Now, it’s easy for consumers to gather knowledge rapidly using digital methods, which makes a difference in the way they arrive at a purchasing decision. This is the era of the “nonstop” customer – one who is constantly in touch, who continuously evaluates a vendor’s promises vs. delivery and compares the vendor with the way his experience measures up to expectations.
Know and understand your customer’s behaviour during the purchase journey.
“Understanding your target market” has new meaning. It’s no longer enough to have data on previous buying habits, demographics and household income. Those things still count, but now the most vital aspect of a marketing strategy is the “knowing and understanding of customer behaviour patterns.”
The New Rules of Marketing Strategy
With competing information at our fingertips, is it any wonder that organizations don’t have “loyal” customers they can count on? It’s time for a new way of marketing! What do we mean by this? Here are a few points to consider:
- Match your marketing strategy to the customer’s viewpoint, not your company’s point of view. Chances are good that what works internally for your systems isn’t going to be that great for your customers (think: non-return policies, for example). It’s convenient and preferable from your position not to allow returns, but you’re likely to lose a fair number of customers as a result of such a policy.
- Understand that the customer’s journey is continuous. It no longer ends with the purchase – in fact, that can be the catalyst point for kick-starting a whole new round of buying; especially if your customers aren’t happy with what they receive. Digital opportunities abound for consumers to announce their dissatisfaction loud and clear, demand returns and generally make an organization’s existence miserable unless their wishes are granted.
- Find ways to “follow” your customers through the cycle of discovery, consideration, evaluation, purchase and use. Organization’s can’t control what their customer’s discover and consider through various mediums, because there’s just so much out there that it isn’t possible. What organizations can control, however, is the criteria on which they base their evaluation that ultimately leads to a customer’s purchase.
The customer’s buying journey is not only continuous, but dynamic; and accessible too. Dynamic in the way that customers can control the channels they access and the buying process themselves; which differs from the days of the sales funnel. Accessible due to customers being influenced by multiple sources; through free access to company content and other information. Continuous customers constantly being exposed to touch points that are always on and readily available. This makes it necessary for an organization’s marketing strategy to focus on the evaluation process, rather than the purchase, as a point of sale.
Types of Customer Loyalty
To implement these measures successfully, organizations need to know what drives their customer’s on the journey, what type of loyalty resonates, and what informs the buying decisions. To keep customers coming back time after time, in spite of the options available, it’s necessary to identify the loyalty behaviour governing a customer’s actions. Knowing which of the four types of loyalty applies enables organizations to respond appropriately; improving the chances of a positive evaluation – and resulting in a sale.
Four types of loyalty are:
- True deal chasing, characterised by customers within a product segment who have no brand loyalty at all but make the buying decision based on the best price for the product.
- Emotional loyalty, which stems from trust in the quality of the product or service, and which keeps customers from considering any other brand.
- Inertia-based loyalty, which is founded in a mindset of convenience that makes it difficult for the customer to switch easily, unless the deal is much, much better.
- Conditional loyalty, when customers are in sync with a brand for specific reasons such as fashion or convenience, but they typically only stick around as long as the conditional situation lasts.
Making the Connection
To differentiate a company, enough to convert a nonstop customer into a loyal one, organizations need to be able to compete in at least one of four areas without failing in the others. Some of the ways to do this include:
- Revamping the discovery process, through the use of market segmentation, content marketing and social media – which is where many customers are now turning for advice and information.
- Changing from a product- or service-based sale to a solution-based option by positioning your company as a thought leader in your industry.
- Utilizing analytics to gain insight into customers’ problems, and developing solutions aimed at resolving them.
- Improving the organizations approachability through customer service, front-facing media and one-on-one interactions; such as live chat.
Organizations need to start with the assumption that there are no more loyal customers, and find ways to reshape their marketing strategy and customer service processes; starting from scratch recapturing nonstop customers and building them into a marketplace governed by emotional loyalty.