What is Brand Advocacy and How to Build It?

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September 19, 2023

Summary:

Customer trust is now more fleeting than ever. Since we live in a hyper-saturated market where companies are contractually obliged to put profit before the customer, they have every reason to be distrustful. To combat this trend, brand advocacy has emerged as a crucial survival strategy for businesses. 

So, what is brand advocacy, and how do you get those treasured advocates who will promote your brand for free? Well, let’s start with foundations: You must have a product or a service that people will love. 

Only then can brand advocacy, the modern-day word-of-mouth mechanism, skyrocket your brand’s growth and reputation. In this blog, we’ll dissect what brand advocacy is, identify your brand advocates, lay down actionable steps to build a robust brand advocacy strategy, and offer methodologies to measure its impact effectively. So, let’s dive in.

What is Brand Advocacy?

When they think about brand advocacy, the majority of people understand it as a simple endorsement or a positive review. However, it has grown to become much more over the years. Essentially, it’s an amplified form of customer satisfaction that translates into vocal support and active promotion

Back when marketing was still in its infancy, a simple act of buying something was just that – a purchase. Today, it’s an experience.

So, an important question is  – how does a customer become an advocate? Simply put, when you provide more value than what they’ve bargained for.

When customers or employees become brand advocates, they’re not just making a purchase or passively consuming your content. They’re taking their positive experience and using it as a social currency that can be shared with their own network of followers.

These advocates become your brand’s “evangelists.” Treat them right, and you will have an army vocally supporting your products or services, writing detailed reviews, creating user-generated content, and often defending your brand against detractors. 

Their actions offer a level of marketing that money often can’t buy, and it extends from online forums and social media platforms to real-world interactions.

Why is Brand Advocacy Crucial for Business Growth?

The importance of brand advocacy in today’s digital landscape can’t be overstated. For businesses, it serves as a multiplier effect in their marketing arsenal. When someone becomes an advocate for your brand, they do the work of what would traditionally require a broad-reaching advertising campaign, but with the added benefit of personal trust and credibility.

Statistics show that 88% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other form of advertising. 88% is a wide margin that cannot be ignored. This organic promotion often results in higher conversion rates and increased brand loyalty. 

Furthermore, brand advocacy has a compounding effect on customer lifetime value (CLV.) It reduces the overall cost of customer acquisition, making it an essential component of a sustainable, long-term business strategy.

Here’s a short list of major aspects of your business that building a strong brand advocacy strategy can help you with:

  • Boost in Sales Through Credible Sources: Brand advocates are your most credible promoters. Their genuine reviews and testimonials are sure to be trusted more than traditional advertisements.
  • High Customer Retention Rates: Your advocates’ fierce loyalty contributes to lower churn rates and a consistent customer base.
  • Enhanced Brand Image: Advocacy generates organic conversations around your brand, thus enhancing its image and positioning it favorably in the minds of prospective customers.
  • Streamlined Customer Acquisition: Through their networks, brand advocates can significantly shorten the customer acquisition process and save you time and money on elaborate marketing campaigns.

Who are Brand Advocates?

While it may be tempting to label any regular customer as a brand advocate, the reality is far more nuanced. A brand advocate is not simply a consumer who makes frequent purchases;, they are individuals who are deeply connected to your brand and invested in its success. 

They often go above and beyond what a typical customer might do. For example, they may post unsolicited raving reviews on multiple platforms, share your content widely on social media, or even create their content centered around your products or services. 

The best thing about genuine brand advocacy is that their enthusiasm isn’t transactional. It’s rooted in a genuine appreciation for what your brand represents. They may have stories about how your brand positively impacted their life, and they’re eager to share these narratives – both online and in-person.

In any case, they become voluntary ambassadors for your brand who are willing to engage in actions that increase your brand’s visibility, credibility, and desirability.

Characteristics of a Brand Advocate

So, what makes an ideal brand advocate? Here’s a short list:

  • Highly Engaged: Brand advocates actively participate in your community, whether by leaving frequent reviews, commenting on your blog, or sharing your posts.
  • Influential in Their Social Circles: They have a wide-reaching social network where their recommendations carry significant weight, thereby creating a ripple effect.
  • Positive Sentiment: They consistently express positive sentiment about your brand, offering organic testimonials and creating a positive brand association.

Places to Find Them

All that is nice and splendid, but what if you can’t find any brand advocates? Here are some places where you can look for them:

  • Social Media Channels: Look at the people who are not just following you, but actively engaging with your posts.
  • Review Sites: Customers who leave glowing reviews are likely brand advocate candidates. Contacting them (or even rewarding them) could be a good idea
  • Customer Surveys: Surveys like High Net Promoter Scores (NPS) can indicate potential brand advocates and help you discover them.

How to Build Brand Advocacy

Developing a brand advocacy strategy necessitates a multi-faceted approach focused on customer experience and engagement. Here’s how you can cultivate a thriving community of brand advocates.

Initiating the Brand Advocacy Programs

  • Loyalty Programs with Gamification: Utilize gamification elements in loyalty programs to boost engagement and encourage positive behavior.
  • User-Generated Content Campaigns: Encourage customers to share their own experiences or creations with your product on social media. And you can multiply the effect by offering incentives for the best post.
  • Educational Webinars and Workshops: Hosting educational events can add value to the customer experience, thereby nudging them towards advocacy.

Leveraging Technology for Advocacy

Once you find your “hunting grounds”, you’ll need some technological support to help you keep track of everything. Use it properly, and it will only amplify your trends. Here are 2 high-impact ways to build up your advocacy programs:

Automated Email Campaigns

Use advanced machine learning algorithms to send personalized emails at the optimal time to maximize engagement. Unlike generic email blasts, these campaigns send highly personalized emails to each recipient.

Machine learning algorithms analyze a ton of data points, from buying history to browsing behavior, to craft messages that resonate with individual preferences and needs.

Moreover, these algorithms can determine the most opportune time to send these emails, thereby increasing the likelihood of them being opened and read.

And the final result? Better personalization and increased customer affinity. All the necessary prerequisites for creating a brand advocate.

Chatbots for Real-Time Engagement 

Implement AI-powered chatbots on your website and social media to engage visitors 24/7, answering queries and soliciting feedback.

For instance, they can solicit real-time feedback, ask users to rate their experience, or even encourage them to share a review or social media post about their positive encounters with your brand. 

By capturing the user’s sentiment at the peak of their positive experience, chatbots can significantly contribute to the creation of brand advocates.

How to Measure Brand Advocacy

To ascertain whether your brand advocacy programs are yielding the desired outcomes, you’ll need to deploy a range of analytical tools and key performance indicators (KPIs). Here are some of them:

Metrics to Monitor

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Gauge the likelihood of your customers recommending your product or service. They will help you identify pain points, point out passive customers so you can engage them more, and reward the most active ones.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Calculate the total worth of a customer over the entire span of their relationship with your brand. If it’s low, improve your customer retention strategy, add upsells and cross-sells, and implement loyalty programs.
  • Social Mentions and Share of Voice: Use analytics tools to measure how frequently your brand is mentioned across social platforms compared to competitors. Employing listening tools, engaging with influencers, and regularly updating your content will be your strongest forte.

Tools for Effective Measurement

We told you which metrics to keep an eye on, it’s only proper to give you the proper tools for measuring. Here are some of them:

  • Google Analytics: Google’s most valuable tool is used for tracking web-based engagement and conversion metrics, but it can be an important tool for identifying advocates.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: Tools like Salesforce can be customized to track advocacy-related metrics.

Social Listening Tools: Platforms like Mention and BuzzSumo can provide real-time insights into brand mentions and engagement levels.

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Conclusion

Brand advocacy used to be an auxiliary part of a business. But in modern times, it’s a necessity. And we’re aware it looks like a lot of effort, but in the long run, it will all be worth it. It’s an intricate and complicated route, but if you want to play in the big leagues, it’s part of the game.

If you want to build a brand that is destined to have a strong advocate network, Assist-o has the tools and know-how to help you achieve your ambition!

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