Video from Loyaltylion

2021: the year of the customer community

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Slide 1:

  • Hello and welcome to 2021 - the year of the Customer Community!
  • I’m Fiona Stevens, Head of Marketing at LoyaltyLion
  • We’re a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform, powering growth for ecommerce merchants around the world

Slide 2:

  • So to jump straight in - why is a loyal customer community one of the most powerful things you can have in 2021?
  • At the most basic level, LoyaltyLion’s consumer research has shown that for over 50% of customers, feeling like they are part of a community of like-minded individuals is key to securing their loyalty
  • So if you want to keep your customers coming back to you rather than drifting towards your competitors, you need to make sure that they feel like they’re part of something bigger

Slide 4:

  • But Community - that can sound a bit wishy washy can’t it? It’s hard to believe that a loyal community can really contribute to your bottom line in a meaningful way.
  • So I want to take a second to look at all the additional ways that a customer community can actually drive success for your store
  • Firstly, 66% of companies say they turn to brand communities for product development - so they’re hearing straight from the horse’s mouth what their customers want.
  • Secondly 71% of companies use customer communities for market research - think of all the money they’re saving on survey and focus groups
  • Next, 80% of marketers indicate that building brand communities has increased traffic - so they are actively helping to get more customers through the doors more cost-effectively
  • Next, 33% report that branded communities alone have actually changed marketing plans or products - imagine how much more powerful your marketing can be if you’ve asked your customers which messages matter and how they want to hear them from you
  • And finally, 80% of customers say that authenticity of content will influence them to follow a brand - and nothing is more authentic and genuine than content generated within a community

Slide 5:

  • But why is now a good time to start focusing on your own brand community?
  • Firstly, today’s shoppers are actively choosing to shop with brands they know and trust rather than finding new ones - in fact 68% of consumers told us this in 2020
  • 52% also told us that they would prioritise shopping with brands where they have points and rewards
  • Shoppers are increasingly open to starting relationships with brands and we particularly saw this over the 2020 peak period, when there was a 29% uplift in program sign ups vs a normal weekend, despite it being a sales period

Slide 6:

  • So what does a loyal brand community look like?
  • Well they can come in many forms or guises, so I’m just going to quickly talk you through three of my favourites, who all do things quite differently

Slide 7:

  • First up, and one of my favourite LoyaltyLion examples, is jewellery brand Astrid and Miyu
  • Now Astrid and Miyu were one of the brands that really responded well when covid struck last year. They had to shut all their physical locations and rely solely on their online presence, and this is when their online community really grew legs
  • The Astrid and Miyu community is an online hub which sits on their website and is full of self-care content to make you smile and sparkle
  • It’s got reams of the usual fashion and apparel content like get the look guides, ways to wear and so on and so forth
  • However, they’ve also built out whole sections dedicated to demonstrating what they stand for as a brand - whether that’s their pledge to Black Lives Matter, or their commitment to women finding their place in business or society
  • On top of that, they have also created a really human approach to their content, with profiles on staff members, and podcasts hosted by their CEO, Connie. At every turn, there is content that shows the people behind the brand
  • This is so fantastic because it gives customers something to connect with on a deeply personal level.
  • However, it also gives members a reason to keep on engaging with the brand even when they’re not shopping, as they’re continually going back to the site to consume more content.
  • They’re doing a really great job of building a community around the passions that their customers share with them.

Slide 8:

  • What’s interesting however, is that although Astrid and Miyu are creating these amazing connections with their customers, they don’t allow them to connect with each other via their content
  • So for my second example, I want to show you a LoyaltyLion brand that’s building a slightly more interactive customer community, this time on Facebook
  • Never Fully Dressed is a fashion brand that started as a London market stall and today has over 220k Instagram followers
  • As you can see from the examples on screen, Never Fully Dressed’s community is made up of real customers posting their real life experiences.
  • You have people sharing pictures of their outfits, you have people liking and commenting on those posts
  • As with any public forum, you also have people asking questions and sharing their negative experiences, but these are emphatically outweighed by the brand love stories
  • And the best part is that it’s all completely user generated content - shared by the community, and it’s liked and commented on by others in the community. It’s that completely authentic voice that we mentioned earlier
  • They also have an area where you can see top fans, which is a great way of encouraging customers to keep going and keep engaging with each other
  • Where Astrid and Miyu was an example of a store using community to own their own narrative, Never Fully Dressed is more about using a community to tell the stories of their customers, but again, they’ve provided an amazing location for customers to connect in between purchases, or for new customers to really get to know them before they even commit to a purchase
  • So this community is entirely built around the idea of generating longer-term brand loyalty

Slide 9:

  • And now onto the best in class example - Sephora
  • Always one of my favourite loyalty programs to talk about and this is no exception because they’re combining both the approaches we’ve just discussed in one all singing all dancing community
  • As you can see here, their community is hugely important to them - similarly to Astrid and Miyu it’s hosted onsite and it’s part of their very top nav. There is also the option to ‘start a conversation’ or ‘add a photo’ immediately there in the header as soon as you click on the link to the community
  • They make it really obvious to their customers that they want their participation, with a clear ‘get started’ section that includes FAQs, guidelines and videos on how to introduce yourself, how to post etc
  • They allow members to search content so you can immediately find people or who have asked the same questions, and they show trending groups so it’s super easy to find the people who have the same interests as you
  • And it’s easy to see how well this is working for them - at the time I took this screenshot they had over 4 million members, 59 thousand of whom were online right then, and there were over 2.5 million posts

Slide 10:

  • Now obviously we can’t all be Sephora and build these sorts of loyal communities overnight, however there are lots of small things you could be doing to start off strong.
  • So to finish off, I’d like to talk through four easy ways to start building a loyal customer community

Slide 11:

  • The first and most important thing, is to be really clear what you are building a community around. Define your brand values and ensure that they’re coming across really clearly
  • That way, you give your community something to form and bond around and the instant knowledge that they’re going to be part of a bigger cause that they care about
  • You can communicate your values and alignment via the content on your site like Astrid and Miyu, or you can include it in your loyalty program welcome emails like make up brand 100% Pure do.
  • You can also work your values into your points and rewards strategy.
  • For example, dog food brand Edgard and Cooper allows customers to redeem rewards in the form of donations to a dog shelter, or a tree planted in your name
  • Beauty brand Pacifica Beauty has also incorporated their values into their points earning rules, allowing customers to earn points if they recycle make up packaging
  • All of these brands are clearly demonstrating to their customers that they share their values and care about the same things, which in turn means that their members feel comfortable joining their communities in the knowledge that they will connect with like minded people

Slide 12:

  • Next, incentivising engagement and interaction. The old adage of if you build it they will come isn’t always as true as we might like in ecommerce. The truth is, if you want to build a community with a lot of engagement, you will likely have to do something to get the conversation going
  • The good news is that it’s really easy to do this with your loyalty program. Simply offer customers points in return for social interaction - each time they follow your channels, like or share your content, or post their own content mentioning your own brand, reward them with points
  • For example:
  • As you can see here, brands like Zox, Pacifica Beauty and Astrid and Miyu all offer points in return for social likes and follows
  • Not only are you giving members more ways to earn points that they can put towards their next purchase, but you’re giving them a great reason to interact with you in between purchases
  • This means you can keep them close so you’re the first person they think of when they do decide it’s time to buy
  • But it also means they’ll see all the great things that your other customers are buying and raving about, which might just push them to purchase far sooner
  • You can also follow a similar line of thinking in growing your community - incentivizing community members to refer their friends or leave product reviews in return for points

Slide 14:

  • And finally, to create a really successful community, you have to create a feeling of exclusivity
  • Customers should be continually made to feel that they are getting something in return for their loyalty and the energy that they’re putting into being part of your community
  • There are several different ways to achieve this with your loyalty program
  • The first is to introduce different tiers, allowing customers to unlock different communities as they move up through the tiers. For example, Ann Marie Skincare has a Collective Insider tribe that gives members who reach a certain threshold exclusive access to a private facebook group where they can discuss their skincare with others
  • However, you can also create a feeling of exclusivity with the rewards that you offer your community. For example, you could offer your most valuable contributors the opportunity to test new products for you. Or you could offer community members early access to new product lines, or exclusive access to your sales before they go public
  • For example, Lively and Vitabiotics members both get exclusive access to double points events that non-community members cannot access
  • These are all ways to ensure that your community feel they’re really getting something in return for their engagement, and in turn this will guarantee you their continued attention and interaction

Slide 15:

So to recap, more and more, today’s consumers are actively seeking out opportunities to shop with brands who align with their values. Brands who have communities of like-minded people. Brands that make them feel part of something bigger.

And there are multiple other ways that a loyal customer community can benefit your bottom line - from informing product direction to helping you acquire new customers more cost effectively.

How can you start building that brand community today? By communicating your brand values clearly at every stage of the customer journey, by incentivizing community engagement of every kind with points and rewards, and by creating an aspirational feeling of exclusivity that every customer wants to experience.

Slide 16: :

So those are our top tips for building a brand community that will drive revenue for your store while also cementing your customer relationships.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Bye for now.