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Harnessing Your Brand’s Ardent Fans to Acquire New Customers

Harnessing Your Brand’s Ardent Fans to Acquire New Customers

Those who use your brand’s services have invaluable feedback to share. Listen and respond to what they say and watch customer acquisition rates grow.

These days, virtually any sales team worth its salt uses social media to acquire customers and expand brand awareness. But not all sales teams realize they don’t need to go it alone.

Instead, your team could harness the power of brand advocates to exponentially increase the reach of your marketing and sales efforts—both on and offline. Here’s what brand advocacy is all about, how brand advocates can increase customer acquisition, and how to find and engage brand advocates who are thrilled to help your company grow.

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What is a brand advocate?

A brand advocate is simply someone who loves your brand or product so much that they talk it up to other people. These conversations could take place in person, in print, or online in social media conversations, blog posts, and other platforms. Other terms for brand advocacy are “word-of-mouth marketing” or “advocacy marketing.”

A brand advocate could be virtually anyone related to your brand in some way, from customers to friends, employees, and people who have simply had positive encounters with your brand. As you’ll see, brand advocates of all types play a critical role in your customer acquisition strategy.

How brand advocates can help you attract new customers

Research has found that advocacy marketing is one of the most effective (and budget-friendly) marketing strategies. This marketing approach can benefit virtually every aspect of your sales efforts, including conversion rates, client retention rates, and your company’s bottom line.

That’s because brand advocates can help you expand your social reach, grow brand awareness, and boost your brand’s credibility. More and more, people’s buying decisions are influenced by their peers’ opinions on various services and products. A 2015 report found that when making purchasing decisions, 83 percent of consumers trust the opinions of their friends and family more than any other factor. Meanwhile, 66 percent of consumers are likely to trust the opinions shared by brand users online.

When consumers seek information online about a product or service, the content shared by brand advocates can play a big role in their decision to buy. This is why brand advocacy can be such a successful marketing strategy and one of the best ways to acquire new customers. To top things off, it can be achieved at a much lower cost than traditional marketing campaigns.

Strategies to cultivate a network of brand advocates

Now that you understand the value of brand advocates, it’s time to grow your network of people who are excited to speak positively about your brand. Here are a few strategies.

  • Identify possible advocates

There’s no need to hard sell your customers on advocacy. Instead, pay attention to who already talks about your brand in a positive way and shares your content. Use social analytics tools to identify potential brand advocates. Then, focus your efforts on supporting and rewarding their advocacy. Start small; consider a dozen or so people who seem truly enthusiastic about your brand.

  • Build relationships with potential advocates

Once you identify potential influencers, it’s time to cultivate relationships. There are several ways to do this. You may start by replying to their posts and comments, responding to their questions, participating in conversations they initiate about your brand, getting involved in relevant groups and chats, and retweeting and liking their posts. (Just don’t go overboard with the likes—that could get creepy fast.)

  • Meet them where they are

Never make the mistake of thinking your brand advocates are surrogate employees. Advocacy should feel enjoyable, not laborious. Make it as easy as possible for your advocates to share your content or promote your brand. That means meeting your advocates where they are. Connect with your advocates on the platforms they enjoy most and use content they like (e.g. videos, pictures, or text) to maximize their engagement.

  • Advocate for your advocates

Advocates provide a free service to your company, so you should always approach them with an attitude of gratitude. The best way to sustain your advocates’ enthusiasm is to support and celebrate their efforts. Thank advocates on a regular basis, and provide them with rewards in the form of retweets, blog features, product discounts, referral programs, tickets to brand events, and more.

  • Continue to provide stellar products and service

People advocate for brands when they’re satisfied customers. So one of the most critical ways to retain and grow your brand advocate base (not to mention one of the best strategies to acquire new customers) is to provide exceptional products and service. In fact, up to 78 percent of consumers have terminated their relationship with a brand because of bad service, and 70 percent of a consumer’s buying experience can be attributed to the service they receive. So if you want your advocates to continue advocating on your behalf, place a huge emphasis on your brand’s customer service.

  • Establish a structure for your advocacy program

In order to create a brand advocate program that’s sustainable, apply some structure to the program so you can track its effects. Establish clear-cut goals, develop recruitment strategies, create an incentives program, and define what a successful brand advocacy program means for your business. Building a structure for the program helps you track its impact over the long haul.

There’s no limit to the ways brand advocates can grow your brand awareness. Ask advocates to share customer testimonials, review new products, participate in online brand conversations, create product demo videos, present at conferences, or share their thoughts on new product designs or marketing campaigns with the brand before these products or campaigns go live.

The people who use your brand’s products and services have invaluable feedback to share. So listen and respond to what they have to say, give them a platform, and watch your customer acquisition rates grow.

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