Your customers are your most significant investment and your greatest cheerleaders. That’s why it’s essential to develop a customer advocate strategy that boosts referrals while improving your brand reputation.

Forrester says that “creating customer advocates builds long-standing relationships that persist.” These ongoing connections provide your company with word-of-mouth recommendations, peer-to-peer reviews, and social media mentions. By increasing your customer engagement with a customer advocate strategy, you’ll see fantastic results that improve your bottom line.

What is customer advocacy?

Traditionally two definitions of customer advocacy existed. The first idea relies solely on providing your customer with the resources they need after purchasing a product. This type of support includes online chat and other types of assistance that improves the customer experience.

The second definition is to help consumers advocate on your brand’s behalf. To do this, you engage with customers after their purchase which encourages them to show their support publicly.

For the most success, you need to marry these two ideas into one. After all, if you support and assist your customers, then you’ll naturally generate goodwill and referrals.

Create a customer advocacy strategy

Start on the right foot by planning each element of your customer advocacy strategy. Turning loyal customers into spokespeople for your organization requires both listening and adding value to their experience.

Identify potential advocates

Go where your customers are active. Two prime areas for finding customer advocates are on social media and through review collection. For example, BrightLocal reports that "80% of 18-34-year-olds have written online reviews." Plus, we know that "45% of consumers" reach out with concerns on social media.

Once you know who your desired spokespeople are, where they hang out and what products they love, brainstorm ways to improve your relationship.

Determine ways to increase customer engagement

From loyalty programs to personalized emails, your customer advocate plan needs variety to work well. Review your options for boosting customer engagement and delegate resources to the platforms most likely to provide success.

  • Respond to reviews with personalized messages.
  • Engage in conversations on social media.
  • Invite customer advocates to join a loyalty program.
  • Offer incentives for customer referrals.
  • Request feedback via review collection.

Leverage customer reviews

By far the simplest way to implement a customer advocate strategy is through review collection. For example, a Local Consumer Review Survey finds that "70% of consumers that have been asked to leave reviews went on to do so."

Beyond inspiring feedback, it's crucial to also use this opportunity to strengthen your customer relationship. Leverage the power of reviews by reaching out and thanking reviewers.

We know that "89% of consumers read businesses' responses to reviews." So, not only does additional outreach satisfy your customer advocates but you'll also boost sales.

Nurture your brand ambassadors

Once you’ve responded to the review and sent a follow-up email, do you move on? No! Identify anyone who consistently engages with your brand. This may be through social proof or additional reviews for products and services. These are your brand ambassadors.

Instead of ignoring them until their next purchase, nurture your customers throughout their lifespan. If they agree, then keep them on a mailing list offering exclusive deals for valued customers. Give them a shout out or incentive for new referrals. Stay at the front of their minds at all times.

Customer engagement for the win

Companies that invest in a robust customer advocacy program improve their reputation and sales figures. According to a Curalate survey," 50% of consumers said that seeing user-generated content would increase their chances of buying products through a brand’s social media."

Plus, the Spiegel Research Center finds that "brands can expect their average star rating to increase after emailing buyers a direct link to submit reviews." Get measurable results by turning your sales into long-term relationships using a customer advocate strategy that enhances customer engagement.