It pains me that more brands don’t invest in customer advocacy. Did you know that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth, and only 18% trust bloggers?
But how do you motivate your loyal and happy customer base to go out and do your bidding?
First things first, if you don’t already have a kick-ass product serving a real need and have an emotional connection with your users — I can assure you finding (1) numerous, and (2) sustaining customer advocates will be hard.
Let’s say you already have the product piece though, how do you turn happy users into passionate advocates?
Know this for certain — your prospective customers are open to, and are seeking advice from your existing customers (their friends and acquaintances). So how can you make it attractive for your customers to share what they already know?
(Note — the following points are not new, they are just very rarely implemented or executed well)
#1 Provide multiple easy ways for customers to engage. From retweeting, or liking a Facebook post, to joining an Affiliate program or writing a review, there will be numerous ways someone can and wants to engage/share. You need to make it simple and right for them. Oh, and don’t forget to ask for their help, you’d be surprised how many companies simply expect customers to recommend, and never ask them to actually take a step.
#2 Give customers a way to demonstrate their skill / knowledge. Give kudos points, badges, make them Ambassadors / Representatives. Allow them to earn and display their reputation. If they have earned it, it should be acknowledged and celebrated.
#3 Allow customers to give advice and co-create your products with you. By creating advisory boards, listening posts and various user-councils, you are bringing in valuable outside knowledge — inside, and creating unique ways for customers to be closer to your core.
As mentioned, these ideas are certainly not new, but the lack of focus from marketing teams on empowering their own delighted and excited user base to share their passion is sacrilege. Furthermore, the incredible upside to retention and loyalty makes this — a virtuous circle.
How many marketing $$ do you have to spend? If I had to make a bet — you should spend it on customer advocacy. This is the new era of marketing, and this is what creates relevance.
You can reach the Marketing Dissenter Jane Finette at jane [at] finette.com and follow her on Twitter at @janefinette