7 Ways to Cultivate Emotional Loyalty in Your Customers

Illustrator: Adan Augusto
customer emotional loyalty

What is customer emotional loyalty? When you have a favorite clothing store in a large shopping mall, bookmark your pet store website, renew your subscription to a fitness channel year after year – that’s loyalty. Loyal customers make repeated purchases and enter into a lasting relationship with businesses – and businesses love and cherish them.

Why is that so? Customer loyalty is the opposite to churn, which is a dreaded trend that everyone tries to prevent. By building a solid base of loyal customers who come back to you, again and again, you are laying a strong foundation for growth.

These two processes – maintaining customer loyalty and expanding your customer base – should run in parallel. While it may be tempting to focus on growth, do not neglect your existing customers, as they may bring as much as 65% of your entire business. 

What Is Emotional Loyalty

Different customers are brand-loyal differently. Their loyalty comes from different motivations:

  • Rational loyalty when the customer stays with you because you offer the best price.
  • Behavioral loyalty when the customer comes back to you because it is convenient and has become a habit for them.
  • Emotional loyalty when interactions with your brand make customers happy and excited.

All motivations are important, but let’s talk about emotional loyalty. 

Importance of Emotional Loyalty

Of all types, emotional loyalty may be the strongest. When customers first interact with you, they tend to make their buying decisions on a rational basis, rather than emotional. They evaluate you by the price and quality, and at this stage may easily abandon you if your competitor’s price is better.

However, if you manage to amaze and excite them, the bond becomes much stronger. Customers start using words like “lovely”, “cute”, or “wonderful” when they talk about you – the same words they may use while talking about family or pets. 

And it works. I used to buy food for my dog from different shops, judging mainly by the price, until a consultant asked for my dog’s name. The confirmation email ended with “And give our best wishes to Sky.” Now, how cute is that? Needless to say, this shop is now my first stop when I am looking for any pet product. 

How to Build Emotional Loyalty in Customers

Of course, emotional loyalty does not happen on its own. There are certain techniques that you can apply to inspire happy and positive emotions in your customers.

Create Personalized Experiences

We have come to love online shopping for its extreme convenience. You can shop for anything at 11 pm while lying on your couch in your pj’s. Choose the product, type in your credit card number, check the confirmation, wait for delivery. Online shopping saves us tons of time and energy, but don’t you get that feeling that throughout the whole process you are just pixels on the screen? 

We crave that personal touch we could get in brick-and-mortar stores. However, online shopping can get very personalized with the use of advanced technologies, such as chatbots.

Chatbots can become personal shopping assistants providing recommendations and suggesting products based on the customer’s preferences and past purchases. Or they can be your service agents helping you get the information you need. Place them strategically based on the results of your user behavior analysis.

For example, KLM’s Facebook Messenger bot can answer various questions related to your flight, schedule, baggage allowance, etc.

emotional loyalty personalization

You can enhance your customer service by adding not only a chatbot but also live chat, where customers get assistance from human agents. Here, the level of personalization is even higher. The agents can begin the conversation with any of the suitable scripts and then continue with personalized customer support and recommendations. 

Similar personalized scripts can be adapted to outgoing calls to customers. Together with auto dialers, scripts speed up agents’ work and can create positive experiences.

Implement a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are a great way to boost retention. All of them are built on the same principle – the more you spend, the better gifts and benefits you may get. The format may be different – some businesses use points, and some just count the money customers spend with them. In any case, the idea is the same: to make customers come back.

Loyalty programs can trigger a whole range of emotions – excitement about getting a gift, a sense of competition when you are working toward the next level, or a feeling of being recognized and rewarded by the brand. Such emotions boost retention and can increase sales.

A classic example is Sephora’s BeautyInsider loyalty program which allows you to level up when you spend a certain amount of money per year. Of course, when you have experienced all the benefits of that ROUGE status, you would want to maintain it, wouldn’t you?

customer emotional loyaly program

Encourage Referrals

Through referrals, you are not only getting new customers with word-of-mouth marketing (which is, by the way, incredibly effective bringing as much as 13% of consumer sales) but also binding your existing customers even stronger. When you offer incentives as rewards for referrals, you create emotions of accomplishment and satisfaction as well as increase your customers’ trust.

For example, Dropbox users can get extra space per each referral. For many, free space is a valuable gift, which makes users happy, and happy users are loyal users.

customer loyalty referrals

Interact with Customers on Social Media

Nowadays, businesses are expected to have social media accounts. However, having an account is not enough, you should be present and active there, too. And, if you really want to engage and retain your customers, you should be authentic and genuine.

You won’t get much engagement if your social media feed is an endless line of official press releases and announcements. You should truly interact with your followers to keep them interested. 

See what Getty Museum did for its 25th anniversary. They called out to their social media followers to recreate works of art with items in users’ homes. The campaign returned thousands of unique “masterpieces” making Getty Museum’s challenge a hot topic.

customer loyalty social media

Add an Element of Surprise

Customers love it when you do something nice for them without warning. Add a little gift to their order, offer an exclusive discount for their birthday, or send a “we miss you” note to the customer who has not shopped with you for a while. 

When you make these small steps toward the customer, you can expect much more in return. This way, you express your gratitude for their loyalty and make them feel that you care.

Strawberry.net sends a nice reminder email to customers who have fallen out with them for a bit offering a nice personal discount. Customers are pleased that the brand remembers them, and the discount encourages them to visit again.

emotional loyalty element of surprise

Remain Authentic and True to Your Brand Principles

This is a challenging one, and you have to be brave and strong to go through with it. Define your brand’s vision, principles, values, and purpose and stick to them. The important thing is to be consistent everywhere – from your brand story to your marketing messages and public statements. You can even update your sales proposal template to include your vision message.

With such an approach, you can receive both heavy criticism from those who do not share your values and appreciation from those who are on the same wavelength as you. You might lose some customers but gain even more. If you declare your position with respect to a sensitive issue, you are surely going to resonate with the emotions of your audience.

One of the most significant vision campaigns was Dove’s Real Beauty. The brand focused on building self-confidence by disregarding the established beauty standards. The campaign received massive support and earned Dove lots of loyal customers.

emotional loyalty and authenticity

Participate in Charity

Charity is a wonderful way to connect with your audience emotionally. Charity always touches the emotional side of people, and by taking part in a charity project, you not only help a good cause but also earn a reputation with your customer audience.

The part of your audience who support the cause and take part in it will see you as one of them and extrapolate this feeling to your products, too. The reverse side of this phenomenon is the famous “cancel culture” when a public expression of negative opinions about a socially supported campaign can cost you reputation and customer loyalty.

An example of brands supporting a charity campaign is Charity:water aimed at providing access to clean water to everyone. Such global brands as Domino’s, Caterpillar, Minecraft, Adidas, and others joined the cause donating various resources.

customer loyalty and charity

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Emotional

Business can be cold and merciless. However, when it concerns your relations with customers, it can and should have enough space for emotion. Only when you can trigger true senses, can you boost customer emotional loyalty, because this is what makes your business stand out. Let emotion into your customer relation strategy, and you may very well see your sales rise.