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Building Loyalists: 4 Secrets for Generating Customer Referrals and Social Shares

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by: Todd McCormick (@TMcCormick2011)
16 October 2015

In today's social age, loyal customers have much more to offer brands than repeat business. They are also the best source of customer referrals and positive word of mouth.

I coach my sales team to take their time with prospects and to listen closely for needs, provide valuable insights and offer personalized solutions. Once clients come on board, our team stays in touch and continues to share insights and expertise. By building strong client relationships, we earn credibility and trust, which is worth its weight in gold. Clients who know we care about their businesses don't just come back for more — they provide customer referrals.

The same is true for B2C companies. A "word from our sponsors" doesn't carry nearly as much weight with consumers as the word of their friends. And thanks to social media, loyal customers' voices have serious reach, giving them the potential to become powerful brand advocates.

This is good news for small or mid-sized companies with limited advertising dollars. You don't have to be Samsung, Coca-Cola or another flagship company to get attention on social media. You just need a creative strategy and loyal customers who care about your brand.

4 Ways to Earn Brand Loyalty — and Customer Referrals

Brand enthusiasts will leave positive reviews on Yelp, like your business on Facebook and share your content on Twitter and Instagram. But you'll only get these digital customer referrals if you win over consumers and give them content worth sharing.

That's exactly what Moosejaw Mountaineering has done. An outdoor sporting goods retailer, Moosejaw has distinguished its brand from competitors by creating a unique, quirky identity. The retailer has a thriving community of customers who want to receive the company's content and share it with their friends.

What makes Moosejaw's digital marketing so successful?

1) Personalization

When you capture customer behaviors and deliver targeted one-to-one communications, customers feel like you know them. That personalization goes a long way toward inspiring loyalty and affinity. When Moosejaw segmented its database to send targeted messages based on customer behavior, open rates increased by 80 percent.

2) Rewards

Robust customer loyalty programs can also help build active user communities who are more likely to engage with and share your content.

For example, Moosejaw Rewards members who have earned loyalty points have higher open, click and conversion metrics than those without points. According to Eoin Comerford, CEO at Moosejaw, "In one particular test, we saw users with points had 125 percent higher open rates, 168 percent higher click rates and our conversion rate was up a whopping 461 percent, showing us that engaged users who buy into our brand, even a little bit, can provide a huge boost to our bottom line."

3) Creativity

Loyal customers will share your content with their social networks, but only if you create content worth sharing. Product promotions and hot deals aren't nearly as shareable as fun, entertaining, creative content.

People enjoy being part of the Moosejaw fan club because it's about more than just buying and selling products. They tell funny stories, create entertaining videos and engage customers in conversations. This approach isn't just more effective on social media, either. Moosejaw's email subscribers are more likely to engage with subject lines based on Moosejaw's "Madness" voice than with subject lines related to products or discounts. These creative headlines earn a 32 percent increase in open rates and 16 percent higher click rates.

4) Community

Online events and contests are great ways to build community and social buzz, make customers feel like part of your brand and populate your social channels with compelling content you didn't have to create.

Moosejaw encourages customers to send in selfies taken with a Moosejaw logo flag, for example. By submitting a "Mug Shot," customers earn rewards points they can use toward purchases. They also share these images with friends on social media, driving traffic back to Moosejaw.

Social media has changed the game for brands. Mid-sized businesses that could never match big-box companies in advertising dollars can compete on social media. They just have to go about it a little differently.

To learn more about building your brand on social media, download our white paper, "10 Tips for Driving Engagement Using Email + Social."

Related Resources:

1) Tip Sheet: “5 Challenges to Building a Loyalty Program – and How to Overcome Them

2) Blog: “3 Tips for Incorporating Social into Your Overall Marketing

3) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Drive Revenue



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