How do you start when you want to buy a product or service? We guess by searching the Internet. You try to find reviews and opinions from other customers who have already bought the product from a certain supplier and have used it for some time. With the Internet you have full access to all the information you need to make a decision and only one click of the mouse is needed to make a purchase.
According to Nielsen research, 92% of consumers say that the most valuable insight on buying a product is that in which they get from people they know and 70% also trust opinions posted online. Thus today in our highly-connected world it’s not enough just to gain customers to succeed in your business, you need to turn some of them into brand advocates.
These people should be really loyal to your company, they have to share your brand culture and be connected with your brand values. Brand advocates generate word of mouth (WoM) – the most influential driver of purchases, because consumers trust real people more than brands, despite how high quality content is that they offer.
Many companies understand that using WoM as a form of social marketing is one of the best ways to engage new customers through social media and investing in it is very beneficial, but only 6% can master WoM effectively.
Here are 7 tips on how to turn your clients into brand advocates:
1. Find loyal customers
First you need to identify your most loyal customers. Who they are? Are they those people who purchase from your company more often or spent more money? Did they like your Facebook page or leave good feedback on your web page? Or maybe they’ve stayed with your company much longer than others? All these criteria can be applied or combined to form a segment of your most loyal customers that can be potentially converted into brand advocates. You can also ask your customers one simple question – “Would you recommend us to your friends, colleagues and family?” – and see what answers you’ll get. In fact, no more than 10% of your customers can be potentially turned into brand advocates.
2. Get feedback from your clients
You need to get feedback constantly from your customers to understand what’s going wrong and what you need to do to improve in order to avoid having poor customer experiences. By asking for feedback you also show your clients that their opinions are really important to you and you’re ready to change your business to provide them with better products, services etc. You need to stay connected with your most loyal customers and communicate with them in person if it’s possible, especially if they post on social and you already have referral clients which they helped you to engage.
3. Reward your advocates
It doesn’t mean you need to pay money to your brand advocates. But you need to offer them something valuable to thank them for their help. It can be special discounts for each referral or bonus points for a review, additional service or special gift – customers have to feel that you appreciate their time which they spent forwarding your offer to their friends or writing a review on social media.
4. Offer more for less
Try to provide more service than your customers expect to get from you. It’s much better than promising more and then failing – so you have to promise what you’re completely sure you can deliver and then do a little bit more. Thus there will be more chances that you will not disappoint your client, and vice versa – you’ll make a good impression, which helps you form a positive brand image.
Don’t be afraid to fail, and if this happens, be honest with your customers – admit your failure and try to compensate your client. Don’t try to pretend that nothing happened – customers will understand you if you’ll tell them the truth and fix the problem. In this case you have a lot of chances that you can even turn this situation into a positive customer experience.
5. Keep them informed
Your brand advocates should get a little bit more information about your company plans with products/services you offer – this will motivate them to share it with others. You can treat them as a special customer focus group, which you can ask questions about what they want to get from your product or service, how they want to get this, and improve your product/service respectively.
6. Give them different ways to talk and share their experience.
Set up different social channels where your customers can share their opinions and communicate with other clients – you need to at least to create company pages on the most popular social networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest etc. Many brands also cooperate with bloggers, which are very influential and have thousands of subscribers, but they are more independent and you may need to pay them for their reviews.
7. Ask for writing reviews
Ask your clients about giving testimonials – this is the best option for you to monetize their experience because prospects are interested in real brand/product/service reviews first and for most. Motivate your customers to write extended testimonials, not just few words – you can provide them with some kind of template, where you can put questions or even provide options for answers. If you ask your customers to fill a survey, ask them about giving explanations of their answers or examples, so you will then generate good looking reviews or customer stories and place them on your web-site.