Digital Marketing Strategies for Butterflies and Loyal Dogs

by | Sep 26, 2019 | Marketing

Digital lead generation and retention strategies based on buyer behavior is the topic of this article. Butterflies and Loyal Dogs are defined, and their behavior patterns are identified. A brief discussion of when and why to target one or the other and how this segmentation correlates with more conventional segmentations serves as a preamble to describing effective digital Marketing strategies for each type.


Business success may be all about leadership, but Marketing success is all about market segmentation. Commonly used segmentation criteria include demographics for consumer products and industry verticals for B2B. Buyer behavior, while more relevant to lead generation, is often ignored, likely because it is more challenging to figure out how to reach targets by personality and behavior. This article provides some insights on how to use a behavior-based segmentation between Butterflies and Loyal Dogs to create a productive digital lead generation strategy for each type. 

Butterflies and Loyal Dogs

 Butterflies thrive on the newness of their discoveries. They promote to their social network the “cool thing” they have just discovered. We don’t need to fast forward to see how they move through the buying cycle because they have already moved forward fast to their new interest. Their buying cycle is short and simple: see it, got to have it, buy it, bye! On to the next thing, likely sourced on social media.

Loyal Dogs, when they are used to something, stick to it. Gaining Loyal Dogs as customers is hard work. They don’t value change, so they do not put much effort into researching what is new. Traditional digital campaigns on social media, SEO, and SEM are not as effective lead generation tools as with Butterflies because they are all geared to feed a desire to change. Sales cycle for Loyal Dogs tend to be long. 

Correlations of Butterflies/Loyal Dogs Segmentation with other Segmentation Criteria

The proportion of Butterflies is highest among younger generations. Price buyers are Butterflies. Promotional offers preferentially attract price sensitive Butterflies.

Decision makers in businesses are more likely to fall in the Loyal Dog category. All the checks and balances and consensus seeking involved in corporate purchasing frustrate Butterfly behavior.

Small businesses are more likely to be Loyal Dogs, especially if the purchase is not a major budget item core to their business. Change is proportionally more costly for small businesses due to their small team size. 

To Catch Butterflies or Attract Loyal Dogs?

 The far greater lifetime customer value of a Loyal Dog makes him highly desirable. Subscriptions, brands, engagement, reward programs, and quantity discounts are all tools designed to turn customers into Loyal Dogs. The return on Marketing investment, defined as the ratio of margin on Lifetime Customer Value to cost of customer acquisition and retention, is highest for Loyal Dogs. This metric recommends focusing on attracting and retaining Loyal Dogs.

Butterflies, though, have their value in some contexts. Early adopters are commonly Butterflies who drive initial sales growth. Lead generation should focus on Butterflies for:

  1. young businesses without a well know brand
  2. single product companies, often young businesses
  3. products and services subject to single or infrequent purchases (Expert services, kitchen gadgets, tools…)
  4. unique new product or service concepts
  5. short lived products and services or fads (Movies, single issue video games, fashion)

In time, complementary Marketing strategies will enable the development of Loyal Dogs for these businesses. 

Digital Strategies for Lead Generation Targeting Butterflies

I will not cover this topic in depth as it is covered extensively elsewhere. Suffice it to say that the appropriate social media should be a main stay of the digital strategy. Frequency should be high, content should be short, sweet, highly visual, and clever if possible. Influencer Marketing is highly relevant. Since impact is ephemeral, saturation is not a concern: you can never have too many campaigns. Quantity is more important than depth.

SEO/SEM need to be part of the digital strategy as well. How important a component depends on the company’s competitive landscape.

Analytics has more value than in the connected and online/offline world of Loyal Dogs as the shorter selling cycle facilitates connecting a single touch point to a sale.

Digital Strategies for Lead Generation and Retention of Loyal Dogs

Digital strategies should focus on the key characteristics of Loyal Dogs: loyal, trusting, and not seeking change.

“Not seeking change” makes a standard search engine strategy (SEO and SEM) less effective. There are, however, ways to communicate digitally with Loyal Dogs by being present at their “watering holes”, in their trusted circle. This can mean special interest groups on social media, digital industry publications and their associated email newsletters, professional or trade associations, influencers channels, and thought leaders platforms. You may also be able to leverage loyalty to other brands, such as distributors, resellers, and companion products through joint efforts.

Retention should be weighted more heavily than lead generation, and digital strategies should not ignore retention. The two require a different mix. The retention content should help end users and influencers do their job, and in the process, remind them why they like your company. For topics, consider not only products and features, but user experience: fast shipment, tech support, long warranty, instructional use videos…

Alternate between educational content to help them use your products and helpful content at the periphery of their core knowledge. People don’t care until they know how much you care about them. Providing information relevant to them but not related to you shows them that you care. This can be done in an email newsletter, a blog with RSS feed, or posts on relevant social media groups.

Quality of content trumps quantity for this audience that is not actively looking to switch, especially in newsletters. To appreciate this point, consider how eager you are to be bombarded with content on a topic that is not currently at the top of your mind. That is the typical state of mind of a Loyal Dog.

Lead generation strategies must recognize that you can influence but do not drive competitive conversion of Loyal Dogs. Loyalty makes competitive accounts your competitor’s to loose. Your digital strategy must be ever present, nurturing and subtle. For example, use non-branded content highlighting the value of features the competition is missing. You can pair this up with a long tail SEM component on key phrase “product with feature”, where “product” is your product category and “feature” is your distinguishing feature. Concurrent ads similarly focused can also be productive.

In most cases, the pursuit of new Loyal Dog users (not current or competitive) through a digital strategy is not a high yield one. Loyal Dogs do not seek change.

The platinum level strategy is to create a compelling “watering hole” for your community on your website. Be mindful that this strategy is resource intensive and may not be justified by its potential return on investment. Educational content and forums are valuable tools for this strategy. HubSpot and Elegant Themes are two companies that do this exceptionally well.

A minimalist approach to getting “watering hole” benefits with low input consists of putting on your website tools your customers use frequently. One company found that their webpage with a single tool had more page views than their homepage. You can then use such pages to communicate products and feature highlights, tradeshow attendance, helpful articles or newsletters… Since repeat visits are likely, the messages should be short and change frequently. You can also engage visitors by asking them for their input but only ask for inputs if you are prepared to act on them.

Matching Digital Marketing Strategy to Buyer Behavior Profile

Butterflies have a short buying cycle, usually online, and often a small Lifetime Customer Value. Loyal and not seeking change, Loyal Dogs have long selling cycles straddling the digital and physical world. Their Lifetime Customer Value can be several orders of magnitude greater than that of Butterflies, making them attractive.

Most “Best Practices” in digital Marketing are best adapted to catching Butterflies. Yet, a thoughtful adaptation of these methods to the psychology of Loyal Dogs will yield a high return on Marketing investment in the form of retention and attraction of loyal profitable customers.

Every situation is different and calls for a customized and blended digital/offline Marketing strategy. To discover the strategy with best ROI for your specific situation, please contact the author below.


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