What are Brand Advocates? Why are they important
Brand advocates are highly satisfied customers who go out of their way to actively promote the products they love and care about. Rob Ruggetta, author of Brand Advocates, found that a brand advocate is 50% more influential than an average customer.
So if brand advocates are so valuable, how can you create more of them?
That’s a question many companies want to know the answer too. And to tell you the truth, it’s not that easy. Customer advocacy is something that can’t be bought and it definitely can’t be faked.
Often times, a positive experience with a brand is a key factor that creates advocacy. It might have been a successful customer service experience, or a particularly employee going ‘above and beyond’ to exceed expectations.
My belief is that a brand advocate is created through a combination of high customer satisfaction and trust. If a customer is extremely happy with the product and service they received, and trust the company to continue to deliver the same level of service to them and others, they will be likely to share and recommend the company to friends and colleagues.
Why Brand Advocates are important
Brand advocates are walking billboards that engage and build relationships with your future prospects, leads and customers. They are the heart and soul of any marketing strategy and form the basis for many companies’ promotions and advertising efforts. Because let’s face it, if your product or service doesn’t sell itself, how can you expect your marketing campaigns to do it all for you? Here are five benefits that brand advocates can bring to your company.
- Increased brand awareness. When happy advocates spread the word about a product or company, brand awareness increases. The more they speak out, the better chance potential customers will recognize a company and buy from them.
- Word of mouth fuels growth. Brand advocates share their experiences with friends and colleagues. Recommendations and business referrals fuel business growth.
- More recommendations, likes and tweets on social media. The internet has spawned a whole new brand advocate. No longer are they limited to just their social circle. Social media enables advocates to share their messages across the internet and send their customer stories viral. This is great news for companies who focus on the customer experience and work on creating advocates. They see much more engagement online and can also ‘keep the conversation going’ via social media.
- Stickier customer loyalty and increased lifetime value. All brand advocates are loyal customers. Loyal customers are a lot less likely to defect to competitors, tend to be ‘less hassle’ and are less price sensitive. Furthermore, they stay with you longer, so your customer lifetime value is high from advocates.
- Maintaining relationships can be difficult. Keeping brand advocates happy and maintaining the relationships are often time consuming and often means going the extra mile. But I guarantee you it’s worth it! Make sure you keep up whatever you’re doing to nurture these relationships as they are some of the most important ones you will have in your business.
- Hard to keep a consistent marketing message. Since brand advocates love talking, sometimes the messages that they pass on are not consistent with your actual marketing. If that’s the case with, work on educating them about your product and company so when that do talk about your company to others, they are using the right information and not misleading the potential customer.
4 keys to successfully creating brand advocates
Build trust through stronger customer relationships
Trust stems from reliability and integrity. Your customers want to count on you to deliver on promises and be reliable. Every brand advocate trusts the company. They all believe in the product and service and are happy to put their reputation.
Do your customers trust you? Can they depend on you to be proactive in solving future problems?
Focus on delighting customer’s right from first point of contact
Customer delight is surprising a customer by exceeding their expectations and creating a positive emotional connection. Every brand advocate has been delighted. The emotional connection leads to emotional passion and enthusiasm that generally comes out when they are speaking to friends or colleagues about the company.
My favorite way to delight customers is through educational content. Offer value beyond your bare product or service by educating customers on topics that help them do their job better. It goes a long way to show that you are an expert in your field and builds advocacy.
Offer a consistent customer experience
The best companies recognize that customers interact with different parts of the organization and across multiple touch points. They know customers engage with different employees when they make a purchase, when they’re getting service and support, and when they’re talking to billing or accounts.
When it comes to brand advocates, a consistent experience builds trust. An advocate needs you to deliver a consistent experience to the people their refer. They need to get the same experience that you have been delivering to them. Remember it’s the advocate’s reputation on the line, don’t take it for granted.
Strive for high customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone to brand advocacy. A happy customer is a customer who will tell others about your company. Our studies at Client Heartbeat have found that customers that score eight or above (out of 10) for ‘overall customer satisfaction’ can be considered a brand advocate.
Improving customer satisfaction will help you create more advocates. Here are my favourite strategies to achieve high customer satisfaction:
- Empower employees to go above and beyond to exceed customer expectations
- Measure and track customer satisfaction so you can see which of your business initiatives makes it increase or decrease
- Focus on WOWing the customer with amazing experiences
Brand advocacy is essential to all marketing strategies
Brand advocates are no longer a ‘nice to have’, they are a ‘must have’.
Any marketing department or small business must look to create brand advocates and nurture them.
By focusing on improving customer satisfaction and building trust; you can create advocates and reap the benefits on increased brand awareness and positive word of mouth.