Marketers are constantly fighting for customers’ attention. But how long does it really take to secure brand commitment? The question is answered in some research I commissioned earlier this year. And the findings aren’t comfortable reading for CMOs.
We run a global consumer panel that represents four generations across six continents, nine markets and five languages. And they revealed to us that brands now need to court customers for at least two years before securing anything close to true loyalty.
But, it doesn’t stop there. The biggest incremental change in customer spend happens even later, after five years or more. This is the tipping point that really matters, as this is the stage when the revenue value of a customer increases dramatically, relative to a brand’s investment in that customer.
No brand can afford to wait that long. So how can we speed up the process? Here’s a three-step approach worth considering:
Apply the customer mandates that matter: Out of the 55 critical factors that drive customer commitment, there is a top grouping of customer demands or mandates that must be answered in your brand promise. So ask yourself whether your marketing creates a two-way relationship with a fair exchange of value, demonstrates business practices consistent with customers’ ethics, offers continuous value for money, and shows leadership versus competitors on key competitive factors. Responding to these mandates is essential to building trust, because this best fulfills customers’ emotional needs.
Meet functional needs to improve the customer experience: The customer experience you deliver must embody your brand promise. It must be relevant, ongoing, consistent, meaningful and mutually rewarding.
To accomplish all that, you’ll need to embrace another of the top five customer mandates: develop an integrated omnichannel experience. You’ll need to use customer data deliberately so that you can deliver messages that are reliable, considerate and relevant.
The secret here is to understand that customers have varying preferences for each channel and how this differs by region. When you focus on channels most relevant to your key audiences, you’ll start building the credibility that matures into brand loyalty.
Perfect a frictionless customer journey: The omnichannel experience you offer must include a variety of on- and off-line channels so customers can start, stop, rejoin and even jump engagement levels. We now have the ability to create and target “content in context,” which means content will truly have the ability to find the customers. This will allow them to carve out their own highly individualised paths to purchase, creating more loyalty. Providing customers with a seamless customer experience, no matter who they are, helps to build a community around your brand.
We’ve found that when brands routinely fulfill all three steps, ROI improves significantly. Our data tells us that a committed customer spends 1.5 times more, on average, than an unengaged customer.
The most successful and preferred brands globally are those that fully understand these connections. They know that building trust is fundamental to securing a committed brand relationship.