Acquiring customers is nice. Retaining customers is good. But turning your customers into brand advocates is best.
Word-of-mouth has ‘always’ been one of the cheapest and most efficient forms of advertising. Knowing this fact, even in today’s Internet and technology age, brands, irrespective of their size and industry are including this approach in their marketing strategies to grow their business.
Moreover, consumers today are smart. They no longer believe false advertising or promotions by brand. Today before buying a product, a consumer will seek recommendations from friends/family, check reviews about the product & company on company’s business website & review platforms and even check brand’s social channels. Thanks to technology, information-hungry consumers are getting all the details about the product, service or company right at their fingertips; based on which they make their purchase. This makes it vital for brands to be in good books for their potential customers.
“A brand is no longer what we tell customers it is – it is what customers tell each other it is” – Scott Cook
So, are you taking advantage of your hidden wealth – your customers – to market your business? If not, it’s time you realize the untapped value of your this most important asset.
Here I have pinned down some killer tactics you ‘must’ use to persuade your customers to do all the talking about your brand:
- Asking Brand Advocates for Valuable Feedback and Publishing Actionable Customer Testimonials on Website
This is the most common and effective tactic used by marketers for word of mouth marketing strategy!
Studies show that a website visitor forms an opinion about your company in 8 seconds. This means you get only 8 seconds to win a potential customer. One of the best ways to utilize these 8 seconds is to highlight customer testimonials on your homepage. Human psychology studies show people trust others opinions. So, the best way to ensure they gain confidence in your firm is to show them what your customers are saying about your business. Reading persuasive testimonials from your customers will persuade visitors to take an action.
Digital marketers must leverage different channels like email and social platforms to collect customer feedback. Ensure you take your customer’s permission before publishing their feedback on your website.
Add customer’s identity to increase trust level and make testimonials look legitimate. NEVER fabricate customer testimonials.
Companies must take a cue from WebpageFX, a digital marketing agency based in US which uses a dedicated page for client testimonials to convince web visitors to convert.
- Integrate Social Proof with Other Marketing Channels
The second best effective tactic is to integrate customer testimonials with other channels like marketing emails, PPC ads, Facebook and Twitter sponsored ads, etc.
Testimonials are considered to be the most powerful conversion arsenal for marketers. To make the maximum of testimonials, brands must reinforce to prospects how valuable their business or product is by adding customer feedback in marketing emails and paid ads.
The current trend is to include video testimonials in Email. Ensure you add a catchy statement from a customer’s feedback as your subject line. This will improve your CTRs. Don’t forget to add relevant links in your email to take prospective clients directly to the appropriate landing page.
For paid ads, ensure you include only current and accurate reviews in your ads. To get your paid ad approved, adhere to all the guidelines set by Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Take a look at the sample marketing email from TOMS that smartly incorporates testimonials to help encourage prospects to convert:
- Let Clients Speak in Case Studies
Businesses publish case studies to provide interesting insights to prospective customers.
Basically, there are two ways to pin down a case study. One is completely writing it in your own words. The other is having your clients say in certain sections like initial challenges faced by them or the result section of the changes that came in their business after subscribing to your services or buying a product from you.
Opt for the second method for maximum benefits. Since the source of the words in your case study come from outside of your business, your prospects are more likely to trust them as a reputable reference.
Also, include 1 to 3 testimonials in case studies. Adding testimonials in your case studies will boost the confidence of your prospects. When including your testimonials in case studies – keep them short and sweet. They can be as simple as 1 or 2 sentences, so long as they illustrate your previous client’s satisfaction with your work.
Get inspired by IBM case studies which incorporate client’s challenges and end-result in client words to strengthen their value proposition.
- Turn Your Customers into Content Creators on Social Channels
Digital marketing managers are highly aware of the benefits this influencer marketing tactic brings to the table. This is, therefore, one of the most used tactics by companies.
One of the ways to create brand advocacy opportunities is to hold contests on social channels. The key is to gently nudge your social followers to contribute content to your social page as part of your advocacy program. Ask your customers to take a selfie with your product and post it on social platforms with a custom hashtag. Ensure you align the prize of this contest with your brand’s image and audience’s interest.
User-generated content submitted under such campaigns on social channels is live, transparent and authentic. Studies show that content submitted by customers on social channels offer more authentic customer experience and speaks much louder than content created by a business itself. Crafting such social campaigns will help boost engagement, increase social followers and help you grab potential buyers’ attention.
The digital team of Game of Thrones, a most popular TV-show of all time, started a social campaign asking the audience to describe the show using a custom hashtag. The best answers to this campaign were then featured on HBO Connect.
- Promote User-Generated Content on Social Channels
There are times when people are talking about your brand on social channels even if you have not crafted any campaign. For instance, consider the below example where a person is talking about a restaurant on Facebook by tagging one of his friends and commenting:
Grab this opportunity. Engage in their conversation. Let them know about a special item on your menu or the discount you are offering on weekend. This will not only help you build a better relationship with your social followers but will also promote your brand and amplify your brand awareness.
Monitor your social channels regularly. Endorse tweets or posts related to your brand or product/service by the social audience on your social channels. Appreciate their efforts which in turn will encourage other social followers to do the same. In this tactic, you are not explicitly organizing a user-generated campaign on social media, but your customers are sharing their experience willingly.
Take a look at how Amazon answered one of its customer’s unboxing video comments on Facebook:
- Leverage Reputation Management Platforms Related to Your Niche
People today check Yelp for restaurants, IMDb for movie reviews and TripAdvisor for hotels. People check reviews on these review platforms to gauge the quality of a business as reviews and ratings on third-party platforms looks more authentic to prospective customers.
It is therefore vital for any business today to have a presence on review platforms related to their niche.
You need to find all the popular review avenues your customers are rating your products or services on. You must also keep track of review platforms your competitors are having profiles on. Ask your satisfied customers to leave a review about their experience with your firm on these reputed review platforms.
Take a look at how this hotel in New York does a brilliant job of maintaining its brand reputation on TripAdvisor:
Depending on their niche, even B2B companies are today required to be part of review platforms. There are several ‘higher-end’ review platforms like Glassdoor, GoodFirms, Salesforce AppExchange and Better Business Bureau (BBB) that B2B companies ‘must’ consider.
- Spread the Word with Customer Referral Programs
Referral marketing is a great tactic to organically grow your customer base. It is the most powerful trust signal you can use to drive brand awareness and have profitable customer acquisition. Apart from customer acquisition, referral marketing also helps in customer retention. According to a study, a referred customer is 18% more likely to stay with a brand over-time as compared to a non-referred customer.
So, how can you encourage your customers to refer your brand to their networks?
Simple – Let your customers know that they can benefit by telling about your brand to their friends and family.
Mod Cloth has designed an effective referral program called – ‘Share the Love’. It promotes this program through a dedicated section on their website. When a customer refers someone else, both of them get a discount on products.
Ensure you smartly promote your referral program by placing the ad on the website, posting it on social channels and referring to it in your marketing emails.
- Exceed People’s Expectations
A local coffee shop or a Fortune 500 company, each business is required to invest in advertising. The best way to promote your business is via your customers. Happy and satisfied customers are the key to word-of-mouth marketing.
Now the question is how to make your customers/social followers happy?
Exceed their expectations!
By offering them personalized experience, under promising and over-delivering, asking for their opinion about your new product/service or by simply surprising them.
For instance, if they have ordered an X product, send them a complimentary gift, say Y that is a ‘must’ for using X. Ensure it doesn’t burn your pocket. The best example of exceeding customer expectation is of WestJet, a Canadian airline that surprised its flyers by fulfilling their Christmas gift wishes.
Savvy marketers who don’t want to spend bucks to surprise their customers can send a personalized message on social channels. This will work two ways: One, since social channels are transparent, all people in that person’s network will come to know that he has made a purchase from your brand and secondly will give a personalized experience to your customer.
- Delight Your Unhappy Customers
The best way to make customers happy is to deliver high-quality products or services they are expecting from your company. But however hard you try, there might be times when something might go wrong. This may lead a disgruntled customer to leave a negative comment about your brand on social channels. If not handled effectively and on-time, even one negative comment on social channels can badly affect your brand reputation and sales.
Here, rather than let a dissatisfied customer bad-mouth about your brand, you must take this as an opportunity to turn him into a brand advocate. Turn this negative customer experience in your favor by delighting your unhappy customer. Helping your customer by resolving their issues with your brand will motivate and excite them to share their story with their friends and family.
Furthermore, research proves an unhappy customer that’s transformed into a delighted one becomes even more loyal than a satisfied customer.
Bell, a telecommunication company from Canada has a special dedicated Twitter handler Bell_Support for providing immediate customer support. It turns frustrated customers into brand advocates by helping them solve their issue quickly.
- Capitalize on Live Events
Social sharing from popular global or local events is a perfect social campaign. Brands must leverage concerts, festivals and live events like awards or sports tournament to encourage fans to do the entire brand talking.
Design a dedicated hashtag for the event. Ask social followers to share real-time content from live events using this hashtag.
For instance, GoPro, an American technology company asked fans to share images from their cameras during Bonnaroo Music Festival using hashtag #GoPro.
Capitalizing on live trending topics with user-generated content will help you gain eyeballs, boost social followers and earn brand recognition.
Bonus: Let Brand Followers be Your Voice When Dealing with Trolls
This is the best tactic to emerge as a winner in a social media crisis situation!
Handling trolls on social platforms is not an easy job. A single wrong tweet or comment can badly damage brand reputation. One of the best and effective ways to handle such a situation is to let your social followers defend your brand. This will work two ways: One you don’t have to worry about trolls and secondly your brand gets marketed by your fans.
Let’s understand this with an example.
This year OldNavy, an American retailer got socially trolled. It all started when the social media team of the company tweeted about an upcoming sale with an image of an interracial couple. Few racist people objected the picture and started posting negative tweets about the brand with hashtags #whitegenocide and #miscegenation. However, before the social team of @OldNavy could respond to trolls, many brand lovers started supporting the brand by posting their personal interracial family pictures on Twitter using hashtag #lovewins and #interraciallove. This example clearly shows that it is best to let your fans be your brand advocate during any crisis situation.
However, ensure you DON’T keep on waiting for your social followers to respond to trolls. Take an action before the crisis spirals out of control. If your fans find you right, they will definitely support you against trolls.
Over to You
Tap into the immense power of your fan/social follower base and use their authentic content to power your marketing campaigns. The reward will grow your customer base in ways previously unachievable.
Have you had an amazing customer marketing experience via social media? Which tactics are you using to let your customers market your business? Share your ideas with us in the comments.