Businesses all over the world have a huge annual marketing budget. For some, these budgets run into millions of dollars. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, more than 14% of companies upwardly revised their marketing budget to beat the competition and grow despite economic uncertainties.
But apart from marketing efforts, what if we told you that you have another weapon in your arsenal that is just as important as paid marketing? And the best part? It’s technically free…
A study found that 95% of buyers read customer reviews before paying for anything. Similarly, another study by Nielson discovered that 84% of people take the recommendations of their partners, friends, or family when trying to make a buying decision.
These point to the importance of the oldest and most effective form of marketing – word of mouth. In other words, turning your customers into brand advocates.
Don’t believe word-of-mouth marketing is all that? Well, a McKinsey study found that word-of-mouth marketing is responsible for 20%-50% of every purchasing decision. A 2018 study by Convince and Convert further stressed this when it established that this is especially true with millennials who are 115% more influenced by word-of-mouth than conventional outbound marketing.
Before we dive further into how you can turn your customers into brand advocates, let’s understand what it means to be a brand advocate.
Have you met an iPhone user? Oh, you are one yourself? Or do you know a friend who is? One way or the other, you most likely know someone who uses an iPhone and who would stop at nothing to get everyone to come on board the ‘iPhone ship’.
Now, that’s a brand advocate. Anyone who seizes every opportunity to elevate a brand with their words (written and spoken) is a brand advocate. Brand advocates are quick to drop positive reviews everywhere; they talk their friends and family into buying a product. And they do all this for free. They give such good reviews because they had an unforgettable experience while patronizing the product or service.
By the way, Brand Advocates are not the same as Brand Influencers.
The efforts of brand advocates and brand influencers complement each other. At the end of the day, they both promote products in subtle ways. But the two are different in many ways.
A brand influencer is paid (cash or free gift) to promote a product; while brand advocates do the same ‘job’ for free.
Influencer marketing is also quite effective. Reports have it that most businesses make $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Not a bad return on ad spend (ROAS) to be honest. However, brand advocacy is a lot more effective as mostly it’s organic and free.
While the focus of this article is turning your customers into brand advocates, it’s important to note that customers aren’t the only people who can become brand advocates. Business partners, investors, employees and other ‘friends’ of the business can also give some advocacy to your business.
Today, our focus is on the customers. Here are 7 ways you can turn customers to brand advocates without spending any money:
You’ve probably come across some of those social media posts where someone shares how incredibly smooth it was for them to set up their account on a platform.
One of the causes of high churn rates is a complicated user experience during the onboarding process. 67% of customers say an unpleasant user experience makes them churn a product or service.
A smooth and memorable onboarding process will not only result in higher conversions but will also increase customer retention and provide some free word-of-mouth marketing.
Need more convincing on the importance of a great onboarding process? Here you go – 86% of customers say there is a high chance they will stay longer with a product and even pay more if the onboarding is efficient and straightforward. Enough said.
In one of our recent email newsletters, we shared the story of how a hotel turned customer complaints to praise.
The main point of the story is the power of quality customer service. In this piece on customer service skills, we highlighted some key skills that customer service managers need to deliver an exceptional customer experience to customers.
Customers these days are quick to share their experiences online; good or bad. So, the quickest way to get customers to directly or indirectly speak well of your brand is by exciting them with speedy, responsive, personalised customer service.
Turning customers into brand advocates is not something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of intentionality and commitment from the business. One way to be proactive about this is by building a customer-centric culture around your brand.
A customer-centric culture places customer happiness and satisfaction at the centre of all business decisions. Businesses that think this way don’t see customer service as the job of a department, but rather the responsibility of everyone in the company.
Build a culture where everybody prioritises customer satisfaction. To do this, you have to lead by example as the business owner, and then ensure to hire talents with the right skill set.
For instance, when hiring customer service managers, here are the skills you should be on the lookout for.
People start forming an opinion of someone from their very first interaction with the person. It’s the same with your customers. From the first time they interact with your brand, they want to feel special; like the only customer you have; like you value them in particular. They want a VIP experience (don’t we all?)
You can deliver this experience by providing top-notch quality services at every touchpoint. First, make sure they can easily find you when they search for you on search engines. On your website, ensure they can easily navigate to different parts of the page intuitively – don’t make them think. Are people lazy? Yes, they are. The harder it is for them to find what they want, the less likely it is that they’ll convert. It is what it is.
Finally and most importantly, use an omnichannel customer service solution to synchronise and track customer messages such that they get the same consistent experience across different communication channels. This way, they are also less likely to be left waiting forever for a response from your company.
Well, we did say you could turn customers to brand advocates without spending any money. This might just be the exception.
To put it simply, a referral campaign is a relatively paid form of advertising. By creating a referral program, you incentivise current users with rewards to invite friends and family to try out your product or service. As established earlier, word-of-mouth marketing is quite effective and the fact that this is paid doesn’t change that fact.
Another good thing about a referral campaign is it can set the tone for organic word of mouth, provided you have a good product.
The other day, a microfinance bank, Vbank announced that Bolanle, their email persona, was getting married. Before you know it, that got a lot of people talking on Twitter.
Bolanle was trending, so was Vbank. That day, some people discovered Vbank from all of those funny conversations and likely patronised and identified it with “this cool bank”.
Be deliberate about creating conversational content that would get your customers, prospects and the general public talking across different social media platforms.
And who knows, your content could even go viral and just like that you get thousands of dollars worth of publicity, absolutely free.
This is another way to intentionally turn customers to brand advocates. User-generated contents include reviews, pictures, videos and other forms of useful materials that are created and distributed by customers themselves.
Getting customers to share user-generated content will increase your brand engagement, boost your visibility, increase loyalty and ultimately get you that word-of-mouth marketing.
One of the quickest ways you can generate UGC is by organizing contests and providing some kind of reward for participation.
Turning your customers into brand advocates is attainable and can be all you need to turn your business around for good. To sum it all up, you need a quality product and excellent customer service to make your customers become your marketers for free.
While you work on your product, let NotchCX handle your customer service. Delivery quality, speedy, personalised customer service with NotchCX CRM. This CRM helps to provide a seamless experience for your customers while easing your work as a business.
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