Okay, so the title is a bit misleading.
There really isn’t a tool that’s going to make building loyalty easy.
If such a thing existed, it probably wouldn’t be free either.
However, look closer at the varying elements that comprise loyalty which a brand can control. Engagement, responsiveness, customer experience, content – there are tools to help with those.
Unfortunately many of the tools of those trades are fairly expensive, and as a result many businesses are left in the dark.
Don’t hang out in the dark. Light is free (or in many cases, freemium).
Capitalize on relationship-building opportunities with these eight free services.
(Editor’s Note: many of these offer extended functionality on paid tiers, but each has a ton of usefulness even at the freebie levels.)
While Facebook is obviously huge, and Instagram and Snapchat are growing popular with the kids, Twitter is still the best bellweather for consumer sentiment. It’s just so damn easy to throw out a tweet about a brand or industry, positive or negative.
But monitoring all those tweets can be a pain. Hence, Tweetdeck. A free web app, Tweetdeck is an all-things Twitter dashboard. You can tweet, send/receive DMs, and best of all, monitor keywords and hashtags.
There are other tools that do this, namely Hootsuite (which allows monitoring across social networks, to an extent) and Sproutsocial, among others.
We’re including Tweetdeck for one primary reason (besides being 100% free): pop-up notifications. Yeah, no staring at Twitter all day waiting for action.
You can build a column that monitors Twitter for tweets mentioning your business by name (but not @ing you). Every time a new tweet comes into that column, *pop* a noise and a pop-up window show up. You can respond in no time – a big, big key for building customer relationships.
Monitoring conversations isn’t just for finding disgruntled customers. It’s also important to keep tabs on consumer and industry trends, which can be used to adjust and shape your own customer experience and brand messaging.
TalkWalker is basically Google Alerts with a bit wider reach. You can set up emails for search terms as the system finds them, or daily/weekly reports. You can also customize the types of content you want to see, from blogs, news and discussions.
As an example, TalkWalker alerts is how we find most of the research we include on our statistics pages. (For reference: Loyalty statistics, 2015 loyalty statistics, coupon statistics, Millennial loyalty statistics, employee engagement statistics)
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a service that triggers custom responses when certain events happen online. For instance, if someone tags you in a Facebook post, IFTTT can call your phone. How about a recipe that sends you an email every time someone posts an Instagram photo at your location?
One of our favorite ways to use IFTTT is to subscribe to blogs. You can plug in any RSS feed and receive an email every time a new post appears. It’s a great way to keep tabs on industry opinions, or the views coming from a client or competitor.
Here’s an idea: every time a customer says something positive about your brand on Twitter, you can favorite it and trigger a “Follow Friday” tweet to go out at the end of the week.
Newsletters are a simple way to communicate with customers in a low pressure, informative channel. But building newsletters and maintaining a subscriber database can be a pain.
If you have under 2,000 names in your database, you can build and distribute that newsletter in MailChimp for free. No design or coding skills necessary – they have tools to handle layout, as well as widgets to add to your Facebook and Wordpress to capture subscribers.
If a user-created newsletter isn’t your thing, at least give your blog content a chance to reach more eyeballs. Feedburner, a free tool from Google, allows people to receive your blog posts in their email inboxes (or any number of RSS readers). You can also build a nice “Subscribe” widget for your site.
Feedburner allows you to analyze your subscribers, what they’re reading and not reading, where they come from, etc.
Being able to send someone to your site, particularly a blog, where they can opt-in to your content, is a basic engagement tactic, and Feedburner makes it a little bit easier to earn that subscription.
This is an essential tool for B2B folks, or anyone who’s connected with their customers on social networks and/or email. Newsle monitors the web for news articles mentioning your connections. When someone makes the news, it’ll fire off an email letting you know.
Want to make a customer feel good, or trigger a conversation? Tell them you saw their name in the news, or congratulate them on their latest article being published.
If you find that posting content to social networks can be a time suck, or if you’re the type who shares content in short-but-furious bursts, then Buffer is for you. The web service allows you to drop all the content you’d like to share into a silo that then shares that content out piece by piece on your schedule.
So if you read five articles you think your followers will appreciate, or if you want to share your own content out several times a day, add them to Buffer, which will send them out one by one every few hours or however often you prefer.
Here’s our favorite part: Buffer can show you when people interact with your content the most, on each of the major platforms. It’s like giving your content its best shot to earn engagement.
Web analytics aren’t just for the webmaster geeks. These days, a brand’s digital user experience is just as important as their brick-and-mortar experience. Google Analytics will show you how people are finding your brand, and what they’re doing once they’re on-site.
You can use it to see how often people return to the site, how long they stay once there, what the best path to a “subscribe is”.
Here’s a blog post from Moz (hardcore analytics geeks) about loyalty analytics tracking.
Show Us Yours
Most of these tools are designed to keep you updated with the latest information around your brand and industry. And it’s just a sampling of what’s available out there.
We’re not asking you to give up your secrets, but if you have a free (or even cheap) tool that helps you build better customer relationships, we’d love to hear about them. Share in the comments, or tweet them to us at @AccessLoyalty.