Grow with TRUST: The Trust Signals Mantra
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It is often argued that customers are the most important part of any business. Whether you manage call centers for small businesses or run an e-commerce store, customers are at the heart of it. Put simply, they buy your goods and services, providing income. Without them, there is no business.
But what do customers mean to a business beyond providing a revenue stream? The internet has changed the marketing landscape, and the customer’s role within it. Once passive consumers of marketing, they are now often its most powerful creators.
Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before making a purchase. That's a lot of sway! And it’s this principle of customers influencing others that is at the heart of brand advocacy.
A brand advocate is someone who communicates a positive message about your company. The best brand advocates are fanatical about your brand (see our post on brand admiration) and are keen to let their networks know. There is no formal contract or payment structure. They value your product or service and are happy to share their experiences across social media, forums, and websites.
Brand advocacy can achieve great organic results, and usually doesn't require a huge budget. This doesn’t mean it is easy, and you still need to put the effort in. Let's look at some of the ways you can build trust with your audience, and produce excellent brand advocates.
Getting customers to become brand advocates requires trust. They need to feel aligned with your brand values, and that your company represents them. You can aid this process through personalization. Let them know that their enthusiasm for your brand isn’t unnoticed. Tailor your interactions with them.
Based on their preferences, you can create customized marketing. You could contact them with special offers or recommendations. Exclusive previews of unreleased products are also good. Congratulate their loyalty with a gift, and thank them for being a trusted part of the brand family.
Showing gratitude and rewarding your customers shows a human side to a business. Sending generic messaging out to your entire customer base can seem impersonal. This will do nothing to build your client-to-business connection. As with any relationship, these need to be nurtured. Try to use emotional intelligence in your communications.
Think about how you speak to your audience, and the tone used. Verbal communication requires a trustworthy voice to inspire confidence. Written content is no different. You need to build trust through your marketing. Personalize this to match different audience segments.
A great way to convert customers to brand advocates and build your army of followers is to establish a brand community. You can focus your most loyal customers in one space, where they can connect with each other. But what is a brand community, and how are they helpful to business?
Brand advocates are the customers most invested in you. They buy your products and spread the word about how great your company is. Create a network of individuals who are fanatical about your brand. This can expand your reach even further.
You also have a dedicated group of brand fanatics to connect with. This can be invaluable when you want to trial a new product, or gather feedback. They know your business best and can provide invaluable insights. This is more cost-effective than traditional market research and gets you better results.
You will need to decide on where to bring your community together. Different platforms work in different ways, which one will suit your audience best? Social media is a popular choice, and online forums also work for many. If members want a group conversation, they could use conference calling services.
A good business should always strive to improve customer experience. Optimizing the quality of their interactions is a key way to achieve this. It is a crucial part of building trust with your potential brand advocates. If they can’t rely on you to provide a positive experience, they won’t have confidence in you as a brand.
Your marketing output needs to be knowledgeable and assuring. Customers trust confident content. Offer great customer support. If your users experience a problem, they need to be able to contact you and get it resolved. Your customer journey must be pain-free at all touch points.
Apps should be free of any bugs and work seamlessly. Your website must be easy to use, accessible, and optimized for mobile. The web address and domain name should reflect the company, and be easy to understand.
Make sure transactions are as smooth as possible. Even a small hurdle in the process can have negative consequences. Issues with something like the checkout process or inputting details are frustrating. This can lead to abandoning a sale. Crowd testing is a good way to ensure optimum performance levels.
Making sure your customers are happy keeps them loyal. This is the first step to converting another brand advocate. Give them the best experience possible, and optimize your business.
User-generated content is created by people, rather than a brand. It could be an Instagram or other social media post showing off some new trainers, or a customer review on a website. Although it was made by the audience instead of the business, it is no less effective as a marketing tool—and can be moreso.
In a 2021 study, nearly 80% of respondents said they were strongly influenced by user-generated content when making a purchase.
How does it help develop customers into brand advocates? It comes down to the basic principle that people trust people. Seeing other users having a positive experience with a brand acts as social proof. This leads to better engagement with the company. In turn, this increases the chances of becoming a brand advocate.
You should see customers that make favorable content for you as part of your marketing team.
A relationship can be defined as “the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other”. The relationship between a brand and its customers needs this two-way exchange.
If you have a good product, chances are people will buy it. But what will elevate your success and get people to believe in your brand is offering an exceptional customer relationship. Some say that big tech has damaged the public’s trust in companies. Make sure that your customers don’t lose faith in you.
Gathering feedback is an important process. You can find out what your customers are happy about, and what they think needs attention. Make it easy for them to have their say. This is commonly done online, but they may also want to ring in. You should know how to record phone calls. Use information from previous conversations to improve customer service.
Building customer relationships is an important part of business. For building trust and turning customers into brand advocates, it is essential.
To create successful brand advocates, you need to get your most loyal customers to bang the drum for you. A referral program can be super helpful in getting your followers to take that next step. So how do they work?
A referral program offers incentives for a customer to promote your company. It is a system that benefits both of you. Create a referral link for your followers that they can share. For each new customer they bring in, they are rewarded in some way. This could be points, vouchers, or discount offers. The type of incentive you offer will depend on your audience.
A powerful marketing tool, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. This level of confidence translates into higher rates of conversion and retention. Make your referral scheme flexible. It should be available to all, but will reward loyal customers even more.
Although there are similarities to referral programs, affiliate marketing works in different ways. An affiliate doesn’t have to be an existing customer of the brand. They are often someone with a wide reach of followers that are a good fit for the brand’s potential audience. In return for generating sales, they receive a percentage of the profits.
But this doesn’t stop your loyal customers from becoming affiliate marketers. Though an affiliate is usually a third party focused on the financial incentive, rather than emotional investment. A loyal customer will give you both. Their personal connection is a great way to ramp up affiliate-related sales.
It is important to measure your affiliate sales to make sure they are performing well. There are many platforms available to track results. Make sure you and the affiliate are benefiting from the process.
Customer loyalty is good for business. They like what you have to offer, and keep coming back for more. That’s great, but how do you cement that commitment so that they get others to become customers? A decent loyalty program will make your customers feel valued. It can encourage them to become a brand advocate.
However you structure your loyalty program, make the rewards useful to the recipient. If your loyal audiences don't feel appreciated, you risk losing some of your following.
The name, design, and theme of your program should reflect your brand identity. Make it consistent with who you are, and what you’re about. Engage regularly with your audience, making it easy to see results simply and quickly. Fully 45% of consumers say they dislike rewards due to the difficulty of collecting them.
One of the most effective methods of brand advocacy is customer reviews. The opinions of fellow consumers are a powerful tool. This principle is as old as business itself. People have always looked for personal recommendations where to spend their money.
In the past, this was done through word-of-mouth marketing. With digital e-commerce, there are many ways customers can share their experiences. To great effect too. 93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions. Not only does this increase sales, it also helps to build trust with your brand.
You can even take this one step further and contact a customer who has left you a good review. See if they would like to leave a customer testimonial. This could be a written message or even a video. It’s a great way to generate more marketing collateral, and encourage them to become a brand advocate.
A word of warning, customer reviews aren't always smooth sailing. Just as positive commentary will help your business, negative reviews can be harmful. But you can take measures to deal with these. Answer quickly and thoughtfully, showing understanding of their complaint. A well-considered response can help re-establish trust with the customer.
Despite some of the potential pitfalls, customer reviews are an incredible way to promote your brand.
In a crowded marketplace, happy brand advocates are worth their weight in gold. The power of people sharing their experiences will bring you new followers and sales. Brand reputation is crucial, and they will help you to elevate yours.
So don’t neglect this area. Use the points raised in this article to consider the best way to reward the loyalty of your customers. Build their trust. Their enthusiasm for your brand will get you results. Make sure they have the best experience in return.
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered best small business phone system for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies and partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Grace Lau also published articles for domains such as Tapfiliate and Easy Affiliate.
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