Don't fall for the old myth of customer loyalty. Instead, increase the attractiveness of your offers and boost brand advocacy with these proven tactics.
How to increase customer advocacy?
If you’re not a monopolist, and you operate on the free market with boisterous competition always breathing down your neck, it’s apparent that you pursue the Holy Grail of sales - loyal customers and dedicated brand advocates who always come back to buy more, wear your merch proudly and defend your brand against anyone who has the audacity to criticize you.
Want to learn some proven tactics on boosting brand advocacy among your clientele? Then keep on reading.
Don’t mix up customer advocacy with brand advocacy
Customer advocacy is the umbrella term for all the customer-centric activities that your business undertakes to increase customer satisfaction that eventually nurture brand loyalty. It can be excellent customer service, valuable incentives, or exciting programs that your customers can take advantage of.
On the other hand, brand advocacy is what you should get after investing enough time and effort into proper customer advocacy strategy. A brand advocate or a brand evangelist is a customer who is not afraid to recommend your brand to others and publicly praise your business by leaving positive reviews. However, the equation that high customer advocacy always results in high brand advocacy would be more than simplified; it would be false.
The great myth of customer loyalty
The key thing to understand here is that customers are rarely loyal to the brand, and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to measure it due to its non-tangible, volatile, and highly emotional character. A person can be loyal to a family, country, or even a football club, but very rarely to a business.
Think about it this way; let’s imagine that you have your favorite brand of shampoo. You go to a store, but your shampoo is out of stock - that’s a bummer. Now, the question is, what do you do? Do you leave the store, don’t buy any shampoo, and don’t wash your hair for the next month to come, or you settle for another brand offering similar product and price?
Oracle’s report Dogs are Loyal Customers Aren’t delves deep into the psychology behind customer loyalty and brand advocacy. What the report uncovered is that loyalty or even customer satisfaction has little to do with brand advocacy - it is the stickiness (attractiveness) of your offer meaning offering services that are:
- easily accessible,
- easy to use,
- of high quality,
- able to create positive connotations and associations.
I know that you may feel a bit let down that all this talk about customer loyalty is nothing more than yet another myth, but I won’t let you go empty-handed. Even though loyalty has nothing to do with your sales rates, the stickiness of your offer does, and you can use many techniques to make customers come back again and again.
Here are some of them.
12 proven ways that increase brand advocacy
1. Provide excellent customer service
If you want to create positive associations and memories linked to your brand, you cannot skip this point. Customer service, be it online support or face-to-face consultation, is one of very few interpersonal touchpoints that you should leverage to increase customer satisfaction and give your business a bit more human and personal feel. If your customer support specialists are easy to talk to, polite and respectful, you just increased your chances of repeat purchases and if you’re lucky turned some customers into brand advocates. For example, you can implement ‘sorry’ discount vouchers in your live chat support to apologize to customers who made a complaint.
2. Keep your word and be the best advocate for your customers
Customer loyalty may have little to do with brand advocacy, but the loyalty of your business to customers has all to do with it. If you promise something to customers, be it a special deal, reward, discount, or new product release, you better stay true to your word. Trust broken once is a trust broken forever, and by failing to keep your promise, you run the risk of losing customers indefinitely. Also, remember to stay fair - don’t change the rules as you go and understand the problems that your customers face instead of punishing them for an occasional slip.
3. Don't lag and be fast in your activities
Customers expect fast customer support, fast service, and speedy delivery - that's the recipe for Amazon's success. The issue here is that efficiency should come hand in hand with quality, which is hard to achieve if you have limited resources and a tight budget. You can scale as you grow and start with implementing live chat support and incentive automation engines that allow for flexibility and efficiency - a great start to building brand advocacy. Remember that if you don't answer your clients fast enough, your competitors will do it for you.
4. Don't rest on your laurels and keep up the quality
Even if the number of your brand advocates went through the roof, you shouldn't stop whatever you're doing because it's obviously working. Also, don't let it stop you from looking for new ways to increase advocacy among your customers. Run iterations, try out some A/B testing, release new incentives, and never stop researching and acting upon actionable data coming from your CRM and other customer data platforms.
5. Invest in CSR efforts and allow customers to identify with your message
With the market full to the brim with products, services, and dog-eat-dog competition, customers are looking for something extra. That’s why by taking a social stance, you can increase your chances of gaining publicity and customers’ approval, which ultimately is likely to lead to increased advocacy rates. Just take a look at IKEA, which, thanks to its environmental efforts, wins customers’ hearts year by year.
6. Launch a loyalty program
There are two pieces of advice that I’d like to offer you here. First of all, remember that the loyalty program is not for you, it should be run for customers, and with their best interest in mind. Offer precious rewards and incentives, keep the rules, and reward redemption simple. The second thing to remember is that you won’t find a ready-made loyalty program for your business - releasing a kickass campaign requires multiple iterations, several failures, and in-depth user research. But, it’s all worth it - 70% of customers are more likely to recommend a brand with a good loyalty program. And you always rely on flexible loyalty management software instead of building your loyalty infrastructure from scratch.
Take a look at hit handy infographic to learn what to look for in your loyalty management software:
7. Run a referral scheme
This point is a no-brainer as referral schemas are designed to identify and reward potential brand advocates. Many of your customers may take part in your loyalty program, but they lack the commitment to recommend your brand to friends and family. In the case of referral programs, this commitment is the quality that will let you sift the wheat from the chaff and identify brand advocates and target them with special incentives in the future to maintain the attractiveness of your brand. Again, you don’t have to start from scratch, use ready-to-go referral software, such as Voucherify.
8. Organise a special giveaway to keep things spicy
Do everything in you power to create moments worth remembering and more importantly, worth talking about. Increase your following with special giveaways and online contests offering targeted rewards. Keep tabs on your social media to identify brand advocates and reach out to them with a tailored ‘thank you’ message or send them a discount coupon for their positive reviews. Surprise and delight are a powerful combination that is sure to increase your brand attractiveness.
9. Don’t scrimp on personalisation
Personalised incentives are one of the best ways to show customers that you care. Reach out to them by name, remember their birthday and celebrate anniversaries and other holidays. It’s like being in a relationship - you remember about anniversaries, invite your partner to dinner, and offer to pay the bill. That’s the solid foundation upon which you can build growing brand advocacy.
10. Create narratives and let customers be a part of them
Make your brand a community that follows a specific set of values. Focus on the message and the change you want to see in the world instead of the features of your new gadget. As advised by Patrick Hanlon, the CEO and founder of THINKTOPIA: “Companies who wrap themselves in a story, rather than the peculiarities of their widget, have a far greater chance of success (or fail faster, if your widget sucks). This is the role of storytelling and narrative”.
IKEA is also a great example of its “responsibility beyond home furnishing” stance.
11. Stay in touch
You can’t only send Christmas wishes once a year and expect customers to be your brand’s evangelists. The process of nurturing advocacy and attractiveness of your brand is a never-ending task. But, as with everything, you need to strike a golden balance between being simply annoying and reserved. Make your messaging more engaging with videos and dedicated newsletters talking about breaking news from the industry (for B2B clientele) or new products or exclusive deals (for B2C audience).
12. Act on your data
If you hate data analytics, I have bad news. Acting upon customer data is pivotal in creating personalised incentives and tracking potential brand advocates. Luckily, you can get somebody to do it for you or use dedicated software that will help you squeeze out as much useful data as possible from huge data blocks. Monitor the performance of your incentives to learn how to do better in the future and what kind of narration suits your audience best.
With all this knowledge, you are more than ready to sketch out the best strategy for accumulating brand advocacy. If you need any help setting up incentives, such as discounts, loyalty and referral programs or giveaways, reach out to us.
Don’t know where to start? A loyalty program can be your answer.