Marketers have always sought to build influential brands by moving a customer through the multiple stages of a sales funnel – awareness, attention, choice, purchase and loyalty. But there’s a more powerful stage they need to harness now and that is Brand Advocacy.
Today, the possibility and power of advocacy have reached new heights. Advocacy works because it is truthful and authentic. Advocates take a special stake in a brand through their word-of-mouth endorsement, and it is because of this genuine enthusiasm that others trust it and pay more attention. Advocates are those customers who actively champion and inspire other people to engage with the brand.
For instance, Red Bull hit the bull’s eye with its impactful brand advocacy program. Their brand advocacy program has always been about what it means to their target audience.
Red Bull has over 48 million likes on Facebook. This is because they produce content that relates to the company’s brand message. They share posts about company projects, sports’ photos and videos, and ask questions geared towards energy drinks consumers.
Below are five prominent tips that will help turn loyal followers into brand advocates:
- Motivation is the Purpose
Emotionally connected consumers are twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. A sensitive connect can be built only if brands understand the customers, their key drivers, and what resonates with them.
Motivations vary across brands, demographics, industries and the customer’s position in the purchase cycle. Therefore, insights and in-depth data analytics will work well for brands to get an understanding of their customers’ motivations.
- Communication Is Central
Brands must communicate and encourage their customers to speak their minds out.
Prompt them to talk about everything – from improving customer experience, look and feel of the website to enhancing the products/services.
Ask them to write testimonials about services and products. This will make them consider themselves responsible for making the brand successful – thus providing them with a sense of ownership.
Fitting communication helps businesses offer consistent customer experience and, hence, allow customers to reach out to you directly whenever they want.
- Reward Customers with a well-planned Loyalty Program
One of the proven ways to turn customers into brand advocates is by offering an incentive in the form of discounts and deals. Design loyalty programs that will inspire customers to rope in others as well.
Loyalty programs work well if they give actual value to their customers, drive them home a sense of privilege and keep them engaged. The loyalty program requires you to be active with consumer engagement activities like promotions, exciting content and contests.
Work with the marketing team to understand what works best for the business and chalk out a strategy to retain customers even after the deals and discounts are exhausted.
Therefore, rewarding advocates necessarily don’t need to be expensive, but brands need to understand what motivates their specific customers’ advocacy behaviour.
- Leverage Social Media
By tapping social media’s vast audience, one can expand its reach and encourage brand advocacy as well.
Don’t limit to just sharing promotional content; try to make the content more updated and appealing. The code to receive positive visibility in a social media conversation is to offer information that adds value to readers’ lives.
For instance, E-Commerce company Shopify serves up an incredible advocacy example.
Rather than asking employees to re-tweet or comment on brand updates, Shopify encourages their staff to demonstrate their expertise with lengthy how-to guides, interviews and case studies. When employees publish fresh content on the Shopify blog, the company highlights them on their social channels.
Brands can leverage social media channels to run a customer survey for getting feedback. They can also explore running an email campaign or install a chatbot on their website, requesting feedback about the buying process.
It is essential to take feedback regularly and across customer touchpoints. This helps brands understand their customers better and in turn, help them take the right steps to transform their customers into advocates.
- Nurture Customer Relationships
Customers communicate with their brands through multiple channels: website, email, phone, social media, physical location and video. Hence, it has become necessary for a business to engage/support customers through multiple channels.
Any brand’s customer service team should be active on Twitter and integrate social listening.
When a customer is optimistic about a brand, it’s significant to appreciate by addressing them on a personal level. Offer them customized recommendations for products they might like. Set up an email campaign congratulating them on their customer anniversary with a special gift.
Brand advocacy is a profitable way of reaching the customer’s psyche and taking the brand’s message forward. Brands need to invest in nurturing relationships with their customers. They should invest in generating stories and experiences in a language that people connect with the brand. They must invest in building long-lasting relationships with their consumers, centred around trust and rendering unparalleled value to their consumers.
Today the customer is not only affected by a great product but also associates with a brand that has a clear sense of purpose. Brands with a well-defined point of view about the cultural, social or consumption fabric have a much higher chance of generating advocacy.
- By Mr. Vikram Kumar, Co-Founder & Managing Director, SRV Media Pvt. Ltd.