Customer advocacy is a powerful marketing tool. Online businesses attribute 60% of their sales to referrals from advocates and brand superfans.
The best thing about satisfied and loyal customers is that they continue to do business with a company and become its fervent advocates. They promote products or services through word-of-mouth recommendations and online reviews.
These acts are very important as over 75% of B2B buyers consult three or more sources of advocacy before making a purchase decision.
Businesses must indeed hustle to turn their customers into advocates.
Their advocacy enhances a company’s reputation, builds trust, and attracts new customers, resulting in increased revenue and sustainable growth.
Moreover, customer feedback and advocacy provide invaluable inputs for continuous improvement and innovation, making it an indispensable asset for businesses aiming to thrive in a competitive marketplace.
In this post, you will gain insights into the concept of customer advocacy, why it’s beneficial, and the different types it can take. We’ll also share strategies you can apply to turn customers into devoted advocates.
Let’s begin with its definition.
What is Customer Advocacy
Customer advocacy is a strategy that places the customers at the heart of a business’s operations, where they enthusiastically support and promote the brand, product, or service.
Advocates share their positive experiences, recommend the offering to others, and actively participate in advocating for the brand through word-of-mouth, testimonials, reviews, and social media.
Customer advocacy is a powerful marketing strategy that fosters trust, credibility, and loyalty, ultimately driving business growth and success.
Businesses, therefore, prioritize the advocates’ satisfaction and strive to enhance their overall customer experience. They achieve this through various customer advocacy strategies that are designed to understand and meet the advocate’s specific needs.
In essence, customer advocacy means that a business genuinely cares about customer experience and is willing to go the extra mile for them.
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s delve into the different types of customer advocacy programs.
Types of Customer Advocacy Programs
Let’s move on to the various types of customer advocacy programs. You’ll find that referral programs, customer communities, word-of-mouth advocacy, customer testimonials, and social media advocacy all play a part in this strategy.
Understanding each type will help you decide which might be the best fit for your business.
A referral program is a marketing strategy businesses employ to incentivize existing customers or individuals to recommend their products or services to others.
These customer advocacy programs are designed to make your customers feel valued and appreciated, encouraging them to spread the word about your business. Customer advocates share their positive experiences with family and friends, leading to a chain of referrals.
The beauty of referral programs is that they’re a win-win situation. Your advocates get rewards for their efforts, and you gain new customers. It’s a cost-effective strategy to expand your customer base.
Remember, a happy customer is your best salesperson.
Customer communities are online or offline platforms where a company’s customers come together to interact, share experiences, and engage in discussions related to the brand’s products, services, or common interests.
These communities can be online forums, social media groups, or physical events, and they provide a dedicated space for customers to ask questions, offer insights, provide feedback, and build a sense of community.
By participating in these communities, customers can connect, share their knowledge and experiences, and engage directly with the company, fostering a deeper and more personal relationship with the brand.
Customer communities create a sense of belonging and shared identity among customers, which can lead to increased loyalty and enthusiasm for the brand. When customers feel a part of a community that values their input and experiences, they are likelier to become advocates who recommend the brand to others.
These communities also serve as a platform for customers to share their positive experiences and success stories, effectively amplifying word-of-mouth marketing.
Advocates within these communities often become the most vocal and trusted promoters of the brand, influencing potential customers and helping to build credibility and trust.
By providing a space for customers to be heard and to influence the company’s decisions, customer communities empower individuals to feel a sense of ownership and investment in the brand’s success, further driving their willingness to advocate on its behalf.
Word of Mouth Advocacy
Another powerful type of customer advocacy program is word-of-mouth advocacy, where satisfied customers become your brand’s biggest cheerleaders.
This customer advocacy strategy leverages the power of personal recommendations, which is really persuasive.
Statistics show that WOM marketing generates twice as many sales as paid advertisements, with 20% to 50% of purchasing decisions significantly influenced by recommendations from trusted sources.
A successful customer advocacy program encourages customers to share positive experiences, boosting your brand’s reputation.
Customer loyalty is a key factor in word-of-mouth advocacy. A loyal customer is more likely to become an advocate for your brand, spreading the word about your products or services.
Remember, customer advocacy is important not just for immediate sales but for creating long-term relationships. By nurturing these relationships, you can turn a one-time customer into a lifetime advocate, driving repeat business and attracting new customers.
92% of customers read online reviews before purchase. With customer testimonials, you’re harnessing the power of positive feedback from your satisfied customers to boost your brand’s credibility and trustworthiness.
This customer advocacy program can truly spearhead your customer advocacy efforts, making it a cornerstone of your overall strategy.
Through testimonials, satisfied customers publicly vouch for your product or service, influencing potential customers. Your most loyal customers become your biggest advocates, their authentic experiences resonating deeply with prospects.
This validates your product or service and strengthens your relationship with your existing customers. Using testimonials in your customer advocacy efforts is a win-win for both your brand and your customers.
Social Media Advocacy
Social media is effective for building customer advocacy because it provides a platform for businesses to engage with their audience directly.
The viral nature of social media amplifies positive experiences, enabling satisfied customers to share their enthusiasm with a broader audience, effectively becoming brand advocates themselves.
Social media advocacy can be broken down into three key strategies:
Sharing Customer Journey: Showcasing real customer journeys on social media can provide customers with relatable experiences, fostering trust and loyalty.
Rewarding Participation: Implementing customer loyalty programs that reward customers for their social media advocacy efforts can incentivize further promotion.
Fostering Community: Creating a community on social media allows for open dialogue, enhances brand-customer relationships, and increases customer retention.
The dynamic, real-time interaction and the ability to amplify positive feedback make social media a powerful tool for cultivating customer advocacy.
Proven Strategies for Effective Customer Advocacy
Now, let’s look at some tried-and-true strategies that can make your customer advocacy efforts more effective. You’ll learn about building a customer-centric culture, identifying advocates, nurturing them, amplifying their voices, and dealing with detractors.
Building a Customer-Centric Culture
Building a customer-centric culture where your customers’ needs and experiences hold top priority is essential to boost your company’s customer advocacy. It’s about attracting new customers and retaining and satisfying existing ones.
Here are the key steps to achieve this:
Creating a Customer-Centric Mission Statement
A fundamental first step in building a customer-centric culture is defining a clear and compelling mission statement prioritizing customer satisfaction and value.
This mission statement is the guiding principle that aligns the entire organization toward a common goal – putting the customer first. It should be succinct, easy to understand, and inspire a commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences.
When this mission statement is well-defined and widely communicated, it helps employees understand the organization’s overarching purpose and fosters a sense of shared responsibility in delivering superior customer service.
Training and Empowering Employees
The success of a customer-centric culture heavily relies on the skills and commitment of the employees. Providing comprehensive training that equips employees with the knowledge and tools needed to serve customers effectively is essential.
Customer service training should focus on technical aspects and emphasize the importance of empathy, active listening, and problem-solving skills.
Empowering employees to make decisions that benefit customers can be a game-changer.
When employees have the authority to resolve issues and provide solutions without constant managerial approval, they can respond swiftly to customer needs, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Gathering Customer Feedback
Listening to the voice of the customer is a critical aspect of building a customer-centric culture.
Establishing channels and methods for collecting customer feedback, such as surveys, feedback forms, and direct communication channels, allows an organization to gain valuable insights into customer preferences, expectations, and areas where improvements are needed.
Soliciting feedback demonstrates a commitment to transparency and creates a sense of involvement among customers, making them feel valued and heard.
It is a vital source of data that can be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in products, services, and processes.
Implementing Feedback-Driven Improvements
Gathering customer feedback is only part of the equation; acting upon that feedback is equally crucial.
Analyzing the feedback received enables organizations to pinpoint areas that require improvement.
By prioritizing and implementing changes based on customer input, companies demonstrate their dedication to meeting customer expectations and continuously enhancing their offerings. Effective communication with customers about these improvements is critical.
This keeps customers in the loop and reaffirms their significance in shaping the organization’s direction.
These four steps are interconnected and should be integrated into your organization’s strategy for building a customer-centric culture.
So, how do you find those customers who can help your business thrive?
Here are eight ways to help you identify customer advocates:
Analyze Customer Behavior
Look for customers who frequently make repeat purchases.
Identify those who have been loyal to your brand for an extended period.
Analyze the engagement level of customers on your website, social media, and other platforms.
Send out surveys or feedback forms to your customers. Ask them about their experiences and satisfaction with your products or services.
Pay attention to positive feedback and testimonials. Customers who take the time to praise your brand are more likely to be advocates.
Monitor Social Media: Track social media mentions and tags related to your brand. Customers who share positive experiences or promote your products online may be advocates.
Customer Reviews: Look at review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, or industry-specific review platforms. Positive reviews can be an indicator of advocacy.
Customer Referrals: Track customer referrals and recommendations. Those who refer friends and family to your business are potential advocates.
Net Promoter Score (NPS): Utilize the Net Promoter Score system to gauge customer loyalty. Customers who score high on the NPS (9-10) are often advocates.
Direct Communication: Pay attention to customers who reach out to your customer support or sales teams with positive feedback, questions, or ideas for improvement. These are signs of engagement.
Analyze Customer Lifetime Value: High customer lifetime value (CLV) can indicate customer advocacy. Customers who spend more with your brand over time are likely advocates.
Once you’ve identified customer advocates, nurturing and engaging with them is important. Acknowledge their support, offer incentives, and encourage them to participate in loyalty programs or referral programs.
Nurturing Customer Advocates
Once you’ve identified your potential advocates, developing strategies to nurture these relationships and encourage them to continue promoting your brand is crucial.
Here are five basic ways you can do this:
Provide exceptional service: Go above and beyond to meet your customers’ needs. This will make them feel appreciated and encourage them to share their positive experiences.
Engage regularly: Keep your advocates in the loop about new products or services, ask for their opinions, and respond to feedback.
Reward loyalty: Create a brand loyalty program that rewards customers for their advocacy efforts. This could include discounts, exclusive access to new products, or other perks.
Provide Advocacy Tools: Make it easy for your advocates to share their positive experiences. Provide them with ready-made content, referral links, or social media share buttons. Encourage them to leave reviews and testimonials.
Educate and Inform: Keep each customer advocate informed about your latest offerings, updates, and industry trends. Invite them to exclusive webinars or events to keep them engaged and informed.
With these strategies in place, you’re now ready to move to the next step – amplifying customer advocacy.
Amplifying Customer Advocacy
You have found your advocates, and nurtured them; now, you only have to ensure their voices are heard far and wide.
There are several effective strategies to achieve this goal. In this discussion, we’ll explore four essential methods: leveraging social media, encouraging user-generated content, showcasing customer success stories, and partnering with influential advocates.
Leveraging Social Media
Social media platforms offer an unparalleled opportunity to amplify customer advocacy. Businesses can harness the power of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to engage with customers and create a sense of community.
Companies can encourage customers to share their experiences, reviews, and feedback through active social media management.
This user-generated content helps build trust and credibility, as prospective customers often rely on the opinions and experiences of their peers when making purchasing decisions.
Additionally, social media enables brands to respond promptly to customer inquiries, issues, and positive feedback, reinforcing the customer’s perception of being valued and heard.
Encouraging User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) involves customers creating content related to a product or service. This can include photos, reviews, videos, and testimonials.
Encouraging UGC not only provides a more authentic and relatable image of your brand but also fosters a sense of ownership and community among your customers.
Encouragement can be in the form of contests, giveaways, or simply by providing an exceptional product or service that naturally prompts customers to share their experiences.
Sharing UGC on your website, social media, or other marketing channels showcases the real experiences of satisfied customers, reinforcing the positive image of your brand.
Showcasing Customer Success Stories
One of the most effective ways to amplify brand advocacy is by showcasing customer success stories. These stories highlight how your product or service has positively impacted your customers’ lives or businesses.
Customer testimonials, case studies, and video interviews are powerful tools for building trust and credibility. When potential customers see how others have benefited from your offerings, they are more likely to consider your brand a solution to their needs.
Success stories provide tangible evidence of your product or service’s value and can be used across various marketing channels, from your website to email campaigns.
Partnering with Influential Advocates
Influential advocates are individuals who have a strong following and credibility in a particular niche or industry.
Collaborating with these advocates can significantly boost your customer advocacy efforts. Influential advocates can promote your brand, products, or services to their dedicated followers, increasing your reach and credibility.
This type of partnership can be in the form of sponsored content, reviews, or co-branded initiatives. The key is to find advocates whose values align with your brand and who genuinely appreciate your offerings.
Their advocacy can lend authenticity to your brand, helping you tap into new markets and demographics.
Dealing with Detractors
In your journey towards fostering customer advocacy, dealing with detractors is an inevitable and essential part. These individuals can negatively impact your brand’s reputation, but you can turn the tide strategically.
Addressing Negative Feedback
It’s important to approach this process with empathy and a willingness to resolve issues. When detractors express their concerns or dissatisfaction, active listening is essential.
This means paying close attention to what they are saying, both in their words and the emotions they convey. Understanding their perspective demonstrates that you value their feedback and are genuinely interested in finding a solution.
Maintaining a calm and professional demeanor is equally important. It’s natural to have an emotional response when confronted with criticism, but responding with composure and respect can diffuse tension and promote a more constructive dialogue.
When addressing negative feedback, acknowledge their concerns, and thank them for sharing their perspective. This acknowledgment validates their feelings and helps create a more positive atmosphere for finding solutions.
Offer concrete solutions or steps to address the issues raised by the detractor. Your aim should be to demonstrate your commitment to resolving the problem. Follow up with the detractor to ensure the issue has been addressed to their satisfaction.
Turning Detractors into Advocates
It’s not easy to convert individuals who were once dissatisfied into loyal supporters of your brand. To accomplish this, you must outstrip your efforts to rectify their concerns and ensure their satisfaction.
Personalization is key. Tailoring your approach to address their specific issues or preferences can make a significant difference.
Engaging detractors in the improvement process is another valuable strategy. Seek their input and feedback on the changes you are implementing, making them feel part of the solution. This enhances the quality of your offerings and fosters a sense of ownership and partnership with your customers.
Encourage detractors to share their positive experiences once you’ve resolved their concerns. Satisfied customers who once had issues but were then delighted by your response can become powerful advocates for your brand.
Turning detractors into advocates is a genius way to leverage their experiences to attract new customers and enhance your reputation.
Learning from Criticism
Criticism should be viewed as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Learning from criticism involves adopting a proactive approach to identifying and addressing underlying problems.
To effectively learn from it, analyze the feedback for recurring patterns and trends. Detractors may express similar concerns, and identifying these common threads can help you pinpoint areas that require attention.
Whether it’s a recurring product issue or a particular aspect of customer service that needs improvement, recognizing these trends is a crucial step in the process.
Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, take concrete steps to implement changes. This may involve revising processes, retraining staff, or refining product offerings.
Communicate these improvements to your critics to show that you are responsive to their feedback and committed to positive change.
Most importantly, it’s essential to maintain continuous monitoring and evaluation. Learning from criticism is an ongoing process. Regularly collect and assess feedback from detractors and customers, and use this information to fine-tune your operations continually.
This commitment to improvement and learning from criticism can address detractors’ concerns and position your organization for long-term success and customer loyalty.
The power of customer advocacy is an invaluable asset to any business. It fosters a sense of trust and credibility, contributes to customer retention, and offers a cost-efficient marketing strategy. Businesses can tap into this potential by building a customer-centric culture, identifying potential advocates, nurturing them, and amplifying their voices. However, the journey doesn’t end here; it’s an ongoing process that requires continuous learning, adapting, and improving based on valuable customer feedback and insights. When businesses prioritize their customers and value their advocacy, they create a robust foundation for sustainable growth and success. Remember, a loyal customer is your greatest asset. You can turn happy customers into powerful marketing tools with the right approach.