How do you measure loyalty? It’s a bit of a trick question, given that loyalty is hard to define, hard to measure, and hard to build from scratch.
But the real problem is that it is difficult for new competitors to establish a foothold. For many direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, inspiring brand loyalty often means competing in a market where brand loyalty has already been established. Established brands already accounted for 75.5% of all DTC sales in 2022, as reported by the e-commerce CRM platform.
But there are several opportunities that DTC brands can tap into if they want to make a name for themselves. Here are the best ways you can build brand loyalty for a DTC business:
Tips for building brand loyalty
1. Tailor your services to customer preferences
Customers love brands that meet their needs. For example, Salsify’s 2023 Consumer Research report found that many shoppers prefer shopping online to in-store shopping. This is true across the board, as shoppers in the UK (45%), Australia (48%), Germany (32%), the US (25%) and France (24%) like to do their research and shopping. online, then head to the store to expedite the purchase into their hands.
The problem. To build brand loyalty, you need to follow the lifestyle of customers. In this case, if your brand has brick-and-mortar capabilities but doesn’t offer a buy-online, pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) option, you’re unlikely to become anyone’s favorite.
2. Get as personal as possible
No matter what your DTC business may be, there is a common truth among buyers: They love it when businesses understand and meet their needs with a personalized experience. According to Periscope Research, 80% of repeat customers prefer to shop with brands that personalize their shopping experience.
Strong personalization goes beyond simply calling customers by name. To make an impact, you need to add personalization that gives the impression that your brand always knows exactly who it’s talking to.
Consider the following tips to create personalized shopping experiences:
- Build a customer experience based on their purchase history. Can you recommend specific products to them and explain why these are their recommended purchases?
- Send exclusive offers based on their purchase history. This is especially effective if you build customer segments and don’t offer these promotions to every customer, but deliberately send offers to customers who have previously purchased certain products.
- Use your data to create customer purchase stories. Build customer segments based on more than individual purchases. Find customer buying trends that you can use to create unique offers and product recommendations.
3. Don’t forget to sell the product
Salsify’s 2023 Buyer Survey report found that 55% of customers won’t buy a product if they don’t like the content they see, including descriptions, images, videos and reviews. The more you create product content that shows other people enjoying your brand, the more credibility you’ll have when new customers come across this content.
This is where your brand may have to square up against more established names in your market. But there is also an opportunity to present your offer in your reviews, images and videos.
The average customer reads about 10 reviews before making a purchase decision, according to HubSpot. That means every element of your product page—from reviews to helpful tips and videos—can go beyond being informative. They can be part of the “game” that eventually gets the new customer’s attention.
How to create product content that helps you look like a trusted brand
What does good product content look like for DTC brands? Try incorporating the following elements to establish a digital shelf presence that builds brand credibility.
Leverage social proof
Think of a customer visiting your website as someone walking into a new room. The client has never entered this room before. They are going to look around for visual cues of what to do. In a store, this might mean seeing what other customers are doing. But online, you can’t replicate that experience until you verify social proof.
“Social proof” refers to testimonials, pictures, and other results from happy customers that highlight how well your product has worked for others.
For example, a customer rating of five out of five stars indicates that other people have ordered this same product before and enjoyed it.
Social proof is increasing for buyers, so consider that:
Include product demonstration videos, zoomable images, detailed asset galleries, and more to make products and services more “real” in the eyes of customers.
Commit to brand consistency
From the first landing page to the post-order email. That means using the same brand voice with all your copy, not to mention matching colors and logo styles.
In this way, every touch point in the customer’s purchase journey reinforces the customer’s perception of your brand.
And remember, more than half (54%) of consumers will return an item if it’s the wrong size, garment or item size, according to Salsify shopper research. Additionally, 39% of consumers will return a product if it does not match the images presented.
Create an emotional connection
It’s not about five-star reviews and fancy pictures. When customers feel emotionally engaged, 70% spend twice as much (or more) on brands they feel loyal to, according to Oracle. It’s about finding an emotional connection between your product and the solution for the customer.
In the DTC world, that means including customer reviews, of course.
But to go a step further, you can elaborate and post details about:
- Why does your DTC business exist?
- What problem does your organization have to solve?
- Can you paint a picture of the people behind your brand?
- Is there someone around you or a specific client that your organization has impacted?
- Do you donate to a charity or have a commitment to sustainability?
Customers and prospects won’t know unless you make it part of your story.
Invest in quality, get loyalty
The more your DTC business can build on the quality of your product content and experience through social proof, brand consistency and emotional connection, the more customers will build on your brand loyalty.