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Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to grow your business. You can probably think of a time someone you know and trust recommended a restaurant or a product so you decided to give it a try.
In the marketing world, that person is known as a brand advocate. An advocate creates buzz about a business by leaving glowing reviews online, talking about a brand on social media, or suggesting a brand to friends and family. Brand advocates are critical — 78% of consumers trust the information about brands that they get from friends and family, according to Kantar Media.
So how do you convert your online audience from casual followers to brand advocates? Here are a few ways to connect with customers and cultivate loyalty.
Relationship marketing is a must for building customer loyalty. By speaking directly to customers on social media, sending customized email messages, networking offline, and hosting in-person events, you’ll begin to build meaningful relationships. That’s the first step in converting your audience to brand advocates.
But remember, building relationships takes time. You don’t become best friends with someone overnight; similarly, you won’t create an army of advocates after just one networking event or email campaign.
Some brand advocates are happy to recommend your business without any additional incentives—their genuine excitement is all that motivates them to talk up your brand to their family and friends.
But many customers need an extra incentive. To encourage more people to become advocates, incentivize loyal customers by offering discounts. You can also create an online contest that could drum up excitement about your brand and bolster your word-of-mouth marketing.
Influencers are also a useful tool when it comes to brand advocacy. If the word “influencer” makes you think of A-list celebrities who earn thousands of dollars per Instagram post, think again: some of the most valuable influencers aren’t the most famous.
Look for influencers in your niche who are already talking about your brand, and find ways to deepen relationships with them. For example, if your company creates organic pet treats, look for influencers who are already raving about your treats on their blogs or social media pages. Influencers in your niche can become your most valuable brand advocates, even if they have modest followings, and can help spread the word about your business to their audiences.
Brand advocates are a major boon to any business so when communicating with advocates, or with any customer, remember to always be genuine. By building relationships based on honesty and sincerity, you’ll earn your customers’ trust and their advocacy for the long-haul.
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