“I’m a Ford guy!” “Oh, Yeah well Chevy’s the best!”
Not too long ago, on the roadways of America, you saw predominantly US made cars. That’s not my point. The point is people didn’t just buy them and drive them. They LOVED them! They LOVED them to the point that arguments would break out at barbecues, racetracks and parking lots all over the country. I remember to this day my step-father and his friends bragging and bashing about the car brands they loved. You know, “I’m a Ford guy!” vs. “I’m a Chevy guy!” kind of stuff.
Those arguments for the most part have vanished now. American made cars went through an era of being slammed for quality, price and fuel efficiency. The comeback is hopefully on its way, but still this intense loyalty, to the point of argument, is mostly gone. You just don’t see that same wide spread passion. It’s not like this loyalty has moved; it’s virtually disappeared. I have yet to see a “Toyota Rules” rear window sticker on a pickup.
What does this have to do with your website and your visitors? Maybe a lot. Do you ever think about what role your website is intended to play in supporting your brand, in driving loyalty? Does it? Do you think about what brings visitors back to your site? Do you measure online loyalty?
If so, do you look at:
- Returning eyeballs?
- Shares with friends?
- Digg, Stumbleupon and Technorati mentions?
- Facebook, Flickr and the like mentions?
- RSS feeds enrollment?
- Site analytics and traffic flow?
- Returning customer sales and leads?
As importantly if you can measure online loyalty, can you influence it? Maybe so. What do you know your visitors demand? It assuredly goes beyond just having good products or services.
Here are some basics:
- A site that works: images, links, help programs, tools and all
- Information that is readily accessible and easily understood
- Fresh and informative content that relates to their needs or sense of value
- Easy to find contact information relating to their interaction
- Specific pages about specific products or topics
- Answers to most often asked questions so as to not waste their time
- User forums or other feedback vehicles
- Testimonials that discuss the good and bad
- Solid truthful narratives about who your product or service best serves
- Ways to easily share information with other friends and family
- Expanded content or links to content for those who want to know more
- If product driven, great graphics and schematics where needed
- Information on the site where it best benefits the visitor not the webmaster
- Related sites or additional pages to support multiple ways to interact
- Social monitoring of your brand to see the good and the bad
- Interactive relationship with visitor comments and observations
- Timely and personal follow-up for all questions and concerns
If you want an online brand that drives loyalty, you have to earn it! In other words, building something great is one thing; keeping customers loyal is another. Both are important for the long run. Is it important to prove to your visitors that you care as much as they do? I think so. Otherwise, loyalty can just disappear.