What do Amazon, Starbucks, and Sephora have in common? Besides being household names with cult followings, these companies embody the ideal of brand loyalty.

They know that loyal customers are profitable customers. As a result, they invest in brand loyalty and foster meaningful relationships with their customers.

So, what exactly is brand loyalty?

It is defined as strong positive sentiment toward a brand. This type of sentiment primes customers to shop that company’s products or services. The affinity customers feel for your brand is emotional. As a result, brand loyalty has the power to drive customers your way despite competitors’ offerings of lower prices or higher convenience. When customers are driven by emotion, they are less easily swayed to leave.

Using the reliable Pareto Principle, it is estimated that 80% of business comes from 20% of customers. With competitors tempting your customers with shiny new offers, nurturing brand loyalty is a critical aspect to keep your 20% coming back repeatedly. Rather than spending the majority of your time and resources on acquiring leads, ensure you are nurturing your relationship with your 20%. This will help you get the most ROI on your efforts. By setting your sights converting existing customers into brand advocates, you reap the benefits. Your advocates will refer friends and family to your business, bringing you a larger customer base.

There are several unique ways that you can build enviable brand loyalty. Here, we focus on how leveraging data and emotion will help you drive loyalty. This will enable you to drive repeat purchases and create a strong following.

Use Data to Make a Connection

In the age of overwhelming amounts of data, you can know more than ever before about your target customers. You have information about their age, gender, demographic, purchase behavior, and more. You can see when customers tend to upgrade their memberships, when they tend to fall off, or what type of messaging resonates most with them. It is up to you to use the information at your fingertips wisely.

This relevant, highly personalized data enables you to help your customers achieve their goals through the use of your products and services.

At the same time, effective personalization during customer engagement is a careful dance of using your customers’ data to make them feel understood, without weirding them out. No one likes to feel like they are under surveillance, yet consumers are increasingly more willing to share their data for a better brand experience.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers say they’re willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts.

Knowing all this, how can a fitness studio utilize personalization effectively to delight customers? The techniques are often simple, yet powerful.

1 Celebrate your Members

For one, fitness studios universally track their members’ birthdays.

This allows automatic identification when this major life milestone is coming up. A fitness studio can automate an SMS that offers a free fitness class or branded water bottle on a member’s birthday. What does this achieve?

First off, the member feels cared for and like an important asset to the fitness community. You may have heard that as a whole, people are feeling more isolated and alone than ever before.

In fact, a recent study found that a staggering 47 percent of Americans often feel alone, left out and lacking meaningful connection with others.

As a business owner, this is your chance to show that you care. It would be silly to miss out on a chance to make someone feel recognized on their birthday. This special touch makes the relationships between brand and consumer more personal, not just a business transaction.

2 Say Congratulations

On a similar note, milestone-based SMS messaging can go out to congratulate loyal members for being with a club for 3 months or 6 months. This is another chance to recognize a job well done in sticking to a routine. Use this as a chance to offer a small token of appreciation. Why not offer a free smoothie, water, or juice to your loyal members?

3 Show Special Treatment to your VIPs

If your budget permits, consider hosting a customer appreciation event for your top-tier members. Credit cards and airlines show preferential treatment to their most loyal members with high success. Customers who feel like they are treated like VIPs continue to choose those brands over competitors.

Perhaps you have an exclusive club of members who are involved in personal training. You might throw an event for them. This allows customers to meet one another. It will even strengthen the relationship with your staff and business.

You can invite them to participate in raffles and games, and build relationships with one another. Even encouraging your members to bring their family, friends, and neighbors to the event will allow them to  enjoy the community with loved ones, helping to add even more prospects into the mix, which you can then add to your mailing list to market to later.

Nurture Relationships by Sparking Emotion

When consumers are in the early stages of selecting which brands to do business with, they are likely to make rational and logical decisions based on price, convenience, or current promotions.

Rational considerations are also most at play in decision making when a customer decides to leave a brand. Knowing this, it’s important to know your competition and differentiators to stay competitive.

However, when we look at the factors that drive loyalty for brands, these factors are emotional responses.

Deloitte’s research study, Exploring the value of emotion-driven engagement, found that nurturing emotional considerations is key when establishing a strong relationship between brand and customer.


Source: Exploring the value of emotion-driven engagement (Deloitte Digital)

Loyal brands promote positive emotional responses that contribute to how “sticky” a brand is.

When loyal customers talk about their favorite brand, they use words similar to those typically reserved for family and friends such as “love”, “adore” and “happy”. Focusing on the emotional responses in your customers can help you keep them more engaged longer. Members who feel a sense of belonging and trust are more likely to keep coming back.

Brands must listen to the feedback offered by their customers through email, social media, or other channels. Identifying trends in customers; sentiment and addressing concerns in top customers is crucial.

4 Survey Wisely

Collect surveys from members at critical touchpoints in their journey with you. Touch base with them during onboarding to ensure that their questions are being answered and their needs are being met. Starting out at a new gym or studio can be an emotional process for members. This is especially true if they feel they don’t understand how to use the equipment or don’t know where to go for help.

By automating text engagement from a staff member who is responsible for onboarding, you can ensure that customers feel like they have a person to connect with in case of questions or concerns. The last thing you want is for customers to drop off early on in the process, when you could have easily retained them by asking for a quick response.

Hi John! We’re excited that you’ve made the choice to join our studio. Tell us how your experience has been so far by sending a rating from 1-5 with one being worst and 5 being best!

5 Have a One on One Mentality

Speak to your members like they are individual people, not as if they are just part of a group. Ensure that your engagement platform allows for incoming texts so that if a customer has a question or concern. This can then be addressed accordingly. With engagement platforms, not only are you able to automate personalized mass texts to people who fall into a group segment, but you can also reply to them as individuals in real time as responses trickle in. For members to feel like they are heard, responding to their individual questions can be key.

6 Share Real Customer Success Cases

How can you build brand loyalty with success cases? Use social proof to your advantage by showcasing your clients’ impressive successes. Share your most impressive before and afters via email with your new members. They will be inspired by actual people who have seen success with your gym.

People feel a connection to individuals that they see as having similarities to them. Instead of sending them statistics or ideas around losing weight, show them your real world examples that will resonate with your members, and encourage them to strive toward similar results.

7 Reward Positive Behavior

Another way you may already be personalizing the interaction is by including a member’s first name when engaging with them via SMS or email channels. To take it a step further, think about what other attributes you are collecting that can aid in the building of the relationship such as those that are behavior based.

For example, when a member hasn’t visited your business for several weeks at a time, sending a well-timed email or SMS can be powerful. A quick yet personal message can go a long way.

“Hey Michael, we haven’t seen you in 14 days. Is everything going okay? Let us know if there’s anything we can do for you next time you’re in to help you achieve your goals. Click here to sign up for a class this week”.

This might just incentivize and inspire your customer to get back on track with his fitness goals. Instead of making the member feel bad about missing a workout, you can help him see that there is a personal relationship with your gym that knows him by name and cares enough to check in.

On the flip side, when Michael has had a strong trend of visiting three times this week, he may be delighted to get a short text that reads, “Michael! We see the hard work you’ve been putting in by coming to class 3x this week. Keep up the great effort!” Who doesn’t like a little bit of positive reinforcement when exercising?

The great thing about automating your customer engagement is that texts like this can be auto-generated when members display trends in behavior, saving staff time in tracking check in trends and in manual outreach.

Final Thoughts

Provide personalized messaging and ensure that you are using emotion to nurture your relationship with your customers. You will make them feel special, heard, and appreciated. Consumers today have more choices than ever before when it comes to what brands and businesses they choose to engage it.

It is key to review trends of customer behavior to identify when to reach out. Additionally, it’s important to ensure you’re using the right mix of data and emotion to establish and nurture a connection. This must be done without making the member feel like they are being too closely monitored or like you are using their data in a way they aren’t comfortable with. Luckily, there are customer success managers that can help you. They can advise you to ensure you’re staying in line with best practices and adhering to TCPA laws when engaging with members and prospects.

By using the above steps, you can provide a premier brand experience. This will have your customers feeling connected to you. As a result, remaining loyal for years to come will be a no-brainer!