How to turn customers into brand advocates
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
Whether they’re buying new sneakers, renting a car, or downloading an app, customers trust online reviews and customer advocacy more than anything else. Social proof is without a doubt the most powerfully convincing factor and the first thing customers search for when making any purchase. This is true for individuals buying a product as well as a business thinking about adding a tool to their tech stack. When 79% of people trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations, creating trust in an increasingly digital world is incredibly powerful. Depending on your industry, this can be pretty challenging, especially when customers are using multiple products and platforms on a daily basis.
Being really satisfied with a product doesn’t automatically translate into actually becoming an ambassador and broadcasting it to others. So how can you make that happen? How do you go beyond customer satisfaction to customer loyalty, from customers who love your product to them actually advocating for it?
Let's get into the how-to of creating customer engagement:
1 Make your product worth talking about
Creating a noteworthy company experience starts with exceptional service, giving your customers the feeling of being fully appreciated. You’ve got a great product that customers love using, but don’t make the mistake of calling it a done deal once the purchase is made. How they’re being treated when they have questions or issues immediately shapes their opinion of your company. This means providing the necessary support at every corner, making it easy for them to find what they’re looking for, and having clear resources as well as consistent availability. The worst thing you can do is make customers feel like they're an imposition.
Make it as easy as possible for them to give their feedback and let them be heard. Go beyond expectations and ask customers what's actually important to them and what they feel is missing or would be nice to have to improve your product and processes — ultimately it’s a win for both sides. Your goal is to create such a strong emotional connection between the consumer and product or service, they’ll want to tell everyone about it.
2 Create easy customer engagement
Fully utilize social media by getting your customers to engage with your content and share their experiences. This allows them to take an active role in your brand communication, making them feel part of a community.
Create an open conversation with customers, whether it’s on Linkedin, Instagram, or Twitter. Make sure to use a platform your customers use regularly, which is likely to provide the most engagement for your product. This can differ greatly by industry, so make sure you’re doing the necessary research for your niche before jumping in. Offer free events, webinars, as well as relevant sharable content that’s interesting and beneficial. Don’t post just to post. Turn customers into active members of a community instead of simply observing by, for example, asking them questions and encouraging the use of hashtags. This will create a hashtag stream for your company, a stream of easily findable content when someone searches your brand name. This turns customers into brand ambassadors simply by getting them to participate in questions.
3 Keep customers in the loop
When you’re making changes, whether it’s improvements or add-ons to your product itself or you’re making changes on a company level, keep customers in the loop. Customer loyalty will likely fall when you’re not fully transparent. Consumers want to know what’s happening to a brand or product they love and if you can give them something to talk and post about, why not? Create hype around the changes you’re making so it’ll be exciting to share and talk about.
4 Give incentives for customer advocacy
A customer vouching for your product is the most trusted (and free) marketing you can get, but sometimes that won’t just happen on its own. In order to help the process along, consider creating incentives to post through promotions or referral programs. A great way to promote your B2B business is through cross-promotion. You can offer to feature another business in a review, an article, or simply a social media shoutout and they’ll do the same for you. This can be a great trust boost for your company when a brand vouches for you.
5 Provide opportunities for networking
Consider creating a community board or digital network, whether that’s on Slack, Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook. Or, try hosting an online/offline event. You’ll establish yourself as someone who facilitates valuable conversations, giving customers in the same industry a chance to network with one another. Not only will this establish you as someone who creates opportunities but it shows you actually care about the industry. By providing a forum for advocates of a specific industry, you automatically promote your brand and create hype around it.
The Bottom line
Incentivising customers to become brand advocates is one of the most important undertakings after the initial onboarding or product purchase. This is what’s going to create social proof for your company, the most essential factor in convincing new customers to spend money on your product. The first thing anyone’s going to look at before making the choice to purchase is seeing what existing customers have to say about you.
The bottom line here is, that getting customers to advocate for or recommend your product or service, will be one of the most significant challenges in your marketing strategy and should be a primary focus in order to gain new customers.
Always think long-term.
Even if brand advocacy doesn’t create sales now, it creates brand awareness, which in turn creates sales. You want to stick in people's heads for when the time comes and they’ll need or want the type of product you’re offering.