Nothing in the world of ecommerce is more valuable today than loyalty. Customers who are loyal to their favorite brands return to them to shop over and over again, creating repeat revenue that is invaluable in an era when new customer acquisition is more expensive and challenging than ever. But before companies tap into these valued shoppers, they need to learn how to build brand affinity first.
A top-tier customer experience is what leads to brand affinity. Gladly’s 2022 Customer Expectations Report found that nearly a third of consumers (32%) said they would “fall in love” with a brand because of great service. Let’s look deeper into what brand affinity means and how to achieve it through tactics, training, and technology.
2022 Customer Expectations Report
What Is Brand Affinity?
Brand affinity is the feeling customers get when they share in a brand’s values, creating a deeper relationship and driving long-term value through consistent shopping.
Brand affinity is a crucial emotional building block to maximizing customer loyalty. A top example of brand affinity is Patagonia, whose purpose-driven approach demonstrates a commitment to the outdoors both in the clothing they produce and the impact they leave on the world. This ethos encompasses their marketing, product development, and customer service.
To achieve brand affinity, companies need to focus their efforts on their customer experiences and the support agents working at the front lines of the shopper’s journey. When fostering deeper, more personal relationships with each customer, brands can demonstrate those shared values and promote them as the core tenets of their beliefs and goals.
4 Tips to Build Brand Affinity
Brands connect with shoppers throughout their customer experiences, making this the key for building brand affinity. In particular, here are the four areas where companies can focus on growing brand affinity.
1. Customer service: Train agents with empathy first. Brand affinity is, by definition, creating shared values between a brand and a customer. When support staff have the ability to foster empathetic connections with each shopper, it’s far easier for said shopper to identify the values they’re looking for in a brand.
For example, customers who value transparency would want to see their favorite brands acting respectfully when using their data throughout the customer experience. A company that’s empathetic to that value would incorporate transparency in their data collection and shopper tracking processes, proving a commitment to that value without sacrificing the need for said data.
2. Customer communities: Foster a strong fan base. Customer communities are huge components in building brand affinity with shoppers. The more customers have the opportunity to talk with one another and see examples of how a brand handles situations with customers across the spectrum, the more they’ll be on board with supporting the company through future purchases.
Pro tip: Start by laying the groundwork for your customer community on social media. Men’s clothing retailer Chubbies saw explosive success with customer-led conversations on their Facebook account, which they carried through to their customer service channels.
3. Customer referrals: Get your shoppers talking. Outside of customer communities, brand affinity is a common byproduct of positive word-of-mouth referrals from existing shoppers to new ones. New customers are more likely to act on recommendations that come from a source they trust. What’s the best way to win over these brand enthusiasts? Gladly found that 59% of consumers would recommend a brand to a friend because of its customer service.
Pro tip: The path to more referrals lies in acing the basics. Lead with efficient ecommerce customer service while ensuring you’re providing online self service options for motivated customers. Once you’ve got these humming, provide a referral program that rewards your brands’ fans for promoting you.
4. Branding: Incorporate your values across the experience. Branding, when done well, can make the entire customer experience feel connected. Online flower retailer Farmgirl Flowers said on the Radically Personal Podcast that the biggest compliment they get is for their packaging, which comes in burlap as opposed to the more common (and cheaper) cellophane.
That pricier option is a huge asset toward building brand affinity as it shows the company puts extra thought and care into the product — something that matters to their flower shoppers. The burlap, farm-girl aesthetic across their experience shows a level of intent and attention to detail that shoppers really love.
Pro tip: Do an audit of your online shopping experience through the eyes of your customers. Where do your values and branding shine through? Can you add personal touches that are unique to your brand? Tap into insights from your sales, marketing or product teams to ensure a consistent experience across your checkout flow, marketing communications, and product delivery.
Customer Experience Resources to Build Long-Term Brand Loyalty
Brand Affinity and Your Support Center
Customer service is at the heart of brand affinity, and helps shoppers interpret if a brand really does share their values. By powering your support center with Gladly, brands can execute affinity-boosting measures with ease, and make these tactics a part of how they do everyday business.
Of the many advantages the platform provides, People Match is a major asset that connects the perfect agent to each customer depending on their needs. Other tools include conversation timelines that maintain the history of a relationship in an easily accessible location for agents to reference, as well as customer details that are equally simple for teams to utilize in real time.