The Art of loyalty: How to build brand love and engagement with content marketing

Few people are loyal to brands, here's how to get people to love yours with content marketing Click To Tweet

What brand of seasoning cube was in your home growing up?

Right now, if you took a random survey, odds are your respondents will tell you they saw only one brand of seasoning cube.

When I surveyed my colleagues -mostly 90s kids- the results match up. Most remember seeing only just the Maggi seasoning cubes or the Knorr seasoning cubes.

It used to be that people were faithful to brands because they have a history with their products and services. They bought only one brand of cars; one brand of toiletries or picked groceries from only one store.

Lots of factors are responsible for this loyalty; top on the list being limited choices. But that’s beyond the scope of this article. The point simply is that people are buying differently than they did in the 90s or as early as the turn of the millennium.

These days, few people are loyal to brands. According to Accenture, only 28% of customers are loyal to brands. When one considers that it costs up to 25x more to acquire new customers than it does to keep one, this trend provides a unique challenge for business owners.

For small businesses, the way to level the playing field with tough deep-pocket competition is to build brand loyalty. Customers will return to you come rain or shine when your brand inspires loyalty.

How do you solve this problem as a small business?

Enter content marketing.

Engaging positively and consistently with customers along their different purchase journeys will nurture brand loyalty. This is most true for millennials; 62% of whom feel that online content drives their loyalty to a brand.

Triggering loyalty might just be the core of content marketing.

What is content marketing?

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,”Content Marketing Institute.

If you received an e-mail update from your spin class instructor this morning, you’ve been exposed to a form of content marketing. If you’ve read a guide on “how to make Bantu Knots when your hair is only two inches long” – that’s content marketing.

Combined with a top-class customer service, content marketing will create a community of rabid fans around your brand.

Customers will return to you come rain or shine when your brand inspires loyalty Click To Tweet

How do you begin?

The first step is to outline your typical customer journey. There are many frameworks that explain the process from consumers’ awareness of your brand to transactional engagement with it. My favourite is Google’s “See, Think, Do, Care” framework.

see think do care

Understating this funnel helps you shape your message for the right customer in the right context.

If you had a business selling lactation cookies, your communication at the “See” stage is to “all pregnant women.” At the “Think” stage, your communication is to “pregnant women or new mothers who are unable to lactate naturally.”

At the “Do” stage, your communication is to “New mothers who want to buy lactation cookies right now”. Finally, at the “Care” stage, your communication is to “new mothers who bought and are taking lactation cookies from me.”

At the last stage of the process, the goal is primarily to build loyalty. But nevermind this, elements that build loyalty should be baked into content at every stage.

Shared value

To consistently infuse brand loyalty triggers in your content is to develop and share content that is useful and conveys shared value.

Shared value is about focusing more on people and their beliefs and less on your product. The focus on the product is why many contents from brands are ignored.

According to a Corporate executive Board (CeB) study published in 2012, most consumers say that they were loyal “not to companies, but to beliefs.”

From the text on your landing page to the call-to-actions on your ebook, your beliefs (and that of your audience) should shine through.

Content that engenders loyalty is more than a blog post, find out more here Click To Tweet

The types of content that engender loyalty

Content that engenders loyalty is more than a blog post. Although those play a big role, loyalty-driven content marketing is driven by a deeper understanding of your customer motivations, their engagement behaviors, and your company goals.

Some of the short examples I will proceed to share may not fit snugly with your brand, but you can deploy them based on your specific needs.

1. Culture blogs

Culture blogs reveal the safe internal conversations of a company.

For our example with our lactation cookie company, a culture blog could be “Why we keep our cookie cutter in the top drawer” or “What our new teammates taught us about cookie counting.” Or consider this super-honest culture blog from Buffer; “What We Got Wrong About Self-Management: Embracing Natural Hierarchy at Work.”

The core idea of culture blogs is to put the culture, beliefs and thought processes of your company on full display. Culture blogs (like all other content types) can be deployed at every level of the customer journey but are suited for the “See” and “Think” stages.

2. Newsletters

Newsletters are one of the most profitable pillars of content marketing. Emails have been known to provide an overall higher conversion rate when compared to other content channels.

They can often provide functional purposes along every level of the consumer journey. You can use them to share product updates or nurture your leads. How ever you use them, ensure that you are helpful.

3. Product marketing kits

What series of content will help your consumer live better, do their jobs better or increase their preferred variable of customer success?

Combine them into one big digital folder (or ebook) and share with your audience. These kits are more instructional than sales-y. They have high production value and the purpose is to let the customers see you as helpful and knowledgeable. They educate your customer and showcase your products.

For our example company, a product marketing kit could be “Lactation cookies for all season.” The kit can cover ideas on the right lactation cookie for you, how to take care of possible cookie allergies, non-competitive alternatives to lactation cookies, how to store lactation cookies and so on and so on.

Product marketing kits are perfect for the “Think”, “Do” and “Care” stages.

4. Cheat/tip sheets

Cheat/tip sheets detail a process that will help your prospective or existing customers tackle a certain task. These are ideal across all levels of the consumer journey but are suited for the “See” stage.

For our lactation cookie brand, it could publish a tip sheet on “50 survival tips for the first three months of pregnancy”.

5. Strategic social updates

Social updates are perfect in keeping your brand top of mind among your prospective and existing customers. Also, they fit in any stage of the consumer journey.

When posting on social media, consider when your audience will be online. You have to work with your engagement analytics to suss out the best time to post. As a first step, Hubspot has a general guide on when to post on different social platforms.

In addition to posting at the right time, space out your message so you don’t overwhelm your followers. A comfortable starting point is usually 4 to 6 times a week (not including your help center posts).

There are infinitely more types of content expressions that you can explore. To develop loyalty, you need to continually investigate what works for your customer. Ideas we have explored are accessible starting points.

To develop loyalty, you need to continually investigate what works for your customer Click To Tweet

Customer loyalty is no longer about loyalty cards, air miles or even price, it’s about relationship, shared values, and strategic engagement.

This article was written by Gbenga Onalaja. Gbenga is a Content Strategist at Wild Fusion, Africa’s leading Digital Marketing Agency. He specializes in long-form content, email marketing, SEO, and writing compelling brand stories.

The 4 minute guide to SME marketing

4 minutes

The average human’s attention span is… oh look, a notification on my cell phone!

oh my god gifAccording to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer. As such it is no longer surprising when people complain that a 1000 or 2000 words post/article is toooooooooo long.  So I asked a couple of friends and acquaintances;

“What’s the most amount of time you would be willing to spend to carefully read an article that piques your interest?”

The answers varied between 2-7 minutes and at the end of the day I arrived at an average of well, 5 minutes! And this was one of the considerations that inspired “The 4 Minute Guide to SME Marketing” series.

What I hope to do with this series is help start-ups and small/medium business owners navigate the rather murky waters of marketing. Because I understand the time constraints we all face as busy professionals and business owners, I plan to keep every article interesting, informative, and most importantly, concise. Pinky swear!

I chose to do a series specifically on marketing because, to be honest, I absolutely love the profession and practice. I always tell people that marketing found me (a story for another day).

After spending years in the advertising industry as a brand and marketing strategist and working on a number of brands across different industries, I’ve gained insights that I believe would be useful to small business owners. It can be difficult to access ready and affordable marketing consulting services so

That said, I guess we can all agree that starting a business is exhilarating. Unfortunately, the “build it and they will come” theory doesn’t hold much weight anymore because while you might have a fantastic, the greatest thing since sliced-bread product, if people do not know about it, who you epp?

The process of letting people know about your product or service is a deliberate one hence an entire academic and professional field called marketing. Again, unfortunately, a lot of startups and SMEs have a flawed mindset with respect to marketing (what it entails and what it can do for their businesses) and this is why most of them do not scale or eventually live up to their full potentials.

I mean in today’s business field, battles are won or lost in the market arena and a good product/service alone would not sell itself. As such, marketing imperatives are no longer an option, but a MUST!

You can choose to think about it this way. Your product or service started as an idea and we all know that ideas need momentum. LaunchSquad’s Jason Throckmorton said “you can have the best idea in the world but if you don’t couple that with a strategy to spread your story, your idea isn’t going to go very far.” I couldn’t agree more.

Still in doubt? You can also choose to think about it this other way. As a start-up, as a new business, nobody knows you yet so you need to get people to care enough to try what you offer.

And this is when marketing becomes a smart investment because it can help you legitimize your business, create excitement, engage potential clients/customers, encourage trials and repeat purchases and even inspire loyalty and advocacy.

You see where I am going with this right? 😀

I’d conclude today’s post by saying SME marketing shouldn’t be a flimsy afterthought. Just as you have been very deliberate about creating a top notch product or service, you need to be equally deliberate in creating demand for that product or service.

Until next week SLAyers!

Cheers!