Customer Advocacy Strategy: Core Tactics for Success
by gardenpatch Insights on Dec 8, 2022 9:00:00 AM
Are you looking for a marketing strategy that turns your loyal customers into brand advocates?
A good customer advocate is influential, authentic, and trusted by their followers. That's why word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing. And customer advocacy is one of the best ways to grow your business.
Consider that 76% of B2B buyers consult three or more advocacy sources before purchasing. So why not enlist the help of your customer base to win over potential buyers?
It takes more than just the product to build a successful company. You need to create a great customer experience. Ultimately, you must ensure that your customer advocacy metrics and strategy matches your business needs.
The Advantages of Customer Advocacy
Advocates love your product or service and want to tell their friends, family members, and colleagues about it. Most businesses focus on attracting new customers through marketing campaigns, advertising, and sales.
However, the great thing about customer advocacy is that it focuses on building long-term relationships with existing customers or potential customer advocates. Below are a few of the advantages of nurturing customer advocates:
1. Boost brand loyalty and brand reputation
Your advocates will be more likely to recommend your products or services to others if they feel they’re part of a community rather than just another customer.
2. Reduce marketing and customer service costs
Advocacy marketing allows you to spend less on traditional marketing campaigns and advertisements. Brand ambassadors can also help reduce customer service costs by dealing with problems before they become complaints or bad reviews online. Moreover, feedback from advocates can help you develop content and messaging that resonates with your target audience.
3. Generate leads and sales
Advocates often take on the role of salespeople for your business because they’re enthusiastic about what you offer. Research from Salesforce indicates that 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience.
4. Build trust and credibility for your brand through social proof
Neilsen data shows that 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth marketing recommendations over any other type of marketing. It's a fact that people trust recommendations from friends and family more than anything else. So as long as advocates are honest about their experience with your company, their praise will resonate with new potential customers who see them as an authority on the topic.
Here are 9 Tips for a Complete Customer Advocacy Strategy
1. Build A Customer Experience Culture Internally
If you provide exceptional customer service, people will talk about it. Outstanding customer service comes from customer-centric companies where the entire team works toward a common goal, happy customers.
The first step toward building a customer-centric culture is ensuring your employees truly understand why it matters to them and the company.
To create a customer experience culture, you need to start with leadership. These are some areas where leaders can focus their efforts:
Develop empathy with your customers
Create an environment where employees understand what makes your customers tick. That way, they can better anticipate customer needs. Employees will deliver better customer support and increase customer retention over time.
Champion innovation and creativity
Encourage employees to share new ideas for improving customer service.
2. Invest in training programs for employees
Training helps employees develop skills that make them more valuable to the organization. Training also builds teamwork among colleagues (which can have a direct impact on customers).
30% of brand engagement comes from employees. Create a company culture that encourages employees to share their experiences with others. Provide resources so employees can easily share their stories online (for example, a library of photos and videos). The easier it is for them, the more likely they will do it.
Turn Employees Into Brand Advocates With Case Studies
Case studies are a great way to showcase how your products or services benefit real customers. They tell the story of how you helped someone overcome a specific challenge and how your product or service helped them succeed.
These stories are powerful because they’re real. Moreover, they give potential customers insight into how your product can solve their problems, which makes them more likely to buy from you.
3. Collect and Respond to Customer Feedback
The best way to get customers to talk positively about your company is to provide better products and services than your competitors. But how will you know what your customer base thinks without asking questions?
Customer feedback is an essential component of any business. It helps you understand what customers want in terms of product quality and the overall customer experience of your brand. So the first step towards fostering customer advocacy is asking for customer feedback after every interaction with them.
Fortunately, there are several ways to collect customer feedback and measure customer satisfaction. You can collect feedback via surveys, interviews, and product reviews or use social media to collect customer input. For example, you could create a hashtag for people to share their thoughts about your brand or products on social media platforms.
Customer feedback is a crucial tool for product teams and product development. It helps you understand how customers are using your products, the problems they're experiencing, and the features they care about. Using these insights, you can improve existing features, build new products, or eliminate features that don't bring value to the customer.
Customer Advisory Boards (CABs)
A CAB consists of customers who voluntarily give their time, energy, and expertise to help improve your company's products and services. In addition, because members are often early adopters or influencers, they can help spread positive word-of-mouth about your brand.
Responding to Customer Feedback
According to a 2018 Harvard Business Review study, “By monitoring and responding to reviews, a manager can make sure that when negative reviews come in, they can respond constructively and maybe even raise their firm’s rating along the way.” So you must acknowledge the customer, whether they give positive or negative feedback.
Customers who feel heard and valued are more likely to remain loyal. They are also more likely to recommend your business to their best friends and spend more money with you in the future.
4. Promote Customer Advocacy With Customer Loyalty and Referral Programs
The most successful brands are those that have the most loyal customers. Therefore, companies that want to grow their customer advocacy efforts should focus on creating loyalty and referral programs. That way, they can identify and reward their most loyal customers.
The primary goal of customer advocacy programs is to turn your customers into brand advocates. 73% of consumers are more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programs. And 79% of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with brands.
Types of Customer Advocacy Programs
The goal of loyalty programs is to build long-term relationships with customers by offering them rewards for doing business with you. This creates a cycle of positive experiences that keep customers coming back again and again.
Referral programs offer incentives for existing customers who refer new customers to your business. It’s a great way to grow your customer base organically. This can be done through discounts on their next purchase, gift cards, or even cash rewards for each referral.
Why build a customer advocacy program?
These programs are a great way to identify potential advocates. As a result, customer advocacy marketing has become an essential part of the digital marketing mix for many brands. The best customer advocacy programs engage both existing customers and potential customers.
A customer advocacy program is an investment in your business. It's about more than just getting more customers and growing your revenue. A successful customer advocacy program will help you:
- Grow your brand awareness and presence online.
- Generate leads and drive traffic to your website or blog.
- Receive more positive reviews on Google, Yelp, and other review sites.
5. Integrate Social Media Advocacy Into Your Marketing Strategy
The traditional model of marketing is broken. It's too expensive and too impersonal. The new model is about user-generated content (UGC) and social media advocacy.
You'll build trust and credibility with new prospects if you can get real customers talking about their experiences with your brand. That's why UGC is such an effective marketing tool.
Social Media Advocacy
If you create an environment where satisfied customers want to share positive experiences with their peers, they'll do without any prompting on your end. For example, social media advocacy campaigns allow consumers to share their personal experiences with a product or service. In turn, this helps build trust and transparency between brands and consumers.
Social media advocacy works because people who have a great experience with your brand will want to share that experience with their friends and family members.
Include influencers in your advocacy marketing
People trust other people more than they trust brands or businesses. And they are more likely to take action on recommendations from friends and family than on company ads or promotions. That’s why influencers are such an essential part of advocacy marketing. They help your brand gain credibility and trust among your target audience. Plus, they show consumers how to use your product in new ways that aren’t always obvious at first glance.
6. Hire A Customer Advocacy Expert
The ultimate goal of customer advocacy is to grow a business. The key is finding someone who understands how customer advocacy works and can help you implement it in your business.
Benefits of hiring a customer advocacy expert:
- They can help you create an effective advocacy marketing strategy.
- They analyze data from surveys, focus groups, and other sources to determine trends and make recommendations for improvement.
- They can create tools to help employees manage customer relationships effectively.
- They work with other teams in the company to ensure they are also meeting the customers' needs.
7. Build An Online Community For Brand Advocacy
Building an online community for brand advocacy is hard work. But it's worth it.
In the last decade, online communities have become a powerful tool for businesses to engage with customers. They allow companies to collect customer feedback and build brand advocacy.
Brand communities provide a place for customers to connect on important topics to the brand. The more time community members spend interacting, the more trust they build with one another and your company. This leads to higher levels of engagement and advocacy across all channels.
8. Make It Easy For Brand Advocates To Share Your Content
Content marketing is a great way to get your brand in front of your target market. However, your efforts may be in vain unless you create content that people want to share.
You want to send them the right content at the right time. They probably won't share it with anyone else if it's not valuable to them. In addition, send out personalized emails so that people feel they matter to your company.
Make it easy for brand advocates to share your content by adding a "Share" button to your blog posts on social media platforms. This way, when someone reads something that resonates with them, they can quickly send it to their network.
Track how well your advocates are doing at sharing your content to identify which ones are most effective at reaching new people and reward them accordingly.
9. Align Marketing and Sales Teams
Salespeople are in the best position to understand what customers want and need. And marketers are experts at identifying target markets for products and services. So when these two teams work together toward a common goal, they can build better relationships with customers and create content that inspires them to become brand ambassadors.
Indeed, both teams often have very different metrics and processes for measuring success. However, by working together on customer success metrics like NPS score or revenue generated per lead, they can ensure a seamless customer experience.
Today's customer journey has many touch points. And consumers are seeking out the opinions of their peers and loved ones before consulting a salesperson. If you can develop a solid and valuable relationship with your customers, you can leverage these relationships to promote your business.
At gardenpatch, we have all the tools and experience to help your customer success team implement an effective customer advocacy strategy.
Start converting loyal customers into evangelists for your brand's products and services. Talk to one of our growth specialists at gardenpatch today!