In our increasingly digital world, most of us have become guilty of being passive consumers. We interact online with companies via software interfaces, where companies all look & feel the same. But savvy marketers can turn customers into advocates of their brands by producing thoughtful touches that help them stand out from competitors. The goal is to have happy clients who are openly talking about how great you are to other potential customers.
You know that word-of-mouth is the best kind of advertising, and the research backs this up again and again. The American Marketing Association sums up the importance of word-of-mouth marketing nicely:
Word-of-mouth communication is a critical part of the brand choice process. The data for this finding comes from large, representative, continuous tracking surveys that ask people to record their recent brand-related conversations. The startling finding is that only 8% of the conversations take place through social media, instant and text messages, and e-mail, while 90% of conversations are offline. The exact percentage may vary from time to time, but the consistent conclusion is that online is a small fraction of all brand conversations.
So turning your consumers into advocates is bound to increase your business possibilities. And though these conversions typically come about organically, there are things you can do to foster relationships with customers to turn them into advocates.
Employees Can Turn Customers Into Advocates
Who better to be a brand advocate than the people who spend more time with your brand than they likely do with their own families or friends? Your employees should be your first advocates.
If your employees don’t believe in your brand or support it, converting customers to advocates will likely be a massively difficult undertaking. Empower your employees. No matter what rung of the ladder they may be on, they know the business better than anyone. If you can, offer your product or service free services to your employees. Listen to their feedback, and if the product or service hasn’t launched yet, consider incorporating their feedback.
A Thank You Letter Means A Lot To People
Send a simple thank you from your CEO or founder following up on your customer’s purchase. In a marketplace flooded with options, your customer chose you for a reason. Even if they were buying purely on price, they chose you. A well-timed thank-you, personalized if possible, is a great way to help your brand stand out. This becomes even more important if you sell within a very competitive or commoditized space. When a customer has unlimited choices and can almost dictate price, every little thing you can do to stand out makes a difference.
Learn How To Send Personalized Thank You Letters In A New, Smart Way:
Celebrate Your Relationship
It’s possible you celebrate your anniversary with your significant other. Why not celebrate your relationship with your customers? Thank them for being a customer when you hit the one-month point or other milestone. Use it as an opportunity to solicit feedback again. Or them something tangible, and keep communication open without asking for anything in return. Depending on what you’re selling, promotional items, next-purchase discounts, or a free consultation can make a big and memorable impact.
Interact with and engage with your customers on social platforms, and communicate with them regularly via email and direct mail. Depending on how small you are, or when your company first launches and you’re trying to build your audience organically, you might thank each new follower on social media. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on those among your followers are most engaged and active. If appropriate, DM them with VIP discount codes or some other offer.
There’s a reason loyalty programs work. You’re rewarding existing customers for frequency. The combination of recognition and gamification of their relationship as they work toward that free item can be a powerful incentive for them to give you business. You can’t always give a discount with each purchase. But having some sort of points system will positively reinforce purchasing habits. And assuming your loyalty program is digital, you’ll be able to collect data on their purchasing habits—and likely permission to engage in email marketing too.
Use A CRM To Manage It All
At the heart of your ability to make all this happen will be a robust customer relationship management platform. Keeping track of all this outreach at scale is more than spreadsheets and mass emails can handle. In order for your customer base to be an effective marketing tool for your company, you need to be able to keep track of your interactions with every customer.
At the base of all these tips is this: keep your customers happy. Treat your established customers with all the breathless excitement you welcome a new customer, if not more. Make them feel important and you’ll be on your way to making that word-of-mouth marketing machine work for you, too.
Learn More About How Automated Direct Mail Can Turn Customers Into Advocates
We’ve learned a ton about how creative marketers are using automated direct mail to send personalized, targeted postcards and letters to drive customer advocacy. Contact us to learn more.
Neha Tandon is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She has a Masters of Arts degree in Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. With a background in marketing, public relations, and advertising, her true passion is for business journalism.