(Originally posted in Business2Community)
We all know the stereotype of the Apple fanboy (or girl). It almost doesn’t matter what problems arise with Apple products — or if the competition’s technology is better — Apple fans remain loyal. And, more importantly, they remain rabid defenders and promoters for their favorite brand.
Your company may not be the next Apple, but that’s not to say you can’t cultivate the same kind of loyalty. In fact, it’s crucial that you do, especially during the holidays.
This holiday season, an estimated 66 percent of consumers will shop at their favorite retailers as opposed to branching out to try new stores. Forty-four percent will purchase gifts from brands they’re loyal to, and 42 percent will go even further and use loyalty points to make purchases. With those kinds of numbers, it’s obvious why building brand loyalty is important.
Luckily, it’s not too late — even this far into the holiday season.
How to Build Brand Loyalty Right Now
It may be halfway through December, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on building brand loyalty this season. While tons of people shop at their favorite stores during the holidays, plenty are looking for unique gifts they may not consider buying at other times throughout the year. This is the perfect time to motivate your current customers to start promoting your brand to their friends and family.
Loyal customers can be your holiday brand advocates. In fact, they’re the people who might be the most successful at encouraging others to spend their holiday budgets on your products. So it only makes sense to target these people by adding some influencer marketing strategies to your holiday marketing campaign. By starting the relationships now, you’re encouraging these customers to stay loyal throughout the new year.
Here’s how you can maximize your influencers this holiday season:
1. Know your influencers. Just like you need to know your target customer, you must know your target influencers. Look at the people who are already talking about you on social media or blogs. Who are they? What else do they like, and what influences them? Then, determine what kind of influencers you hope to recruit for your campaign.
Figure out their personalities so you can better understand what would motivate them to advocate for you. One way to achieve this is to monitor their sentiments and personality through persona segmentation, which breaks down influencer characteristics, similar to the sample analysis below. For example, one influencer might value green living, while another is daring and nonconformist. You can then segment your influencer messages based on those unique characteristics.
2. Develop a theme. The holidays are a great time to create fun and exciting themes to help spread your promotions. For example, a common holiday-themed hashtag is #stockingstuffers. If you’re a brand that sells a product that would be a great stocking stuffer, you might consider making this your campaign theme and targeting influencers who use the hashtag regularly.
The everyday influencer below is a good example: a stay-at-home mom with a large social following who loves social media and consistently promotes #stockingstuffers. Companies that sell small, unique gadgets or holiday goodies might look for similar micro influencers to help promote their products as stocking stuffers through the holidays.
Last year, Topshop created a “personalized gift guide” theme during its “Dear Topshop” campaign. Users pinned Topshop products on Pinterest as a way to help others find the perfect holiday gift or party outfit while earning a chance to win a great prize. The retailer’s products ended up all over Pinterest, garnering more followers and regular customers.
3. Think outside your vertical. Anyone can be an influencer. With that in mind, why not reach outside your core vertical and target people you may not normally consider?
For example, if you’re in the food industry, you might target influencers in wine, cooking, recipes, or restaurants. Once again, you might discover some really influential people with loyal audiences who would be more than willing to mention your brand.
4. Make it worthwhile. While some brands already have loyal followers who will buy and promote products without much incentive, this isn’t the time to assume that you fall under that category. Like Topshop did in 2013, you should make the act of promoting your brand fun and intuitive. Women were already pinning beautiful clothes to Pinterest, but Topshop made it valuable to pin their clothes over competitors’ by hosting a fun contest that rewarded the influencers.
When you reward those who promote your brand — through the use of both tangible and intangible rewards — your influencers will provide you more value in return.
5. Create a tracking system for your influencers. Data should drive every decision you make this holiday season. The more you know about your campaigns, the more accurately you can judge your ROI. So figure out who your favorite influencers are or who can offer the most value to your brand based on your objectives, then consistently nurture those relationships and measure your results.
The holidays are one of the most beneficial times to build brand loyalty — whether that’s through a unique shopping experience, good customer service, or loyalty programs. But the best way to differentiate your brand and build a loyal year-round following is through influencer marketing. Believe me, it’s never too late.
Start your Influencer campaign now using the Mattr app.
(Photo credit: Cult of Mac)