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How winning brands measure and track loyalty with surveys


Brand loyalty: It’s the biggest factor of your brand’s success.

If you don’t have a loyal customer base that purchases from you time and time again, you have to compete with other brands on factors like price and convenience.

And when consumers choose your brand based on how accessible you are—or how low your price is—your brand has become a commodity. You’re faced with slashing prices and focusing on the next gimmick, plus you’re always at risk of losing customers to brands that can offer a better deal.

In order to avoid becoming a commodity, you need to build and nurture brand loyalty. And when you’re part of a marketing or brand team, it’s important to understand what inspires brand loyalty (or lack thereof) so you can make smarter decisions about your brand strategy. However, once you’ve implemented your strategy for cultivating brand loyalty, you’ll need some way to test whether your actions are working. That’s where metrics come in. In this article, we’ll introduce you to 6 key metrics you need to measure the impact of your brand loyalty efforts.

Brand loyalty is when your customers have the opportunity and good reason to choose another brand and yet they continue to choose yours. These days, in the age of social media and the global marketplace, customers have more choice than ever before - and choosy customers mean powerful customers.  A customer that isn't excited by your brand or wowed by your products and services can vote with their feet. In contrast, if a customer feels that your product totally meets their needs, or is impressed by your brand offering, they’ll be unlikely to be swayed by your competitors’ options. Instead, they’ll buy from your brand regardless of the price or convenience of rivals’ products, make repeat purchases, spend more, and recommend your products to others. In other words, loyal customers make a huge contribution to your bottom line.

SurveyMonkey Brand Tracker helps you measure key brand metrics like awareness and associations over time.

Brand loyalty is important for a number of reasons:

  • It helps sustain your products and brand over the long term. Customers who are loyal to your brand will keep coming back to make repeat purchases time and time again. That means that you don’t have to spend time and effort in trying to recruit new customers, and will improve the health of your business in the long run.
  • It helps drive the success of new products. When customers are loyal to your brand, they trust you, and that is vital when you’re seeking to launch new products and services. That’s because customers who are loyal to a brand tend to be more willing to try new products. That’s the key to success for retailers like Apple and Supreme, who launch new products to the same market regularly throughout the year.
  • It helps you find new customers. Brand loyalty is not only great for keeping existing customers: it also helps you to capture new ones. Loyal customers will likely spread positive word of mouth about your brand and products, persuading others to try them. The value of this championing effort cannot be overstated. Customers tend to trust the word of family and friends - and even strangers on the Internet! - more than they do advertisers.  So, instead of spending huge amounts on marketing, brand loyalty allows you to leverage your existing customer base to capture new customers. 

As you can see, brand loyalty can make a huge difference to your bottom line and competitive advantage. So,  what factors drive brand loyalty?

There are at least three key factors that you need to consider in order to drive brand loyalty: brand equity, brand awareness, and brand attributes. Let’s take a look at each in turn. 

Brand loyalty is just one part of your overall brand equity, which is the extent of your brand’s power as determined by consumers’ positive or negative knowledge, perceptions, and experiences with your brand. When customers think in positive terms about your brand, or have strong, engaging experiences with it, they’re more likely to become loyal. Brand equity is probably the key measure of your overall brand health, so it's vital that you try to build it, and track changes in it.  To learn more about how to measure, build and maintain brand equity, take a look at our in-depth guide. 

As we’ve already noted, today’s marketplaces are crammed with choice. In order to survive and thrive, you’ll need to cut through the noise to reach your target audience. Brand awareness is the degree to which the market knows about your brand. It means making sure your brand is the first that comes to mind when a customer is looking to buy a product that you sell, that customers recognize your branding and brand name, or that they recall your brand when thinking about products and services like yours. As such, building brand awareness is usually the first step on the road to brand building and brand loyalty. Read more about how you can build brand awareness here

Brand attributes are the traits and features that customers associate with your brand. Maybe your coffee shop is the trendiest in the neighborhood, the most ethical, or has the best-tasting matcha latte.  Brand attributes drive brand loyalty only insofar as the traits that you communicate about your brand match those that your target audience are seeking. For this reason, it's important to test how customers perceive your brand attributes, and find out what attributes they’re looking for. We recommend a brand attribute survey for that.

Some companies gather data from their loyalty programs as a proxy measure for brand loyalty. That’s great, but brand loyalty doesn’t just mean sales. Customers might keep coming back to your coffee shop because it's on the way to work and they can collect stamps to earn a free cup, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re willing to champion your brand or continue to choose it if a competitor offers a better deal. That’s why it's really important to get to the heart of brand loyalty through regular and comprehensive analysis. 

One way you can measure brand loyalty is through a customer survey. You can ask your target audience a range of questions that capture things like how often they purchase your products and services, how often they consider those of competitors (and which competitors!), and how they perceive your brand generally. One of the best things about measuring brand loyalty through surveys is that they can be run regularly so you can track changes in loyalty, celebrate wins, and take swift corrective action when necessary. SurveyMonkey’s Brand Tracking solution can help you establish a baseline and track changes in brand loyalty in real-time. 

So, how is brand loyalty measured using a survey? Let’s take a look at the 6 key metrics you can capture through surveys to track how keen your customer base is, and how loyal they are to your brand.

If customers are satisfied with what you’re offering, they’ll keep coming back for more. First, asking about overall customer satisfaction helps you understand how, in general, your products and services are meeting or (better yet) exceeding customer expectations.

Remember though, that customer satisfaction isn’t just about a single aspect of your product or brand. Customers might be satisfied with the prices they’re paying, but less satisfied with the convenience of your retail outlets. Or, they might be satisfied with your salespeople but dissatisfied with the overall customer experience. When capturing this metric, it's important to dive as deep as possible. You might ask questions like:

  1. How convenient is our company to use?
  2. Compared to our competitors, is our product quality better, worse, or about the same?
  3. How well do our customer service representatives answer your questions?
  4. How likely are you to recommend us to others?

Loyalty builds when customers become committed to your brand and make repeat purchases over time. You want to understand what is inspiring that commitment on their part.

All brands must earn and retain the trust of their customers to ensure loyalty, but trust is especially important for brands that handle sensitive information, such as banks, online retailers, or healthcare providers. Even if you don’t handle sensitive information, you need to gain the trust of your customers if you’re to get them to try new products and services, or even to complete customer feedback surveys for you. If your brand handles sensitive information, or even if it doesn’t, assess the level of trust your customers feel for your brand. Ask questions like:

  1. Do you trust our brand?
  2. How did we earn your trust?
  3. How do we keep your trust?

Use responses to questions about trust to inform the products you offer–and target your brand messaging accordingly. To learn more about brand trust and how to cultivate it, take a look at this article.

Brand esteem or goodwill is customers’ respect for and attraction to a particular brand. It’s not to be confused with brand awareness or familiarity, which is the level of recognition of a brand. While a brand might be well known (a good thing), it may not in fact be well regarded (not a good thing). Brand esteem is about the favorable sentiment toward a brand, and in an ideal world, this will be positive!

You can use a series of questions to distinguish brand awareness from brand esteem:

  1. Have you heard of our brand before? (familiarity)
  2. How well do you know our brand? (familiarity)
  3. How positively do you regard our brand? (esteem)
  4. Do you prefer our brand over our competitor? (esteem)

A customer’s perceived quality of a brand is their opinion of a particular product’s, service’s or brand’s ability to fulfill his or her expectations:

  1. How reliable would you consider our brand?
  2. How would you rate the quality of our product?

Closely related is perceived value, which is a consumer’s opinion of a product’s value to him or her specifically.

For example, a person might view Tesla Motors as a brand that produces innovative, attractive electric vehicles that amaze and delight and would rate perceived quality quite high. However, if that same person considers the price tag to be a bit too steep, the perceived value might be low for her or him specifically.

Here are some brand loyalty survey question examples that measure perceived value:

  1. How valuable is [brand or product] to you?
  2. How likely would it be for you to switch brands if an alternative brand was sold in a more convenient location?
  3. How likely would it be for you to switch brands if an alternative brand was cheaper?

Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is often called the ‘Ultimate Question” because it can capture a lot in a single question that can be answered in seconds. By simply asking your target audience how likely they are to recommend your product, service or brand to a friend or colleague, you’ll gain insight into how satisfied your customers are, how willing they are to share positive word of mouth about it, and how loyal they are to you. After all, a customer would only promote your brand if they were loyal to it  (that’s why two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies currently use the NPS as a key measure of brand health). To read more about how to use NPS in a survey, read this quick article

Before we go, let’s make sure that you don’t confuse customer loyalty with brand loyalty, because they’re often spoken of in the same breath. Customer loyalty describes a commitment from customers to continue purchasing from you based on the benefits received from those purchases. So, when a customer keeps coming back to make repeat purchases because the product has some feature they enjoy, or they gain something in terms of price and rewards (like in a loyalty program), your customers are loyal. And loyal customers are great for the bottom line.

The problem is that customer loyalty can easily be swayed. If a competitor comes along with a similar product or a new rewards program, customers might be tempted to switch. Brand loyalty, however, is a commitment from customers to continue purchasing from you because of their experiences and perception of the brand. Since it's not dependent on price or the availability of substitutes, it's more sustainable in the long run - and better for your brand health. 

So there you have it: the importance of cultivating brand loyalty, and 6 key metrics for measuring it through surveys. If you want to test how loyal customers are to your brand, we can help. We can construct a target audience that looks just like yours in a matter of minutes, and start capturing insight into brand loyalty almost instantly. To get started with SurveyMonkey Brand Tracker, get in touch today. 

NPS, Net Promoter & Net Promoter Score are registered trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld.

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