Customer Loyalty

How to Build a Brand Loyalty Strategy in Retail

Anastasia Fullerton
December 15, 2021

Consumer loyalty doesn’t come from products alone. It takes a strong relationship built on mutual trust — trust brands earn by delivering a great experience that customers will remember for years to come.

This fact is especially true at a time when brand loyalty is on the decline.

A 2020 McKinsey study found that COVID-19’s negative impact on the supply chain changed consumer behaviors — with over a third of U.S. consumers shopping from other brands or trying new products since the pandemic began.

Differentiate your brand with a strategy that’s based on showing loyalty to the consumer. Offer tailored guidance and support as leads are considering your product. Once a customer makes their first purchase, continue to wow them with stellar service that keeps them coming back to your company.

Stay top of mind to build brand awareness

Before a customer can begin their loyalty-loop journey, they need to be aware of your brand. After all, you can’t turn someone who knows nothing about your brand into a loyal advocate overnight.

Stay top of mind when consumers are researching and considering your products and build a strong foundation, so your relationship with them will grow. Emails are a great way to stay connected, while referrals and positive word of mouth do wonders for building shoppers’ trust in your brand.

Approach email marketing strategically

Emails can go a long way toward maintaining the interest of consumers and cultivating trust in your brand. But it’s easy to go overboard: you have to be cautious and not overwhelm your audience to the point they unsubscribe.

Success in email marketing means being strategic:

  • Segment email lists based on the level of interest of your potential customers.
  • Set up email nurture sequences to keep sending to the most engaged recipients. If a recipient clicks on a product featured in one of your emails, they receive another one that showcases positive reviews from happy customers who’ve purchased that same product.
  • Connect with all subscribers via a regular newsletter. That way, you’re still present in their inbox — but they don’t feel bombarded with emails.

By tailoring your email marketing experience to different audiences, consumers will feel valued and cared for — even in the early stages of the customer experience.

Build a referral network

The more someone hears about your brand from others, the more likely they are to consider your brand for their next purchase. But getting that word of mouth isn’t easy. It requires time and a commitment to building a solid network of consumers willing to advocate on your behalf.

We’ll cover how to grow your loyal customer base throughout this post. Once you’ve secured a few dedicated customers, tap into that loyalty to win over leads. We recommend setting up a referral program.

  • Select a referral marketing solution: Use a referral marketing tool to manage all of your referral marketing efforts in one place — from sending out referral invites to monitoring referral engagement. There are great referral marketing solution options out there to choose from, including Extole, ReferralCandy, and InviteReferrals.
  • Choose incentives wisely: Sure, referrals are good for your brand — but what’s in it for your customers? Why should they refer you to others? Offer incentives that’ll encourage those referrals, like discounts, products, and more.
  • Ask loyal customers to participate: If you want referrals, you have to ask. Email your customer database, encouraging them to join your referral program to increase participation (and for more referrals).
  • Foster a community: Create and nurture a community around loyal customers so that referrals occur organically. Peloton, for instance, has developed a strong community around its fitness classes and products — keeping customers loyal to the brand, so they refer it to others.

Once consumers start hearing great things about your brand from friends and family, you’ll be on your way to winning their business.

Delight consumers as they evaluate products

Help your products stand out in consumers’ minds if they’re on the fence by delighting them in unexpected ways. Draw them in by notifying them of promotions and discounts, and put them at ease by providing product protection options.

Provide personalized promotions and discount codes

Surprise potential customers with personalized promotions and discount codes. If customers associate your brand with these value-adds, they’re more likely to return again and again to place orders.

These offers can take many forms. For instance, set up promotions for items they have in their cart or offer a 20% discount off of a product they’ve been eyeing. Get fun and creative with the discounts to get consumers excited to take advantage of the offers.

If people are excited to interact with your brand, you’re one step closer to winning them over — and keeping them as customers for years to come.

Offer product protection

When consumers evaluate products with larger price tags, they want peace of mind that their purchase is protected. Product protection can help put a customer at ease as they evaluate individual products and your brand as a whole. If people know that a third party will back your products, you’ll likely gain their confidence in the long term.

Take speakers, headphones, and other sound systems. These are big purchases — and Skullcandy knows this — so it offers product protection plans via Extend. If a customer is on the fence about buying expensive headphones, a product protection plan may convince them to go through with the purchase. They know the headphones are covered if anything happens to them during the coverage period.

Product protection shows consumers you’re looking out for them. In turn, you get their trust.

Make the purchase stage seamless

The buying experience can make or break customer loyalty. Make the purchase stage seamless and memorable to keep customers coming back to shop.

Offer a stress-free shipping experience

When you think about Amazon Prime, what comes to mind? Probably free two-day shipping, or the fact that products are protected if shipping problems occur. It’s what gets many consumers to trust Amazon and keep buying.

Follow Amazon’s lead by offering multiple shipping options and protections to win over customers. After all, if a customer’s order won’t arrive when they need it, they may just abandon their cart and look elsewhere. And if they find that you don’t have shipping insurance, they’ll probably find a company that does.

Eager customers will love having the choice between free three-to-five-day shipping — or paying a little extra to expedite their order. And they’ll really appreciate knowing their purchase is covered if their items are lost or damaged in transit.

Additionally, using tools for optimizing routes can significantly improve delivery speed and efficiency. This ensures packages get to their destination as quickly as possible, enhancing customer satisfaction.

Offer shipping insurance and fast shipping options, like one or two-day deliveries. If it’s possible for your company to provide free, fast shipping like Amazon, that’s ideal! But if cost is an issue, consider setting a minimum order value for free shipping.

Provide expert chat support

While placing an order, customers might have questions that need to be answered before they finalize their purchase. Maybe they need technical support with your website to complete the order, or they’re stuck between two options on a pricier item.

Be there to help with chat support. That one-to-one support demonstrates that you care and genuinely want to support customers — so they keep returning to buy.

At Mattress Warehouse, for example, the company always has a chat option to “Talk with a Sleep Expert.” A mattress is a big online purchase, so customers may have important questions, like — “Is this mattress firm?” or “What is the return policy on this mattress?” The expert guidance via chat will help them proceed with their purchase.

Earn customer commitment through stellar service

Customers need to know that you won’t stop caring for them after they buy. Your brand has to demonstrate it's worthy of loyalty post-purchase by delivering exceptional service to the consumer — whether they’re requesting a return or need to start a warranty claim.

Offer an easy and painless return process

If a customer opts to return a product they aren’t happy with, a painless return experience is essential for your brand. If they notice you’re going above and beyond to make things right, they’re more likely to give you another chance.

Make the return process as easy as possible. Provide the shipping label, pick up the item at their home if it is bulky or heavy, and provide free return shipping where possible. By delivering an effortless return process — even if they weren’t happy with the product — they will still be happy with your brand.

Deliver a great extended warranty claim experience

Customers invest in extended warranties for added purchase protection — not to jump through hoops. Offering product protection through a solution like Extend makes customer claims fast and painless. A virtual claims specialist walks customers through the process, and, in just a few steps, they’re taken care of with a replacement or repair.

Your once frustrated customer is now happy — and that positive claim experience reflects on your brand. The value customers receive through this extended warranty service will not only keep their business but will get them to recommend you to others, as well.

Drive brand loyalty and advocacy with Extend product protection

Loyal customers don’t just buy from your brand consistently — they also advocate for it with positive word of mouth. Win on both fronts by offering standout product protection through Extend. Customers know that comprehensive product coverage is rare, so you’ll be set to win them over with a strong extended warranty program that’s easy to redeem.

Want to learn more about our plans? Schedule a demo today.

Anastasia Fullerton
Anastasia Fullerton is Head of B2B Marketing at Extend. Anastasia is passionate about strong stories, great relationships, and sour candy (if you live in SF check out her favorite spot, Giddy Candy, on Noe St). Since she got her degree in engineering from Stanford, she’s been making complex concepts (like underwriting) approachable. At Extend, she helps merchants figure out how to build better long-term relationships with their customers.

Our latest articles