customer service strategy brings in the profits and earns you more money in the long run. Think about which areas make your company a marketing mastermind, and which ones need a makeover. No matter the size of the company, customer loyalty/retention can make or break you. Try and avoid the latter.

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Rebecca Wojno

Rebecca is a marketing content writer and copy editor. Aside from writing about the importance of customer retention, she spends her time searching for good Mexican food and watching "Suits" reruns.

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