Building Brand Affinity Through Customer Engagement
Written by: Dan Slavin
Having successfully built brand awareness, the customer should now be engaged with the retailer. Generally speaking, engagement occurs when a dialog is established between the customer and the retailer. Because each brand is unique, each retailer will create a distinctive approach to engage with their customers.
Following successful engagement, the next step in the process is building brand affinity. Creating affinity involves moving the customer along the continuum towards establishing a long-term relationship. The ultimate goal is for the customer to become both a regular shopper as well as a brand spokesperson.
Communication begins by providing a means for customers to share information about themselves. Retailers can take this data and up their game creating a truly unique shopping experience for each customer. Proven strategies for creating affinity include providing rich rewards, multi-channel support and personalization.
With respect to rich rewards, retailers are well aware that consumers love coupons. According to RetailMeNot, 92% of consumers use coupons. In addition, 83% of consumers make an unplanned purchase because of a coupon (NCH Marketing Services). These are huge numbers. It’s no wonder retailers continue to use incentives to drive consumers to their stores. Regardless of how retailers entice customers to buy, an opportunity to continue the conversation happens every time a customer makes a purchase. Retailers intent on using mobile coupons to build brand affinity usually do so with generous offers (e.g., 20% off an item next time you shop). Inherent in the use of rich offers is the ability to manage offer accessibility and coupon liability by the retailer. Without the necessary controls, a rich coupon could seriously impact a retailer’s bottom line. Implementing true one-time-use mobile coupons will mitigate coupon liability concerns. A single-use coupon guarantees the offer is used once and only once. In addition, regardless of the number of times a customer requests to receive the coupon, they will receive the same offer.
Single-use barcode coupon
One-time-use should apply to an omni-channel experience as well. Since customers are not wed to a particular device, they should have the option to view their coupon in multiple channels (SMS, retailer’s app, Passbook, mobile web, email, etc.). Understanding how consumers shop is the basis for an omnichannel approach. Which device does the customer use when they shop? It usually depends on what they want to buy. Since most consumers are multi-device – PC for work, tablet for home use, and smartphone for on-the-go – allowing a customer to choose the channel they prefer to receive information and rewards is important when creating a unique customer experience. The customer may use their mobile phone to locate grocery coupons, a tablet for perusing offers for home goods, and their PC for finding rewards for a new pair of shoes. Whichever device a consumer uses to locate offers, the experience has to be similar across all channels including any information and offers a retailer makes available. According to Baymard Institute, almost 70% of shopping carts are abandoned due to a poor shopping experience.
Personalizing the customer experience can be supported in a number of ways including offers, channels and messages. As a retailer, being able to provide coupons for women’s shoes to your female customers or men’s slacks to your male customers creates a much improved brand experience. Even more so if the offers are for age appropriate merchandise and relative to a person’s location. For example, a retailer might deliver a 15% off mobile coupon for shorts to their customers in the south and wool pants to their customers in the north as part of a President’s Day promotion. Additional forms of personalization include letting customers determine when and which channel to receive messages as well as messages with information applicable only to them. Messages such as “Dan, your Rx is ready for pickup at the 6th & Broadway store” or “Stephanie, Brand milk and salmon are on sale this week” provide the personal connection that allows the retailer to rise above the noise creating a truly unique shopping experience.
Retailers are increasingly turning to mobile building brand affinity. Having the ability to issue rewards securely to a customer’s designated channels creates a rich and unique customer experience. On the flip side, the retailer is rewarded with customer affinity that translates into a higher customer life-time value.