Earning the customer’s loyalty is a virtue that every company seeks as validation for their success. Many factors help transform a customer into a brand loyalist; while some reasons are unique to each customer, there are common patterns as to why they may choose one brand over another and make repeat purchases over a long period of time. Being able to convert loyal customers into brand advocates can have enormous monetary benefits for the company. Brand advocates are a level above brand loyalists. They talk favourably about the brand, refer the brand to their friends and family, leave positive reviews and testimonials, and spread awareness about their beloved brand. The dynamic landscape of business and marketing has forced businesses to aggressively adopt and promote brand advocacy. And why not? Brand advocacy is a cost-effective strategy to elevate brand awareness and generate new business.
Brand advocacy is no longer just a marketing tactic, but a philosophy that has meaningful and consequential impact on a company’s bottom line. Companies are leveraging advocates and their love for the brand to acquire new customers and build stronger customer relationships. Advocates, besides being brand evangelists, also serve as a case study for businesses to understand and analyse what influences customers’ transition to loyalists and advocates, and how that can be duplicated for the rest of the target audience. Apple users are a great example of brand advocates. These enthusiastic customers wait in line for hours whenever a new Apple store opens or a new Apple product is launched. Apple brand advocates would never choose an Android over Apple. They refer Apple products to their family and friends and closely follow every news related to the brand. Achieving this level of consumer devotion takes an enormous amount of time and dedication to customer-centric solutions. Brand advocates add credibility to your business; this is important because today’s consumers rely more on peer recommendations than they do on advertising.
What is brand advocacy?
Brand advocacy is a practice where your most loyal customers become promoters of the brand. They recommend the products and services to their families, friends, and acquaintances, helping generate awareness about their favourite brands. Nurturing loyalists throughout their buyer journey can convert them to brand advocates and they become a valuable asset to the company. This form of enthusiastic product/service promotion from a customer is basically free advertisement for companies. Both customers and businesses can benefit from these long term relationships. 76% of people say they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people. Brand advocates are one of the most credible forms of advertising, more effective than branded messages. Statistically, earned media including peer-to-peer recommendation and word of mouth marketing drives 4 times better results than paid media. Hence every company must strive to create and foster brand advocacy.
Who can become your brand advocates?
Businesses must identify people who have strong affiliations with the brand. The following groups of existing customers can become brand advocates for a business:
- Referrers– People who refer the products or services they love to use to their close ones.
- Promoters– People who eagerly participate in NPS surveys and questionnaires.
- Repeat buyers– People who make repeat purchases or repeat visitors who are highly interested in your content.
- Social sharers– People who regularly share your content on their social media.
- Critics– People who regularly post feedback and reviews about your products or services.
How can you encourage brand advocacy?
- Personalisation– Customers want to be treated as individuals and not as a sales target. Bringing personalisation into the loop can empower brands to create meaningful experiences for every customer. This helps to build a deeper relationship with the customers. From the onboarding stage to the post-purchase stage, customers expect the content and recommendations to be tailored to their personal taste.
- Delightful UX/UI– Design a user-friendly UX/UI that delights the users and generates a positive response from them. A functioning, reliable, and pleasurable design helps users to connect with the products on a deeper level. UX/UI designs must take into account how an end-user would use the product and incorporate features into the product that would help alleviate the problems that users face in their daily lives. A great UX/UI design might give the edge you need to beat your competitors.
- Omnichannel customer service– An omnichannel approach to customer service can increase customer satisfaction. Support teams must be available to address customer questions across all channels- apps, website, social media, a dedicated helpline, AI chatbots. AI-powered chatbots can assist customer support personnel with the most generic FAQs and also provide 24X7 assistance.
- A memorable experience– Customers are seeking for memorable experiences and they are willing to pay a premium for those experiences. While the benefits of the products and services are evident to a customer, it’s the process of sale and purchase that they remember the most. Personifying the customer experience across every touchpoint can make the customer’s buyer journey a delightful and memorable experience. A superior customer experience can convert a brand loyalist into a brand advocate.
- Loyalty programs– A loyalty program is your way of showing gratitude for your most loyal customers. Loyalty programs are an opportunity for a brand to beat negative experiences and encourage customers to become advocates. These programs give points to users which can be exchanged for cashback or free products/services.
Advocacy is a key element for customer retention and acquisition. For companies to create more brand advocates, they first need to invest in customer-centric strategies that fuel their business models. Customers will trust you only when you put them at the heart of your business.