Client loyalty is more important than you might realize. In the marketing world, most experts tend to focus on elements of client acquisition—the ability to attract new paying clients. This is important, but think about the value breakdown of a new client versus a recurring one.
Let’s assume your client pay you an average of $1,000 a year; in this scenario, increasing the average length of time a client stays loyal will objectively increase the total value of every new client. To make the case even more compelling, it often costs far less money to retain an existing client than to attract a new one entirely.
Today, just about every marketplace is flooded with competition, and because users can do research and switch easily, brand loyalty isn’t as common or as easy to attain as it used to be. Still, there are five surefire paths you can take to cement loyalty in your own client base:
1. Objective Value
Despite the “warm fuzzies” or other emotional connections a modern consumer might feel toward a brand, the vast majority of consumer decisions are still dictated by pure logic. They’re paying you money for a certain product or service, and they expect a certain value from that exchange. If you can consistently offer them a better value than anyone else, there’s no reason for them to ever leave this brand.
This path is a little ambiguous, because it doesn’t necessitate you have any real relationship with your consumer. They might not even recognize your brand out of a lineup—but as long as you’re there, giving your clients exactly what they need for a better price than anyone else, you’ll be at the top of their list. This is also one of the hardest paths to achieve, since all your competitors will be striving for the same advantage.
The above path implies a kind of apples to apples comparison between you and your competitors; if you’re both offering apples, the competitor who can offer the biggest, tastiest apple for the lowest amount of money can win the loyalty of clients indefinitely. But this path, differentiation, takes a tangential approach, creating an orange instead.
The goal here is to offer something unique, that nobody else can offer. For example, you might offer a turnkey suite of services as a collective package that no other firm offers in such a bundle, or you might have an integration that no other software on the market currently supports. Obviously, this differentiating factor must be inherently valuable, but it can’t be directly compared to a competitor, and it’s rare—and those two things are what will allow it to secure further client loyalty.
3. Loyalty Rewards
This is definitely the most “obvious” item on this list (since it has the word “loyalty” already in its description). However, there’s much room for creativity here. Loyalty rewards are any kind of valuable addition to your ordinary products and services that keep people coming back for more. For example, you might give your clients escalating discounts based on how long they remain committed to your brand, or you might have some kind of “check in” bonus every time a client visits you or logs into your app.
The benefit here is clear; clients are motivated to stay with you to continue receiving these rewards (as long as the rewards themselves are valuable enough). This is even more powerful if the rewards escalate in a kind of chain—a repeated pattern of habits, which, as Jerry Seinfeld reminds us, is very difficult to break once created.
4. Personal Experience
Even though your company might be managing dozens, hundreds, or thousands of clients, each client is an individual, and deserves individual attention. It might seem strange to go out of your way to make one specific client’s experience special when you have so many other clients to manage, but trust me—that client will remember the experience.
If you’ve ever experienced the other side of this, you should know, intuitively, why it works. Going out of your way to make a client happy shows incredible commitment, and will cement your brand reputation in that person’s brain. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile, even if it’s extra work. It’s worth it to secure that individual’s loyalty forever.
5. Growth and Development
Things never stay the same for long, and clients know this. A handful of business models, like a mom-and-pop diner, might actually draw power from never changing, but for the rest of us, growth and change are good things. When new technologies emerge, you need to adopt them. When client trends change, you need to shift.
Regularly introducing new features, new values, and new benefits to your clients keeps the novelty factor strong, and shows that you’re committed enough to your clients to initiate and manage real growth. This shows that you’re worthy as a long-term partner, and will keep people around for the long haul.
You aren’t limited to only these five paths of client loyalty, but they are the most powerful strategies I’ve found (for the vast majority of businesses). Similarly, don’t feel limited to using only one of them; in fact, these strategies complement and enhance each other, so it’s in your best interest to use several of them simultaneously. As always, your biggest tool to success here is feedback; pay attention to what your clients do and don’t like, and correct your approach accordingly over time.