How we engage with our audiences online is constantly shifting and evolving.
In-person was king at some point, email at another and everything from omnichannel advertising to personalization has its place in the funnel. But an ongoing challenge, no matter how well we do any of this, is keeping our audiences committed and loyal to our brands and what we have to offer them in the long run.
Audience conversions happen for a wealth of reasons. From catching one’s eye amid the daily scroll to being referred by a friend or colleague, we all connect to a brand at a particular touchpoint. On the commercial side, it could mean buying a product or signing up for a discount, and on the non-commercial side, it’s making a donation toward a cause or signing up for a newsletter.
As marketers, we put a lot of effort into that first touch, so engagement usually starts off well. You’re able to confidently nurture and segment your new users so that they’re engaging with content from your brand that resonates with them and makes them want to purchase, register, volunteer or donate. The bigger challenge is the long game: retaining their interest and brand loyalty for longer than an extended honeymoon period.
There are a number of tactics non-profit and commercial brands can use to keep and reengage their subscribers, members and/or customers committed through a consistent brand experience. The following are three rules of thumb that we must always keep top of mind.
1. Treat everyone like they’re a paying member.
Whether you run a paid membership service or not, approach all your audiences as such. Offer them value that makes them feel part of something important and special. From discounts to invitation-only opportunities, remind them at each touchpoint of the value they’re getting from having connected with your brand in the first place. In doing so, you’re much more likely to see longer-term engagement with your offerings.
2. Deepen your relationship with them.
We all know our audiences to a certain extent, but it’s usually based on a particular moment in time. There are so many factors that influence people’s changing interests and priorities. Make sure you know what those are. An easy way to do so is to ask for feedback. Following your first rule of thumb (treat everyone like they’re a paying member), offer them something real in return—and don’t make it a chance to win something. For example, offer a discount code on their next purchase, mail them a piece of swag (which is a win-win for brand loyalty) or send them a free ticket to an event. Depending on your budget and goals, the value you can offer them will pay you tenfold through the honest feedback they’ll hand over in return.
3. Maintain personalization.
As the saying goes, “If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.” If you’ve got segmentation rules set up, make sure you’re keeping them up to date and modifying them when needed. Your second rule of thumb (deepen your relationship with them) will inform the content and channel of your personalized outreach. The more confident you are that you have the right segments at this very moment, the easier it is to develop the right messaging that keeps your audiences committed to your product or cause.
Building and retaining brand loyalty is, of course, an ongoing process that requires the same level of experimentation and A/B testing as your top-of-the-funnel tactics. Consistently focus on delivering value, building positive relationships and providing content that resonates with each of your audience segments. By doing so, you can maintain a loyal customer base that supports your brand not just now but well into the future.