Creating a strong community of customers and advocates around your brand is a great way to foster life-long relationships and a loyal following -- elements that are crucial to the success of any business. A loyal following of customers can not only help drive sales, but can also get the word out about your services or products, thus ensuring your organization's sustained growth.

As experts themselves, these seven entrepreneurs weigh in with their best tips for fostering more brand loyalty and creating a strong sense of community around your organization and your offerings.

Stay connected with customers.

"It's not enough to build a community of customers unless you're actively engaging with them and gathering their feedback for the betterment of your business," says WPForms co-founder Jared Atchison. 

According to Atchison, companies should be very careful not to abandon their customers and to always seek their opinions, even while they pursue new ones. "We always encourage customer feedback and want as many reviews as possible, which opens the discussion for how we can improve," he adds.

Leverage email marketing.

A great way to keep in touch with your fans to foster brand community and a loyal following is by leveraging the power of email marketing, thinks Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms.

"You can send regular e-newsletters to keep your customers up-to-date with what's going on in your company, which will make them feel like they're in the loop," Wells advises. "Don't forget to send a welcome email to new subscribers in order to warmly welcome them into the club."

Showcase user-generated content.

User-generated content is another great opportunity to engage with your customers while building a connection that's friendly and sparks loyalty, MonsterInsights co-founder Chris Christoff chips in.

"Customers love hearing from brands they invest in, and using their content shows them you're there and you're listening," Christoff explains. "We like to speak to customers through Twitter to reply to their tweets and comment on their content."

Be consistent.

Another crucial element when it comes to building a loyal following is consistency, according to Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.: "If you are doing something right that your community loves and adores, keep doing it."

According to Munoz, brands should be very careful and smart about any changes and adjustments they want to make. "Always keep the 'old favorites around' and be sure to introduce new ideals carefully, potentially in soft batches depending on how popular you are," she recommends.

Continuously provide value.

"If you want to foster brand loyalty, you must continuously provide valuable resources to your community," insists Duran Inci, co-founder and COO of Optimum7.

One way of achieving this is by focusing on educating your audience and helping them make informed decisions, Inci believes: "In addition to our monthly newsletter, we provide free marketing and e-commerce learning resources to our clients through detailed e-books and interactive workshops."

Create a rewards program.

In addition to keeping in touch with customers and providing them with valuable resources, a great way of building a loyal following is by creating a rewards program, according to Rachel Beider, CEO of PRESS Modern Massage.

"Our clients get rewards every time they refer a friend, and as a service, business referrals are everything," Beider says. "Our clients are happy to get credits toward future massage sessions every time they send a new client our way, so this truly benefits everyone!"

Build authority online.

"Businesses that want to influence others need to build authority online," says eMerchantBroker co-founder Blair Thomas, talking about how companies can leverage this authority to create a community of customers and advocates.

One way of building authority, according to Thomas, is by sharing valuable content via blogs and creating rich videos. "If readers and viewers know they can go to you for the best possible information and that they can trust what you offer, you will build brand loyalty and a strong base of customers. This approach has helped us increase shares and followers," he concludes.

Published on: Jul 1, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.