Hear all about it: how to turn customers into brand advocates

Customer matters

4 July 2018

Consumers voices are louder than ever before, and paying even closer attention to what they have to say could help you cultivate a powerful marketing tool: brand advocates.

In a nutshell, brand advocates are your most loyal customers, who organically share their views on the products and services they’ve purchased from you on their social media channels, blogs and through word of mouth. Made up of professional critics and long-term customers and even employees, brand advocates can be extremely valuable to helping businesses drive sales, entice new customers and increase brand loyalty.

With Hootsuite’s research revealing that 9 out of 10 online consumers regard the recommendations of their friends and family as their most trusted form of advertising, utilising the content of brand advocates could be central to driving more customers and revenue to your business.

So how do you go about turning your happy customers into brand advocates?

Invest in customer relationships

It might seem obvious, but your product is what makes shoppers become evangelical about your business. Ensure that your goods, customer service and customer experience are of a consistently high quality to help you provide your consumers with a consistently positive experience.

Whether customers contact you on social media, email or on the phone, try not to forget the personal touches, like offering a discount if a particular experience with your business has been detrimental, to help rebuild customer loyalty.

As with any relationship, the feedback you receive may not always be positive. In these instances, it’s important that you thank people for negative or constructive feedback as not only could it help you find a way to improve what you offer, but may make disgruntled customers stick around for with your brand for longer.

Relationships are reciprocal, so try focusing on using your communications channels to gather audience feedback, see if you can act on it, and make customers happy one at a time.

Reward your customers

Whether its offering discounts or sneak peek access to sales, providing exclusive content or rewards to your loyal customers could be a great way of making potential advocates feel special. Why not offer some of your most loyal customers the opportunity to try out some of your new products?

If you’re a clothing retailer, you could let a select few shoppers try out some clothes from your latest lines and encourage them to share their looks and reviews on social media before sharing this content across your own channels. This could show that not only are your products high quality, but that you value the opinions of your shoppers too.

Promote user-generated content

Around 76% of people believe that user generated content is more authentic than a brand’s own messaging. Therefore, the myriad content that your customers create – including photos, reviews and blog posts – has the potential to be one of your most powerful communications tools and a great way to build brand personality.

Some big brands have been particularly savvy with this content. ASOS has a dedicated page where their user generated content is stored. When shoppers share Instagram posts of themselves wearing clothing from ASOS with the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe, these photos are uploaded to the site, which appear on the relevant product pages, helping to create a community of brand advocates.

Why not try setting your audiences challenges or organising competitions where you get your audiences to share their photos and content online? Placing their content in the spotlight is potentially a great way to recognise customers and to thank them for their commitment to your brand, which could help increase their loyalty.

Turn your employees into advocates

Your customers aren’t the only source of potential brand advocates, your employees can be just as effective. Working on the front lines of your business, they know the products and values of your company, and, more importantly, what makes your customers tick. According to research carried out by Cisco, social posts created by employees can generate eight times more engagements than those posted by employers.

Some brands encourage their employees to live their ideals. Reebok has asked its employees to share their zeal for keeping fit by getting them to share their social media posts detailing their fitness activities with the hashtag #FitAssCompany. Similarly, Lululemon, the yoga clothing retailer, train their shop assistants, known as educators, to not only help customers find the best activewear, but to advocate and enable a healthy lifestyle.

Why not try getting your employees to take to social media to share their own thoughts on what they love about your company? If you run a café you could get them to say why customers should try their favourite dish, or if you run a gym, why people should get their blood pumping at a specific fitness class.

The concept of the brand advocate is still relatively new but, if used correctly, has the potential to be a powerful but cost-effective marketing tool for your business. From its potential to help grow brand visibility organically, showcase your products, and increase your business reach online and via word of mouth, now could be an ideal time to start listening to what your customers have to say more intently than ever before.

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