How much brand love do you inspire?

How to measure brand loyalty

Are you considering a risk within your marketing approach? Bold, attention-getting moves can reap big rewards. But, before you leap, there is one very important aspect of your brand health you have to consider – Loyalty.

Brand loyalty is a factor every marketer wants to understand better. That’s because high loyalty translates to firmly-implanted customers. Brand-loyal customers often describe themselves through the lens of their favorite brand (e.g., “I’m an Apple person.”) They also tend to stick with their preferred brands for the long term. It’s no wonder “brand love” has become something of a buzzphrase.

LIFT data scientists look at more than blind loyalty when measuring the Loyalty factor, one of four factors that ultimately roll into the Brand Experience Index. They also look at consideration or how likely someone is to give your brand a chance. Our research measures various levels of loyalty, from whether someone is likely to at least consider your offerings to the possibility they will choose your brand regardless of other moderating factors.
Industry considerations

Brand loyalty is strongly influenced by industry verticals. Financial services customers, for instance, tend to be more entrenched, partly because of perceptions that switching providers is burdensome and not worth the effort. They tend to remain loyal customers unless or until they feel a brand has wronged them in some way.

In the software industry, on the other hand, customers are less inclined to stick with one brand. Competition is high, and new entrants to the software marketplaces often work incredibly hard to make changing providers a simple experience. Software brands are always looking to gain an edge on the competition, capitalizing on better pricing, features and service offerings.

Regardless of the industry, no company is insulated from the threat of customers taking their business elsewhere. All brands are well-served by efforts that make their customers feel valued and appreciated.

Risk assessments

So, back to that bold, perhaps even risky, marketing strategy. Your success – or the impact of your failure – can be largely influenced by the loyalty of your target audience.

Consider Nike and an infamous campaign. The company’s leadership probably had a very good pulse on Nike’s target segment’s social attitudes and loyalty levels before launching promotional content that featured Colin Kaepernick’s controversial protests. While the strategy certainly alienated some consumers, polling after the ads were released showed nearly a third of its target demographic said they would buy more Nike products.

Pepsi came under intense criticism after an ad featuring Kendall Jenner was viewed as insensitive and tone-deaf. Pepsi ended up pulling the ad amidst the public relations fiasco. But, during an earnings call the following quarter, the company reported an increase in its revenue and profits. In this case, existing customers’ loyalty may have been strong enough to weather the storm. Despite possible disapproval of the ad, loyalists stuck with their preferences, and buying habits ultimately weren’t negatively impacted.

Is your brand top-of-mind with your target audiences?

Salesforce engaged our data scientists to research the brand experience of several solutions within the software company’s automated marketing product suite.

When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM) software, Salesforce is a highly recognizable name. Yet, there were still a few surprises for our team when they reviewed the results of a 900-person target audience survey regarding Salesforce’s marketing solutions.

Most notably, we received 900 different answers from the respondents.
It became clear that the crowded marketing automation software field was causing brand recognition issues for the company. Although had built a strong CRM brand, the target audience demonstrated little association between Salesforce products and marketing discipline.

Defining Recognition in Brand Experience

Recognition, one of the four key attributes factored into the LIFT Brand Experience Index, measures name recognition but also looks more deeply at the top-of-mind connections your target audience makes between your products and your industry.

This is critically important to brands, especially those operating in a crowded market. That’s because strong recognition helps your brand bypass the competition in the minds of your target audience. Instead of searching “marketing software” and sifting through thousands of results, Salesforce wants prospective customers to search Pardot, one of the product brands in its automated marketing product suite, so they can go directly to the website to gather information.

When our data scientists are analyzing a brand’s recognition attribute within a BXi study, they’re checking to see how likely it is for a member of the target audience to name the client brand through unaided recall.

Recently, we conducted a sample Brand Experience Index in retail using household giants Walmart, Target, and Amazon. (We conduct mass market tests like this frequently to train our machine learning algorithms on brand health analysis.) In this particular sample assessment, more than half the population of shoppers named Walmart unaided when asked to name a retailer. Obviously, these are results every company in a competitive field would find desirable.

The Brand Experience Index for Salesforce identified key issues for the company’s marketing team to address. This provided valuable guidance to develop a concerted marketing, branding, and communications strategy that strongly focused on search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

Using the Brand Experience Index as a diagnostic tool proves extremely helpful even when a company recognizes a general problem. Pinpointing the root causes or market nuances can be difficult in those cases. The Brand Health Score reveals those details.

How familiar are consumers or clients with your brand?

Even if your business sells the most obviously useful product or service, remember: the laws of consumer perception still apply.

A fundamental principle among consumers is a dislike of the unknown. It translates in this basic way from a marketing perspective: People are more likely to do business with companies they know. If someone is unfamiliar with your company, it will be much more difficult for them to choose you over a competitor they feel they know better.

Particularly for the segment of people you hope to gain as customers, it’s important to understand how much they know about your company. It can tell you a lot about how to shape your marketing efforts.

The Familiarity factor within LIFT’s Brand Experience Index™ measures how familiar people are with your brand and the depth of that familiarity. During a Brand Experience survey, we ask your target population questions beyond name recognition to gauge how fully your target understands what you can offer.

Although our data scientists have found a strong correlation between a high Familiarity score and a high overall Brand Experience ranking, we still advise clients not to despair when the Familiarity metric is low. Instead, embrace it as an accurate picture of where you are today. Getting a low initial benchmark for Familiarity is not unusual, particularly when marketers are in a testing, beta, or pilot phase… or simply looking to establish a starting point in a long-term branding initiative.

That said, everyone wants to change a low score. Here’s how you go about it.

Changing a Low Score

If your Familiarity index is lower than desired, there’s a strong rationale for increasing the saturation and aggressiveness of your marketing efforts. Flooding the market with information can boost Familiarity rather quickly.

Brand Experience research uncovers what an audience values most in a brand. This is critical information to help marketers create alignment between an audience, company priorities and marketing messages. Companies benefit most when they measure first to obtain benchmarks and identify deficiencies. Next comes the implementation of marketing efforts to exploit strengths and address deficits. Marketers then measure again to see how the needle moved – that’s the fun part!

Take, for example, a financial institution that wants more Millennial customers. One of the first constructive steps it can take is testing the current level of brand knowledge. While the initial number may be low, the financial institution now has a benchmark starting point. The score will also give them a better idea of what Millennial banking consumers want, allowing them to confidently develop highly targeted new products and marketing campaigns.