As far as your marketing efforts are concerned, I’m sure you often find yourself listening to industry professionals and reading blogs centred around getting more clients walking through your door. Your customers are a vital part of your business and so, that makes sense to me.
However, we don’t speak enough about the consumers and people who already make a difference. Your loyal customers, employee’s and board members alike are some of the strongest tools you’ll already have in your arsenal. You just need to know how to use them.
That train of thought brings us to the concept of brand advocacy very nicely. While attracting new customers remains vital, cultivating a dedicated cadre of brand advocates can be the key to sustained success. These passionate advocates champion your brand and become an integral part of your marketing force, influencing others and fortifying your position in the market.
Join me as we explore brand advocacy and the benefits that it can bring to your doorstep. We’ll first define what a brand advocate is, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits and finally, X strategies that you can use to begin cultivating brand advocates.
Let’s jump in!
Brand Advocates - What Are They?
Before we get to the juicy stuff (strategy), you should be clear on what brand advocates are and how you can benefit from them.
Sprout Social defines a brand advocate as ‘anyone who supports your company's growth and manages brand reputation’.
While that is the bare bones of brand advocacy, we can go deeper.
A brand advocate is an individual who supports and promotes a particular brand or company, often voluntarily.
These advocates are more than just satisfied customers or employees. Instead, they go above and beyond in expressing their loyalty and enthusiasm for the brand.
Their advocacy can manifest in various forms, such as recommending the brand to friends and family, sharing positive experiences on social media, creating user-generated content, and actively participating in brand-related discussions. With the average user reading ten online reviews before making a purchase decision, cultivating brand advocates is in your best interest.
Brand advocates are invaluable to businesses as they contribute to organic and authentic word-of-mouth marketing.
Unlike traditional advertising, which is often perceived as impersonal, brand advocates carry a sense of trust and credibility. These advocates become champions for the brand, fostering a sense of community and building stronger connections between your brand and its audience.
Brand Advocates - What Are The Benefits?
We all want to know that those who engage with our business in any way are sending out positive messages to those to whom they speak. However, that isn’t the be-all and end-all of the benefits that cultivating brand advocates can bring to your business.
You may be wondering, what else is there? Let’s start with:
In a world where many companies offer but don’t follow through, trust can be difficult to garner.
It doesn’t matter how honest or eloquent you may be in your messaging, your consumers need more to be able to put their trust (and money) in your hands.
According to research commissioned by Trinity Mirror, almost 70% of UK adults say they dislike advertising, and over 40% say they distrust the corporations that run the ads. These numbers highlight that traditional advertising techniques cannot communicate to consumers that your brand is one they can trust.
It’s powerful stuff when the magic of your brand is communicated to others by people who have no real reason to do so. This allows potential customers to trust you will follow through on your promise.
By spreading the word about your business, brand advocates can improve its reputation. They can do this by sharing user-generated content on social media platforms or by writing favourable reviews about your products and business.
Have you ever wondered why clothing websites have a live review section? Or, businesses will have an instagram highlight full to the brim of kind words that have been shared by their customers? That is brand advocacy in real time!
As I touched on briefly, our focus is usually tied up in lead generation instead of the customers already in our midst.
However, the facts are that recruiting new customers costs 5x more than retaining existing ones. Brand advocates bolster your efforts to nurture your clients and keep them engaged.
Engaged consumers are also more likely to display loyalty in their spending habits and are less likely to set up camp elsewhere. Engaged consumers buy 90% more frequently, spend 60% more per transaction and are 5x more likely to buy from you again in the future.
As you can see, not only do brand advocates speak highly of your business, they also hold the power to increase your ROI & CLV.
It’s easy to make suggestions about anything when you’re not in the centre of it. Brand advocates are brilliant in those moments when you’re looking for constructive feedback. They know your brand well enough to comment, but they’re not connected enough that their connection can sway their judgement.
You can engage them in a few different ways to receive some of their valuable insight.
You could ask them to be involved in market research or brainstorming new products, ask for their feedback on your already existing products or gather their demographic information so that you’re able to have a more accurate understanding of your consumer base.
Strategies For Cultivating Brand Advocates
As promised, on to the juicy stuff - strategy. Now that you know the benefits of brand advocacy, you’re going to want to know how you can foster an environment that creates them.
Here are seven strategies for cultivating brand advocates.
Exceptional Customer Service
It would be impossible to have advocates who rave about how wonderful you are if you’re not providing a top-notch service. By ensuring you provide outstanding customer service, you are also creating positive experiences for your consumers.
Each business is different and so what is exceptional will look different for many of you. The rule of thumb here is to go above and beyond in a bid to exceed customer expectations. It won’t let you down!
If nurture is the aim, adding value is the game. Whether they know it or not, your consumers want you to add value to their lives.
Value doesn’t just come in the form of a good deal or a discount code. You can add value to the lives of your leads and prospects by validating, educating and entertaining them with your content and communications.If you want to know how to do that, we have a blog here to give you all the information you’re looking for.
The identity of your brand is more important now than ever before. Consumers are more likely to stay onside with a brand that has an identity that resonates with them.
As with our own personalities, your brand identity isn’t going to work for everyone.
That’s not a problem - develop a unique and memorable brand identity that resonates with your target audience. Your consistent branding and messaging will allow customers to connect with your value and mission if they are the right customers for you.
User Generated Content
As humans, we’re community beings. We are at our best when we are in community with others. This reflects in our marketing and spending behaviours as 92% of consumers trust reviews and testimonials more than traditional advertising. Keep this in mind when cultivating brand advocates and lean into user generated content.
Encourage customers to create and share content related to your brand. User-generated content not only showcases authentic experiences but also engages your community.
Ultimately, your consumers don’t have any real reason to be loyal to you and your brand outside of their love for their products and the experience you provide. In a market that can only be described as over-saturated, be sure to find a way to give thanks for their loyalty.
Reward customers for their support with a well-designed loyalty program. Offer exclusive discounts, early access to new products, or other incentives to keep them engaged.
Personalise Their Experience
By providing your customers with a personalised experience, you show them that you care about them and that you pay attention to the things that they care about.
Use the data that is available to you to personalise your interactions with your customers. Tailor your communications and offerings to their preferences, creating a more personalised and meaningful experience.
Progressive profiling will be your best friend when trying to utilise this strategy.Read this Ninja blog to learn how to segment your customers by behaviour to provide them with a more personalised experience.
Ask For And Act Upon Feedback
Constructive criticism from the people that keep your business afloat is like gold dust. There is no better way to tighten up any loose ends!
Be sure to ask for feedback on where your consumers believe you can improve, act on that feedback and reward them for engaging with you.
Demonstrating that you take their feedback seriously and into consideration displays value in their opinions and helps to maintain a community with trust as a central factor.
Ready To Get Some Brand Advocates On Side?
The journey to cultivating brand advocates is a dynamic and ongoing process that requires dedication, authenticity, and a genuine commitment to customer satisfaction. By implementing the strategies discussed in this blog, you create a loyal customer base and foster a community of passionate brand advocates.
As you embark on this brand advocacy journey, remember it's a two-way street. Listen to your customers, value their feedback, and continually adapt your approach to meet their evolving needs. By doing so, you inspire loyalty and empower your advocates to become vocal champions for your brand.
If you’re looking for some help on the technicalities of the strategies discussed above, whether that be consumer-generated content, loyalty programmes, progressive profiling or anything else - we have a range of services that can benefit you and your business.
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