How Your Customers Could Be Your Best Marketing Tool

Imagine if you could convert your current clients into brand advocates. Well what if we told you that this is not only something you can do, but something that you should already be doing. The reason being that it is infinitely more difficult to convert a new customer than engaging with an existing one. So rather put your marketing energy and spend into investing in those who are already loyal to your brand, and turn them into brand advocates. This can be a very powerful tool when you consider that 90% of people trust brand recommendations from friends, and 70% rely on consumer opinions before making a purchase.

Who is your ideal customer advocate?

Customer advocates are customers from your existing client base who consistently engage with your brand, who have a sense of authority, can inspire their communities and who have adequate reach, network and following.

How to engage with these customer advocates?

Once you have identified these gems, it’s time to engage and convince them to work with you in spreading the gospel about your business. There are many ways to do this:

  • Encourage them to write glowing reviews.
  • Offer them early bird discounts and exclusive offers for doing so.
  • Create branded content that they can access and distribute across their networks.
  • Talk to them about your offers, values and proposition.
  • Encourage them to create their own content on your behalf.

The value of user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is content that is created by normal people out there in the social media ether. UGC is the best strategy to get word out there and build trust in adjacent communities as the bulk of the work is being done beyond your borders. When the info comes from them and not from you, it automatically goes up in estimation as there is a volunteering aspect to it which other users instinctively appreciate. In fact, one study showed that 61% of people are more likely to engage with an advert if it contains content created by users. Similarly, 70% of users prefer posts from regular people over branded images

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Understand how to use your social network

First it is essential to understand which social network your ideal customer base is using. Once identified, create specific user-generated content goals to drive and develop content on those platforms. This should include encouraging brand engagement where influencers voluntarily share information about your brand. A high priority then needs to be increasing your conversion rates, all the while building trust in your brand. The trick here is through working consistently and building alliances.

Make it obvious

Remember, you have to ask your audience to participate and tell them exactly what kind of content you want them to create for you. This also needs to align with your brand.

Some examples of customer advocacy done well

Coca-Cola's marketing team developed the ‘Share a Coke' campaign which they activated through their social and advertising channels. It only took a few days for the images to circulate around the globe.

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Starbuck asked customers to doodle on their white cups, anchored by a Twitter competition using the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The winning cup won a limited edition template for the Starbucks cup design and customers lapped it up!

Starbucks-User-Generated-Content-Shared

Creative software company Adobe created the hashtag #Adobe_Perspective to share and source content from artists and content creators already using its software to do their jobs on a daily basis.

The bottom line

These are all brilliant ways that marketing leaders are harnessing their existing customer relationships and are then continuing the conversation in exciting and sustainable ways. Marketing is a tough and expensive undertaking, but by converting your existing customers into diligent brand advocates, you can very quickly quantify the value of each and every customer, build community and grow your customer base.

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