Customer loyalty to brands is at an all-time low, with people more willing than ever to leave behind companies in favor of more effective customer service or due to dissatisfaction with their treatment. An Accenture report found that 78 percent of consumers they surveyed are retracting brand loyalty at a faster pace than three years prior.

This means that the idea of a lifelong customer is much more difficult to achieve. While some companies may embrace the idea of customer churn and try to make up for continuous turnover by grabbing as many new clients as possible, the amount of money and time invested into such plans make profit margins increasingly slim. However, according to research from Bain & Company, just a five percent increase in customer retention can lead to profits increasing anywhere from 25 to 95 percent.

While the modern age of business means that lifelong customers are increasingly rare, they are still possible by providing your target audience with what they truly want from companies: to be known and treated as an individual.

The following four steps are crucial for any company seeking to create an effective snapshot of the customer in order to understand and support their interests and needs over the long-term. This is the transition from impersonal marketing and sales to one-on-one customer experiences that allow for consistent tailoring and tweaking.

Consider whether your business has implemented all four of the following steps and take action in the areas you have not yet completed for successful personalized digital marketing strategies.

1. Consolidate Data for a Single Customer View

When you have properly integrated analytics with your company’s digital presence, you will have access to large, robust volumes of data gathered from many interactions with customers. However, companies who do not consolidate their data from various sources keep themselves from creating detailed, unique single customer views. Use the massive amounts of data at your fingertips through digital interactions to create a robust, real profile of who customers really are in order to create personalized digital marketing attuned to their preferences.

According to a Vision Critical study, 42 percent of Americans will stop shopping with a brand after just two bad customer experiences, even if they are part of a company’s loyalty program. It’s clear that the threshold for losing a customer is lower than before and competition is accelerating across industries. However, putting the focus on the individual through a single customer view strategy can not only combat customer churn, but create more positive customer experiences than what was previously possible.

By creating effective, well-rounded and accurate customer profiles, you can have greater success in the three remaining steps.

2. Understand Social Media Sentiment Toward Your Brand

We live in an age where people are expressing their feelings concerning a company in ways where everyone can see them. That may feel intimidating when considering negative reactions, but it's also easier than ever to see when and how a brand should respond to customer reactions. Do not neglect when customers express positive or negative reactions to your company.

In the event that such an occurrence happens, you will be given an opportunity to demonstrate a one-on-one focus in your customer service. This can come in the form of reaching out to dissatisfied customers and helping to solve the needs they have expressed via social media or through a personal expression of gratitude when someone compliments your brand. In doing so, you can demonstrate that you care about their unique needs and are actually listening to their opinions on your company.

In addition, being able to see a person’s actions and interests on social media, which can be accessed when given express permission through apps, will help to further establish their unique identities through a single customer view. Social media will only become a more and more crucial aspect of every company’s online presence, so embracing it and using it to your advantage via personalized digital marketing is for the best in making long-term customer relationships work.

3. Establish a Human Relationship Between Your Customers and Your Brand

Whether it's through in-person interactions or how you communicate online, a human connection is a lasting one, especially in an age where business is becoming increasingly automated and impersonal. Consider where you can implement interactions between customers and your team in your personalized digital marketing strategy in order to increase and maintain emotional connections.

For example, Apple provides both existing and potential customers with one-on-one interactions in their stores through sales representatives and their Genius Bar. Whether customers are looking to learn more about the product they own or are in need of repairs, knowledgeable and friendly Apple employees give them personalized assistance for a more human connection to what could otherwise be seen as an impersonal brand.

Research from Forrester found that a strong emotional connection between a customer and a brand is a stronger driver of loyalty than other factors, such as ease and effectiveness. It’s difficult for anyone to have a true emotional connection to an impersonal, sales-focused brand, so it’s important that you put the humanity back into your customer interactions.

While steps 1 and 2 will give you the data you need to see the individual characteristics of customers, it is vital that you put that data into human hands. Empower your employees with software that lets them better understand the clients they serve, but stay flexible and focused on meeting customer needs.

4. Don't Forget the Post-Purchase Timeline

Most companies will do everything they can to complete a purchase, but will forget their customers once the sale has been completed. By showing your clients that you care about them after the sale through customer support and personalized communication, you establish a relationship outside a direct sale and encourage lifetime connections.

Customers value companies that actively engage with them, as establishing a relationship that is not purely about making a sale will help forge a more personal and trust-based bond. A study from Rosetta Consulting found that highly-engaged customers buy 90 percent more often and spend 60 percent more per transaction than those who are not engaged.

Conversely, according to Accenture research, 81% of U.S. consumers feel loyalty to brands that are there for them when they need them, but respect their time and privacy when they are not needed. This means that there is a fine line that each company needs to walk in order to emphasize their appreciation and understanding of customers without overstepping boundaries and causing people to dislike being contacted.

By utilizing a single customer view, you can better understand when to engage and not engage with your clientele in order to make communications as effective and positive as possible.

Connect with Customers More Effectively

Keeping your customers loyal to your company and continuing to stay in sync for years to come takes consistent effort and the willingness to adapt with changing times. Read about how Ampersand used Liferay to create effective hotel loyalty programs and provide customized products for both employees and customers in order to create greater customer experiences.

Learn How Ampersand Used Liferay to Improve Customer Loyalty  
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