Loyal customers are worth their weight in gold. Brands spend lots of time and money to build relationships with customers. Social Media has provided the greatest medium maybe ever to connect and build real 1-on-1 relationships with your audience. You now have an easy and cost efficient way to reach your loyal fans. Unfortunately, some brands do not value the relationship and actually abuse the intimate line of communication they originally created. It should not matter the vehicle you use to communicate with your loyal following, be it email, direct mail, social media or a punch card. Just be sure to show your appreciation to your loyal customers.
So I ask, why do brands abuse their customer relationships and piss off their fans?
1. Lack of Respect
Please don’t abuse the relationship that you worked hard to create. Show respect to your loyal customers, treat them better than your other customers. Customers and fans can be fickel, they will shower you with praise and affection as long as you don’t take advantage of them. Reward their commitment with unique and SPECIAL offers and promotions.
What are examples of this?
Leak new news to your fans first. Why? Because they will appreciate the inside information, and as a brand advocate they will tell friends and share by word of mouth and via Social Media. Think of it as free PR. Speaking of Free…
2. Don’t Just Discount
Who doesn’t like free? Free doesn’t have to cost you much, but it can go a long way. Free can be a cup of coffee, side of fries or a complimentary tire balance with an oil change. Loyal customers value your product, show them the same level of respect and value their loyalty. Consider check-in specials on Foursquare or Facebook.
3. Stop The Short-Term Thinking
Have a plan and strategy built around your overall marketing plan, define what you want to accomplish once you build a loyal following. When inviting a customer to join a loyalty program, follow you on Twitter or “LIKE” you on Facebook… let them know what they are going to get back in return. I like to call this managing expectations.
4. Be Responsive
Make sure your communication goes both ways.
- Ask for feedback. Here’s the important part, listen to what they have to say and respond when appropriate.
- Customer Service. If I ask you a question on Social Media and you do not respond, you insult me. You irritate me. And you just lost my loyalty .
- Engage with Your Audience by RT’ing their post or pictures. Heck, they are sharing their love of YOUR brand.
5. Don’t Be Lazy
Sure, we all have to contend with the all mighty dollar and thus sometimes we need traffic and we need it now.
Client: “I don’t care how you get it, just bring me customers. I need traffic, my sales are down.”
Marketing Manager: “Ok, Mr. Client let’s tap into the low hanging fruit, we can resend another email blast to our loyalty club?”
Client: “Great, send it now.”
Marketing Manager: “Awesome, we’ll just go back to the well once again. What’s the worst that could happen?”
D. Make sure you are tracking open rates, click through rates and opt out rates on your email programs.
What happens when you abuse the relationship and that well runs dry? You turn brand advocates into pissed off brand evangelists, the types that want to convert fans away from your brand.
Has a brand ever pissed you off and abused a relationship? Please share, I’d love to know the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.