Brand advocacy can drive exponential growth, and customer-first organizations automatically create brand advocates. How do they do it? By giving their consumers a seamless experience and building a community of loyal advocates.
But building a customer-first business model is more complex than it sounds. It is a process that demands more nuance than simply providing excellent customer service. The dedication needs to be consistent and should reflect in the business strategy.
To make the process more comprehensive, we’re discussing ten practical ways to successfully turn customers into brand advocates.
How To Turn Customers Into Brand Advocates Seamlessly
1. Be proactive, not reactive
People research before committing to a brand and trust customer experiences in this digital era. Brand advocacy can happen without heavy investment in marketing. It drives earned media such as reviews, testimonials, and positive press, generating 4x more brand lifts than paid marketing. For startups, that can help extend your cash runway.
To turn customers into brand advocates, you need to have a winning strategy for earning their loyalty. Only when you think of customers’ needs and put effort into being one step ahead will they take the effort to promote you. So, brands must take proactive measures — from keeping customers informed to simplifying their journey with advanced features.
2. Offer loyalty programs
Incentivizing customers can be a winning strategy for earning long-lasting brand loyalty. When a company strives to recognize and appreciate loyal customers, it wins long-term consumer engagement.
A loyalty program shows that appreciation. Giving your consumers benefits gives them a reason to promote your brand. According to reports, more than 70% of customers are likely to recommend a brand if it has a good loyalty program.
A loyalty program can include discounts, upgrades, cash back, or free products based on the customer’s purchase history. An upfront gesture like welcoming new customers with a discount after their first purchase goes a long way. You can also consider crafting tier-based loyalty programs with point systems, referrals, etc., to engage your existing customers and reach new ones.
Darshan Somashekar, who runs the card gaming site Hearts.land, suggests surprising loyal customers. “We sent t-shirts to our users who played our Hearts and Card games regularly. They didn’t expect it, and we saw widespread sharing on social media as a result”
3. Create referral programs
Another effective way to get existing customers excited to promote your brand is to start a referral program. Offer rewards for customers who successfully influence someone from their network to buy your product or service. Referral programs are an organized, rewarding way for customers to refer a business while incentivizing them with structured benefits.
Take a cue from Dropbox — the reward can be an extra feature, a free product, a discount, or cash to use toward their next purchase.
You can start by holding special “fans only” shopping events that give them unique product access and then plug into the referral program for optimum participation.
4. Use social media to engage your audience
The world revolves around social media, and so does most of your customer base. So it's essential to create content that engages with the customers. E.g., as an Instagram brand, you can use an Instagram caption generator to create content that repeatedly brings your customers to your profile.
To establish yourself as a brand worthy of customer advocacy, you must make customer support accessible through multiple social media channels. Place proper streamlining to address every concern to show on social media that your brand genuinely cares about customer experience.
Social media engagement is critical to connecting with happy customers and turning the frustrated ones into potential brand advocates.
The user's experience with the brand should be consistent across all social media platforms. This increases customer satisfaction because it makes your customer service more accessible.
Remember, even positive comments are chances to engage with satisfied customers and build stronger relationships by thanking them for their kind words. The power of user-generated content is matchless in any form of content marketing.
5. Personalize experiences to build a customer-first culture
No matter what products you sell, various alternatives are likely available in the market. Customers have enough options, and thus, competition is cutthroat. In such circumstances, providing adequate customer service is required.
Here, customer advocacy comes down to an exceptional customer experience that begins with personalization. It helps you to establish a level of emotional engagement with your customers.
According to research, 86% of consumers with high emotional engagement say they always think of the brands they are loyal to when they need something. These are the fans who are most likely to promote your brand. A great example of this is Apple’s ‘Memoji Stickers.’
The goal of personalizing user experience is to humanize your brand.
Additionally, addressing customers by name in service interactions and marketing offers will help you achieve that. Always keep a friendly and approachable attitude. To make the sales process smoother, you can offer customized settings like wish lists and one-click checkout.
Customers also promote brands dedicated to giving the best services to consumers. According to a Zendesk study, 67% of customers state that their experience affects how they recommend the brand to others. When you build a business that puts its customers first, your target market will stay longer on your sites, spend more on your products, and share their experiences, which leads to long-lasting brand loyalty, repeat purchases, and referrals.
Customer-centric ideas must be part of executive conversations, business planning, pipeline reviews, and stakeholder meetings. Analyze customer data frequently and share the findings across every company tier. Dive deep and understand what your customers care about the most.
Always keep your customers informed and personalize the product experience for each segment to be super relevant to them.
6. Build a community across platforms
Your online community can be your most influential brand advocacy tool. Your presence should be on every social network and industry community to maximize your reach.
Seamless customer service can be the fuel to lead a strong community of loyal consumers — which ultimately results in successful brand advocacy.
How do you locate satisfied customers who promote your brand through testimonials?
You can leverage Zendesk, Intercom, or other HubSpot Service Hub alternatives. You can run an NPS campaign to find promoters, passives, and detractors based on their experience with a brand. The promoters will likely become brand advocates and recommend your product or service to friends and colleagues.
7. Ask for and act on customer feedback
Happy customers are a brand’s best asset in spreading testimonies about your company's excellent customer experiences. Thus, companies must show them they are heard, respected, and valued to turn consumers into brand advocates.
After every purchase a customer makes, solicit their feedback through post-contact surveys and periodic surveys to improve service. You can also provide platforms like Facebook ratings, Google reviews, or Yelp for customers to review your products.
Gather feedback at every potential opportunity, as Grammarly does routinely. Customer feedback will establish a good image for your brand and help you improve your services and understand how to turn consumers into advocates.
8. Consult with employees to get inputs
Customer feedback is about recognizing what customers want. Your customer-facing teams, such as account managers, customer success, customer support, after-sales teams, etc., are the people who deal with customers firsthand. Hence, their input can be precious in developing a proper customer advocacy strategy.
Since these employees interact with customers to gather information, they can use the interactions to identify potential brand advocates. Here’s how:
- Onboarding: These experts watch how users interact with your product. They can suggest design improvements that lead to consumers becoming repeat customers and, eventually, advocates.
- Experience management: These employees actively promote customer satisfaction and reduce churn. They can identify who’s more likely to become a brand advocate because of their experience with the brand.
- Contract renewals: When customers renew their agreement with your business, they are happy with your offerings and service. Employees facing these buyers can point you to potential brand advocates.
8. Evaluate metrics to perform better
To gain long-lasting brand advocates, generating data-driven insights from measuring KPIs is a reliable method. But to do that, a proper tracking protocol and a clear idea of what KPIs to track must be in place.
As a brand, you must constantly monitor customer engagement and online conversations. Here, social listening tools can bring efficiency in monitoring online discussions. Make it a point to go through comments on your social media posts and follow the online behavior of converted customers to see what other products or pages interest them.
Here are key metrics to determine advocates from the customer base:
- Customer satisfaction score
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Content engagement
- Online reviews
- Sentiment analysis
- Social listening insights
Analyzing customer support queries will help you identify your core market's most common issues or concerns. Brands should also measure customer feedback initiatives for better results and constant improvement. The key to having successful brand advocacy is not only evaluating but also acting upon survey responses and consumers’ likes and dislikes about the brand experience.
9. Under-promise and over-deliver
The rule of thumb in customer service is to under-promise and over-deliver. If you promise more than you can confidently deliver, it will portray the brand as an unreliable service provider, proving detrimental to your brand-advocate strategy.
Instead, giving your clients more than you initially promised is always better. It is the key to offering exceptional brand experience and running a successful business. Surprising your clients more than they expect fosters trust in your brand, and the customer feels valued and well-served.
Brands must map out business goals to identify the steps for building a community of brand advocates.
Still, there is no specific recipe to turn your customers into brand advocates. So, your best bet is to implement these points, prepare your customer-facing teams to extract the correct information and keep providing unparalleled service to see a rise in your advocate numbers.
Author Bio: Mehdi Hussen is a SaaS marketing and organic growth consultant. He helps SaaS businesses drive organic growth and customer acquisition through SEO and data-driven content marketing strategies. Mehdi spends his spare time musing about startup growth strategies, personal productivity, and remote work. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn