Is it possible to turn your everyday customers into advocates? With a tiny bit of work, it can be.
Obviously, there are some ground rules. First of all, you have to be well-liked to begin with. Bad businesses don’t necessarily have a long list of people wanting to advocate for them. You may be able to pay someone to talk about you, but even then it can be very difficult to get someone on board.
The thing is, people will talk about you whether they know they are an advocate or not. Which means word of mouth marketing can happen on its own… whether someone is highly impressed by you or completely dissatisfied. It’s really up to you to determine how your word of mouth travels, and if people will become your advocates.
At this point, you may realize that turning customers into advocates help you to create an audience who talks about you. You may be wondering why an advocate seems similar to other marketing terms used to describe a person who talks about your brand. So, before we move on let’s do a quick breakdown of these terms.
Influencers – are people that get paid to promote your brand and are often given your product to use as part of their promotion strategy.
Advocates – are people who choose to promote your brand on their own, because they are super fans.
Referrers – are people who promote your brand because they were asked to do so. Often times an incentive is involved when their referral becomes a customer.
It’s not uncommon for these people to wear multiple hats. An advocate, can very easily become a referrer. In fact, advocates or those who are already talking about your business are the best types of people to ask to join your referral program if you decide to run one.
Here are some tips on how you can turn your customers into advocates for you.
Establish A Business That People Want To Advocate For
First and foremost, you have to make yourself likable. That means taking care of your customers, and giving your customers exactly what they expect, and nothing less. You don’t necessarily have to bend over backward for them, but you do have to provide them with a good experience, every single time. Oh, and don’t forget… treat all customers the same. Even extremely irate customers (since these are the folks who are likely to spread negative word of mouth).
Here are 5 different ways you can turn your customers into advocates.
1. Offer An Incentive For Shopping
You may be saying… I thought advocates work for free? Yes, that is true. But, if you offer incentives for shopping at your store or for using your services, people will not only be interested in continually shopping with you, but they may even share you with their friends.
A ton of businesses offer return discounts and coupons. Think of Kohl’s, who often give out coupons and “Kohl’s Cash” to make you come back and shop again. A lot of stores will print out coupons along with the receipt, and because of this, customers are likely to return to the shop. Not only do they return to the shop, but these are the businesses they share with their friends.
“You should really check out (insert store name) they are always giving us coupons!”
If you want to get people excited, give them some freebies. Free shipping, a free item, free swag… If it’s free people will be excited. You may have experienced some good customer advocacy yourself because a freebie was involved.
Example: Coworkers, Amy and Brent were talking about gifts for Brent’s wife. He wanted to get her a new handbag, as she’s been in the market for one. Amy recently shopped at an eCommerce store that had very many beautiful handbags for sale. She told him to check out that store because they have great products plus they were offering free shipping on all orders.
Amy has become an advocate for this eCommerce store simply because they provided a great product, and on top of that, they gave her free shipping.
2. Always Be Branding
You need to let customers know what makes you better than your competitors. Tell your customers how your system differs, why your product is grander, how you provide the best customer service… just reiterate what makes you stand apart.
The thing is, if you start telling customers this type of information, they will remember it. And, when they share with their friends, they will know exactly what to say on your behalf. Always be sure to highlight your unique attributions and promote that information in your marketing campaigns. This can help you create social proof, which can be all you need to get customers to share on your behalf.
The trick is to not be too overbearing or self-serving though. And remember, you don’t want to put down the other guys. So figure out how to play fair, all while subtly getting your message across.
3. Provide Awesome Customer Service
Helping your customers become advocates requires a little bit of customer TLC. This means you need to provide consistently good customer service. We all know that good customer service means happy customers. And, happy customers lead to advocates. Oh, and it’s also great for increasing the value of your eCommerce store!
Always be professional
Handling yourself in a professional manner will get you noticed. Meaning people will talk! Whether you are dealing with an angry customer, or just handling your daily grind – a little bit of professionalism will carry you far.
Always be respectful
It’s simple. If you give respect, you’ll get respect. No one wants to share a business with their friends if the experience they had made them feel contempt.
Don’t be late
Everyone is busy, so try your best to not waste anyone’s time. If you planned on having a meeting with a customer, try to be as punctual as possible. ECommerce stores need to follow this rule too! Replying to emails and customer concerns shouldn’t take days or weeks.
Don’t be inflexible
People make mistakes all the time. Do your best to be flexible with your customers. Sometimes the mistake is made on their end, and sometimes it’s on yours. Work with what you can and offer fair solutions.
4. Take The Time To Build A Relationship
A relationship is a two-way street. You have to get to know your customers, and they have to get to know you. Even an eCommerce store can provide insight to who they are. It’s all about branding and marketing yourself accordingly.
A few easy ways to let customers know who you are in the eCommerce world is share a little bit about yourself on your site, or even add some facts in customer emails. Many up and coming eCommerce stores have done this, and it’s provided further insight to customers. This insight helps customers establish a relationship with your brand. Which then opens the floodgates for word of mouth to happen.
See how Fab quickly introduces themselves? They give enough information as to who they are, which helps form a relationship with the customer.
Just a friendly reminder – you never want to overshare. Things can get awkward pretty quickly, which can damper the relationship.
5. Start a Referral or Advocate Program
You may want advocates to emerge on their own. But, asking your best customers and those who are already talking about you to refer and advocate for you is the easiest way to get the word out there about you.
Setting up a system for these types of programs is key in provoking word of mouth to occur. Not only that, but it makes figuring out how to ask for referrals and leads so much easier. Plus, by using these types of programs you are walking yourself down the dream marketing journey. It’s actually more cost effective to market to your existing customers, and it’s a lot easier to have them to the ‘dirty’ work for you.
As you can see there are multiple ways to get customers into advocates and to go the extra mile for you. In fact, if you show them just a little love, most will turn into great brand advocates.