In the modern digital world, competition between businesses is fierce. An increasing number of businesses are adopting customer-centric marketing policies to create a lasting impression. But most businesses are satisfied with offering excellent products or reliable services at affordable prices. However, in order to make your business successful, you need customers to trust and recommend your brand and this is best done by converting them into brand advocates.

You need to consider one thing here: loyal customers are not equivalent to brand advocates. Loyal customers are people who make repeat purchases, whereas brand advocates are those who spread the word about your brand/business. Brand advocates have the capability to influence other people and encourage them to engage with your brand. In other words, brand advocacy is the modernized form of the traditional word-of-mouth marketing.

By running simple advocacy programs, brands can benefit immensely. Let’s consider the example of Red Bull’s brand advocacy program. The brand started with 8 million fans in the beginning of 2010 and jumped to 14 million by the end of the same year. At present, Red Bull has over 47 million likes on Facebook.

Their brand advocacy program is all about what Red Bull means to its target audience. The campaign is simple: They provide content that relates to and reflects the company’s brand message. They share posts about exciting company projects, extreme sports’ photos and videos, and ask questions that are geared towards energy drinks consumers. Most of their posts are either sponsored by or at least feature sportspeople sponsored by Red Bull.

They also tapped the entertainment sector with their Red Bull soapbox race, interactive media, and their Procrastination Station to provide their customers with maximum thrill and enjoyment. By giving visitors various options to enjoy and follow the sports and the games they love, Red Bull has created a loyal Facebook community, where people leave hundreds of comments and thousands of likes on individual posts every day.

Red Bull has hit the bull’s eye with its impactful brand advocacy program and now it is your turn. But, the question is how. By leveraging brand advocacy, you can market your business without draining your budget.

This post offers five amazing tips that will help you turn your followers into loyal brand advocates:

  1. Help Customers Become Self Dependent

Solving customers’ problems can increase the trust level manifold, but helping customers become self-dependent can be even more beneficial for brands. HubSpot, for example, offers excellent in-depth material and educational content (apart from the sophisticated marketing software) that help online marketers solve various problems and achieve their goals. Marketers return to HubSpot every month to learn more about online marketing and recommend it to other budding marketers as well.

While it is important for brands to solve issues that cause frustration among customers, it is even more important to go a step ahead to help them become self-dependent.

  1. Reach Out to Customers via Multiple Channels

Customers interact with their desired brands through multiple channels: phone, website, email, social media, smartphone app, physical location, text messaging, and even video. It has, therefore, become crucial for businesses to support and engage customers via multiple channels. For instance, people use Twitter to post complaints and expect a quick reply from the company. So the support and customer service teams should be active on Twitter and integrate social listening and Twitter support with their customer service operations. Tools such as LiveChat help customers solve problems in the middle of an online purchase.

Identify the channels that the existing and potential customers are using to interact with your business and engage them in unique ways to ensure maximum satisfaction.

  1. Incentivize Your Customers

One proven way to turn customers into brand advocates is by offering incentive in the form of deals and discounts. This loyalty program is gone by the time you read this article, but this is a great example of incentivizing your customers, hence the example. Bonobos, a menswear brand encouraged its customers to share a $25 referral code with family, friends and anyone they would receive $25 in credit for every new qualifying purchase.

The men’s brand did a very simply thing. They identified their customers’ needs and offered deals that they cannot turn down. You too can design a similar campaign. Design loyalty programs that will encourage your customers to stick with your brand and rope in others as well.

One problem with incentivizing your customers is that retaining them can become difficult once the incentives are over. And you can’t afford to lose your customers. You, therefore, need to have a plan in place that will help you retain the customers. Some ways in which businesses can retain their customers are:

  • Using Points System: Ask the customer to gather specific reward points (by bringing in a certain number of new customers or spending a certain amount of money on your products) to earn a free product, service or discount.
  • Offer Value-Added Services: Offering services that appeal to your customers can instill a sense of loyalty. Providing extra services that your customers may not have been expecting can increase the loyalty and offer a memorable experience.
  • Continuous Customer Support: No one will ever want to engage with a brand offering crappy customer service. So make sure you actively address customer concerns through social media pages, phone calls or via email.

Work with your marketing team to understand what works best for your business and implement a strategy that will help you retain customers even after the deals and discounts are exhausted.

Note: Stay away from abusive tactics as your customers won’t really appreciate that and are likely to turn away from your brand. So beware!

  1. Communication Is Pivotal

According to the trends, direct interaction with brands will be on rise, with numerous people wanting to “engage with their favorite brands as much as they can.” Brands must, therefore, communicate with their customers and encourage them to speak their minds.

Encourage them to talk about anything and everything – about improving customer experience and the look of the website, winning more customers, improving the products/services, and so on. Ask them to give feedback and write testimonials about your products and services. This will give them a sense of ownership, and they will consider themselves responsible for making your brand successful.

Proper communication helps businesses offer consistent customer experience and, hence, give your customers the opportunity to reach out to you directly whenever they want.

Dave Mingle, General Motors’ Executive Director of Customer Experience says, “Customers don’t care about our org chart—they just care about getting answers as quickly as possible.” To improve communication and offer excellent customer service, businesses must:

  • Train their teams
  • Map customer journeys
  • Listen to the customers
  • Identify customer pain points and offer appropriate solutions
  • Be honest and truthful when communicating

Remember, only the happiest customers become brand advocates, which means you will have to do everything that will make your customers happy.

  1. Leverage Social Media

Seven in ten Americans use social media channels to engage with friends, family and the people they know.

Facebook is the most widely used social platform (with 1.86 billion monthly active users) followed by Twitter (328 million monthly active users), Pinterest, and Instagram (700 million monthly active users).

By tapping social media’s massive audience, you can not only expand your reach, but also encourage brand advocacy. Whether it is about communicating with your customers, offering them a dose of entertainment or helping them solve problems, social media offers you the best opportunities. According to a post by Ponbee that is focused on how home-based businesses should promote themselves, ‘You need to be extremely careful of the kind of content you share or publish on your social media profile. Don’t limit yourself to just sharing promotional content, try to make your content more current and appealing. The key to getting positive visibility in a social media conversation is to provide information that adds value to readers’ life.’ Even though the post is directed towards home-based businesses, it is true for businesses of all sizes. Social media mistakes can be very costly, so it is important that you plan your social campaigns well.

By creating a social media brand advocacy program you can introduce new products/service and encourage your followers to share them with their communities, listen to your customers and solve problems, and do a lot more.

Conclusion

Companies often put too much effort in marketing their brand. While marketing is important, it need not be stressful or expensive. If you have already built a strong online presence and have a number of customers, you can persuade them to spread the word about your business within their communities.

In simple words, by turning your customers into enthusiastic brand advocates, you can successfully market your brand without spending too much. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. By using the above tips, you can turn your existing customers into brand advocates who influence others to engage with your brand.

 

Want to connect with the author of this post Brian Zeng? Check him out at Ponbee.com