Customer loyalty is the gold star in the marketing path to the purchase funnel. Once your customer has passed through all the phases, starting with awareness to consideration through to purchase, your newbie customer now needs to stick. Retaining your customers and creating customer loyalty and advocacy is often a part of the sales process which is overlooked and underutilised particularly in small business.
As a small business, there are 101 tasks, business opportunities and sales pressures for you to deal with and attend to on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Your customers are your bread and butter and the more you keep them happy and satisfied, the better your business will be in the long run. Attracting new customers and sales is key, you need to consider the lifetime value of each customer for the length of their relationship with your business. Retaining a stable customer database provides your business with a stable income over the long term and also attracts new customers through word of mouth, referrals and brand advocacy.
But how do you get your customers to continue purchasing from you and telling everyone they know how great you are? Well, it can be simple, in this blog we outline 3 strategies for converting your customers into brand advocates.
Deliver Quality Customer Service from Purchase to Post Purchase
How many times have you walked away from a customer experience and thought ‘I’m never shopping there, flying with this airline, eating at this restaurant, staying at this hotel or even buying from this online store again’?
These are the types of comments no business ever wants to hear. However, these types of comments are more than expected in a competitive marketplace if service is poor, product quality is average and the sales and customer care solutions lack authenticity.
Before you can turn your customers into advocates, you need to be certain that the experience you are providing from the very first interaction with your customer is a positive one. This is the first step in turning your customers into advocates. If a customer has a positive, helpful and memorable experience they will be more likely to stick with you over your competitors and are more likely to refer a friend.
Social Media Reviews of Products or Services
Social media is a powerful tool in allowing your brand advocates to sing your praises online. Social media is an open forum for customers to interact with your brand, engagement with your content and share your brand messages.
Make sure your customers are able to share their experience through social media. You want to make it as easy as possible, so ensure your website and marketing collateral including your email signature, are equipped with social media sharing widgets such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and email.
Allow your brand advocates to submit reviews, brand stories and experiences either through an email or on social media. This allows for genuine feedback and for customers to tell their friends, family and strangers why they love your brand.
Surprise and Delight your Existing Customers
There are often a lot of brand advocates that are noticed but not rewarded for their loyalty. Taking note, recognising and rewarding your loyal customers won’t go unnoticed. Most brand advocates have genuinely developed a personal connection with a brand and go about recommending your business whenever the opportunity arises. By surprising your loyal customers with a free gift with purchase, discounts, special offers or promotions will build a further level of commitment.
Avoid Refer a Friend Strategies
For a majority of the time when a brand advocate refers a business to friends or family, they usually do it without incentive. This is because, when people recommend their favourite business to a friend they are doing so based on their experience or connection they they have associated with the brand. If the service was top quality, they will tell their friends, if the food was delicious they will tell their friends, if their products were high quality they will tell there friends. This is all because they are people and people LOVE to share. Paying customers to bring in their friends could be seen as wasted marketing dollars since your brand advocates are already doing the job you’re paying them for.
A positive experience will always leave a lasting impression no matter what services or products you sell. Giving your brand advocates a voice through social media allows them to feel important and that their opinion really matters. Lastly, never underestimate the power of a genuine referral versus a paid incentive and the level of trust people place in the opinion and recommendations from family and friends.