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Want to build brand loyalty? Share your voice

Want to build brand loyalty? Share your voice

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Customer loyalty will naturally help companies boost their profits. But how do businesses make sure their customers keep coming back? Using the power of the human voice through podcasts is one way to create an emotional connection with customers. Paula Thomas, Founder and CEO of podcast, Let’s Talk Loyalty, explains why she thinks audio is such an effective form of communication in creating loyalty.

We all know the power of social media content, sometimes positive but sometimes negative! Either way, brands typically share short-form snackable content, often simply beautiful pictures or beautiful people. A constant stream of never-ending content that is overloading our brains that feels increasingly stressful.

By contrast, if your goal is to build brand loyalty, have you realised the power of long-form content, sharing your voice and your stories, in a way that takes time to create and time to enjoy?

For us, this was a revelation! Let me explain.

Loyalty is a hugely important priority for business owners, desperate to connect with customers in a clear and compelling way. After all, loyal customers are our single best source of profits, so why is it so hard to achieve this? There are hundreds of reasons, complicated and often boring. Certainly, too many to mention.

So rather than focus on the problem, I’m here to share my belief in long-form content – combining the simplicity, authenticity and memorability of stories to create an emotional connection with customers.

Setting the scene

As a loyalty marketing professional who has created customer loyalty propositions for a number of industries, I have spent over a decade building and studying customer loyalty, in particular to understand structured loyalty programmes and how and why they work.

I became obsessed with learning from the best loyalty programmes in the world – typically airlines, hotels and retail brands which had seemingly ‘cracked the code’, engaging with customers in a way that changes their behaviour and drives greater profits for their businesses.

I was so determined to learn from the best, that four years ago, I started a podcast called Let’s Talk Loyalty and now a video channel called Loyalty TV, which created exciting opportunities to reach out to incredible industry professionals, interview them about how they drive their customer loyalty and then share those conversations with the world.

Since 2019, I have interviewed hundreds of experts across some of the world’s top brands and published the podcasts online, earning a loyal audience of my own along the way.

Almost 500 episodes later, not only have I connected with some of the greatest minds in marketing, but I have become profoundly convinced that the simple act of recording and sharing these stories is in fact a unique way to create customer loyalty that is incredibly effective.

And yet, audio in particular seems to either be ignored or misunderstood, or at the least, not appreciated as an approach to driving customer loyalty!

I am now passionate about this idea, that customer loyalty can be cultivated by harnessing the power of the human voice.

Why a podcast?

As the oldest form of communication in existence, the human voice is powerful.

Both personally and professionally, we connect more deeply when we take the time to speak and listen to each other.

And it’s not just me who believes in the power of the human voice to connect.

Somewhat unexpectedly, I discovered that one of the earliest podcasters was (and is) using his voice to maybe even convert! An enterprising Priest, Father Roderick, launched a podcast over 18 years ago back in 2005 when he realised the potential of a podcast to ‘explain the Catholic faith in a creative, accessible way’.

Like Father Roderick, amidst all our email and toxic social media, it’s increasingly clear to me that podcasts are a unique and compelling way to share stories and show authenticity.

And even before the global pandemic drove dramatic increases in podcast audience numbers, newspapers such as The Guardian highlighted, back in 2016, how podcasts create trust, brand credibility and loyalty.

While news, niche and true crime podcasts earned incredible success since the serial podcast became a ‘cultural phenomenon’ almost a decade ago, it was just two years ago in 2021, when Chartable announced that branded podcasts were exploding, so perhaps I’m late to the podcast party, but my guess is, most marketers still consider podcasts a quirky idea that has novelty value. I’m here to highlight their commercial value.

Research and insights

The most compelling research I have found is a study called Audio Activated from the BBC, which says: “The intimate and conversational nature of the podcast environment creates an elevated state of engagement for brand mentions.”

This also drives brand metrics across the board, helping to generate:

  • lifts in awareness (↑89%)
  • lifts in brand consideration (↑57%)
  • increases in brand favourability (↑24%)
  • increases purchase intent (↑14%)

So, when it comes to loyalty, brands that invest in compelling audio content can achieve this impact by offering an audio experience to their customers.

Like all content marketing, consistency is key and the commitment required should never be under-estimated.

And in fact, the labour-intensive commitment that a podcast demands sends positive signals to savvy consumers, jaded by social media and spam, who increasingly trust brands that show up and create constantly. The integrity of those brands shines through in the busy media landscape competing for our attention.

What about video?

The question most brands ask is, why not publish video instead? After all, you get both the visual and the audio.

Research proves that not only is audio content quicker, cheaper and easier to publish, it’s also actually more effective. And that’s perhaps the biggest surprise!

When we hear stories rather than watch them, they are understood and ‘encoded’ in our minds much more powerfully. And because we have just one sense commanding our attention, we also feel the impact more emotionally.

Away from the distraction of screens, podcast listeners are much more present. They are typically driving and listening or exercising and listening, things that ensure the stories are deeply heard, without the distraction of images, ads and other screens.

In fact, the memory of the content in the research was 220% higher in the audio group rather than in the video group, proving the power of audio to create memories that in turn can create customer loyalty.

The same BBC research proved that in certain customer segments, branded podcasts beat TV recollection benchmarks by at least 22% – ‘showing that branded podcasts are an effective way to engage this hard-to-reach, but commercially-desirable group’.

The bottom line

Brand loyalty is earned slowly over time, through every interaction your customers have with your brand.

Beyond the basics of building brilliant products and experiences, creating content (especially in your own voice) is one of many ways that brave brands can stand out.

Particularly in the age of AI, innovative brands can connect with customers by being helpful, being vocal and being human.

For us, now having published almost 500 episodes, the emotional loyalty we create with our podcast audience was unexpected but an incredibly exciting result.

So, if your goal is emotional loyalty, my advice for 2024 is to plan a podcast!

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