9 Reasons Your Company Should Use Brand Advocates: New Research
Advertising is a cornerstone for the success of any business.
As an organization, you need to take significant steps to ensure that your product is advertised to everyone that might buy your product, and more! But it’s a task that comes with its fair share of responsibilities. The most prominent amongst them being able to ensure that your buyers put in a good word for your business.
For that, you need to invest in something known as “brand advocacy”, which plays a vital role in broadening the reach of your brand since its essentially about customers cheering for your product both online and in the real world.
While you can advertise without brand advocacy, you’ll only be reaching a select few individuals who purchase your product. With brand advocacy, your customers become the good Samaritans who rave about your product to their friends or family members.
Now, if you’re a business owner or a consumer, you would certainly be tempted to ask the following questions:
“But why would customers do that? What’s in it for them?”
“As a business, I just want profits and not indulge in creating brand advocacy.”
This term brings with it its fair share of confusion, and in this article, we will be discussing brand advocacy in-depth; from what it is, why it matters to your store, and how you can build a brand advocacy program for your brand.
By the end of this article, rest assured, that all your confusion would be gone. So, without any more introductions, let’s begin with what brand advocacy is.
Brand Advocacy – The Basics
Brand Advocacy is a concept in which your customers embody the philosophy or your brand and promote it to the world. The concept is a direct successor of good product quality and customer service.
With good customer service comes brand loyalty, wherein customers become fans of your product and are naturally inclined to advertise it on their social networks, forums, discussion boards, and many others.
At the same time, owners of the brand benefit since brand advocacy is free advertising for them.
This process can either be done by the customers on the internet (where they talk about the products or service) or in real-life discussions or actions (wearing a Gucci handbag, for example). Either way, it provides businesses new avenues for expansion.
Companies can up their advocacy game even further by nurturing their brand loyalists, educating them more and more on the product and providing them an incentive for doing so – thus creating a long term, mutually beneficial relationship. In turn, these brand advocates evolve into brand experts; one of the most valuable assets that a business can have.
From Theory to Application – Making Brand Advocacy Real
If your brand has the essential features and functionalities meant to solve a consumer’s needs, then creating brand advocates won’t be that difficult of a task for you. Apart from that; honesty, trustworthiness, customer support, and meeting expectations are also essential features that customers expect before they become loyal.
BrightLocal, in its Local Consumer Review Of 2015 states that 88% of online visitors are prompted to purchase a product after going through product reviews or recommendations made by acquaintances.
With the help of such reviews and recommendations, customers who purchase your products and use it for themselves would be more than happy to promote the brand as advocates.
Creating a relationship with a customer is a universal concept, regardless of the industry you’re operating in. This, in turn, requires companies to take extra steps towards ensuring that their products and services stand out from the crowd and add enough value to make loyal customers.
Going the extra mile might seem to be counterintuitive to the bottom line at first; but in the long run, your store is the one that benefits from it.
How to Convert Customers to Brand Advocates?
Now that you have a working knowledge of brand advocacy and how you can make it into a reality, it’s time to move forward and dive into the strategies that you can use to convert your customers into loyal advocates.
So, let’s begin…
1. Serve Customer on Multiple Channels
When you provide multi-channel capabilities, you’re essentially giving your customers multiple options from where to make their purchase.
To accomplish this, you have to become active on your organizations’ social media platforms, promote products and services through emails, provide customer service at a brick and mortar store, and implement a live chat solution on your eCommerce store.
The last part is more important in this regard since research has shown time and time again that a live chat solution is important since they provide customer support in the middle of purchases just like that customer support executive who answers customer queries in a brick and mortar establishment.
Besides that, there are so many ways that you can reach out to a customer.
If there is a key takeaway from this section, it’s that the more options you work on in your multi-channel strategy; the more you increase your chances of building brand advocates.
Wherever your strategy may lie, it is important that you are quick and efficient in replying to your shoppers, and ensure that their queries are solved in a timely manner. Because at the end of the day, brand advocates are the by-products of efficient customer service.
2. Add Value to Customer Service
Common courtesy goes a long way in creating brand advocates. Reaching out to customers and providing them that “extra” customer service can mean more customers and more profit for your bottom line.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most common way you can add value to your customer support efforts:
- Training seminars for your team
- Analyzing bad reviews to see where you went wrong
- Being respectful to customers
- Giving back to the community in the form of corporate social responsibility initiatives
- Being transparent and open in the face of criticism
At the end of the day, combining the myriad of other ways you can go about customer support, all of these factors create a happy customer. And to reiterate, a happy customer means a happy advocate.
3. Utilize the Potential of Social Media
Social media is perhaps the most powerful tool in our brand advocacy arsenal. Its expanse and reach are such that you never know what could go viral.
Also, people love using it, and the more you’re active on the platforms, the better your chances are at creating advocates.
Let’s suppose you solve a customer’s query on Facebook. Your support executive gives them enough time and ensures that there are no loose ends in their problem. Being satisfied with your customer service, the customer decides to post the whole conversation to his friends – creating a positive image of your brand in the eyes of not only the customer but to everyone on his or her timeline.
But social media is a double-edged sword, so to speak. If you’re doing the exact opposite of the case we’ve mentioned above, then it could create a negative image of your brand to the social media masses.
4. Offer Points and Rewards for Loyalty
Ah yes, the incentives to purchase.
Coupons and discounts have been around way before the internet was ever a thing. From big-time airline companies like Emirates to small to medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) worldwide; the owners who implement such loyalty, points, and reward programs are the ones who gain their respective success in their industry.
Now, let’s narrow it down to the SME’s. More specifically, the online businesses – where creating brand advocates is a more complicated task since they don’t have that big of a budget.
Sign-Up points, purchase points, birthday points, among others can prove really useful for such businesses since you are essentially providing incentives for customers to purchase products.
Coupled with good customer service, the incentives help them advocate your brand to their family members or friends.
5. Referral Rewards and Bonuses
Similar to the “points and rewards” discussion above, you can even provide your customers with coupons or points for referring store products to their acquaintances. In turn, the people who sign up for your products also benefit from receiving the points themselves.
This “word of mouth” marketing system is one of the most beneficial ways to boost conversions and create brand advocates for your business.
For the business owner, it might seem as though such bonuses and points are “freebies” that aren’t necessarily beneficial for a company’s bottom line. While true for the short-run, such freebies are extremely beneficial for the long-run goals of the company. When you’re giving away points on referrals, you are also gaining more sign-ups to your store. With more customers, you’re getting more sales. It’s a win-win situation in with both the consumer and the owner benefit.
If you’re running an eCommerce store on WooCommerce, then it’s good to have a plugin that helps you create a complete system for points, rewards, and referrals to your store. Referral System for WooCommerce is one such plugin that integrates all the functionalities that we’ve mentioned above in your store.
6. Feedback, Suggestions, and Recommendations
In step number two, we talked about analyzing the bad reviews to see where you went wrong with your product. Here we would add to that and mention the importance of analyzing the recommendations as well.
Because while the former helps you scope out the points where you went wrong, the latter helps you identify what the customer wants from your product.
Therefore, it is imperative that you ask your customers for feedback on a regular basis. There are plenty of ways to do that and plenty of survey plugin solutions available, regardless of the platform that you are using.
7. Implementing the Feedback
Take your normal everyday relationships. If you’re giving someone advice, and he or she follows it; you’re going to vouch for them, aren’t you?
In a business setting, customers are going to vouch for you (and perhaps, even become brand advocates) if you’re implementing their suggestions and recommendations.
The best-case scenario would be when you actually credit the individuals who made the recommendations. That would be a surefire way to create a brand advocate.
The key takeaway here is that if you listen to customers, they’re going to buy from you again. So, at the end of the day, it’s a win for you!
8. Assuring Quality and Team Work
Even with all the things we’ve mentioned above, your product is going to fall short if it isn’t quality assured from your end.
To provide satisfaction to the users, you’re going to want to take yourself and your team and work together to ensure superb product and service quality at all levels of the organizations.
Your product is a reflection of your brand, and if all that effort creates brand advocates for your business, then it’s all worth it in the end.
9. Create A Seamless Business Process
Think about the big brands that have loyal brand advocates. Among other factors, the thing that made them nurture those advocates is the ease with which customers can conduct business with them.
A major business that stands out is Amazon, and its efficient one-click ordering process, which stands out because of the level of simplicity and seamlessness it provides. Similarly, you must do the same.
Removing the barriers that come in the way of smooth business processes is a good first step towards making your business process as seamless as possible.
All of what we’ve mentioned are suggestions you can use to improve customer loyalty and brand advocacy. Your “on the ground” situation might be a little different depending on your industry of operations which is why we’d like to end this article by saying that nurturing customer loyalty is not an easy task. There are many internal and external hurdles that you need to pass through to achieve your goals. But it is not impossible, which is why you need to take the ideas we’ve mentioned above in a step by step manner and only move on to the next when you think you’ve got a grip on the first.
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