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Four more tried and tested approaches to brand engagement

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Leading retailers enhance engagement by encouraging customer interaction and affection for their brand,  be that by providing a source of must-have information, loyalty rewards, useful apps or ensuring that the brand’s values and image matches those that of its target customers. Here are four approaches that work for leading IRUK Top500 retailers.

1. Appeal to their better nature

People are often passionate about the environment, concerned about social inequality, or generous in their support of good causes. Making your own activities in any of these areas more apparent may not only improve perceptions of your brand, but enhance the feel-good factor for shoppers who buy from you. Ocado has a scheme allowing customers to make donations to food banks by simply adding a “You give. We give” token to their trolleys. Ocado then matches the amount to double the donation and convert the total to needed groceries. Boots provides pages on its corporate social responsibility activities – from charity fund-raising to its approach to reducing plastic packaging. John Lewis has pages devoted to its numerous community and environmental policies as well as allowing shoppers to download a copy of its Human Rights Report 2016/17. Bensons for Beds runs a scheme encouraging customers to donate their old beds, mattresses and bedroom furniture to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation while Peacocks raises funds for Cancer Research UK with various fund-raising activities as well as selling the charity’s branded products in its stores. 

2. Offer them a wish list

If shoppers care sufficiently about your products to start compiling a wish list of them, then they are certainly committed and well engaged with your brand. John Lewis flags the availability with “My wish list” top right hand corner on every page. Others – such as Pandora and House of Fraser – prefer to put a heart icon there to access the wish list page, which is reasonably obvious. Mothercare takes no chance with both a heart and “wish list” top right and also provides easy access to declared public wish lists to simplify gift buying. To create a wish list it is necessary to have an account: some sites assume this is already the case and simply provide a log-in once a shopper has clicked on “wish list” but Furniture Village takes the opportunity to list the benefits of an account at that stage, informing customers that they’ll be able to access their basket across devices, view order history and “store your favourite items in your wish list”.

3. Use some imagination

Loyalty cards may be increasingly replaced by loyalty apps but a great many still operate on the “points for prizes” principle. Understanding what really interests or matters to your customers and capitalising on that, as well as delivering appropriate rewards is key to successful engagement. Pets at Home, with 6million members of its “VIP Club”, understands that very well:  a key benefit of membership is to pay £10 a year to join the “VIP Find a Pet” service. Club members can send a lost pet alert to Pets at Home and they then alert all local Club members with details of the lost animal – with numerous messages on the website from happy owners reunited with their pets in this way. Paperchase, too, understands its customers: its invitation to join “Treat Me” describes it as “Perfect therapy for anyone with a slight Paperchase addiction”. There are no points but benefits include a £5 voucher on birthdays, free click & collect, a “free regular premium coffee” each week and regular surprise “treats”. Pandora offers its loyalty club members exclusive jewellery, H&M gives them unlimited free standard delivery and click&collect, while M&Co adds a “birthday surprise” and the opportunity to join club “spa trips, holidays and more”.

4. Newsletter or blog?

Unsolicited emailed newsletters are a bane for some customers while others welcome a regular update about new styles or seasonal activities. Today, some retailers provide an opportunity to sign up for their newsletter at the checkout, others – such as Clarks or Peacocks – may also provide a low-profile plug among the end of page small print. Dune displays a neat banner at the bottom of its landing page with an invitation to “Be the first!!”  and “Sign up to our newsletter for the latest collections, promotions and news”. Others prefer blogs: sometimes accessed from the header page as with Paperchase’s The Journal Blog or from that list of small print and social media logos at the bottom of the landing page – as with Hobbycraft’s Craft Blog. Such blogs vary enormously in content and are often largely promotional. Most are generally very different from the original discussion or information blogs that emerged in the 1990s.  They are also not always very topical: in February 2018 M&Co’s most recent blog post was on 21 October 2017 while “The Journal Blog” still featured ideas for making Christmas cards. If you’re going to call it a blog then it needs to be regularly updated.

We’ll be sharing four more approaches in Friday’s newsletter. This feature first appeared in the IRUK Top500 Brand Engagement Performance Dimension Report. Click here to explore that report. 

Image: Fotolia

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