Creating Brand Advocates: Step 5 in the Complete Customer Journey

November 3, 2014
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In the last installment of the “Complete Customer Journey” we talked about Repeat Purchases. We discussed how acquisition tactics are becoming more costly and less effective. We also went over how to create a sustainable strategy using customer retention. Before this we talked about Brand Awareness, Attracting Site Visits, and Getting a Purchase.

Today we will be taking the customer journey full circle and showing how you can create brand advocates and get them to help you with Brand Awareness. We will look at how brand advocates are a product of customer experience, tips on how to create brand advocates, and how to encourage them to promote your brand.

 

Goals of this Stage

The goal of this stage is simple. We want to create customers that love your brand so much that they want  to share it with the world. We want to create brand advocates through an amazing customer experience. Once we have a brand advocate we want to maintain the relationship, and then empower them to promote us.

 

Brand Advocates are a Product of an Amazing Customer Experience

In our last step we gave 5 simple tips to create a better customer experience. This was a great simple foundation that we will expand upon now.

Those tips fit into what should be a grander customer experience strategy. Don’t have a customer experience strategy? That’s ok, most companies do not. In fact, it is estimated that only 8% of companies have an effective one in place. So, how do we create a customer experience?

1. Outline How You Want Your Customers to Feel

The first step in creating an experience strategy is outlining how you want your customers to feel. It is tempting to just say something like “happy” or “good” but you need to dig a little deeper.

If you have a site that features premium products maybe you want customers to feel “royal” or like an “insider.” If you sell toys you might want to make them feel “ joyful” or “energetic”. If you are a law firm you will want them to feel “trust.”brand advocates choose emotion

Define a feeling based on what your brand/company stands for and build your strategy off that feeling.

2. Be Consistent Across All Touch Points

It is impossible to have one employee or even one department own a customer’s experience. The customer is going to be interacting with many employees and many areas of your business. It is important to stay consistent.brand advocates consistency

Be sure that you are keeping track of all interactions a customer has, phone calls, emails, and even social media activity. This will ensure that everyone knows exactly who each customer is, what they like, and what they have had problems with in the past.

A customer does not want to have a conversation with you, and then have to repeat it all when they talk to someone new. In fact, 84% of customers become frustrated when reps do not have immediate access to prior information.brand advocates mobius poll quote

Outline the emotions you want your customers to feel. Then arm everyone involved with the knowledge to keep that emotion constant across all touch points.

3. Attach a Real Person to the Experience

Brand awareness is important, but when a customer interacts with your company they want to deal with a person they can create a relationship with.brand advocates develop relationships

Brands and products create desire but human interaction creates an experience. There is a reason that when you ask a friend if they know a mechanic or a tailor, they usually respond with “I know a guy”

They have established a relationship with the owner of the shop or the garage not the company, products, or brand. You can apply the same principle to your ecommerce site.brand advocates real interactions

Some strategies to use in the online world include:

  • Make sure you have real people available to answer questions
  • Always send support and marketing material from personal accounts
  • Mention the customer’s name when possible.
Example of a Great Customer Experience

There is one online company who is on the forefront of developing customer experience, and that is Zappos. They are a leader in customer service and have created a lot of brand advocates along the way.brand advocates zappos

Zappos’ success has been attributed to its customer first approach. A way of thinking that was radical at the time. Zappos eliminated all key performance indicators that aimed to reduce time interacting with customers. The result was the creation of the most highly regarded customer experience online.brand advocates tony hsieh quote

If you are looking for ideas for your own customer experience strategy I recommend reading further into what Zappos has done. “Uncommon Service” by Frie and Morris is another great source of inspiration.

Now that the customer experience foundation is laid, lets look at how to create brand advocates.

 

Tips to Create Brand Advocates

A loyal following of brand advocates is difficult to obtain. Brand advocates are created from loyal repeat customers who have fallen in love with what your brand stand for and what it delivers. So, how do we create them?brand advocates loyal advocates

Creating brand advocates is not a quick solution, it requires time and devotion to your customers. Here are some ways to increase the likelihood of a customer converting to a brand advocate.

1. If Your Employees Are Brand Advocates, Your Customers Will Be Too

One of the best ways to create brand advocates is to start internally. You and everyone else at your company need to be your #1 brand advocates. If you are not an advocate how do you expect others to be.

Be passionate about your brand, products, and company. Share your love on social media and encourage your employees to do the same. A study by Gallup concluded that companies with engaged employees had 3.9 times the earnings per share.brand advocates gallup quote

When you have your internal brand advocates dealing with customers on a regular basis you are much likely to encourage your customers to be brand advocates as well.

Starbucks does an amazing job of this. Their employees are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the Starbucks brand and product. There are no shortage of Starbucks brand advocates so their strategy of employee advocates is working well!brand advocates howard schultz quote

2. Create a Sense of Community

We are more likely to voice our opinion when that opinion is a popular one. It takes a real trail blazer to publicly endorse a new unproven product. They risk being judged by their peers and destroying their credibility.brand advocates community

That is why establishing a sense of community around your brand is important. When your customers are aware of a community of others they are much more likely to declare themselves brand advocates.

 

Encourage Brand Advocates to Promote Your Brand

Brand advocates are promoting your brand for you, and are the tool for creating a full circle customer journey. These advocates are promoting your brand to their friend and family through word of mouth and over social media as well.

It is important to realize that brand advocates are customers that have fallen in love with your brand. These advocates are different than standard industry or market influencers.brand advocates consumer trust cutout

Cutout from Convince&Convert’s infographic

Brand advocates love your brand and don’t want to be told to promote you. But you can encourage them to keep promoting. Here are two ways to encourage brand advocates to continue promoting.

1. Social Media Monitoring

Your brand advocates are out there, you just need to figure out who they are. You can use social media monitoring software to determine who these brand advocates are. There are multiple examples of social media monitoring software, one being ViralHeat.brand advocates monitor social media

Software like ViralHeat allows you to see who is talking about you and what they are saying. You can create reports that show the sentiment that your brand has on social media as well as the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. Most importantly it allows you to quickly find your brand advocates as well as advocates of competitors.brand advocates twitter analytics

A sample ViralHeat report

If you are looking for a free tool to do some basic twitter analysis you can use backtweets. The tool allows you to search terms in twitter and see what others are saying. You can search your brand and see what comes up. The tool is free so it is very basic.brand advocates backtweets

Once you have found your social media advocates you can reach out to them and thank them. They will love that you have reached out personally. You could also reward them with coupon or gift. Remember that you are thanking them for what they have already done, not telling them what to do in the future.

2. Loyalty Programs

Another way to encourage brand advocates to promote is with a loyalty program. A loyalty program develops a loyal repeat customer base that you can convert into brand advocates.

If a customer has been collecting points on your site and the customer experience has been great they will be willing to tell there friends. They will be even more willing if they are able to collect even more points for doing so.brand advocates texas tech quote

83% of consumers say they are willing to refer yet only 29% actually do. Using points to reward referrals is a great way to get someone who “would” refer to turn into someone who “does” refer.

Points are a great way to increase outreach actions by your best customers and brand advocates. They will promote you on their own but encouragement helps.

 

Final Thoughts

All companies should strive to create brand advocates. You can do this by putting a customer experience strategy in place that helps customers grow into brand advocates.brand advocates asset

Follow the tips to create brand advocates and use tools to encourage them to promote. Do not pay or directly incentivise your brand advocates. As soon as you do this they are no longer brand advocates, and they lose the effectiveness they once had.

This concludes “The Complete Customer Journey” I hope you had as much fun reading it as I had putting it together. If you missed any step in the journey you can see them all on the customer journey summary page. Thanks for reading and good luck with your ecommerce venture!brand advocates beginner's guide to ecommerce CTA