So you have 2,000 Facebook fans and a bunch of people who have signed up for your referral program? If they’re not actively telling the world about your company, what’s the point?
Companies that activate their advocates grow faster. Advocates recruit new customers, have higher loyalty and satisfaction because advocating creates a personal connection that strengthens brand loyalty. They are a more profitable subset of your customer base because advocates identify the customers who are the best fit for a brand and therefore, spend more. If companies aren’t motivating their advocates to take action, they are missing out on a major source of new revenue, and their brand is not nearly as visible, trusted and transparent as it could be.
Here are five ways to activate brand advocates:
Promote the advocacy opportunity
Take a look at every way in which new customers interact with you and leverage those touch-points. Do customers buy from you online? Ask them to share information about the purchase with their friends at checkout, through social media or email. Do you send communication to your customers by mail? Include a blurb about a referral offer to ask the customer to write a review and return the postcard. Advocacy can be promoted in as many ways as your company has channels, use them all.
Give your advocates ways to make advocacy simple
Since you’re asking for a favor, advocates should be able to take action through email and social media in just a few simple clicks. Advocates should be able to upload their contacts from their own email provider, or post to their favorite social network using the templates and message ideas you provide. Online referrals can go viral quickly and they generate high open rates, click thru rates and impressions.
Offline, give advocates referral cards to keep in their wallet, or hand out brochures at the P-O-S. You can also send offers through SMS text. Put the opportunity in front of them and make it easy.
You only have to do a few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.Warren Buffett
Prospects should be able to accept the referral offer easily
Just as it’s essential that you make advocacy easy for the advocate, you must make it easy for the prospect to accept the advocate’s referral. Less is more—don’t make your prospect jump through hoops. There should not be too many fields to fill out, for example, and they should not have to provide account numbers or other difficult-to-find pieces of information.
And remember that just because a prospect hears about you online, doesn’t mean that’s where he or she will buy. Give prospects trackable and convenient ways to accept offers from their friends.
Offer appropriate incentives
An incentive won’t necessarily convert one of your detractors, but it definitely has the potential to activate your advocates. Incentives can capture advocates’ attention and create a sense of urgency. More important, it nurtures the relationship with your advocates, and convinces them that you are appreciative of their efforts.
Incentives can include cash rewards for referrals, exclusive product samples and advanced releases, an entry to a sweepstakes, charity donations and points programs. Incentives are limited only by your imagination.
Nurture, nurture, nurture
Once a customer advocates for you, it’s critical to keep him/her activated by sustaining engagement. An incentive is one way to accomplish this, but there are numerous ways to nurture your advocates. A few more recommendations are:
- Provide updates throughout the referral processes; give advocates access to an online portal that allows them to make offers, review their status, and encourages them to feel empowered and in control.
- Send advocates targeted and “special” opportunities—the more you know about them, the more you can target opportunities that appeal.
- Give rewards to advocates who advocate often. Tiered rewards, bonus prizes and special promotions are all smart ways to keep them coming back.
Advocates vary by brand, product and service. Some are highly active and others need a push. Some have huge networks, others not-as-huge. Tracking the data generated by activating your advocates is paramount to optimizing your relationship with them. One thing is for certain: you must go beyond just identifying your advocates—you must get them to stand up and mobilize on your behalf!