In world where brand loyalty is at a premium, creating an emotional connection with consumers is imperative, but how does a company gauge consumers' pulse? Media intelligence can be your guide to understanding your customer.
Have you ever wondered how Coca Cola became so synonymous with cola, Hoover with vacuuming, or Google with searching the internet? “Emotional connectivity,” says former Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide CEO, Kevin Roberts, “you want consumer loyalty beyond reason and loyalty beyond recession.” he adds.
Emotional connectivity that turns into loyalty is what true customer experience is all about. For every business seeking to thrive and create a lasting impact, emotional connectivity with both consumers and prospects alike needs to be a mission-critical constant in their branding equation. Nowadays, customers don't spend their money as a result of what they see and hear about companies; rather, they value thoughtful and personalised branding and customer experiences. Advertisers and brand managers are shifting their focus from creating simple brand messages towards building a lasting brand-customer relationship.
A single negative customer experience, unresolved issue or negative interaction with staff is enough to make a client give up on a brand. Worse: a negative customer experience can easily become a negative review, and this can spread quicker than a wink online, thanks to social media and online review sites.
In the age of advance branding strategies, it’s vital for companies to connect with their customers on a deeper and more satisfying level. Here are five ways brands can create worthwhile and memorable customer experiences:
Make the Brand Stand out – in a Good Way
To customers, the uniqueness of branding is what makes a company stand out. This starts with creating a memorable brand name. For instance, affixing the lowercase ‘i’ to its product offerings – like the iPhone, iMac, and iPad – has made each item a very recognizable Apple product.
Of course, Apple did not stop at brand recollection value; that alone would hardly make a customer use and keep using a new product or service. What makes branding meaningful is when a consumer uses a product or service – and enjoys every minute of it.
In a fast-changing digital environment, where each subsequent product tends to get more and more complicated, Apple went back to basics. The company decided to simplify everything. Apple built cleverly crafted branding by focusing not only on the features of each product but also on sleek and simple aesthetics – attributes that seemed like an afterthought to competitors. The marketing strategy clearly worked; Apple created a satisfactory customer experience that has morphed into a huge loyal brand following.
Adapt to the Changing Times
Staying current is a must for every marketing professional that wants to endure over time. In the fast-paced Internet Age, doing so can be challenging, as evidenced by the many businesses that have crashed and burned over the last few decades, like social media platform Friendster and mega-bookstore Borders. It seems like any marketing team that fails to stay relevant is signing its own death warrant.
Many businesses are finding ways to adapt to the changing times through social media, which has become an avenue for consistent, direct, and meaningful customer interaction. Social media provides tremendous insight into customer needs, wants, behavior, and engagement.
These days, having a website and a mobile app is pretty much non-negotiable. Tbey provide information to consumers and help them not only to make informed purchasing decisions, but also to resolve issues that could have a significant impact on how they perceive a brand. Simply having a website that offers support isn't enough for some consumers. Some still expect the option of having 24/7 interaction with companies, which is why so many are turning to customer service specific Twitter pages - this is something to bear in mind.
Connect with Customers on a Personal Level
A personal touch can go a long way in strengthening a business’s branding position. Gone are the days when one size fits all; customers now favor organisations that offer and provide them with tailored experiences. ‘Tailoring’ can be as easy as having the customer’s name in an email newsletter. A ‘Dear Joe’, as opposed to a ‘Dear valued customer’, can be interpreted as solid customer engagement. Personalised email messages, in fact, increase their click-through rates by an average of 14%, according to a report by the Aberdeen Group. Conversion rates also increase by 10%. Furthermore, research by Experian has revealed that personalised emails increase transaction rate by up to six times.
Personalised branding efforts demonstrate gratitude and appreciation for their clients’ continuing patronage – and the gratitude and appreciation are reciprocal.
Transparency has become a way of humanizing the business and showcasing a company’s positive corporate values. According to a study by Label Insight, transparency is the best way to build consumer trust, with more than half of the respondents saying that they would be loyal to a company if it showed itself to be fully transparent. An excellent example of such a marketing campaign is McDonald’s Canada’s ‘Our Food, Your Questions’ campaign. Trying to dispel misinformation and urban myths surrounding its food and ingredients, the fast food giant saw an opportunity to educate its consumers and still stand behind its products. The campaign garnered over 42,000 questions since its launch in 2014. Even though it is widely known that McDonald’s is not the best choice when it comes to healthy eating, the campaign has satisfied its customers’ need to know everything about a product – no skeletons in the closet.
Consistency Is Key
Finally, the key to creating a brand identity that resonates with customers is consistency in interactions. This means keeping the brand in sync with its marketing strategies so that every product and/or service always points back to the brand—distinctly and directly. Coca-Cola is considered to be one of the most widely recognized brands in the world. Although it continues to evolve, its classic script and font can be identified anywhere in the world, even when displayed in different languages. Consistent branding eliminates confusion and shapes how audiences perceive the business.
Consistency is also important when it comes to messaging; it should always be in keeping with a brand’s mission and values.
For instance, clothing company Patagonia has always been clear about its mission to inspire social change and protect the environment by advocating sustainability. It launched a Fair Trade campaign that led consumers to be more mindful of how their clothes were being manufactured, thereby leading to a stronger demand for products coming from Fair Trade Certified factories that pay higher wages to workers.
Ultimately, bridging the gap between brand and customers boils down to creating memorable customer experiences. This, in turn, helps companies to differentiate. Sure, the brand message is still important, but customers become more invested in a company when it walks its talk and prioritizes customer well-being and satisfaction above all else. An outstanding customer experience is by far the best way to encourage the type of brand loyalty that transcends both reason and recession.
If your brand offering wants to move towards cultural ubiquity with your intended audience, nailing down personal experiences will be essential. To come prepared for other steps your customers are experiencing, download our ebook to meet and support your audience at whatever point they are on their customer journey and take a look at the Linkfluence Customer Experience Suite.