Contrary to what many might think, it’s not as simple as paying a Kardashian to promote your brand.
Instead, what we’ve seen over 15+ years in influencer marketing is that brands that experience the most success place the most attention not just on driving new customers, but on driving loyal customers—and that doesn’t happen easily.
It takes far more effort to engineer a profitable and sustainable influencer program that produces loyal customers than to get a celebrity to name-drop your brand.
Why focus on loyal customers?
The benefit of attracting loyal customers can produce all sorts of benefits for your brand. In can:
- Save you money trying to attract new customers
- Generate more word-of-mouth revenue
- Improve the ROI of your influencer investment
- Reduce your overall acquisition costs
- Increase your customer lifetime value
Loyal customers can improve the major economics of your brand—making it more profitable and sustainable.
Something that is especially helpful in uncertain economic times.
So what are the keys to building a successful loyalty-focused influencer program? Let’s get into it!
1. Partner with an agency or platform to help you focus on well aligned influencers
The world of media is changing and mass media is becoming decentralized.
We have traditional TV, streaming services, YouTube, podcasts, Instagram, and TikTok, among other social platforms and more popping up every day.
Today, a brand is likely to find far more success (and loyalty) by tapping into a niche online community that closely resembles the affinities of its customer base.
The first step in attracting loyal customers is with a laser focus on niche media that your audience aligns with.
This will lead to increased trust, engagement, and loyalty from them.
2. Partner with authentic influencers to generate trust more quickly
The next step, and arguably one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, is partnering with authentic influencers.
You want authentic influencers because they are trusted by their followers. Greater trust = greater credibility for your brand.
What are some indicators authenticity? Here are a few of examples.
In the end, authenticity is a foundational ingredient in attracting loyal customers—so don’t take shortcuts here!
When you find authentic influencers, higher engagement, increased brand awareness, and better conversions are just a few of the positive outcomes that emerge.
3. Aim for long-term partnerships with your best performers
Double down on what works—specifically by locking in long-term partnerships with influencers that drive loyal customers to you.
This seems simple but you’d be surprised at how often brands take a one-and-done approach or constantly switch influencers in search of new audiences.
We certainly support broadening your portfolio of influencers, but in our experience, that shouldn’t be done to the exclusion of your tried and true influencer partners that attract loyal customers.
Another key thing to note here is that influencers (like anyone) love predictable income so you can frequently negotiate a discount by locking in an influencer for a longer timeframe leading to some cost savings for your brand.
In the end, this becomes a win-win for both your brand and the influencer. You get consistent advocacy for your brand from a trusted source and they get a consistent income.
Bonus: long-term partnerships can also lead to more outside-the-box collaborations between the brand and influencer and can be a great testing ground for brands.
4. Optimize your program with effective measurement
Finally, we’ve seen time and time again how important it is to have a robust method for analyzing your data and metrics.
This is key to ensuring you identify the most effective influencers, content, and tactics for reaching your goals.
One thing to note here is typical marketing debates about attribution can rear their ugly head here.
We conducted research with the help of a third party with a massive database of clickstream data and uncovered compelling insights.
After watching an influencer YouTube ad, for every attributable conversion that came in via a trackable discount code, custom URL, or other methods, there were another three that came in via unattributable means like search, direct, or a distributor like Amazon or Target.
Without proper measurement of what is driving results, it’s impossible to invest appropriately.
If you didn’t know that you’re only seeing 25% of the actual sales that your influencer program is driving, you’re inclined to make very different business decisions.
Measurement helps you budget and allocate resources efficiently.
In order to build a loyalty-focused influencer marketing program that attracts stickier customers, focus on these key factors.
- Partner with an agency or platform to help you focus on well aligned influencers
- Partner with authentic influencers to generate trust more quickly
- Aim for long-term partnerships with your best performers
- Optimize your program with effective measurement.
By focusing on these keys, you’re more likely to see increased engagement, action, and loyalty from customers, leading to better ROI and sustainable profitability, especially in tough economic times.
- What to pledge
- How to improve
- Which tools will set you up for success
I think the most important thing brands can do in 2023 is to better manage their customer data—both ethically and effectively. There’s an opportunity for brands to know their customers better than ever before—a clear benefit for both the customer and the brand. When you manage your data correctly, you’ll create stronger and more personalized ads, creative, site experiences, and so much more.
This is a classic: Let the data guide you. Go where the buyers for your products are and communicate with them on a personal level (i.e. by persona and funnel position) and nurture those relationships (past, present, and future customers). It’s possible—all through data.
We recommend that Shopify brands analyze and update their websites using data-driven decisions. Using analytics tools such as heatmaps and scrollmaps can help brands better understand how customers are interacting with their store.
Store owners tend to make assumptions about the way customers interact with their website. Most never go back and analyze their design choices to find pain points or areas of opportunity. By using heatmaps and scrollmaps, they can see where real customers are clicking and concentrating their attention. Leveraging this data, brands can start to iterate on design and make their online store experience streamlined and intuitive.
Hotjar provides a simple way to implement heatmaps, scrollmaps, and recorded user sessions on your site, helping you acquire incredibly informative user data. Additionally, it gives you the ability to create on-site surveys, which allows you to obtain direct and often critical feedback from users about their experience.
Test various attribution models and analyze the impact on your business. At Fifty Six, we are always here to help our clients identify and optimize their approach—a critical step in any successful marketing strategy.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times–Customer Lifetime Value. And even more importantly, Future Lifetime Value (FLTV). With the ever-growing importance of first-party data, it is crucial that brands take a good look at their CRM and FLTV metrics.
Stop allocating budgets to low-hanging fruit that doesn’t move the needle on conversion. Think about what’s really going to improve your CX and the return of undertaking different initiatives—not just on what’s top on your list of bugbears on the site!
One of the best ways to understand your customer behavior is by using HotJar. Their heat-mapping and screen recording tools shine a light on where customers are navigating to and from on your site, where they're rage clicking and experiencing frustration, and where conversion is dropping off within real life customer journeys and flows!
Understanding your customers’ pain points via data and analytics , will allow you to work with your CRO/CX Agency to solve customer frustrations and improve conversion.
Rewind backs up all product, customer, and order data for Shopify sites—essential since Shopify itself doesn’t provide this solution. It's saved so many of our clients time and money from administrative accidents.
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33% of customer service inquiries are pre-sale questions. What does this mean? If you’re not investing in customer service, you’re missing out on revenue-generating opportunities.
The benefits of elevating your customer experience:
- 10% to 25% increase in AOV for customers who engage with live chat pre-purchase
- 21x higher conversion rate for customers who reach out via Live Chat or SMS compared to other site visitors
- 87% of customers who have a great customer experience will make another purchase
- 72% of customers share positive experiences with 6 or more individuals
Gorgias is our favorite Helpdesk platform. They can reduce costs by 35%, primarily by decreasing the average ticket handle time. Their machine learning algorithms are trained on millions of ecommerce-related interactions across Gorgias’ customer base and provide accurate, automated replies for the most common ecommerce inquiries. This helps our agents resolve tickets faster, which provides the customer a seamless experience.
Trust your agency! Agencies do the same things across multiple brands and niches, so we see the trends and have the practice and experience!
Don't be afraid of data and insights. If customers aren't clicking on your emails, try a new CTA. If your ads are driving good metrics at a small spend, start scaling. If your customers are complaining about a product, look into QA! If the data tells you something isn't working, let it go and try something else!
I'm supposed to say Tydo, right? 😉
Double down on differentiation. There will be a lot of headwinds this year and standing out from the crowd will set you apart.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. A video? Probably millions. In ecommerce that value translates into engagement, acquisition, and retention—everything you need to impact your bottom line.
At soona, we've seen the we've seen the impact of creative and the continuous split testing of it yield results. Our resolution is to challenge ourselves and double down on innovation and creative optionality so that each brand we work with can distinguish themselves in a crowded sea of D2C ecomm. We'd love to see our brands share this resolution and keep pushing the creative limits.
Klaviyo. We're using it to power our email and newsletter at soona too!
Optimize your returns strategy! This can lead to valuable customer insights, enhanced user experiences, and increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Brands need to dive deeper into understanding their customers to set themselves up for success. Conduct research to gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can develop targeted strategies that will enhance customer experience and boost overall retention.
Right now I would say Gorgias. Having a good customer service tool is crucial to building strong customer relationships.
Start paying heavy attention to data, specifically around retention. We see a lot of effort put towards acquisition with the assumption that once someone buys, they are your customer forever. Instead, get to know your customer, understand their needs, and analyze their behaviors once they are on-site and judge their sentiment after they have visited. Work with a retention focused and data-driven agency to implement tools that contribute to repeat business and customer delight. It will pay dividends.
When surveyed, about 80% of ecommerce merchants think that they are delivering a great experience to their customers. However, when the same customers are surveyed, only 8% of those customers think that they are getting a great experience from the merchant. Now, more than ever, retaining loyal customers is an essential part of any online business and you should spend time with your customers to judge their experience with your website and products and offer improvements based on that feedback.
Tydo's report cards are an essential tool, along with Klaviyo for email and SMS, Recharge for subscriptions and memberships, Okendo for reviews and surveys, Rebuy for AI driven collections and upsells, Loop for self service returns... each tool is great on their own, but their strength as the ultimate tool comes from when they are used together!
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