Vesta emphasizes community approval for optimal brand loyalty

Brands today are looking to deepen their connection with their customer base, but the task can be overwhelming with so many competing brands.

Loyalty360 CEO Mark Johnson spoke with Vesta Founder and CEO Susan Frech about how communities can strengthen the connection between customer and brand, and the organic growth of consumer advocacy at from these relationships.

The most valuable tool a marketer has is their consumer.

When the customer champions a brand, more customers listen. It’s so simple. But how can brands get consumers to stand up for them? In the growing era of personalized customer retention, it is imperative that marketers have the software tools they need to improve their relationships with consumers and increase their engagement.

Vesta CEO Susan Frech explains, “When brands engage their most valuable consumers, it helps create advocacy, gather insights, and reach sales potential. »

There are so many choices in loyalty programs today, and consumers are more fickle about their loyalty than ever. One wrong move or one wrong message can be detrimental to a brand. Consumers today are more savvy, if not more skeptical, with the ever-increasing influx of brand communications.

“If a brand says one thing and does another,” Frech says, “consumers will pick up on that brand and turn away from it.”

It’s equally important for brands to not only have integrity, but to communicate a message that resonates on a personal level with their customers. If a brand stands for something, it needs to communicate it and empower its consumers and advocates to share that message.

Frech adds, “It’s not so much about a cool slogan or a cool advertisement, it’s about being able to authentically share the purpose behind your brand and that’s what can really be an opportunity. for marketers.”

COVID has opened consumer communications to a more personal level

When the pandemic shut down so many brick-and-mortar stores and consumers were confined to their homes, there was a sense of camaraderie among everyone affected. Companies have been able to reach consumers on a personal level, sharing many of the same fears and frustrations. The sense of community went beyond a simple exchange of goods and services.

One of the biggest benefits brands with communities have seen since the COVID pandemic began is the ability to gather consumer insights and track feedback. Brands have been able to connect with members of their online community during their most difficult times and have built and nurtured relationships with their most valuable customers through this feedback.

According to Frech, “the online community has helped brands with their messaging, marketing, and product launches during a difficult time, and they have also been able to help communicate when the brand faced a challenge like a supply chain issue. or inventory”.

Mobile wallet technology gives brands deeper insight into customer behavior
A recent report by Forbes indicates that by 2022, mobile engagement will increase by 70%. This trend will only grow.

75% of loyalty program members engage through mobile devices, and while most brands have adopted a mobile-first mindset, marketers should be aware that every consumer action needs to be addressed primarily on mobile. In addition to attracting the consumer to the brand app, the UX must be seamless, easy to navigate, and informative to retain that consumer.

The mobile wallet is another trend that is growing exponentially. Says Frech, “We want something right in your wallet on your phone or device. The mobile wallet is a very powerful marketing tool for delivering targeted promotions, offers, free product samples, coupons and discounts. All these tools are dropped off in one place and drive consumers to a specific retailer.”

The data captured from the digital wallet is not limited to purchasing data. It gives brands insight into each consumer on a more personalized basis, enabling a more targeted marketing approach to every transaction. Mobile technology will continue to grow, especially in the brand loyalty landscape.

Consumer communities are imperative for the growth of emotional loyalty

“Marketers are the brains and consumers are the heart,” says Frech.

Even the best marketing ideas can die without consumer approval and approval. Startups are known for their loyal customer base, but they don’t have the scale of big brands. But big brands can lack the passion and emotional connection that start-ups have with their consumers.

Frech explains: “Your consumers are your megaphone, let them talk about you, let them share their testimonials. Their recommendations are so powerful that they will inspire others to try your products and services. Recommendations from a consumer who has tried your product and likes your brand have a greater impact than any medium on customer acquisition. »

Consumer communities allow brands to build authentic relationships. They can get real-time feedback from consumers and, in turn, recognize and reward brand advocates.

Consumer communities build loyalty for any brand that wants a deeper relationship

Every brand that wants to build a deeper relationship with their audience is well suited to building an online community, and there are a wide variety of technologies that can help a brand achieve this.

According to Frech, “At Vesta, we provide an all-in-one solution to help reduce the number of tools a brand needs to build and grow that relationship with the consumer.”

It is imperative that brands stay ahead, especially between purchases. Additionally, they must look for ways to constantly identify and activate their defenders. Reviews, ratings, user-generated content, and testimonials are key to grabbing attention, generating buzz, and driving sales in-store and online.

Brands Leverage Communities to Collect Data to Improve Customer Loyalty Strategies
With the addition of privacy rules and the removal of online cookies, consumer data is going to have a competitive advantage.

Frech explains, “It’s going to continue to be a big ticket, and the more third-party channels grow and grow their audience, the more they’ll charge marketers to reach them.”

By building an online community, brands are able to collect deeper demographic, psychographic, behavioral, social, and shopping behavior data. Constant feedback allows companies to understand what consumers want and need.

The data collected is proprietary and gives the brand a competitive advantage. It is also predictive and enables brands to understand and make better business decisions.

Frech clarifies, “It’s not just about involving community members, but how can you take advantage of the proprietary data you collect in the community and integrate it with your other data?

Brands must continue to leverage this data to deliver personalized experiences and relevant offers, because that’s what will create higher engagement and deeper emotional loyalty.

Online community is about quality over quantity
If a brand has millions of consumers, but the majority of those consumers aren’t promoting the brand, the numbers mean nothing.

“Start small,” emphasizes Frech. “It’s not about millions of consumers.”

Brands need high quality advocates and evangelists. It is consumers who will provide authentic feedback to ensure successful product launches and amplify the overall brand message. It is the members of the community who will act as spokespersons for the brand and create advocacy.

Loyalty programs naturally have a high redemption value. There must be a benefit that only comes from being part of the community, whether it’s early access to new products or promotions, or earning points for discounts. In return for these perks, these community members write reviews and make recommendations, giving the brand the constant feedback needed to foster a strong loyalty program.

According to Frech, “High performers align their community activations with their overall marketing strategy. It is imperative that marketers view the program through the lens of communities. Everything that is done, new products and partnerships to promotions and sponsorships, everything should be looked at through the lens of the community.

Joseph P. Harris