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Do you have a favourite brand? A brand of sport shoes you find yourself buying every few months. An ecommerce website you can’t live without. A brand of biscuit you can’t seem to walk past in the supermarket without popping in your trolley. 

What we’re talking about here is brand affinity. Brand affinity is all about the relationship an individual has with a specific brand. It is what makes your customers want to spend their time and money on your brand.

And while this attraction is often put down to an emotional response, the truth is brand affinity is also about data.

Beyond loyalty

Brand affinity is often used interchangeably with brand loyalty. While similar, brand affinity goes beyond loyalty and is a stronger connection, focusing on an emotional connection rather than simply loyalty. 

This makes brand affinity the most valuable and long lasting customer relationship a brand can strive for. A Motista study found that emotionally connected customers have a 306 percent greater lifetime value than customers who are simply satisfied. 

Brand affinity can also be used as an acquisition tool for non-customers. Alaska Airlines for example, consistently lead the way in customer satisfaction. In fact, this reputation for high levels of customer satisfaction, combined with personal endorsements, has seen Alaska Airlines rated as the best in terms of customer satisfaction – even among people who have not flown with the airline

Just like data can be used to offer deals and communications that will increase customer loyalty, brand affinity is also a data-driven process to a certain extent. For marketers, there are specific customer attributes that indicate whether or not brand affinity is being achieved. These might include engagement, awareness, return customers, bounce rate, loyalty level, price sensitivity and propensity to buy. 

A business looking to achieve brand affinity can take a look at these metrics to see how it is performing. If it is lacking in certain areas, these can be addressed in the hopes of successfully building affinity with a wider base. 

Putting data to use

Marketers can also use data to build profiles of their ideal customers. A brand might learn through data analysis that its most profitable customers are millennial mothers with a strong attraction towards brands with a sense of purpose. With this in mind, the marketing team could then build a content marketing campaign, perhaps led by an influencer with a strong following amongst this audience segment. Such a strategy would give the brand the best opportunity possible to make a strong connection with its customers and start to build brand affinity.

Customer data can also be used to improve customer experience and in turn boost brand affinity. Customer data – whether it be sales data, survey based sentiment data, lifetime journey or technical footprint – provides insight into what works and what doesn’t when it comes to customer experience. With this data, businesses can build recommendation engines that are tailored for each customer. Providing this personalised service will in turn heighten the connection between the customer and the brand and boost the likelihood of brand affinity occuring. 

So what’s the first step to using data to drive brand affinity? Structure. The most effective data is clean, formatted and centrally available (not sitting in silos across the business), so it’s important to establish a data-driven system. This involves ongoing storage, collection and consolidation of data – all in a privacy compliant manner.  

At smrtr, we give our partners the ability to access our privacy compliant data universe and build affinity based audience segments driven by a combination of your first party data and our transactional, attitudinal, demographic and socioeconomic data assets that are connected to over 16 million Australians. These can be applied to both (external) programmatic advertising and internal CRMs and DMPs so brands can build a greater affinity amongst customers and provide guidance into how to foster relationships using data.

By Paul Argus, CMO at smrtr