As a business organization, it is your job to promote and advertise your service and product to the moon and back. Similarly, the responsibility is also on you to make sure that the buyers, (the people who use your products and services regularly), put in a good word for you at all times.
These cheerleaders are termed as “Brand Advocates” and they play a very vital role in company growth. In fact, when you focus your efforts towards developing brand advocates, you will see an increase in your company reach because people love to be a part of the brands they love, and want to share their experiences with those around them.
Brand advocacy is truly one of those growth hacks that will always work.
According to Nielsen, 84% of customers trust or consider a recommendation from friends and family members.
Many companies hence take brand advocacy marketing quite seriously, as they know the benefits of having Good Samaritans on their side. Brand advocacy should be one of the priorities of customer support.
Confused? No worries. In this article, I’m going to discuss how you can turn your beloved and faithful consumers in advocates for the benefit of your sales and company.
What is Brand Advocacy?
“Victory in marketing does not happen when you sell something, but when you cultivate advocates for your brand”: Steven Knox, Proctor and Gamble
Brand Advocacy is a practice and philosophy where people who love using your product or service promote your brand to their friends and associates. The fan of a product/brand does this promotion naturally, and companies do not pay a single penny for this type of advertisement.
This advocacy is done over the internet and also in real life, thus providing companies new opportunities to tap and use for growth. Although brand advocacy depends on traditional lines of word of mouth, it is still considered a relatively new marketing ploy.
Companies can even identify their brand loyalists and nurture them throughout the buying cycle so that both parties can benefit from a long-term relationship. Once these advocates become brand experts, they become extremely valuable assets for your business.
How Brand Advocacy Becomes a Reality?
If your brand provides the core and fundamental features to a customer, then there is a chance that you can convert a loyal user into an advocate.
Companies just have to be honest, coherent, clear, trustworthy, transparent, and live up to the expectations of customers.
“88% of users rely on online reviewers made by other users and trust recommendations from friends and family members.” – BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2015.
With such clarity and promise, firms would be able to create a relationship with a user, who in turn could easily promote the brand out of sheer positivity and happiness.
Of course, different markets and various businesses might have different dynamics, but creating a bond with your customers—maybe even with a tailor-made approach—might work in your favor.
Brands understand the importance of providing excellent customer service, but to acquire a brand ambassador, companies must go that extra bit.
They have to highlight their integrity and willingness to accept a customer. Companies also have to create brands that are exciting and fun, an entity that anyone would like to associate with—for example Red Bull.
Advocacy can only be a reality if you work hard and make your brand a household name.
Ways to Turn Your Customers into Advocates:
I’ve told you how you can conduct yourself to attract the attention of a client so that he or she can in turn advocate and put in a good word for your brand.
However, even though the program depends on what service, help, deals, quality, and support you offer to your shoppers—and the overall experience that they derive by shopping with you– there are some cheeky ways to convert your regular loyal consumer into an advocate.
Let’s glance over them…
1. Serve Customers on Multiple Channels
Shoppers know how convenient it is to engage with a company on multiple channels.
Here, clients get the freedom to choose the most suitable channel as per their capabilities.
Companies have to be active on telephone lines, e-mails, text messages, video calling, websites, at the brick and mortar store, on the app, social media, and with tools like Live Chat at all times.
It’s vital that you encourage your team to use tools like Live Chat because recent data suggests that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website or business can offer.
Live Chat offers a myriad of features which companies, and in turn users, can make good use of to solve issues.
Another tool which I’ve used is called Acquire, which is a very popular tool that many organizations rely upon. It provides customer executives with the power to do real-time text chat, video chat, co-browse, screen share, and file share, etc. with shoppers.
For example— Virgin Atlantic’s Omni-channel customer service
There are so many ways customers can reach out to a business.
In addition, likewise, a company can get in touch with a client. The more options you are active on, the better service you are providing.
Just remember to be equally quick and skillful with your reaction on all channels, as shoppers like it when their problem is resolved in a fast manner. Doing this would certainly enrich customer experience and will woo him or her to be your advocate.
Remember, as experts put it, Brand Advocates are nothing but highly satisfied customers!
2. Provide Shoppers Fantastic Customer Service
As mentioned above, if you want an advocate for your brand you have to stretch your legs out.
Shoppers always deserve to have a wonderful customer experience whenever they decide to trade with a new company.
And as a business organization, there are several ways you can go that ‘extra mile’ when it comes to consumer support.
- Training your team
- Listening to your customers
- Showing respect
- Doing something special for the community
- Creating Wow moments
- Being honest and truthful
- Solving issues
Just to name a few…
One such example comes from the stables of Tesco.
The company runs a project called Eat Happy, where they teach little children the importance of farming and cultivation.
If you are successful in providing these fundamental things first, then you will surely get a happy customer. Moreover, happy customers can turn into your advocates.
3. Use Social Media Correctly
“In 2011, nearly 50% companies said that Social Media could provide more brand advocates to them.” -eMarketer
In terms of tracking and encouraging brand advocacy, social media is one of the most vital things that you can rely upon.
With social media, you get a very broad reach. People love using social media, and this is where you have to serve them.
The more you interact with people and solve their issues on mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google +, the more value you provide them, and the more they like you. After using social media to build that trust and loyalty with your customer, they will be encouraged to share their good experiences with you, and hopefully, with the world.
For instance, you solve an issue on Facebook, and the shopper shares the whole wall conversation with his or her friends and family. Imagine all the good and positive points you will get!
4. Offering Rewards and Loyalty Points
“73% of loyalty cardholders are likely to suggest brands that have similar programs” – The 2016 Bond Loyalty Report
Many companies, belonging to various industries and markets, worldwide run loyalty programs for their beloved, returning, and faithful customers. They also provide and offer some extra and exclusive facilities in them. (Just look at Etihad’s Loyal Guest Program).
In addition, when your customers are unhappy about something, it is your duty to keep them calm and solve their predicament.
Once the issue has been resolved, you can offer your customer small rewards or customer loyalty points as a gesture of goodwill.
Rewarding will quickly help you to win back your aggrieved shopper—and maybe he or she can then advocate for your brand!
If you successfully solve an issue, then you are making sure that you are doing your best. Customers also recognize this, and hence they mark this as an important event. You can also surprise your members by giving them a free upgrade!
For example, offer them package upgrade for their birth month or provide them with a better package for the holiday season.
There are hundreds of possibilities.
5. Give Them Referral Bonuses or Invite Bonuses
Just like giving your users reward points, you can also offer them the referral and invitation bonuses if they tell their friends to use your service. These incentives are one of the best ways to promote your brand with the trait of word of mouth marketing.
Referrals bonuses may seem like freebies, but they have the power to bring you a large number of customers, at a minuscule cost. Remember, these initial customers can advocate for you and convince their friends and followers to use your product/service/app. This situation is a win-win situation for all parties involved—you, your advocate, and the new customer.
Dream Bed has a very fascinating referral program: This is referral with a social cause, and it can easily generate more brand advocates.
6. Asking for Feedback
“64% of users write about a brand online to provide suggestions, while 52% do it for complaining. – eMarketer
Remember, listening to your shoppers is one of the best ways to serve them.
However, you have to ask for their feedback so that you can hear them out and get to know what is bothering them.
If you regularly survey your customers, they will believe that you take consumer service seriously.
You can use various mediums to collect this information. You can do surveys, sales feedback, call center feedbacks, and social media posts.
This way, you would be able to measure the temperature of what people think about you and what they expect from you.
7. Implement the Feedback that You Get
Think about it: if you listen to a customer and implement his or her recommendation will that person advocate for you? He or she will certainly do that.
Most likely, they would even tell their friends and share the experience on social media. People love it when companies listen to them and use their feedback. So, if you ever get suggestions, make sure to use them as much as possible.
Moreover, once you use them, be sure to credit that recommendation to the right person.
Look at Domino’s unique gimmick to hear customers out!
The clients you sell your product or service to are the people who actually use your item regularly. Hence, their feedback can be trustworthy and accurate.
Bottom line? If you take these suggestions seriously, you help your advocate creation drive.
Asking for feedback encourages customers to buy from you again, so you really can’t go wrong.
8. Work as A Team Collectively and Provide Quality at All Levels
When you run a company, you must work as a team to provide satisfaction and good experience to all partners and associates.
If you want your shoppers to become your advocates, you must provide quality on all counts.
Not only customer service, but the product or service that you offer must also reflect your seriousness in providing an excellent experience. For this, you may even have to empower your team a little more to deliver the promise to your clients.
It is the onus of the whole company… to provide quality at all levels.
Be it for production, accounting, or sales—everyone has to bring their A-Game to the table. You must also give emphasis on training so that your team learns the value and the vision of the company.
If a shopper gets an all-round enthusiastic and awesome experience with a business, then he or she will definitely recommend you via word of mouth. However, for this to happen, your team has to work collectively in synergy to deliver your shoppers the goods!
9. Make It A Breeze To Do Business With You
Your organization must work hard to achieve accolades with the customer-first or consumer-centric approach. Your team must make sure that they are accommodating and easy to work with when clients approach them. As mentioned above, tools and multiple channels of interactions can break the communication barriers. However, the actual buying and trading process at the POS/POP should be easy too.
Just look at Amazon’s One-Click Ordering Process. It’s so simple and seamless that people love using it.
Do an internal test and check out how easy it is to do business with you. Time how fast you can search and get your product, how quick the payment process works, is the delivery time justified, and whether your support team is vigilant all the time, etc.
Remove all barriers that can come in the way of smooth processing so that your clients can have a seamless experience with your organization. This way, you will certainly provide your business the chance to earn more advocates, who would certainly reiterate how easy it is to do business with your company.
Satisfying your shoppers may be one of the most difficult things that you can ever achieve during your career as a businessperson; however, turning loyal customers into advocates for your brand might be an even bigger challenge.
Nevertheless, if you stick to the ideologies mentioned above, you’ll be sure to turn your haters into passionate fans and your customers into true advocates.
About the Author:
Sawaram Suthar is Digital marketing evangelist and founder of TheNextScoop.com blog. Within a short span of time, he has helped various enterprises to increase their traffic & ROI. His expertise lies in digital marketing, SEO, and brand promotion.
He is also a marketing head at Acquire, previously Tagove, and founder of digital marketing agency – Jagat Media. When he is not on the desk, love to make new connections, meet people and invest used time within the family.