In today’s competitive marketplace, few customers stay loyal to one particular brand.
And why should they?
Online commerce has given consumers near limitless choice, a tool for research, and a highly visible platform on which they can voice their dissatisfaction for products and services which fail to meet their expectations.
Consumers are turning away from the high street towards their screens primarily for convenience — a day’s worth of shopping can now be done on a lunch break – but also for cost efficiency — more choice equals larger discounts brought about by fierce price wars.
Whether companies like it or not, the bar has been raised and the way in which consumers perceive value has shifted. Personalisation, customer experience and rewarded loyalty are what modern consumers are looking for. They desire a personalised service and are surprisingly willing to share their data in order to get this.
Brands need to learn to navigate online pitfalls to build brand loyalty and keep their customers’ allegiance – all while still increasing revenue.
So how can brands tackle declining loyalty and put an end to consumer infidelity?
1. Personalise to keep consumers engaged
The convenience of online shopping has made once loyal consumers fickle – they will quickly fall out of love with a once revered product if a brand can’t keep them engaged effectively. You only have to look at how quickly Apple seized the mobile market from Nokia to see how modern buyers are prone to switching loyalty.
You can, for example, shape your content around the user’s tastes based on the products in their basket, where they spend the longest time onsite or what purchases they made on a previous occasion.
2. Reward your most loyal consumers
Pay attention to consumers who are already passionate about your brand because they’ll be your biggest advocates and your best revenue drivers.
Try offering a specific discount to returning users. Loyalty reward schemes cultivate your returning customer’s affinity for your brand. A great example of this is O2 rewards – they give their customers perks and discounts based on the length of their contracts.
Better integrating your offline and online channels will also enable you to create highly effective customer loyalty schemes. Starbucks, for example, allows their customers to accrue reward points when they make interactions across the brand’s channels from downloading the mobile app to buying packet coffee in the supermarket to picking up a skinny latte from the local branch.
Incentives are good, but don’t fall into the trap of being the one who offers the biggest discounts – providing the best deals in the marketplace is not only a dangerous business model but also won’t necessarily retain consumer loyalty.
3. Listen to what they want
Online shopping has empowered consumers by amplifying their voices. Customers express their opinions loudly and publicly via feedback forms, comments sections and reviews on and off site and particularly over social media.
Forward-thinking brands are learning about what their customers actually want by monitoring these channels.
Listen to your consumers and you’ll be able to keep their interest peaked and their browsers open when they visit your site.
Forbes’ research found that Zappos were rated very highly by their customers for loyalty-inspiring distinctions, such as their ability to resolve problems fairly and act in its customers’ best interests. Those same Zappos customers ranked the company’s “value” and “lowest prices” as the only 8th and 14th in importance, respectively.
4. Be transparent
Consumers from previous generations were a great deal less skeptical about brand claims and marketing collateral. Now modern consumers claim that they are more likely to trust a complete stranger than the producer of their favourite product. 
A recent Ernst & Young survey  highlights a significant decrease in the number of Americans who say brand loyalty is something that impacts their buying behaviour.
Modern consumers won’t abide having the wool pulled over their eyes with clever marketing claims and slogans. They want an authentic conversation with brands that treat them with respect and are open and honest about the benefits of their products or services.
5. Create a unique user experience
According to Forbes, big brands are running scared from Millennials - and with good reason.
This key demographic has a much lower tolerance for larger, chain brands. Not only do 37% of Generation Y claim to distrust big business, but they are also looking for a completely different shopping experience than the previous generation X.
Millennials have a great deal of buying power – something that will only increase with time. In America alone, this generation has a collective shopping budget of $200 billion a year – that’s more wealth annually than any other generation that came before .
The shopping experience sought by twentysomethings differs greatly to what a lot of the large retailers are currently offering. They favour browsing over buying and want a unique, social and immersive online environment.
This tells us that tailoring a user journey to make sure a customer feels valued is crucial across every channel.
In The Age of Efficiency where online shoppers can effortlessly browse the whole marketplace and easily compare prices and exercise discretion, brand loyalty can feel counter intuitive. Why stick with one brand experience when you can taste the best amenities of several?
To influence online consumers to stay on site – and to return frequently, it’s down to brands to cultivate a meaningful connection with each individual shopper.
Mould the user journey through your website to each shopper’s interests.
Reward returning customers by giving them value across multiple channels while also fostering new relationships with those visiting your site for the first time.
And should a visitor intend to leave, give them a reason to stay and complete their purchase. By serving an overlay with an incentive when a user is about to exit, you can drastically reduce basket abandonment, while also re-creating an in-store one-to-one interaction online, nurturing brand loyalty.