Research has shown that word-of-mouth marketing leads to two times more profits than paid ads. So, while you may have business plans and marketing budgets allocated to building your customer base, you should also have a strategy to increase customer advocacy. Last year, almost 60% of companies in the U.S. increased their loyalty budgets, showing just how important it is to business success.
In addition to growing your business through increased sales, advocacy programs can also boost the bottom line through increased conversion rates, more qualified leads and increased sales efficiency. What’s more, your advocates, who are already good customers, become even better customers. By building stronger relationships with them, you can increase cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and decrease churn. Perhaps most importantly, in today’s marketplace, customers no longer trust – or react to – traditional marketing tactics like ads and emails; they trust regular people whom they can relate to. Here are three simple ways to increase customer advocacy:
The Role of Customer Experience
It may seem like common sense, but the best way to create customer advocates is to provide a consistently excellent customer experience. By tracking the metrics that correspond to customer experience, you can identify pain points in the customer journey and develop ways to make improvements. When you increase the quality of customer experience, you increase the opportunities to develop customer advocates. That’s because research has shown a high degree of correlation between customer experience and loyalty.
According to a Nielsen survey, more than 80 percent of people consider personal recommendations the most trustworthy information about a brand. This means you need to encourage your customers to express their appreciation for your products or services. One way to do this is to invite customers to share their stories. You can email asking them to provide a referral or leave an online review. B2B companies have great success in this way through case studies, which feature satisfied customers and highlight the solutions you provided. When you engage customers this way, be sure to recognize them for their efforts with a sincere thank-you note, gift card, etc. You can also include a note in customer packages inviting them to share product reviews through various channels.
Social Media Management
Closely related to the previous method, social media is a powerful tool for creating – and giving voice to – customer advocates. For example, BeautyCounter, a direct sales company that offers skin care and makeup, recently launched a campaign featuring a new lipstick. On social media, they asked women to tag a photo of themselves wearing the lipstick on the company’s Instagram feed. In this way, the company became visible to all of the friends and family who follow the women who participated. Chances are, many of those followers share the same interests as the BeautyCounter customer.
The only caveat is that you have to constantly follow the reviews and comments your customers share online. The best brand promotion you can receive is positive feedback online. In this case, you should step in and encourage customers to tell you more about the product qualities.
For the same reasons that social media is a powerful customer advocacy tool, it can also be harmful to your brand. In case you have to deal with negative comments, be sure to respond quickly, show you understand the customer and promise a swift solution.
Creating customer advocates requires an omni-channel strategy that includes social media. ASK can manage your brand across online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and others. As your strategic partner, we work with you to determine the goals of your social media program and provide meaningful data to understand results.
ASK social media services include:
- Social presence management
- Answer customer inquiries in real time
- Customer service extension to social media
- Integration with your current teams
- Social media risk management
To learn how you can grow your business with social media strategies, management and analytics, contact us to schedule a FREE ASK demo.