April 28, 2015 | Shares:

Customer Loyalty Marketing Trends Explained

customer loyalty marketing trends

We have come a long way since the Don Drapers of the world ruled 1960’s Madison Avenue. While they sold products with brilliantly spun lies and half truths, today’s marketers can’t afford to be dishonest.

The internet has made it easier than ever for consumers to watch a company’s every single move. Customers gain authentic information about brands from other consumers.

This radical transparency has turned customers into more than just passive bystanders: they are now active participants.

Customers give their own opinions of brands – in reviews, testimonials, social media, blog posts, and many more types of customer content. Modern-day customer marketing has content at its core, and today’s consumers don’t just want to be content absorbers – they want to be content creators.

More and more often, brands are using user-generated content in campaigns and reviews and testimonials to gain more traffic and trust, but what’s the deal with customer loyalty marketing campaigns that utilize customer content in marketing? There are a few different trends rising to the surprise, namely advocacy, influencer, and customer content marketing.

What’s the difference between these strategies, and what should you know?

The Deal With Customer Loyalty Marketing

If we look to the success of reality television as a sign of our times, we understand the fundamental need of customers to feel like insiders and experience the products they purchase through the eyes of another. Customers are more involved in their relationships with brands than ever.

They are far from passive shoppers – they look to other consumers to gain information and spread their customer loyalty as advocates for their favorite brands.

The power of customer loyalty marketing is enormous. It builds brand advocates and leverages authentic consumer opinions to fuel word-of-mouth marketing. Marketing with customer content means understanding how to leverage customer loyalty in your efforts to properly grow sales and traffic.

Here’s a breakdown of the top customer loyalty marketing trends, such as influencer marketing, advocacy marketing, and customer content marketing.

Influencer Marketing: Tapping into Powerful and Influential Industry Leaders

Influencer marketing looks to trusted brand advocates, who already have a dedicated following, to advertise their brand. Take a look at how some popular brands use influencer marketing.

When Nike wants to sell activewear, they use influencers like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. But influencers are not just celebrities. Today, influencers are anyone who has a dedicated following of fans who trust what they have to say.

For example, if a brand of technology solutions wants an influencer within that audience, they may try to pitch Robert Scoble or Neil Patel.

To invest resources in influencer marketing is to first identify the influencers within your target audience. Once you have catalogued and ranked them, begin marketing to the influencers so that you can then market through the influencers.

In a 2013 infographic, Danny Brown explains that “identifying individuals who sway online consumer opinion on specific topics and within specific communities has become critically important to marketers and public relations professionals.”

When Tyson Foods identified mom bloggers as influencers of their target audience for Chicken Nuggets, they began an influencer marketing campaign getting the likes of Sara of Mom Endeavors and Lori of A Day in Motherhood to decorate nuggets like Christmas trees and reindeer during the holidays.

Advocacy Marketing: Turning Brand Advocates into Marketing Fuel

Brand messaging is nowhere near as effective as advocacy marketing. Advocates are loyal customers who will use their opinions to sway public opinion of brands and products, often at no cost to the brand, enabling companies to realize great gains from minimal investments.

According to Branderati, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) see customer advocacy and loyalty as their top priority in the digital era. This is probably because advocacy marketing generates more than two times the sales of paid advertising, offers shared by trusted advocates convert at four to ten times higher rate than offers sent by brands, and customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

What makes advocacy marketing different than influencer marketing? Advocates are often everyday people – they may not have 30,000 Twitter followers watching their every Tweet, but they do spread the word among authentic customers.

Customer Content Marketing: Uses UGC to Grow Brand Advocacy and Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Another school of thought on non-brand messaging is relying on user-generated content (UGC) for spreading the word. Customer Content Marketing includes UGC initiatives, but takes a strategic customer-centric approach.

Customer content marketing enables companies to leverage UGC like customer feedback, reviews, photos, videos, social messages, and more in their marketing and advertising. A great example is the user-generated content advertising of the Starbucks White Cup Contest campaign, which challenged users to draw on their disposable coffee cups and submit the photos via social media.

In three weeks, Starbucks received over 4,000 entries, strengthening its brand and its reputation for customizing to the customer.

As consumers, we have all relied on customer reviews of products on Amazon or other sites. We read for the good and the bad, look for insight about features, search for any drawbacks we may not have considered. Today’s businesses are taking honest, authentic customer feedback and turning it into profitable campaigns that drive traffic and increase conversions.

The customer voice that has been proven effective can be easily harnessed and leveraged on social networks, paid ads, and email marketing campaigns.

Customer content marketing is a transparent, effective way to build real conversations with customers.

Selecting the trend that is right for you

Can all companies benefit from each of these trends? Is there one trend that is right for every business?

Which would a present-day Don Draper invest in?

Though there is no definitive right answer to these questions, companies that have tested some or all of these trends have certainly found that brand messaging (though still required) is losing traction and authentic customer content is the way of the future. Combining customer content with brand content allows you to better reach your customers and create longlasting trust.

Lital Barkan Rosenberg
Lital Barkan Rosenberg,
Lital has spent two decades doing all things marketing. In the past several years, she has been refining her focus to online content strategy, specifically technology-related content strategy. When she is not contenting, you can find Lital with her toddler daughter and newborn son at one of many San Francisco area parks and playgrounds.
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