Manage online brand loyaltyBY Australian Retailers Association
The advances in technology that brought the internet itself into being have largely enabled the management of brand loyalty in an online context.
Without technology that allows for customer behaviours and activities to be tracked it would be a far more challenging exercise.
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Understanding brand loyalty online
Brand awareness, brand value and brand loyalty are all intertwined. Brand awareness is a marketing concept that measures consumers’ knowledge of a brand’s existence. Online brand awareness can be influenced by many online mediums including:
- Online reviews
- Display advertisements
- Paid ads
- Organic search engine visibility
- Social media
Relevant external links from sites outside your domain are one of the most important factors in determining your relevancy in natural search engine results. This, coupled with a good on-page strategy, will lead your site to become more highly visible.
Develop online brand value
Whilst there are many approaches to creating and measuring brand value and developing brand awareness is important, the following principles are generally regarded as a good place to start.
- Focus on quality:
Brand value is all about having a product that means something to the customer. Customers value products that are of good quality. They will not buy inferior quality goods that break down easily, or do not last as long as they should. Therefore, any company that is looking to create brand value must ensure that they have a product of quality. In addition, quality must be delivered consistently, not erratically, but all the time.
- Link your product to a worthy cause:
Consumers love to support a cause. The product will be of even greater value when linked to an inspiring mission or commitment.
- Clearly communicate product benefits:
The truth is, consumers will not be motivated to buy your product if they think that there is no value in doing so. In a real sense their emotions come into play, because they feel and believe in the product and that motivates them to purchase. Therefore businesses must endeavour to communicate product benefits to them.
- Create an expectation
Boost the perception that there are great benefits to be derived from purchasing the product. Transmit to the consumer a mental picture of the comfort, and peace of mind they will experience when they buy it. They will place value on that expectation.
- Create a brand experience
Make your product enticing and throw in some extras, so that they know they are getting superior value when they purchase your product. When you do this it will arouse interest, generate brand loyalty, and increase sales.
- Build a brand community
Social media sites are a great way to help build a brand community. They can be used to foster relationships with customers, and keep in touch with what it is they need from your product. As advocates of the brand interact, and the community is nurtured, brand value will take root and eventually extend to persons outside the community and around the globe.
- Present an opportunity for expression
When customers can express their opinions on a product and provide feedback about the brand, they will see themselves as a part of the process that is helping to create value.
- Don’t break your brand promise
Be true to your brand. Customers will return to you if you are, and they will also be willing to refer to others. So always deliver on what you have promised.
Manage brand loyalty
Retailers need information about their customers’ reaction to the brand and the way the brand is presented online in order to devise strategies to manage loyalty. There are three main methods for determining the needs and preferences of online customers.
Observe the behaviour of target online customers: review reports on website statistics
Website developers or web hosts can produce monthly reports with detailed information about what people do when they visit your website. The details may include:
- The number of visits
- The days and times that these occurred
- How visitors arrived at the website- including which search engines and search terms they used
- How long visitors spent on your website
- The typical paths taken through the website
- Which pages the visitors left the website from
This information provides valuable insights into how well a website is meeting customer needs and preferences. For example, brief visits to the home page only may indicate that visitors are not finding anything of interest and are quickly leaving the site. Alternatively, it is possible to find that customers progress through the site to the order page, but never order- perhaps indicating a problem with the function of the site or the price of your product.
Reading website statistics can take some skill, so it may be worth reviewing them with a web developer to develop proficiency at interpreting the implications.
Smart design of website and email system
Websites can be designed to reveal details of customer needs and preferences. For example, rather than listing all products and their details on one web page, put them into groups or keep them on separate web pages so it is possible to see from website statistics reports which product range receives the most visits. It is also possible to design a website around customers categorising themselves or their needs. For example, asking visitors whether they are looking for a ‘budget and effective’ product or a ‘robust and reliable’ product or asking them to select between products for ‘Primary School Students’ or ‘High School Students’. In this way, the paths that people take through the website will help to reveal their typical needs and preferences.
About ARA Retail Institute
ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Australian Retailers Association
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.