Is Customer Loyalty a thing of the past online and how can I leverage it?

It’s certainly true that loyalty isn’t what it was, but opportunities can be exploited.

The days of people staying married for a lifetime and staying with their first Bankers even longer do indeed seem to be behind us, sadly in many ways.

Consumers of almost all products and services can now be expected to shop around more, undertake more detailed research than ever before, and rather than stick with a brand, they’ll often start the process from scratch when it’s time to repurchase, even going so far as forgetting who exactly they placed a purchase from last time.

Not only is this a frustrating process for brand owners and marketers, but it’s also hugely expensive to have to keep reinventing the wheel to win back a customer you’ve already had before..

We’ve experienced some of the fall-outs from such changes in behaviour lately ourselves. To help clients survive and prosper through the Covid crisis we dropped our monthly fees for many, and in cases of most need, even dropped them to zero but carried on working on their behalf. You’d expect such behaviour might be rewarded with increased business when things picked up again, sadly, some clients haven’t even reinstated the former budgets. Luckily we do have enough grateful clients overall to weather this mini-storm but it makes you think. In our case it made us think on behalf of our clients what might they do themselves to create greater loyalty from their own customers?

Obviously, our first suggestion involves regular communication. Quite simply, the more often you have a dialogue with clients, the more likely they will remember you. Building an email list and having good content/things to say becomes essential. This is one area where SEO helps, not only can a good SEO agency help attract visitors to your sign-up page, but they should also be scheduling regular informative content for the website or blog. And of course, this can be shared via multiple channels.

Another area to consider is launching products or services that require multiple billing / invoicing – an example, a web designer would charge the big bucks to create a new website but a small ongoing charge to host and maintain things in tip-top shape. In our industry, we used to provide a service to regularly “ping” the search engines to check a website was still in the rankings and suffering no sudden catastrophe (such as when changing servers).

Offering a product that is part of a series or is collectable is also a good idea as people have to return to you to acquire the next original product…..this could apply to many kinds of household items, publications, etc. It’s a little harder in a business context but might still be applied to content if you can charge for that.

How people pay can also influence things – it’s proven that the hardest payment mechanism to shake off and cancel is a recurring payment by card, where renewal rates as high as 95% typically apply. This drops to around 90% if you collect payment by Direct Debit, a bit less again for Standing Orders, but you get the idea. In all cases, the next order will be more likely via this kind of method than where the purchase has to start from scratch.

Loyalty schemes themselves aren’t so much in vogue these days but if Points-Make-Prizes kind of schemes can work in your industry, it’s a relatively low-cost way of boosting repeat custom from past customers.

A more psychological approach is to encourage customers to recommend your service to others, typically in return for a small benefit for themselves and the person or business being introduced. Not only does this introduce more customers at less cost than a newbie, but they will also generally be an easier customers to satisfy as you start with goodwill being passed on. The side benefit is that thinking about who to recommend keeps your own business front and centre in your customer’s minds, which can only help when it’s time to renew themselves.

So don’t despair if winning each new client feels like an uphill battle. Tools like SEO and content creation can help and with a bit of creative thinking, it may be possible to bolt on some techniques to your business that have loyalty included as standard.