Successful brand advocacy is all about encouraging your customers to talk about you, in the nicest possible way, of course! It’s about inspiring your consumers to be brand advocates, without actually asking them to do so; it’s about relying on word-of-mouth (WOM) or social media advertising, at grassroots level.
So, why is brand advocacy important?
Consumers can be fickle, there is no doubt, so when they decide to sing your praises and be brand advocates, this is a clear sign that they respect and trust you. Actually, according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, only one in three consumers believe that they can trust the brands they buy. So, the question is, how can you expect customers to purchase a product or service from you if they don’t trust you?
A lack of trust can impact poorly on a brand’s reputation and, while WOM is fantastic to facilitate brand advocacy, it can also work against you. The key is to not disappoint your customers and to encourage authentic, ethical engagement with them.
According to the World Economic Forum, 25% of a company’s market value can be directly related to its reputation. That translates into a veritable army of supporters (or saboteurs!) talking about your brand. If your product is seen to have value and your impeccable service has earned you a good reputation, chances are that not only will customers buy from you again and again, but they’ll also tell their friends to buy from you as well. Brand advocacy can change the way people buy through merely influencing their choice by commenting and/or advising on a specific brand, whether in conversation, online or through direct counsel – read friends.
About 80% of company sales come from about 20% of its customers…
Most times, without even realising it, brand advocates become marketers for your brand as they create user-generated content through their social media channels, offering you free publicity in the process! This is marketing gold.
The secret is to include brand advocates into your marketing campaigns to not only enhance brand awareness around your products and services, but to gain publicity and user-produced content (that means genuine, authentic content) at the same time – no coercion required!
The importance of a brand advocacy program cannot be overestimated. If you have managed to establish a loyal customer base, your aim should be to nurture those customers, given that about 80% of company sales come from about 20% of its customers.
Without even realising it, brand advocates become marketers for your brand.
Developing a brand advocacy program focuses on providing consumers with incentives to speak (positively) about your brand and company. This isn’t coercion, it’s incentivising, there is a difference. This is about influencing your market through your existing consumer base, not hiring leggy models to speak on your behalf!
According to Marketing Charts, (www.marketingcharts.com): ‘Brand advocates (28%) are four times as likely as non-advocates (7%) to share information about products, brands, sales or stores via online feedback mechanisms than non-advocates. They are also roughly twice as likely to share information via social media (58% compared to 27%) and e-commerce websites (43% compared to 22%). A smaller, but still significant discrepancy exists in the use of email (53% compared to 39%) for sharing product information.’
Those are some impressive figures and good reason to take brand advocacy seriously.
Ask yourself, what are you doing to ensure that brand advocacy is part of your marketing plan and what are you doing to encourage this grassroots advertising goldmine?