What Keeps Customers Loyal to Your Digital Brand?

Last week I shared some insights, based on our AskingCanadians™ research, into the factors that motivate consumers to interact with brands on social media. We found that people typically are motivated by contests, deals and staying up-to-date. But one third is looking for a deeper connection with the brands they follow on social media. They want their voice to be heard and action to be taken. This week, I’m going to talk about a few of the things that may help with your consumer engagement.

Keeping customers engaged with a brand in the social space is difficult and hard work. We know from our research that almost 40 per cent of people have “unliked” or stopped following a brand in social media over the past month. Why? Canadian consumers told us that many brands don’t deliver sufficient value and they tend to overwhelm followers with too frequent communication. Sounds like the early days of email marketing. The truth is many brands suck at listening and creating engaging social experiences.

First and foremost, brands need to develop a listen, respond and publishing framework, a framework that allows you to gather social intelligence, communicate with your customers and measure its effectiveness—all in near real time. Many brands, like Gatorade, Dell and JetBlue, have gone so far as to set up “command centres” to manage this framework and respond to inquiries 24/7.

Setting up a framework and resourcing it with well-trained staff is just one aspect of keeping your customers engaged in digital and social media. Creating and maintaining engaging content and experiences is equally as important. Here are three trends I see.

The first trend is around what I call marketing as a service, which is about creating mutually beneficial relationships between brands and customers by providing customers with content and services that help them to achieve their goals and pursue their interests. Think Nike Plus.

The second trend is around collaborative marketing, which is pretty broad. As I mentioned, many Canadian consumers are looking for a deeper connection with brands in social media—beyond just entering a contest. Collaborative marketing provides an opportunity to demonstrate that you really care about what your customers think and you are truly listening. With collaborative marketing you’re asking people, do you want to participate in making our product or service better? You’re leveraging the creativity of your customers to make better offerings and better experiences. That’s what collaborative marketing is all about and it’s a great way to engage your customers. An example of this would be creating a branded research or advisory community, which allows marketers to create an open dialogue with customers to uncover or test new concepts, products or marketing messaging. Recently we helped SavvyMom, the Canadian Opera Company and Random House Canada to set up these communities inside AskingCanadians™.

The final trend is real time marketing, which is not a new term. In fact, real time marketing actually came out in the early ‘90s with the rise of CRM. But real time marketing has become the catch-all phrase for technologies and processes in which a customer is engaging with a brand in real time.

It gets very interesting when you combine mobile, social and geo-targeting together. Let’s say you’re waiting to catch a flight at the airport. We can geo-target ads on your mobile device reminding you to get your travel insurance. The right message, at the right time in and right place—now that’s powerful.

Next week, I’ll take a look at whether Facebook should be the new corporate home page.