How to Turn Customers into Powerful Brand Advocates
By Ron Welty, Founder & Chief Client Officer
Between ever-changing algorithms and a crowded marketplace, it can be easy for brands to get lost in the noise. This makes customer acquisition and retention challenging for even the most favorable brands. Brand advocates offer a solution to overcome these hurdles.
What are Brand Advocates?
Brand advocates, also referred to as brand ambassadors, are people who love your brand, support your company, and promote your products and services to prospective customers. They’ll proactively share information about a company to their networks via social media, word of mouth, email, or any other channel without any incentive other than their love for the brand.
The Value of Brand Advocacy
Brand advocates can be a cost-effective way to bring high value to your company. According to Invesp, acquiring a new customer is five times as expensive as retaining an existing one. Instead of spending thousands on advertising, brand advocates can help grow your brand in a more natural way.
Brand advocates, who typically boast social networks of hundreds of contacts, are 75 percent more likely to talk about their great experiences with brands. When sharing information, Nielson research shows that 92 percent of consumers trust brand advocates over other forms of advertising, as they’re 70 percent more likely to be seen as a good source of information.
Furthermore, brand advocates can help increase your customer retention rate and sales. According to Deloitte, customers referred by advocates have a 37 percent higher retention rate. While repeat customers already tend to spend more than first-timers, brand advocates spend double what the average customer spends on their favorite brands.
Creating Brand Advocates
Brand advocates don’t require any other incentive other than their love for your brand. How did Apple build its cult following? Why does Starbucks appear on so many Instagram feeds? Here’s how to create passionate advocates from passive customers.
Review Your Brand Purpose
Advocates need a mission they can get behind. According to a Cone Communications study, about three-quarters of consumers are more loyal to purpose-driven brands. They’re also more willing to defend them.
Review your brand purpose, values, and goals to create a vision that inspires the everyday consumer to not only be your customer, but also your advocate. Toms’ “one for one” mission statement serves as a great example of how a brand can inspire customers. When customers purchase a pair of Toms shoes, they know they’re supporting the brand’s mission of providing a pair of shoes to a child in need.
Develop a Customer Loyalty Program
Brand advocates are people who feel appreciated. For as much value as advocates can bring your company, customer loyalty programs can be a great way for brands to show their appreciation. MIT Sloan Management Review found that customers are 117 percent more likely to recommend your brand to others when you have a top-notch loyalty program in place.
Follow best practices like personalizing rewards, engaging with customers, and simplifying your rewards methodology. Starbucks rewards program, for example, requires members to order and pay with their app. By centralizing customer transactions, they are able to collect data on customer preferences and behavior to offer personalized rewards for go-to drink orders, frequently visited locations, and seasonal favorites.
Offer Referral-Based Rewards
Brand advocates help bring business to your company. As an additional way to show your appreciation, consider offering rewards for referrals. When a customer refers another customer to your brand, offer them a reward, such as a free product or service, upgrade, or discount.
Uber and Lyft, for example, provide codes that users can send to new members who want to download the apps. When the codes are applied, both the new and existing customer receive a discount.
Engage Customers on Social Media
Brand advocates want to interact with the brands they love. The majority of customers expect responses within an hour when engaging with brands on social media, while ignoring them altogether can decrease customer advocacy by as much as 50 percent.
Respond to customer feedback—both the good and the bad—to show your appreciation, answer questions, and resolve any issues. As a result, Ambassador found that 71 percent of customers who have a positive social media service experience with a brand are more likely to recommend it to others.
Personalize Customer Experiences
Brand advocates are “regulars” at your company, whether you know them by their face, voice, or simply by name. Providing an exceptional customer experience is one of the top reasons customers become brand advocates.
Don’t let your customers feel like just a number. Personalize their experience by using their name, making personalized recommendations, and remembering their preferences.
When entering an Apple store, for example, every associate knows the customer’s name and location, thanks to the store’s location tracking software. If a customer wants to try the Apple Watch during their visit, for example, associates are trained to take that customer on a personalized “journey,” rather than recite a sales pitch. Personalizing the experience can be the difference between a passive customer and a passionate one.
An Advocate for Your Brand
IntelliShop understands the value brand advocates can bring to an organization. As your partner, we’ll be your advocate by going above and beyond to get the results your business needs to succeed.
Through our customer experience solutions, we’ll take the time to understand what makes your customers tick and provide actionable insights to turn them into powerful advocates for your brand. Contact IntelliShop today to request a consultation.