Creating customer advocates is a powerful way to grow your business. According to recent statistics , writes Annabel Jamieson, 92% of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations. This makes it one of the most trusted forms of advertising.
Having customers who advocate for and recommend your brand provides extra support for your sales in spreading the word about your brand and generating more leads.
Your customers might leave reviews on Google or Facebook, create social media content around your products or simply tell their friends and family about your product. New customers will trust these recommendations because they come with no ulterior motive. Customers don’t have a financial stake in your company like your marketing team does, which makes their content more authentic.
Creating customer advocates
If you provide an excellent product and deliver stellar customer service, you probably have customers who are already willing to advocate for you. You just need to find them and encourage them to share their experiences. Here are some simple strategies for creating an army of customer advocates.
1. Money Isn’t Everything
To create customer advocates, one of your first thoughts might be to incentivise them with money. While referral programs with monetary rewards can be a great way to generate new customers, for advocacy, monetary rewards don’t always work.
When prospects know that a customer is being paid for their advocacy, this makes them skeptical of the truth of what they are saying. If the actions are driven by money, it will make them come across as ingenuine and may have the opposite effect than the one you were hoping for.
Simply because you aren’t giving a monetary incentive, does not mean you should remove rewards altogether. You should reward your customers if they advocate for your brand and a fantastic way to show how much you value these customers is to make those rewards personalised.
You can send out surveys or look through your customer data to establish what rewards your customers would be most responsive to and which ones they would appreciate the most. This does not need to be necessarily a product or gift. You can also give early access to new releases, share industry insights, or give access to a community.
3. Put goals in place
Implementing a customer advocacy strategy is only worth your time and resources if it actually generates quality leads and gives value to your advocates.
There are many areas of marketing your small business where it can be difficult to measure. Customer advocacy is one of them. Therefore you must set measurable goals and track them.
You can develop a simple spreadsheet or dashboard to track revenue through customer advocacy where applicable. For example, when customers make an inquiry you can ask them where they heard about your business and give them the option to select recommendations. Then you can segment these prospects into a list of referred customers and track the revenue they generate and the rate they convert at.
4. Keep Your Advocacy Streamline
Your customers might be saying nice things about you, but if that is not encouraging new customers to come to you, then those efforts are wasted.
A key reason that this happens in larger organisations is that customer advocacy is spread out over numerous teams. This means things slip through the net and advocates might not be being recognised for the work they are doing on your behalf. Streamlining your advocacy programme and having specific guidelines on how advocacy work should be performed, can all help ensure your customer advocacy has the greatest impact possible for your business.
Advocating for you
Customer advocacy can be a great source of revenue through both generating new customers and showing existing customers that you value them. Word of mouth recommendations are a powerful tool and are incredibly influential in buying decisions for many consumers. To make sure that you are getting the most out of your customer advocacy, you need to be tactical. It is critical to track revenue generated and align customer advocacy with business goals. You also need to be thoughtful about how you reward your advocates as money is not always the best incentive.
Annabel Jamieson is a digital marketing and tech strategist with over 25 years’ experience working in the digital environment driving business transformation and growth. She is currently a Co-founder and Director of two global businesses which specialise in content services. Here she tells us about content marketing.