Enlist them in your marketing plans, says Podium
By Kristen Baker, Podium
The following article by Podium is reposted here with permission.
It’s difficult to stand out in today’s highly competitive business landscape. Local businesses need to find innovative ways to not only attract customers but to also retain them.
One effective way to do this is through advocacy marketing, which is an approach that leverages satisfied customers as brand ambassadors who promote and endorse your products or services to others. Advocacy marketing goes beyond traditional word-of-mouth marketing since it relies on active participation and promotion from loyal customers.
Benefits of Advocacy Marketing
One significant benefit of advocacy marketing is that it helps you strengthen your customer relationships. When customers become brand advocates, they feel valued and appreciated, which leads to a sense of loyalty. This can result in an increased lifetime value of the customers since they are more likely to continue engaging with your brand.
Advocacy marketing can also be cost effective since it leverages existing customer relationships. Since brand advocates are willing to promote your products or services out of their conviction, they can be effective allies in helping improve your brand awareness, reach new audiences and drive more sales.
How Advocacy Marketing Differs from Other Techniques
While many businesses use other marketing techniques such as advertising, public relations or influencer marketing, advocacy marketing stands out in a few ways. For one, advocacy marketing is relatively inexpensive because it involves utilizing your existing customer base. And while influencer marketing often focuses on individuals who have a high social media following, industry expertise and credibility, advocacy marketing identifies and leverages loyal, satisfied customers who have already used your product or service.
Finally, advocacy marketing is a long-term strategy that helps shift the focus from pure sales and conversion to the creation of a loyal customer base. By nurturing relationships with brand advocates, companies can achieve sustainable growth and long-term success.
Why is Advocacy Marketing Important?
Advocacy marketing can be a game changer for any business, but it can be especially impactful for local businesses. There are a few reasons for this.
First, advocacy marketing is based on trust. Customers are significantly more likely to trust recommendations from people they know or who have already experienced a service or product. Studies show that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over advertisements, which means that turning your customers into brand advocates can bring in a lot of new business.
Second, advocacy marketing can be cost-effective for small businesses with limited budgets. This is because you don’t have to worry about the costs of finding new customers, which can be significant. Instead, you simply reach out to the people who already know and trust your brand and give them a small incentive to spread the word about your business.
Third, advocacy marketing drives customer loyalty and boosts retention. When customers feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to become loyal to the business. This loyalty translates into repeat customers who are also more likely to become advocates for the business. And because repeat customers spend an average of 67% more than new customers, improved customer loyalty can give a big boost to your bottom line.
Creating Customer Advocates
So, how do you do it? How do you turn your current customers into loyal fans who consistently spread the word about your business? Here are eight tips that will help.
1. Provide exceptional customer service.
One sure way to turn customers into advocates is by providing them with an exceptional customer service experience. Every customer interaction, whether online or offline, should be treated with attention, care and urgency. By showing your customers that you care about their needs, you’ll motivate them to continue doing business with you.
2. Create a loyalty program.
Another way to incentivize customer loyalty is by rewarding them for their continued business. An effective loyalty program might offer points, discounts, gift cards, special promotions and other perks that motivate customers to continue to do business with you. By being part of an exclusive community of loyal customers, customers will feel a deeper connection to your brand.
3. Encourage customer feedback.
Asking for feedback from your customers shows them that you value their opinions and are always looking for ways to improve their experience. Feedback is essential for businesses to improve their products and services. Encourage customers to share their opinions, either through surveys or by leaving reviews on your website. (With Podium, you can automate this process, making it quicker and more convenient for customers to leave you reviews, and easier for you to respond to those reviews.)
4. Foster a sense of community.
Building a community around your brand can help create a sense of loyalty and belonging among your customers. Utilize events, contests or other activities to engage and connect with your customers. People like to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, so your customers and target audience are sure to appreciate your efforts to include them in your brand’s community.
5. Create hype on social media.
Social media enables you to connect with customers on a more personal and interactive level. Social media campaigns can help you attract and engage customers who might not know your business yet, but can help you get your existing customer base talking about your brand. Encourage them to engage with your content, post images and videos about your products and services, and share your profiles with their family and friends.
6. Go above and beyond.
When you exceed customers’ expectations, you create a real opportunity to generate positive word-of-mouth and position your brand as a leader in your market. It can be difficult to go above and beyond when customer expectations are already so high. A few ways you can exceed customer expectations are by making it easy to contact you, keeping response times low, offering the communication channels customers prefer, and making it easy and convenient to pay you.
7. Offer incentives for referrals.
Rewards for referrals can go a long way toward generating new business. By offering incentives, you make it more likely that customers will recommend your products and services to their friends, family and colleagues. And remember, this doesn’t need to be anything crazy or unattainable — a small reward can go a long way. Whether it’s a discount or brand swag, an incentive is one of the most effective ways to get people excited to spread the word about your brand.
8. Be authentic and transparent.
In today’s age of social media and instant communications, customers are highly sensitive to brands that appear fake or disingenuous. Authenticity and transparency are critical. Customers want brands that are trustworthy and have values they can stand behind. They want brands that tell their story and stand for something. So, don’t try to be something you’re not. Get clear on your brand’s values and make it a priority to live by them.
Examples of Advocacy Marketing
When executed well, advocacy marketing can drive massive growth for local businesses. What does good execution look like? Here are three real-life examples of companies that are doing it right.
Tesla has implemented an innovative advocacy marketing strategy by leveraging its satisfied customers to spread the word about their unique customer experience and environmentally-friendly vehicles. Tesla customers are often influencers in their own communities and they are encouraged to share their positive experiences through social media platforms. This strategy has helped Tesla significantly increase brand awareness and sales.
Apple has implemented a product advocacy strategy whereby they encourage their customers to create user-generated content showcasing the unique features and benefits of their products. This content is then shared across various social media platforms, creating brand awareness and a sense of community among Apple users.
Starbucks is known for more than just coffee; it is also known for its excellent customer advocacy program. This program focuses on building a strong relationship between the company and its customers, with a mission to create a “third place” for them to relax and enjoy themselves. The program offers unique benefits, such as free Wi-Fi and access to exclusive Starbucks content. But it goes beyond just offering perks. Starbucks has a strong emphasis on listening to its customers and their feedback. The company utilizes various communication platforms such as social media and its own website to engage with customers and listen to their thoughts and opinions. This creates a sense of trust and loyalty, as customers feel heard and valued.
Maximizing Customer Engagement and Loyalty with Podium
Another way to turn customers into loyal, lifelong buyers is through Podium, which makes it easy to improve the customer experience. How does Podium help local businesses keep customers happy? Podium allows you to easily collect and manage customer reviews, communicate with customers via their preferred channel (text), streamline payment processes, cut down response time, and much more. These tools help turn your customers into loyal, lifelong buyers, ensuring that your business thrives for years to come.
Ready to see what all the hype is about? Start a free trial today.
Kristen Baker is content marketing manager at Podium, a premiere marketing and communications platform and BrandSource partner that connects local businesses with their customers.