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How to Turn Customers into Brand Advocates

Learn how to build a brand advocacy program that turns customers into advocates for your business.

Building consumer trust and brand loyalty is one of the more difficult parts of marketing. Consumers trust brands they're familiar with, and it can be hard to get people to check out and recommend your brand when you're not a big name.

A successful brand advocacy program is one of the best ways to build brand loyalty and get new customers to check out your products or services. When your customers are satisfied with your brand and recommend it to other people, it makes your brand feel more trustworthy to a larger audience. If your brand advocate has a large following, there are even more benefits of brand advocacy.

Brand advocacy programs are a key part of many marketing strategies, helping you build trust with a larger customer base. With a few simple steps, you can start a brand advocacy program and find advocates to help you showcase your product. Keep reading to learn more about brand advocacy examples and how to start your own brand advocacy platform.

Brand advocacy is when you have people who advocate for your brand and its products or services. A brand advocate is typically a person who buys and uses your products or services, so they can vouch for the quality of it.

Lots of people can be brand advocates, from frequent customers and employees to influencers and business partners. You can even reward customers and employees for becoming brand advocates to thank them for their loyalty.

Why is brand advocacy important?

It can be hard to build consumer confidence in your brand, especially when you're just starting out. Advocating for your own brand doesn't do a lot of good — people know you support your own products. But when a customer is so happy with a product that they recommend it to others, that's when people start to pay attention — and that's why brand advocacy matters so much.

When you have brand advocates who have large platforms, they can introduce your product to new customers and improve your brand image. Brand ambassadors are used by some of the most successful companies in the world, helping them build brand awareness and attract loyal customers.

Who can be brand advocates?

Diversity is one of the best parts of brand advocacy. You don't have to pay celebrities to be brand ambassadors — you have several choices when it comes to brand advocates:

  • Business partners: If you've partnered with another brand for a campaign or product release, they can be one of your best brand advocates. Having a reputable brand vouch for your business is one of the best forms of brand advocacy.
  • Influencers: Social media influencers are one of the most effective brand ambassadors because they have large, loyal followings. If you've used social media, you've probably seen influencer brand advocacy at work. Influencers offer the added benefit of knowing how to make eye-catching content, which gives you even more brand visibility.
  • Employees: Employee advocacy may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of brand advocacy, but it plays an important role. Your employees know your products and services inside and out, so they're one of the best brand advocates you can have. You can even start an employee advocacy program to encourage brand advocacy.
  • Customers: Turning customers into brand advocates shows potential customers how great your brand and its products are. Recommendations from people who purchase and use your products mean more to prospective customers. Your customer advocates can also help you reach small segments of the market that you might not have been able to reach otherwise.

Characteristics of effective brand advocates

When you're choosing advocates for a brand advocacy program, you have to make sure you're selecting the right people. A good brand advocate can increase brand awareness and boost sales, but quality advocates are crucial in advocacy marketing.

Here are some of the characteristics you'll find in the best brand advocates:

  • Passion and enthusiasm: Brand ambassadors and advocates should be passionate and enthusiastic about the products they endorse. When people are passionate about your brand, they can talk about all the little details that make your products special. It's also nice to have customer and employee advocates who can talk about real use cases for your product and the value those products have in everyday life.
  • Authenticity: Consumers are getting smarter with every passing year, and people don't want to feel like they're being tricked into buying a product. You can probably think of several celebrity endorsements from celebrities who probably don't use the products they’re recommending, and those endorsements affect brand authenticity. Brand advocacy is best when it comes from someone who's authentically recommending your products, even if it is paid advertising.
  • Consistency: Consistency is key when it comes to brand advocacy. The more people talk about and recommend your brand, the more brand awareness increases. Consistent brand advocacy can also help with customer retention because it keeps people up to date on the latest developments from your brand.
  • Influence: Any brand advocate is a good one, but the best brand advocates are people who have a strong influence. People who have large followings on social media platforms can help you reach new audiences and increase brand awareness, which can boost sales as a result. You don't have to make your brand advocacy program exclusive to social media influencers or massive brands, but having influential advocates certainly helps.
  • Knowledge: At the end of the day, you want the people who are advocating for your brand to be knowledgeable about your products and services. Whether it's employee advocacy, a social media brand ambassador, or existing customers advocating for your brand, knowledge is essential. Make sure your brand is represented by people who understand what you stand for.

Cultivating a group of trusted advocates is crucial to building a strong brand advocacy program. Here are a few ways to cultivate brand advocates for your business:

Identify potential advocates

Starting a brand advocacy program starts with selecting the right advocates. You should look for people who are passionate, knowledgeable, authentic, and influential.

People with a lot of social media followers can help increase brand recognition but don't limit your search to popular social media accounts. Employee advocacy and customer advocacy programs are also great ways to find people who can build consumer trust and increase brand awareness.

Build relationships with advocates

Building relationships is a key part of brand advocacy. Forging real relationships with advocates gives you an opportunity to gain valuable insight into why people love your products.

Take the time to reach out to each potential advocate and talk to them about your brand advocacy goals, how you want to be represented as a brand, and what you're offering in return. This is also a good time to talk to your employees about employee advocacy.

Create a brand advocacy program

Now that you've reached out to social media influencers, customers, and other potential brand advocates, it's time to start your brand advocacy programs.

You can have separate brand advocacy programs for different types of advocates, including employees, customers, and social media ambassadors. Your brand advocacy programs should provide some kind of benefit for people who talk about and recommend your brand to others.

Provide incentives and rewards

A good brand advocacy program should include a rewards program that encourages people to advocate for your brand. You don't have to spend a ton of money on your brand advocacy program because these are people who already love and support your brand. Even something as simple as new products and gift cards is a nice way to say thank you.

The only way to know if you have an effective brand advocacy program is to measure your results using brand tracking, referrals, and other metrics. Here are some of the ways you can measure brand advocacy initiatives:

  • Customer satisfaction surveys: Customer surveys help you understand how brand advocates affect your customer base. You can use surveys to figure out how many people saw and interacted with your brand advocates' messages and how that affected their purchasing decisions.
  • Referral tracking: Referral tracking allows you to track every stage of advocacy programs with referral codes. You can see when a brand advocate shares a referral code and when the recipient of that code makes a purchase, which helps you figure out if you're running a successful brand advocacy program.
  • User-generated content: Looking at impressions on user-generated content (UGC) helps you figure out how many people are being exposed to your brand advocacy campaigns. UGC includes social media content, blog posts, and live streams.
  • Social media metrics: Social media services make it easy to measure the performance of posts, with some platforms showing impressions or video plays right below the post itself. Social media metrics are a great way to figure out how many people are seeing brand advocacy content on social media.
  • Customer lifetime value: Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the value of a customer throughout their relationship with your brand. A rising CLV is a sign that your brand advocacy efforts are working and you're attracting more loyal customers.
  • Advocacy program surveys: Getting feedback from advocates helps you measure the success of your advocacy programs by learning more about those programs. Open communication, which includes occasional surveys, is an essential part of advocacy programs.
  • Customer loyalty programs: Customer loyalty programs are also an effective way to measure customer loyalty and learn how brand advocacy contributes to business growth. Using customer loyalty points, you can figure out how much customers are spending with your business and whether sales are increasing as a result of advocacy programs.

Foster customer loyalty through the power of brand advocacy

Finding people who are willing to advocate for your brand isn't always easy, but it's one of the best and most cost-effective ways to attract new customers. If you're not using brand advocacy, consider starting a program and searching for advocates.

Building your brand takes hard work and time, but having the right tools at your disposal helps. Mailchimp offers audience management reporting and analytics tools that help you measure the success of marketing campaigns and optimize marketing efforts. If you're starting a brand advocacy program, use Mailchimp to measure your results.

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