When you hear the term “customer loyalty,” do you immediately think of your dedication to your customers, or their dedication to you? 

Where you stand influences how you market to your customers, and ultimately determines their long-term commitment to your brand.

According to research by Kitewheel, a majority of marketers focus on the latter definition. They found that while 73% of consumers think that loyalty programs are in place for brands to reward their dedication, 66% of marketers think of it the other way around, believing that loyalty programs exist for customers to exhibit their dedication to them.

See the disconnect? Unfortunately, more businesses today are leaning toward marketing programs that are geared toward mutually beneficial incentives, not gratitude toward the customer. Many times, this means incentivizing through generic coupons and discounts alone. The end result is a “one-and-done” buyer — a consumer who is simply seizing on the opportunity for financial savings, but not making an emotional, long-term connection with your brand.

However, businesses who make gratitude a cornerstone of their marketing endeavors see different results. Their customers are engaged, retained, and quick to refer.

There are several ways to be more grateful in your marketing. A good place to start is to focus on the quality and personalization of your interactions. Make your customers feel heard and appreciated. Social media makes this easy — retweet, share, or regram your client’s posts with an added bit of praise. It’s also important to be available and respond to customer praises and complaints quickly and genuinely. Even simple gestures, like putting a thank-you card in your orders or a note of appreciation on your invoices, can make a big difference.

What you do outside of the realm of your customers counts, too. Make charitable contributions and partnerships a priority, and share how you engage with your local community.

With so many choices and so much marketing noise, it really is remarkable when someone forces his or her way through the hashtags, advertisements, and competitors to land on your doorstep. If you’re not recognizing this dedication, then it may be time to take a look at your marketing agenda and ask yourself a valuable question: Who is loyal to whom?