In today’s supercharged market conditions, anything short of amazing customer focus is simply not good enough. Delighted customers are the most influential weapon in your marketing arsenal, making them the most natural advocates for your brand. In other words, customer advocacy is your best strategy to build and nurture brand authenticity and trust.
That said, customer advocates are of different kinds, and therefore display varying behavior. So you need to relentlessly focus on paying attention to each of them. A certain Bezos’ statement from 20 years ago come to mind? You need to deploy various tactics to identify, engage, and delight them – consistently.
How do you find customer advocates?
Sure, every business has its own advocates. But given that they don’t exactly come in neatly labeled packages, how exactly do you go about finding them? Here are a few hacks to identify the best potential promoters of your brand:
- Analyze your reviews:This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build your advocate network. Reviews are the best indicators of what your customers think of you. Look for glowing reviews, and voila! You have your first set of happy advocates.
- Define advocate personas: Marketers are already aware of the need to create buyer personas. Now try employing the same tactic for customer advocates, but backward. Identify the varied personas that youwould like to showcase as your advocates. Next, match these types to different plans within your marketing strategy, while simultaneously establishing a sustained loop for product improvement via valuable feedback and mutual branding via collaborative content creation/ sharing.
- Focus on creating a phenomenal customer experience, every time:When Amazon developed Prime back in 2005 because Bezos, famed for his relentless obsession with customer experience, knew about customers’ love for free shipping, it drew flak for its “too good to be true” feel. Fast-track to the present, and it’s clear that a move purely aimed at pleasing customers – rather than at bumping up short-term profits – has paid off. In spades. How many customers do you know who are disgruntled with Amazon’s customer service?
What motivates advocates?
While studies prove that brand advocacy is one of the most successful marketing strategies in existence studies, the million-dollar question still remains – what motivates an advocate to act on your behalf? As the buying process grows progressively customer-centric, this question is becoming increasingly important, with everyone from local grocers to luxury fashion brands all vying to delight more customers.
Here’s how you can get new brand advocates:
- Increase engagement via competitions and campaigns: Inviting customers to share their experiences is a great way to not only encourage user-generated content (UGC), but also incentivize them to turn into loyal brand advocates. This means that you’ve got to run more content, fun hashtag campaigns, and customer showcase programs (where you share customer content and credit them for it).
- Encourage reviews:Product reviews are often deal-breakers during purchase decisions. The more detailed and descriptive these are, the better they work. So make sure to follow up with customers – and incentivize them if necessary – to get those product reviews up. Most happy customers are happy to share helpful product information with potential buyers, just as they look for the same help when buying new products themselves.
- Find your own unique quirk/ story: This is about finding that one thing that makes you stand apart from your competition – so strongly that it becomes a continual topic of conversation. This is about as organic, authentic, and long-standing as it gets. A notable example here is the DoubleTree by Hilton warm chocolate chip welcome cookie, which has found mention in many an online conversation – and that’s putting it mildly. Do a Google search and you’ll know.
Tips to increase customer advocacy
In a world where purchase decisions are driven by reviews and recommendations, leveraging customer advocacy isn’t a one-time exercise. You need to sustain and grow the advocacy over time. Here’s a checklist of what you can do to ensure that your advocates remain increasingly engaged and happy:
- Make them feel special– wish them on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, and maybe even offer a discount
- Recognize them– Use leaderboards and give them shout outs on social media
- Appreciate their effort– offer incentives for referrals; never take their love for granted
- Be generous with freebies – simple stuff like stationery, t-shirts, and other kick knacks make them happy, while increasing brand visibility
- Share your success– share success stories, feature reviews, positive reviews, etc. with them, always crediting them for their role in your success
- Surprise them – whether in the form of a simple thank you note or a sample of a new product, surprise them when they least expect it
- Offer sneak peeks – provide early access to product/ product line unveilings
- Request for feedback – and act on it
What lies in store?
Customer advocacy is by no means yet another hyped up marketing buzzword. Given the increasing number of active customer communities driven by their intrinsic need to help the brands they love grow faster and better (with the perfectly harmless bonus of achieving personal branding goals), customer advocacy will become progressively integral to all marketing efforts aiming to achieve aggressive results.
Customer advocacy programs help you create an impressively extensive network of brand advocates, while simultaneously offering you an exciting way to boost your marketing efforts.
Contact us to find out how to leverage your customers as advocates.