How to Speak the Love Language of Loyalty

Ishan Sharma By Ishan Sharma Mar 7, 2024

Every marketer holds a fond love story close to their heart—one between a brand and its customers. Long-term, valuable relationships with customers are undoubtedly the dream, but it’s no secret that this dream is becoming increasingly elusive. What’s happening with brand loyalty and how can we achieve it?

Let’s start by defining loyalty. While we often measure loyalty quantitatively with performance KPIs such as customer lifetime value (LTV), net promoter score (NPS), and purchase rates, it’s important to also consider the human side. Ultimately, our campaigns reach real people, so centering customer needs and emotions can help us engage with more relevance. So, let’s think of loyalty as a series of ongoing meaningful moments between customers and brands that foster a mutually valuable relationship.

Now, what’s a love story without its challenges? Today, brands face some of the toughest hurdles they’ve ever had in their quest to win customer loyalty. Here are some key challenges we’re noticing in connection with the brand-to-customer relationship:

  • It’s no longer monogamous. On average, customers in the US belong to 16 loyalty programs, yet less than half are actively used. With an abundance of brand choices, escalating customer expectations, and innovative loyalty strategies being deployed by brands, capturing and retaining our customers' attention is becoming increasingly difficult.

  • Retention is the new battlefield. Recent Braze research indicates that 42% of surveyed brands say they spent more than half their yearly marketing budgets on just user retention—that’s only three points behind the percentage of brands who spend the bulk of their budgets on acquisition. This underscores the growing focus for robust retention strategies by marketing executives, even more than what we thought a few years ago.

  • First dates are getting costlier. On average, brands lose $29 per new customer acquired, a 222% increase compared to 8 years ago. In essence, it’s far more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones, highlighting the need for a solid loyalty strategy.

Fear not, though, as there’s good news coming. Just like any relationship, communication is paramount and has the potential to solve hardships. By understanding these challenges, we can engage consumers in ways that resonate and win hearts. So, what’s the love language that locks in loyalty with customers? Presenting the three step framework to approach your loyalty engagement strategy:

STEP 1: Earn Loyalty

Why? According to our recent market research study, we’ve found that consumers rank “product quality/brand trust” just as important as “affordability” when it comes to factors that motivate them to make repeat purchases. They were also 3X more likely to select those factors than discounts.

This implies that customers need much more than just the best price from your brand —they need to trust you.

How? Illuminate your value as a brand that maps directly to consumer needs. Campaign ideas to achieve this include capturing user preferences through:

STEP 2: Deepen loyalty

Why? You don’t want to just be another one of the loyalty programs people join but never use—you want users to remember, prioritize, and actively choose your brand over the sea of other loyalty schemes companies are deploying.

How? Personalize the experience. Campaign ideas to achieve this include:

  • Educating users on unused product features

  • Gamification campaigns

  • Contextualized milestones through first-party data stories

STEP 3: Spread loyalty

Why? To incentivize community-based, organic growth. Referral leads boast a 30% higher conversion rate than those from other marketing avenues, highlighting how effectively driving community

How? Celebrating user achievements. Campaign ideas to achieve this include:

  • Unlocking exclusive features or experiences

  • Incentivizing referrals

  • Providing shareable content using brand experiences

Key Takeaway

Remember, the bottom line is to speak the right love language to the right users at the right time. While every one of these ideas may not apply to your brand, allow the “earn, deepen, spread” framework to spark inspiration for crafting your loyalty engagement strategy that’s sure to capture the hearts of your customers.

To take your campaigns to the next level, download Melting Points to uncover more loyalty use cases that excite and inspire using creativity.

Ishan Sharma

Ishan Sharma

Ishan is a Senior Strategic Business Consultant, passionate about creating meaningful connections with people. In his free time, he’s exploring a new country, geeking out over aviation trends, or practicing yoga.

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