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The process for gaining diehard, returning customers can be a long, brutal journey. Additionally, we as entrepreneurs, aren’t always the most patient type of people.

So what can you do to start creating a rabid fan base of loyal customers today?

Well, this professor of neuroscience says you should start with human psychology. According to Matthew D. Lieberman (author of Social and UCLA professor), the need for humans to connect with each other is even more fundamental than their need for shelter or food.

Thus, in terms of getting diehard customers, building a community is where you need to start. As Matthew D. Lieberman has said “The strongest predictor of a species’ brain size is the size of its social group. We have big brains in order to socialize. ”

By creating a community surrounding your brand, you’ll naturally be appealing to this human need for connection, which could result in deep, brand loyalty. Here are 6 ways to get started.

1.) Hold events

How do you enable your customers to meet each other face-to-face and socialize with each other? Give them the opportunity to.

Plan and host an event for your customers or your audience. Keep in mind, this doesn’t have to be on an extravagant scale. Try hosting a small meetup, a cocktail party, a picnic, or something else. Get as creative as you can with it, and think critically about which events would resonate best with your customers.

2.) Create a Facebook Group related to your niche

Facebook has publicly stated that one of their main objectives in the near future is to focus on cultivating community within their platform. This means their primary feature for building community (Facebook Groups) will become more instrumental than ever before. To capitalize on this, get a head start by creating a Facebook Group focused on adding value to your customers.

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Important Note: This doesn’t have to be directly affiliated or tied to your business. For instance, if you have a coffee shop in Brooklyn, your Facebook Group could be ‘Coffee Lovers of Brooklyn’ or ‘Cafe Hoppers of Brooklyn’.

Either way, providing a medium where your most engaged followers can interact amongst themselves is a terrific way to build community. To get started, read this guide on how to take full advantage of Facebook Groups.

3.) Giving members a title or name

By giving your audience a label, like ‘Nerds’ or ‘Jake Paulers’ or something else, you’re subtly reinforcing the existence of your brand’s community. Additionally, you’re reinforcing that your audience isn’t just buying a product or service, but instead they’re becoming an integral part of a community with a larger purpose.

What name or title can you give to your customers or the members of your audience?

4.) Gamify your customer experience

The dictionary definition of ‘gamification’ is “the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.”

Some common examples of gamification would be loyalty programs, where customers earn points or ‘level up’ by interacting with the business in a specific way. By gamifying your customer experience, you’ll be rewarding your most engaged users, building even more loyalty within them towards your brand.

One of the best examples of gamification is from a company most of us see every single day: Starbucks. Since it’s launch in 2009, the coffee company’s loyalty program now has grown to 12 million active users in the United States alone, doubling year by year. This program keeps customers engaged and coming back for more to get their coffee fix.

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How can you gamify your customer experience?

5.) Wow them with amazing customer service

The principle of reciprocity is one of Robert Cialdini’s ‘6 principles of persuasion’, which states that humans are more likely to return a favor when a favor is first done to them.

In terms of building a community, by going above and beyond for your customers, you’re increasing the chances they’ll reciprocate with their time or money in the future.

An example of this is Chik Fil-a, whose stellar customer service recently resulted in internet virality when a manager helped a customer fix a flat tire.

6.) Feature user-generated content

As humans, we trust what other humans have to say about brands more than what the brands have to say about themselves. The fancy word for this phenomenon is ‘social proofing’, and it’s the reason why we go to Yelp and Google Reviews before going to a new business. We instinctively trust other humans.

By reposting user-generated content (content created by your customers), you’ll be naturally and organically proving to your audience that other humans love your brand, which will build trust in your customers.

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