There is nothing better than a customer who goes out and tells all their friends about your business. Word of mouth advertising often results in more sales over a longer period of time than traditional forms of paid media.
Customer advocacy can drive real growth because it is not for sale.
A McKinsey study shows that word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchases. More than this, it is the most influential form of advocacy when a customer is buying a product for the first time.
This makes sense.
If you are looking to buy a new expensive product, who would you trust more? Your friend, who has the product and recommends it, or an advertisement designed to sell it to you?
As a business owner, your goal is to convert leads into sales, but it doesn’t stop there. Sure, you want to send qualified leads all the way down the sales funnel. However, your goal is to get the most from every customer. This means turning customers into advocates.
However, transforming customers into loyal advocates does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process that begins and ends with communication and appreciation.
1. Get to know your customers.
Getting to know your customers begins before you even launch. However, it is important to remember the process never ends.
If you want to create loyal customers, you need to grow with them. Meet their evolving needs and you’ll have no problem remaining relevant. This could mean spending more time developing your online presence and providing more information about products and services.
A customer’s problem is not just their problem, it is also yours. The more intimately you know your customer, the better you know their problem. The better you know their problem, the more miraculously you can solve it.
2. Be their advocate.
If you want your customers to stand up for you, you have to stand up for them. One of the best ways to gain a customer for life is to solve a problem that another business has caused. If you can see a customer fighting a losing battle with another company, don’t just stand by. Offer to make it right for them yourself.
For example, follow social media hashtags that highlight customer complaints. For example, #hostgatordown is the hashtag that numerous customers use to voice website downtime complaints. If your company provides web hosting solutions, create content on the benefits of your service, how to switch to your business and key tips they should know, etc. Then tweet your content with the same hashtag. Customers will appreciate that you have gone out of your way to right a wrong.
3. Be honest.
The most important way you can remain valuable to a customer is to be honest. This is especially important in times of trouble. Be sure to communicate with your customers in a genuine and confident manner that alleviates their concerns. This will help them feel safe and protected. And when you make your customers feel safe, you improve the chance of retaining them and earning their referral.
4. Offer incentives.
Incentives are one of the oldest marketing tactics in the book. The best way to encourage customers to become advocates is to reward them often for doing so. This goes beyond giving out custom keychains or other forms of merchandise. This method helped Dropbox take-off when it first launched.
The product was solid and its referral system was spectacular. This was all Dropbox needed to launch. In fact, Dropbox gained almost one million customers just through word of mouth. All this happened because of the incentives it offered during its first few months of operation.
5. Recognize loyalty
Customers will go out of their way to be loyal if they like you. Members of loyalty programs will often stay at hotels that have higher prices just out of loyalty to the brand.
They do it because they know their loyalty will be appreciated. This cultivates an emotional connection that keeps them coming back, even when it is inconvenient.
Whether it’s a verbal thank you or a random gift, a personalized token of your appreciation will keep your customers coming back.
Your customers are worth a lot more than their first purchase. You can increase your customer retention and customer value by making time to turn your loyal customers into brand advocates.
This article has been edited and condensed.