Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment. Remember the last time, you as a customer, went through a great brand experience. All of us have experiences brands who go above and beyond to make us understand they care about us. It is very likely that we take those memories and tell the story to our friends and family over a dinner table, or share something on social media. That is precisely what is meant by advocacy marketing.
When customers start spreading the word-of-mouth about their brand experiences in a positive light, they become brand advocates. As brands we should to have all our customers as our advocates.
Let’s be honest, this is essentially word-of-mouth marketing we are talking about. There is literally no other marketing technique that can compete with it at a micro level. But what if we could enable this to take place at scale? Over 90% of consumers report that they trust recommendations by friends and family above anything else in the world of marketing and advertising. To make it even better, this channel of customer acquisition results in 37% reduction in the churnrate.
You’d be wrong if you thought the goodness stops there. While influencer marketing is reported to bring a 650% ROI to businesses, organic advocacy by everyday people beats influecer marketing by 5x. Your advocates are your best customers as they tend to have a higher lifetime value, stay with you longer, making them such a valuable asset to your brand.
But how do the most successful brands of our age carry out their advocacy marketing activity?
iPhone 12 is out and it has many die-hard Apple fans buzzing again. When it comes to brand affinity, few other brands can get past Apple as a brand. The brand-customer relationship is something most other brands envy. With every new release, you see long queues of people waiting to get the next gadget added to their iOS ecosystem.
Apple is one of the rare brands that do not need to go to too much trouble to encourage brand advocacy. Advocacy marketing is an integral part of their strategy as the campaign for iPhone X showed. For this campaign, million of people saw authentic selfies taken by Apple’s everyday customers. The great looking, yet real life, selfies were shown on TV commercials, billboards and even paid-ads with the following copy “Selfies on iPhone X”. Everything about this campaign was real as it was taken by real everyday people using their personal iPhones.
This approach soon caught up with the wider iPhone community of customers and more people started sharing their selfies online. The brand trust, authenticity, popularity and influence grew massively as a result. While we cannot confirm the details, Apple must have rewarded (the selected few pieces of content to be used for their own marketing) their users in some shape or form as a token of appreciation.
Brands offering services will arguably have a more difficult job to do to encourage brand advocacy by their customers compared to product-based brand. In the case of Uber, their advocacy marketing initiative is very similar to loyalty point programmes consumers are used to. Their approach makes it very easy to get people spreading the word-of-mouth, but it lacks real authenticity compared to Apple.
In this example, Uber identifies their active users and offers them free rised in return for referrals, as simple as that. It is unlikely to increase brand affinity as the relationship is very transactional in this scenario. On the other hand, if you as a brand manager are under pressure from your performance marketing colleagues, this may be an easier way of showing them the ROI.
How can one improve a referral programme like this? Try getting people to share their brand experience along with the Invite Code on social media. This brings in user-generated content, creates conversations and provides a much needed customer feedback too.
When it comes to customer experience in the airline industry Southwest is up there, leaving their competitors trailing by an average of 17%. That is because their customers are highly engaged with their brand experienced compared to other airlines.
The study shows that while pricing is always an important factor in the airlines industry, it was the ease of use, great customer service experience and nice employees that stood out for customers. As a result the brand is known for having a fun experience and friendly staff which is often talked about on social media.
Southwestern also creates an environment where advocacy marketing thrives, making it exciting and fun for people to share their experience online. This could be a creative napkin to be snapped for Instagram, or a creative flight attendant that makes it go viral on youtube. This is a prime example of turning happy customers into brand advocates through a great experience.
This is why we at Pukket, like many other marketing experts, believe advocacy marketing is the best way of marketing and growing your brand. This is a marketing technique like no other. Advocacy marketing is all about building and engaging in meaningful relationship with your customers. And this is only achieveable through an A-star level of customer service, an engaged community of customers and a great experience that makes customers fall in love with your brand.