When we try new things, we often rely on feedback, reviews and recommendations before we buy. As such, we tend to trust the word and opinion of our peers. The more like us someone is, the more likely we are to believe their reviews.
And when those reviews are glowing, we’re much more likely to buy. So, when a customer sings your praises, it can drive your conversions. This is brand advocacy in a nutshell.
Indeed, the voice of your customers may be small, but it packs some mighty power. So, just how powerful is brand advocacy?
What is brand advocacy?
Brand advocacy is a form of word of mouth marketing in which your customers become brand advocates. A brand advocate elevates your brand. They do this by posting reviews, recommending your service, and referring new customers.
Brand advocacy is closely related to the voice of the customer. The voice of the customer (VOC) refers to everything your customers are saying to and about you. It differs from brand advocacy in that it includes wholly negative opinions and experiences. It comes from customer service interactions as much as it does from reviews and social posts.
It’s also often confused with customer advocacy. This is because, again, the two share a close connection. Customer advocacy is a strategy of listening to the voice of the customer and using it to drive higher satisfaction rates. (And thus, create more brand advocates.)
The shrinking of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is a close relative of brand advocacy, with a few key differences.
- 1. Brand advocates choose to advocate; influencers are more likely to receive payment for promoting.
- 2. Brand advocates have a small audience; influencers have a large following.
Yet there’s a trend in influencer marketing. It started with influencers — celebrities with over a million social media followers. Then it shrunk to microinfluencers with a few hundred thousand followers. Last year came the reign of the nanoinfluencers — ‘ordinary’ people with an audience as ‘small’ as 1000 followers.
Smaller audience pools get higher engagement rates than bigger ones. This trend in influencer marketing highlights the power of personal recommendations. (I.e. brand advocacy.) Which brings us to the last key difference between brand advocacy and influencer marketing:
- 3. 92% of consumers trust brand advocates, while only 18% trust industry influencers.
Power in personal recommendations
92% of consumers believe a friend’s recommendation over all other forms of advertising. On top of this, 76% trust online reviews as much as these personal recommendations. But why is this the case?
Reviewers are on the same side of the transaction as your prospects. So, reviews are less likely to hold bias favouring the business, because they’re based on genuine experiences. (Rather than a desire to sell more products/subscriptions.)
In other words, they’re peers, and so they’re relatable. Think of it this way: are you more likely to believe and trust a friend, or a celebrity?
When customers advocate for your brand, then, it reaches more than just their inner circle. By encouraging brand advocacy, you harness this power of personal recommendations.
Encouraging advocacy with live chat software
So, how can you encourage customers to share positive experiences with their peers, and become brand advocates? The key lies in excellent customer service. And that’s where live chat software is so useful.
- Proactive service
With live chat software, you can use proactive chat invitations to offer help before the customer knows they need it. When done right, this acts as an online version of the friendly sales assistant.
When you make customers feel cared about, they’re more likely to talk about you positively. By actively reaching out, then, you give the customer a sense of support. This gives them something to praise and so encourages brand advocacy.
- Real-time support
The real-time nature of live chat also helps you meet the need for service speed. As long as you live up to the live promise of live chat, you show your accessibility.
Slow service gives the customer time to vent about a problem. If you instead provide real-time solutions, though, it can have customers singing your praises.
- Surprise loyal customers
Another great way to use live chat to encourage brand advocacy is to surprise your loyal customers. For example, with a voucher code or offer, no strings attached. You can use CRM integration to identify loyal customers when they connect to chat. Then you can occasionally surprise them with a voucher code or reward for their loyalty.
A loyal customer already enjoys your brand enough to come back. A pleasant surprise can tip this favour over the edge, prompting brand advocacy as they talk about the welcome surprise.
- Conversational tone
Finally, live chat is a slightly more informal way to communicate with your customers. A conversational tone can help you build a human relationship with each customer.
If customers feel connected to you, they’re more likely to share your brand with their peers.
There are a few potential pitfalls to avoid when using live chat to promote brand advocacy, however.
First, don’t expect every customer to leave a review or become an advocate right away. Some customers will be more comfortable sharing their opinions than others. Some will have a longer-lasting relationship with your brand. It can take time to turn customers into advocates.
Second, it’s okay to ask for opinions and reviews, but don’t pester. You can risk annoying the customer — which makes them much more likely to leave a negative review or warn others away from your business.
Finally, don’t over-delight your customers. Surprising customers with the occasional offer or reward can be incredibly effective. But, if you constantly offer deals, they’ll come to expect them. This reduces the surprise factor, and so reduces the chances of brand advocacy.
Harness the power of brand advocacy
Not every customer will become a superfan that sings your praises every day. But most customers will share their experiences with their family and friends. Some will go further, and leave reviews or share on social media.
By creating a great experience with live chat, you give your customers something great to chat about.
So, are you ready to harness the power of brand advocacy? Get started with a free trial of WhosOn.