Brand building is like a coin—it has two sides. One is all about building customer loyalty, while the other (and equally important) is creating brand advocates.
Brand advocates are happy customers who step up the game for you by spreading good words about your brand. It is human psychology to believe a peer who has used a product or service. This is why brands opt for influencer marketing with faces that connect with the masses.
However, brand advocacy is different from influencer marketing. In influencer marketing, it is a well-constructed strategy to onboard a face that is popular among the masses and get him/her talking about your product/services.
On the other hand, brand advocacy solely depends on the user experience while interacting with your brand. Users who feel delighted interacting with your brand will go out of their way to show that. In most cases, it is either through word-of-mouth or through social sharing. This makes them your brand advocates.
How does brand advocacy influence user behavior?
When Netflix released a how-to video on DIY socks (the second in its Make It series), it promoted the concept of Netflix and Chill. It showed an easy way to make socks so you can binge-watch as long as you want.
Netflix simply responded to one of the pain points of viewers — falling asleep while binge-watching a TV series. Viewers often complained about falling asleep mid-episode and waking up several episodes later, bombarded with spoilers. So, Netflix suggested the idea of a tracker sock that would automatically pause your show when you fall asleep.
This had no popular face talking about the brand, but the idea got viewers talking and sharing. It resurrected the loyalty and addiction the brand enjoys with its ‘Make It’ series.
When you get your users to talk and rave about your brand, you allow new users to come onboard. Brand advocacy is an effective way to reduce first-level friction and acquire new users. Simultaneously, it is also effective in triggering engagement from users who have been dormant for a certain period of time.
Do’s and don’ts in brand advocacy
Before you start creating strategies to convert your existing customers into brand advocates, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Onboard sales and marketing teams into the plan
Advocacy marketing requires marketing-sales alignment. Both teams must align with your advocacy goals to create a cohesive strategy across the company.
Pro tip: Create a campaign that identifies customer advocates and design a reward program for participation. Your marketing team can help in the identification and reward designing part, while the sales assistant can use it as an incentive for prospective users.
2. Put customers at the center of your planning
This is a given. You are implementing advocacy marketing to acquire new users and engage existing users. In both ways, it all boils down to your users. Know what your users want, how they want, and ways in which they expect your brand to aid them.
Pro tip: Identify the right social listening services to know what your users are talking about, how much they are engaging, and what they actually feel about your brand.
3. Don’t take customers for granted
It is important to strike a balance for any marketing or sales activity. You cannot underdo or overdo it. Customer advocacy marketing is no different.
Pro tip: Create reward programs that show you care. Don’t create random programs that users wouldn’t want to participate in. Also, don’t shift all your focus on those who participate in the programs and forget about your other users.
4. Be sensitive
Being insensitive to your users is a big no for any brand. Being sensitive does not just mean being non-racist. Your brand must show empathy and genuine care for everything happening worldwide.
Pro tip: Be inclusive in your branding. Mind your timing. For instance, you cannot run a reward program at a time when there is a bombing incident that wreaked havoc somewhere, and the whole world is raising voices against such acts. Know when to act and how.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room.
How to turn happy customers into brand advocates
Advocacy marketing is a strategy that encourages customers to generate buzz around your brand through reviews, word-of-mouth marketing, and social mentions. It is rooted in providing experiences and customer service so good that customers can’t help but share their experiences online and in person.
By integrating free poll apps, businesses can engage with their audience, gather valuable feedback, and tailor their offerings to suit customer preferences better, enhancing the likelihood of organic advocacy and positive brand promotion.
Why does customer experience matter in advocacy marketing?
Your customers are your most valuable assets. How they interact with your brand and how they feel in those interactions matter because:
- Research shows that around 50% of customers will likely try new products or drive upselling.
- Your existing customers are well-versed in your brand, which means their experiences will contain personal reviews that can influence other peers.
- Prospective customers and leads will mostly rely on brand advocates for authentic information about your brand.
When your customers speak on behalf of your brand, you know you’ve built a positive brand image that is cost-effective and high yielding.
6 tips for turning customers into brand evangelists
Here are the best tips for creating amazing customer experiences and turning customers into brand evangelists.
1. Offer a top-notch customer experience
Customer experience is the crux of brand advocacy marketing. Customers who are unhappy with your brand will not speak positively about you. While social mentions and online referrals can be tracked, you cannot track in-person word-of-mouth. You can get it only when you offer genuine experiences that are impactful. Luckily, plenty of tools can help you here, ranging from CRMs to live chats and AI-powered chatbots.
A unique example is Disney and its universe. Customers receive electronic wristbands or the Magic Bands via mail after purchasing their tickets to DisneyWorld. This brand is everything into one—digital storage space, hotel room key, payment method, and more. It is good enough to give customers a VIP feeling from the get-go. This fosters loyalty and recommendations from happy customers before they start their Disney Adventures.
2. Leverage social media for brand promotion
Social listening is key to knowing what your users are talking about and how they feel about your brand. Scout social media channels for brand mentions and make sure to leverage the power of social media. Using social channels to promote your brand and responding to your users is a sure-shot way to your customers’ hearts (and minds).
When your customer enjoys the personalized experience on your website or offline store, it mostly transcends to following you on social channels. And when you interact with your customers and listen to what they say, you become omnipresent, automatically giving you brownie points. An example of one such brand is Starbucks, whose social channels are full of colorful images of their beverages and food, along with happy customers’ posts while drinking their signature coffee!
3. Create engaging content that aligns with your user base
Engaging your customers is your priority, and content is the way. It also means creating content that aligns with your customer’s interests and needs. You need marketing, support, and sales teams to create user personas and understand user intents.
One way of elevating user experience is through personalized content sent at the right time. For instance, when you check in to a Hilton hotel, you will receive an email on joining the membership program with added benefits. This email is primarily for existing Hilton customers already in the Hilton family. It is a step up in offering unparalleled hospitality so that customers want to return here with friends and family and even recommend the same.
Talk about things good content marketing can do!
4. Encourage user-generated content
User-generated content, or UGC, is an amazing way to encourage customers to personally engage and interact with brands. Whether Starbucks’s #WhiteCupContest to cover their signature whitecaps with beautiful art or Spotify’s #FindYourFeel campaign, these brands engaged users to put on their creative caps and showcase their love for the brand.
UGC campaigns are a winner because anybody can participate and is directly related to customers’ favourite products. This makes connecting with customers who love your brand easier and get people talking about it.
Much like the #whitecupcontent, Starbucks again had a #RedCupArt contest which generated massive positive feedback for the brand. Similarly, Spotify’s #FindYourFeels campaign increased monthly active listeners by 91K.
Source: Instagram — #RedCupArt
5. Enhance post-purchase engagement
Brand-to-customer communications never end after a lead becomes a paid customer. In fact, from here on, brands must communicate with their customers regularly to ensure prolonged engagement. For instance, e-commerce brands must continue communications on ongoing orders like orders placed, order movements, and delivery notifications, all of which can be effectively conveyed through video content to enhance customer engagement.
Post-purchase engagement helps keep customers connected to the brand and evokes a feeling of being cared for. It thrives on the same notion of – out of sight, out of mind. For instance, if you sign up for a course on Udemy and leave your learning mid-way, you will receive prompts from the brand to pick up where you left off. It is a gentle reminder from the brand to restart your learning, which is often helpful in self-paced learning.
6. Implement referral and loyalty programs
According to the 2018 Bond Brand Loyalty Report, 77% of customers are likely to stick with a brand with a loyalty program, and almost 70% will recommend a brand with a good loyalty program.
Rewarding those who are loyal to your brand is a great way to boost customer experience, improve customer retention, and drive customer lifetime value. Loyalty programs like member-only discounts or programs to accumulate points that can be purchased later can increase user interactions and recommendations.
It doesn’t always need to be free. You can incentivize your loyal customers by encouraging them to refer to their friends and get access to exclusive coupons or discounts. For instance, Myntra offers coins for every purchase you can redeem to buy coupons for future purchases. If you are an Insider Member, you get more coins for every purchase!
Holger Sindbaek, the founder of Online Solitaire, says, “When we first launched our Solitaire game, we knew we had to do something special to stand out. So, we integrated a referral program right from the get-go. The idea was simple: invite a friend to play, and both of you unlock exclusive card decks and backgrounds. But we didn’t stop there. We also introduced ‘Solitaire Loyalty Points,’ earned through gameplay and daily challenges. These points could be redeemed for unique game themes or advanced in-game strategies. This dual approach engaged our existing community and turned them into advocates who brought new players into the fold.”
Authenticity is important for your customers. If you fake it, your customers will know it in a snap. Create amazing, genuine experiences for your customers, experiences that are so good that they can’t help but become your brand advocates. Once you do that, you have loyal evangelists who will stand by your brand through thick and thin.