Building Long-Term Customer Loyalty: A Research Report on What Consumers Want
Personalization has become a given in marketing, and although there are different levels, it’s something we’ve all experienced. For example, a pop-up on a website asking us to enter our email address for a discount is very common. It works—to an extent. But the truth is, this surface-level transactional interaction lacks the humanity or trust that consumers now crave.
Flash sales and short-lived discounts are often sent out to re-engage customers or attract new ones, without a true understanding of why those customers may not have been engaged in the first place.
Trust and having that human, emotional connection, matter a great deal to consumers. They are far more likely to spend with a brand once those elements are clear. We also know that personalization is crucial to retaining those customers long-term. So businesses should ask themselves, how human is our brand?
As experts in brand humanity and leaders in the customer engagement realm, we wanted to dig into this topic further. To do this, we surveyed 2,219 adults in the US and UK, to find out their opinions around customer engagement, including personalization, data management, trust, and new technologies such as AI.
We wanted to give brands a better idea of their customers’ wants and needs, with real examples of what true personalization and engagement look like today, because it’s so much more than an email with your name on it or a discount code.
With the insights from this report, brands can begin to map out what brilliant customer engagement looks like for them and build a strategy that develops trust and loyalty with customers for long-term success.
3 Key Takeaways for Consumer Engagement in 2023
Within the research, we discovered three trends that, if harnessed correctly, could help brands engage with their customers more effectively and build a loyal fan base.
1. In challenging times, brand trust is just as important as affordability
When asked what factors motivate them to make repeat purchases, respondents were 3.3X more likely to choose brand quality/trust and affordability than discounts. What these results tell us is that once affordability and trust have been achieved, repeat business is highly likely. But with tight profit margins and little room to maneuver, these two pillars of engagement can be a challenge to build. They also work hand in hand. A brand that is affordable but not trustworthy is going to be less successful than one that has created a strong sense of trust between itself and its customers.
2. If consumers lack trust in brands, they will take action to protect their data
Almost half of participants (47%) are hardly confident or aren’t confident at all that brands are using their data responsibly. This can lead to customers choosing to disengage, which proves a problem when their data is needed to fulfill the tailored experience they desire. 30% of consumers said they were less willing to share their data than they were three years ago and only 26% said they were more willing, which shows a decline that could have a major impact on a brand's ability to connect with their customers.
3. Consumers demand personalized experiences but are cautious of technology that enables it
Despite 80% of consumers saying that personalized experiences are at least somewhat important when making purchases, only 29% say they feel comfortable with AI being used to do so. In this large gap between what consumers know and what they trust, there is space for brands to build a better understanding of AI and nurture a positive feeling towards emerging technologies. AI can be used to unlock more creative and compelling campaigns as well as more tailored and relevant experiences.
Redefining the Rules of Engagement
We know that personalized experiences are important, and expected, but the reality of how to deliver them can be more complicated than many brands are currently aware of. Brands are increasingly looking to invest in retention marketing and with consumers showing low tolerance for mistakes alongside uncertainty of technology such as AI, delivering a highly customized experience to meet high customer expectations can be a challenge. Yet the findings of this report show that positive action towards bridging the gap of trust will yield great results.
For some, moving beyond the status quo means stepping into a new arena, where customers are given advanced status, as ambassadors. This change in mindset will require brands to embrace new ways of thinking about the human connection and technological aspects of engagement. Both of which are central to success and required to build loyalty.
Consumers are bombarded with information and data requests daily, many of which are irrelevant, confusing and lacking the knowledge an individual needs to trust an organization. If brands can create their experiences and messaging on a human-to-human level, giving these newly elevated ambassadors control, privacy and transparency, they will be able to connect with customers on a much higher level and gain significant returns. Where many brands are used to measuring their efforts in numbers, this style of marketing is a constant reminder that you’re dealing with a real person, not a click.
To deliver true value for consumers and gain long-term loyalty, brands must deliver consistent communication for the customer in real time, following their journey and being there for them with the right message, at the right time, in the right way. A first-party data strategy is an essential, early step in creating an improved experience.
Live customer profiles with data from a range of sources and channels allow for a greater understanding of the individual—their preferences in browsing and purchasing, their feedback, reviews, responses to surveys, location and language. Interactions across touchpoints will enable a brand to engage in smarter practices and tactics.
Educating audiences across different platforms is also a smart move. Priming customers for the data they want to collect before collecting it and following through on the enhanced experience that is promised, will help the brand to better serve the individual.
This is a new era of relationship building.
The only way that both brands and consumers get what they want, is by working together and redefining the relationship between the two. The value exchange needs to be mutually beneficial and brands must be prepared to be more open and transparent about the data they collect, how they collect it and what it is used for. The communication of this is paramount too. A confused audience can quickly become a disengaged one.
Download the full report to learn more about how to build long-term customer loyalty.
Discover new insights into consumer behaviors and preferences with information on attitudes around engagement, purchasing, data collection and emerging technologies.
Learn how to build relationships more effectively and for greater impact with advice on where the biggest disconnects are and how to bridge those gaps.
Gain a competitive advantage with actions you can take to shift the business mindset and increase engagement.