Put Your Customers First and Let them Do the Talking. Get Your Guide on How to Build an Advocacy Growth Engine.

The key message of Reichheld’s Winning on Purpose boils down to optimizing your customers’ experiences. Customer Capitalism emphasizes that, to truly love your customers, you must create meaning in their lives. As Reichheld defines it, “Love is the state of caring so much for a person that most of your own happiness from the relationship derives from increasing that person’s happiness and well-being.”

The Power of Emotional Loyalty

Customers who feel loved in this way by your brand naturally demonstrate Emotional Loyalty. In contrast to Rational Loyalty where customers keep purchasing from you because it makes economic sense, and Behavioral Loyalty where customers keep purchasing out of habit, inertia, or convenience, Emotional Loyalty is achieved when customers consciously maintain or grow their relationship with you because they actually feel a personal attachment to and investment in your brand.

“Research has shown that the extent to which customers feel personal attachment to a brand is the biggest driver of positive word of mouth—more so than even customer satisfaction.”


Marc Steiner, Partner, Cyrca Strategy

Emotional Loyalty is critical for three reasons:

It’s the primary driver of word-of-mouth and customer referrals. Research has shown the extent to which customers feel a personal attachment to a brand has far greater impact than even customer satisfaction on positive word-of-mouth.

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It builds customer equity that can insulate the relationship from imperfect experiences. Customers are less likely to switch brands if something goes wrong, just as we’re more likely to forgive those we’re close to than strangers.

It’s a natural outgrowth and the best measure of whether your brand is creating meaning in the lives of your customers. Everything you do—from product and services to messaging and customer experience—should revolve around the question, “Will this grow our customer’s emotional connection to our brand?”, to ensure every decision is made in a way that naturally generates loyalty above and beyond transactional benefits.

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Fostering Emotional Loyalty

Understanding what fosters Emotional Loyalty is critical to identifying how to grow it. Cyrca Strategy suggests three bases of Emotional Loyalty brands should consider:

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Personal Identity—Your brand reflects who the customer sees themselves as being in the here and now—their personal tastes, sense of humor, socio-economic status, vocation, interests, etc. REI & Cabela’s are both outdoors retailers yet appeal to very different segments. Part of this is due to their product selection and which outdoor activities they choose to focus on, for example, Cabela’s carries fishing gear and REI carries climbing equipment. But their brands also reflect differences in how their customers see themselves as outdoors enthusiasts.

Personal Aspirations—Your brand helps customers represent to the world who they aspire to be. Nike has built its brand on their customers’ desire to excel in sports, regardless of the fact the average customer isn’t a world-class athlete.

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Personal Values—Your brand embodies and represents your customers’ personal values and ideals as they extend to the role your brand plays in their lives.

This last dimension is perhaps the most important. The extent to which a consumer believes a brand shares their personal values accounts for nearly two-thirds of their overall Emotional Loyalty to a brand, and almost 75% of their engagement with a brand.

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Value-based Loyalty Leads to Advocacy

Fostering value-based loyalty is a natural outcome of embracing Customer Capitalism’s principle of “Love Your Customers”. This requires understanding how your brand relates to not only your customer’s identity and who they aspire to be, but also the part of themselves that most deeply reflects their sense of meaning.

“Our research shows that emotional loyalty to a brand is driven by the degree to which customers see their patronage as an extension of themselves—their individual identity, their style, and their personal and social values. Grounding your loyalty strategy and program design in why your best customers are proud to be your brand ambassadors is the key to effective advocacy marketing.”


Amanda Piro, Partner, Cyrca Strategy

Value-based loyalty is especially powerful because customers naturally view themselves as not just individuals but as part of a group of brand fans. Sports fans see themselves as part of a larger community whose shared passion is inherently believed to contribute to a team’s success. Fans of a brand see themselves as part of a broader community that makes their spending choices consistent with, and ideally helping to advance, the future they hope to create. By choosing which brands to patronize, they support and espouse the fundamental values they see the brand advocating. Believing in your brand’s values provides a reason to talk about and share love for your brand beyond just being a fan of your products, services, or experiences.

Loyalty Builds Emotional Loyalty

Loyalty programs play a critical role in helping foster Emotional Loyalty. They create a two-way relationship with members that allows for the collection of zero- and first-party data to better understand your customers’ aspirations and ideals, as well as the means to reflect that understanding through personalized offers and communications. They also help create a sense of identity within a larger group of individuals who share their love of your brand because they share a common set of values. This creates a virtuous circle of feeling like evangelizing your brand helps elevate and propagate their own values, which brings more customers, which increases the impact and relevance of engaging with and purchasing from you. Loyalty programs that successfully integrate social and community features help boost the sense of ‘being part of something larger’ shared by your best customers.

Strategies to Leverage Emotional Loyalty

While Reichheld includes examples to demonstrate how valuable and powerful your best customers can be, some pressing questions remain unanswered.

How does a brand identify its best customers?

How does a brand know who their customers are referring?

How does a brand encourage customers to become active brand promoters?

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To close the loop and help you leverage the power of your best, most loyal customers, we recommend these three powerful strategies.

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Social Interactions—We all know the best place to meet customers is in their preferred habitat—and today you’ll find them mainly on social media platforms. Customers interact with brands, influencers and, most importantly, other customers.

By incentivizing social interactions, you can significantly expand your brand reach and awareness. Harris Poll for Sprout Social surveyed U.S. consumers in 2021 and reported that social media interactions have a direct and strong impact on sales and revenue. Not only this, according to a report by Lyfe Marketing, customers begin to trust and recommend brands they have interacted with on social media. Your social media feed, your comments, every mention and tag play an important role in creating a strong brand identity and building customer loyalty.

With the help of loyalty partners like Annex Cloud you can monitor social comments, and empower customers to engage with other customers as well as your brand to form a strong foundation for a meaningful and profitable customer-brand relationship.

Loyalty Strategy—Loyalty strategies are a great way to improve retention rate, understand your consumers better, and identify your best customers. Rewards and incentive programs not only encourage repeat purchases but also give you access to rich data and customer insights. With the help of this data, you can create personalized programs and customer experiences. Individualized loyalty strategies have high engagement and customer satisfaction rates.

Annex Cloud can design loyalty strategies that resonate with your brand’s identity and marketing guidelines, and yield maximum ROI while improving customer experience.

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Advocacy Marketing—The best way to encourage promoters to actively and organically endorse your brand is through deliberate advocacy asks or referral programs. This is perhaps the easiest and most efficient way of identifying your active promoters. You can easily track your best customers and design personalized strategies to further encourage them to promote your brand. Referral programs also have a strong impact on passive customers, giving them an incentive to promote the brand within their circle.

Annex Cloud’s Refer a Friend helps you create a quick, simple, and efficient system to reward and incentivize referrals for your brand. Contact us to learn more about advocacy strategies.

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