4 Keys to Unlock Customer Advocacy

Christina Zurek
Christina Zurek

Woman holding and talking into a mega phone

Let’s face it: competition is fierce. Businesses are becoming more customer-oriented causing competition to grow even fiercer. To make a lasting impression on customers, you need to do more than provide excellent service and create a stellar product. You need to turn those customers into your marketing machines.

Despite increasingly popular beliefs that consumer loyalty is dead, 77% of customers say they have no relationship with a brand. That’s the silver lining; there is significant untapped potential to show up differently.

So, Who Are My Brand Advocates? Anyone? Everyone? Yes.

Brand advocates are customers who are passionate about your product or service. So much so that they happily spread the word about it. Studies show that brand advocates spend twice as much with a company as regular customers do and have five times the lifetime value. Due to social media and countless review sites, customers have more power than ever before to impact your company’s online reputation.

Turning customers into brand advocates is important. They’ll voluntarily do much of your advertising for you, which is ideal since most consumers trust other consumers more than they trust brands.

Personalizing the impersonal goes a long way toward building brand attachment and breeding advocacy—which can have an exponential impact to your bottom line. Unlocking effective customer advocacy isn't easy, but these 4 keys will help get you in the door.

1. Relate to the Customer

Emotionally connected customers are twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. —Harvard Business Review

Relating starts with knowing what motivates. Maybe your customers want to stand out from the crowd. Maybe they want to be a part of a team. Motivations change depending on the industry, brand, touch-point and the customer’s current position in the buying journey. Once you’ve determined what makes your customer tick, offer a clear path that'll attract those who are a strong fit for your brand. Be genuine at all times, and make sure your messaging and interactions consistently align with your brand’s value proposition. You might be surprised by your customers’ motivations. Rely on data insights and analytics rather than blindly guessing.

2. Find Your Tribe

More than 8 out of 10 online customers say they trust recommendations from friends and family members more than any type of advertising. —Nielsen

A strong community is a well-connected community—its members are allied with each other and share common goals and ideologies. As Seth Godin explains in his book Tribes, membership should be voluntary, dynamic, partisan and noisy. Mutual respect is essential.

One powerful thing you can do is to create a term to refer to all your customers. Tie it back to your brand and promote the idea: they are joining an exclusive “tribe” of likeminded individuals. Go on to create a special celebration or recognition to praise them for joining your tribe, and to get them excited about being part of something bigger than a transaction.

Provide your advocates with unique ways to communicate with you as well as each other. Online forums, polls and apps work great, but also consider organizing live gatherings and other experiential events. Proximity helps strengthen your tribe’s bonds. Continuously engaging your brand community helps strengthen their sense of ownership. Make sure they know you hear them and respect what they have to say—they’ll reciprocate.

3. Employee Access Breeds Advocacy

55% of people see employees as “credible” or “very credible” sources of information about a business. —Edelman

Exclusive access helps generate excitement within the organization, and it empowers employees to be brand advocates in their own right.

Many employees are likely already employee advocates or have significant potential to become one. Maximize their impact by creating opportunities for them to spread advocacy to customers as well. You won’t nurture advocacy by force-feeding your tired marketing message. Instead, make it worth their while to talk about your brand.

Related: Find out the secret to successfully inspiring employee advocacy.

4. Make It an Experience

74% of customers have a better opinion about a brand after attending an experiential marketing event. —EMI and Mosaic

Experiential marketing helps cut through the clutter that defines the digital age. Design creative event experiences that attract and delight attendees, then encourage brand interaction and social sharing. Though live experiences require more resources and their impact can be tough to measure, they literally bring people together. This alone is valuable. Creating a space where your tribe can network and connect helps establish trust and strengthens their bond with the brand.

While smart brands understand customers’ concerns and seek to identify and resolve issues that create barriers and cause frustration, the best brands also make sure to serve their customers beyond their stated needs.

Building Relationships That Last

Increased brand advocacy translates to less price sensitivity, more recommendations and a louder voice in the marketplace. It’s a great way of generating new business that also diversifies the people you reach and the ways in which you reach them.

Once you’ve carved out your identity in the marketplace, be vigilant about your communication. Back up your claims with tangible actions. Just like the real world, being kind and helpful to people is precisely what builds positive relationships and improves reputations. If a customer gets the impression that you care, then it’s a safe bet that they’ll care enough to become advocates of your brand. Trust is a byproduct of a commitment to quality and excellence. If you can deliver results to people over the long haul, they will come to believe and trust in your product and/or service offerings. Learn more about our strategies for driving authentic, lasting emotional connections in this ebook.

Brand Advocacy and the Connected Consumer

Christina Zurek

Christina Zurek

Christina is an experienced leader with a passion for improving the employee experience, employee engagement and workplace culture. Few things excite her as much as an opportunity to try something unfamiliar (be that a project, development opportunity, travel destination, food, drink or otherwise), though digging in to a research project is a close second.