How to drive brand loyalty through community-based marketing
Start in your customers’ backyard. Literally.
Competition for consumer eyeballs is as high as it’s ever been for brands. A recent study found that the average person can see up to 10,000(!) advertisements per day, with a proliferation of digital media channels inundating consumers with branded content wherever they go, be it a Google search, social media platform, streaming service or even the gas pump.
Consumers are experiencing decision fatigue. This coupled with ad targeting being more challenging than ever has yielded advertising results reaching all-time lows. When you also consider consumer buying preferences are changing — showing loyalty to brands that align with their values and care about more than the almighty dollar — it’s clear brands must adjust strategy.
Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can have huge returns on overall profitability. Any brand can spend to get a consumer to buy once (although costs to acquire customers are also reaching an all-time high), but those that invest to build a long-term purchasing relationship are the ones who will win out. Here’s how.
Meet them in their backyard. Digital marketing is a great way to approach hyper-local marketing campaigns but while technology is great for scale, it’s a barrier for making real connections. Yes, ads are often served to consumers based on personal data like demographics or browsing history, but seeing a pop up for coffee while playing a game on your phone doesn’t seem too personal, does it?
Instead, find opportunities to integrate your brand presence directly into the communities in which you’re looking to build customer base and product awareness. Don’t just be in the community, become a part of it. Consider options like sponsorships of charity events, youth sports leagues, educational programs or other community events – anything that enables consumers to see your brand during some of the happiest times they’ll have all week.
While these types of marketing opportunities used to be reserved for small businesses, they offer national brands a great opportunity for direct customer engagement and feedback. What better way for a cereal company looking to increase sales in a certain community than to give out free samples and coupons at a local 4th of July celebration or Little League Game?
Consumers — especially families — spend the majority of their time within the communities that they live. Bring your marketing efforts directly to their backyards.
Show what you stand for. Survey Monkey recently reported that 78% of consumers claimed to make purchasing decisions based on brand values in the last year, while 55% said they would be more likely to purchase from a company that shares their values. It seems like weekly we see a brand either praised or boycotted for a stance on some sort of public issue. The point? Consumers care not just about what you sell, but also about how you do business and who it impacts.
Brands don’t need to necessarily make a grand showing out of a hot-button cultural issue in order to showcase their values. They can start as simply as getting involved within the communities in which they hope to grow consumer loyalty and do something that makes an impact. The examples of sponsorships for community events from earlier? Not only are they great hyper-local marketing activations but they also showcase to consumers that you care about helping to better their community, not just sell products into it.
Data shows that 64% of consumers prefer to support brands that are known not just for profit, but also for purpose. Brands whose marketing initiatives support the community will see a better return than those that do not.
Measure brand recall. Ultimately, you want to ensure the connection you make with your target consumers results in them remembering your brand at a later date when they are ready to make a purchase – otherwise known as brand recall.
Brand recall is crucial because it can showcase the effectiveness of your marketing. If the consumers you targeted default to your brand, you’ve likely made inroads to building brand loyalty and winning over a long-term customer. A positive brand recall also increases the likelihood of word-of-mouth recommendations, a boon to brands as 50% of Americans make shopping decisions based on what they hear from others.
As outlined above, the goal of brands should not be to just try to reach as many consumers as possible and play a numbers game. Instead, brands should be focusing on making distinct connections with their target audiences, hoping to build a true relationship between brand and shopper that leads to purchase and loyalty over the long term. Make that connection and in turn, you’ll win a consumer for life.
Evan Brandoff is co-founder and CEO of LeagueSide, a community sports sponsorship platform marrying grassroots campaigns and social impact to scale local marketing efforts for brands.