Cultivating a community of brand advocates

Aug 15th, 2023

Before I get into the article, first I feel I should define brand advocacy:

Brand advocacy has gained significant popularity as a marketing strategy employed by companies to effectively engage potential customers and inspire conversion. Serving as brand advocates or brand ambassadors, these individuals play a pivotal role in promoting your business through positive word of mouth. This can manifest in various ways, such as providing favourable reviews, making recommendations, or sharing distinctive content that endorses your brand.

Amidst the escalating customer acquisition costs and the potential declining trust in paid advertisements, eCommerce brands are recognising the need to adjust their approach to digital marketing.

Traditional methods of relying too heavily on paid ads may no longer be as effective as they once were. With 54% of users not clicking on banner ads because they don’t trust them, and 33% of internet users finding display ads completely intolerable – businesses are having to explore alternative strategies to adapt to the changing landscape and connect with their target audience in a more authentic, personable and meaningful way.

This shift reflects a growing awareness that fostering genuine relationships and brand advocacy can yield better long-term results in the highly competitive digital marketplace.

Brand advocacy can help a business through:

  • Creating brand awareness
  • Improving sales
  • Fostering customer loyalty and trust
  • Generating word-of-mouth referrals
  • Nurturing existing customer relationships

In an online world where acquiring a new customer can cost five to seven times more than retaining an old one, brand advocacy is the low-cost and extremely effective alternative to paid user acquisition… But first, you need to nurture your existing customers in order to get them to the advocacy level.

83% of consumers recommend a brand they follow on social to friends and family, while 91% of shoppers read online reviews and testimonials before making a purchase.

Recent data from Sprout Social revealed that 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, with 65% of the same group feeling more connected to brands that have a robust presence on social. Meaning brands have to pay attention to both the consistency and quality of their content in order to gain trusting relationships and eventually advocates.

Here are some key takeaways to create an engaged community for your ecommerce platform:

  1. Give your customers a voice
  2. It’s crucial that you invest time to identify the goals, needs, and pain points of your community members. It’s not enough to guesstimate these by conducting research of your own (although we do suggest you do this as well), but by giving a platform for your community to SHOUT all about how great your company is, or the opportunity to find problems in what you do that you can address and resolve.

    Allow your customers to participate in a two-way conversation, through the likes of inviting them to try new products, responding to their social media posts, and inviting them to brand events – these techniques can help your followers feel valued and appreciated, creating a great opportunity for advocacy.

  3. Deliver outstanding customer service
  4. Elevating customer service stands as a pivotal element in the transformation of customers into brand advocates. Illuminate the significance you place on your customers by embracing proactive measures. Swift response to enquiries, coupled with an approach infused with politeness and assistance, forms the crux of this endeavour. Dedicate yourself to addressing their concerns comprehensively.

    A remarkable strategy to enthral customers transcends conventional reactive customer service. It combines personalised engagement with customers and the establishment of self-service resources, augmenting your ability to aid a broader spectrum of potential buyers.

    This approach not only cultivates customer loyalty but also mitigates cart abandonment while enhancing the overarching customer experience synonymous with your brand.

  5. Promote social sharing
  6. Inspire your customers to showcase their interactions with your brand across social media platforms. Simplify this process by integrating share buttons on your website, applications, and emails. In addition, consider partnering with influencers to endorse your brand via social sharing, thus fostering connections with both existing patrons and potential customers.

    The act of social sharing not only serves as a compelling testament to your potential buyers and initial purchasers but also furnishes your brand with the dual benefits of visibility and credibility. The resonance of peer-to-peer promotion assists your brand in surmounting the challenges linked with garnering attention and building trust.

  7. Invest in content marketing
  8. Involve your customers in your content to boost customer engagement. You could increase the frequency of interviewing community members and amplifying their narratives. This approach not only serves as an excellent method to involve community participants but also serves as a powerful catalyst for fostering increased overall community engagement.

    You could transform queries into comprehensive FAQs to support knowledge sharing, or use gamification elements like quizzes and interactive competitions that spark enthusiasm about your brand.

Brand advocacy online merchants differentiate themselves amongst the sea of other digital storefronts, without having to use paid means, but how do you measure the successes (or pitfalls) of brand advocacy?

  • Measure your social media engagement metrics
  • This analytical approach allows you to gauge the extent to which your advocates are igniting conversations around your brand.

    Are your content pieces experiencing heightened shares? Are individuals actively commenting on posts and showing appreciation for your brand’s digital presence? Furthermore, it’s imperative to delve into the sentiments expressed about your brand through social listening techniques.

  • Monitor feedback
  • Monitoring customer reviews and feedback unveils a comprehensive understanding of your brand’s perception and the effects of your brand advocacy program on the overall customer experience.

    You could start by conducting a comprehensive audit of all the feedback you have received – and discriminate between positive and negative sentiments within the reviews. If positive, shout about it. If negative, take a proactive stance and respond to the feedback.

What metrics count?

Metric Definition
Reach The number of people who have seen or been exposed to the brand advocacy content.
Engagement The level of interaction with the brand advocacy content, such as likes, comments, shares, and clicks.
Conversion rate The percentage of people who take a desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter, after interacting with the brand advocacy content.
Brand sentiment The overall sentiment toward the brand, as expressed by customers and advocates.
Return on investment (ROI) The financial return on the resources invested in the brand advocacy program.
Lifetime Value (LTV) The total value of a customer over the course of their relationship with the brand.

When it comes to brand advocacy, people most commonly associate it with satisfied customers and consumers. However, anyone can be an advocate for your brand, including employees.

Don’t overlook the people that know your brand inside and out, and cherish the customers that want to get to know you more. You’ll soon have a killer brand advocacy program that’ll be one to rave about.

Cultivating a community of brand advocates is easy with help from Click

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