Why customer advocacy is an important part of brand growth

Customer advocacy campaigns are an effective way for brands to raise awareness, boost followers, drive sales and purchase intent, increase ROI and spark conversations. There’s no doubt that creating a buzz is powerful – but once the hype is over, what next?

Building advocacy shouldn’t just be a random event with haphazard results, but embedded into your marketing strategy. The digital landscape is constantly shifting and to succeed in turbulent times you can’t launch one campaign, one flash of brilliance, and then disappear. Long-term advocacy is where the real value lies – it’s how you create trust and brand love.

Create genuine connections with your customers

A study by Nielsen found 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations compared to only 33% who trust online ads.

We know that people respond to people. A recommendation from a friend is a powerful motivator. You need to activate the people who genuinely love your brand, to inspire others.

Advocacy is directly linked to acquisition – loyal customers can help you get more customers and advocates and regain lapsed ones. Forrester showed that customers gained through referrals spend 50% more than members that join through other methods.

Getting active followers to create content about your brand and share yours will nourish genuine connections between your brand and your fans.

Nurture brand love with authentic content

You need to be candid and human – consumers can sense phoney content a mile off. The key to authentic content? Your advocates talk about your brand because they want to.

This means when it comes to advocacy you have to be prepared to give up some control. People will write what they want in their owns words. However, the overwhelming benefit is it will be authentic and that’s truly powerful. You have an invaluable opportunity to empower your consumers. This is not a time to preach but a moment to start a conversation – which in turn sparks multiple conversations and ideally takes on a life of its own.

An advocacy campaign will help you identify and grow your advocate base and influencers. It’s a chance for you to listen to what your customers like and don’t like about your brand or products and get creative with your communication. Nurturing brand love will generate interest, real support and drive loyalty.

Data-led content and integrated planning keeps advocacy alive

A campaign is a great place to start – but this short-term buzz needs to be backed by a solid marketing strategy which seamlessly integrates customer advocacy activity into all of your communication.

Data-led communication allows you to really know your audience, which means you won’t be pushing out meaningless messages, incongruous content or communication that doesn’t resonate with your audience. At best this will have no impact, at worst it will alienate your audience.

If your content is already relevant to your audience then when you introduce influencers or a customer advocacy campaign it will naturally get better engagement and better results.

How you implement your advocacy strategy will differ vastly depending on your business. For beauty and lifestyle brands advocacy is one of the greatest drivers of purchase and can be far more influential than paid advocates. Where as in the entertainment industry timing is key – advocacy during the opening weekend of a movie is crucial compared with weeks in advance.

To tailor your advocacy strategy to your customers, you need:

Data-led personas. Know who you’re talking to and why, when and how you speak to them. Make sure you have up-to-date and constantly refreshed personas. This will ensure your messages are not just heard but people listen and engage.

Strategy and planning. Connect data and content to produce overarching themes and messages which in turn drill right down to individual social posts or blog posts. Every piece of content, no matter how small, feeds into and is attributed to part of the strategy.

Content born from your brand values. You need an accurate tone of voice, style guide and messaging framework. What you say and how you say it needs to needs to be consistent across all communications and address your audience in the right way.

A robust measurement framework. Know what’s working and why. Know what isn’t working and why. Establish ROI and use it to adjust your strategy.

Before you launch a customer advocacy campaign ensure you’ve got a sound content strategy supporting all of your communications based on real data. And when your campaign is up and running let your advocates run with it – allow it to take on a life of its own. Once the campaign is over make sure you keep the connections you’ve establish alive – integrate advocacy into your marketing strategy.

If you want to build advocacy, create a unified strategy and start real and valuable conversations with your customers then get in touch.