A new definition for Loyalty in 2011
For years marketers have charted what’s called the loyalty cycle. Some customers are more loyal than others. Potential customers aren’t even on the scale yet. Loyalty used to measured by cards (airlines offer miles as loyalty rewards). Loyalty cards are in your wallet, on your key chain, these cards are designed to reward continues use.
In airlines, there’s a thing called a Loyalty cycle. In order for people to see value in the rewards, they have to redeem. Until people redeem, they are just earning points that feel meaningless. Get them to redeem, and the consumer gets a wow moment that makes them more likely to be loyal. It’s not that much of a stretch to think of the most loyal as being best friends with the brand.
Now think about social media.
The social media phenomenon is based on tools that help friends connect to friends. Facebook does this the best; the more details you give it, the most friends it will find you. But then, so does Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and YouTube.
They all help people find other people who have things in common, and help them connect.
In 2011, marketers should begin thinking about customers as ‘friends’. Brands have best friends, good friends, acquaintances, casual acquaintances and then a larger group of people who could be friends if only they learned about the brand.
Everyone can see the value in connecting to good customers. We’ve all been told, over and over, that 80% of business comes from 20% of the best customers (best friends?).
What if marketers thought of them as best friends? And what if we measured loyalty through sharing? If people share about the brand, they are loyal. The more they share the more loyal they are. Brands could even identify the loudest and give them exclusive rewards. This would be a reason to continue to be loud.
This could be the hook into social media. Find a way to let your best customers talk louder about your company.