It takes a lot to wow customers these days. Groceries can be summoned from a mobile device, then delivered to your front door 60 minutes later. UPS utilizes social media as a tool to anticipate customer needs and improve service times and efficiencies. Apple’s executive team reads customer emails every day to ensure that the business aligns with the priorities of the customer base.
Companies today are infinitely more engaged and committed to their target audiences, and that has paid dividends in improving brand loyalty and overall customer experience. That said, there is still a huge chasm between those who love and advocate for a brand and those that simply use their favorite products or services out of a sense of loyalty or habit. The goal for any business owner must be to convert customers into brand ambassadors.
Brand ambassadors are individuals who visibly flaunt the adoption, use, and preference for a certain brand. For instance, George Clooney loves Omega watches, wears them all the time, and has been adopted as the face of the brand. Supermodel Karlie Kloss, known as one of the most influential Victoria’s Secret ambassadors, is the face of L’Oréal and flaunts the brand whenever possible.
Ambassadors like Leonardo DiCaprio don’t have to align with a particular brand or company, but they can emerge as brand ambassadors for important causes and global concerns. Now, if we could all simply get George, Karlie, and Leo to advocate for our brands, we’d likely see a ten-fold increase in business… but that’s not the reality we live in. Instead, keep the following 10 tips in mind when you’re ready to actively convert customers into brand ambassadors:
1. Ask for Feedback
Potential brand ambassadors will want to refer their friends and families to your business. You can embed a rating scale on your site or through a post-purchase survey that asks for a reply to a “how likely are you to recommend” message, then add those who rate you a 9 or 10 to your potential pool of ambassadors.
2. Deliver an Amazing Customer Experience
Modern manufacturing techniques and a competitive global commerce arena have virtually guaranteed that the products we purchase are nearly flawless. Therefore, the only differentiating factor may be the overall client experience created by your business. Is your site slow? Is it tough to navigate? Are you managing the customer’s experience from first touch to the last? If not, you’ll have a tough time converting clients to brand ambassadors.
3. Create Loyalty Programs
The goal is to drive brand loyalty through repeat business. Do that often enough, and the customer will become entrenched in your brand. Just don’t make it too complicated! There is a reason why credit card companies today are pushing the “1% or 2% back on every purchase” idea versus a tiered rewards program that has several categories to manage. Simplicity drives loyalty and adoption.
4. Create Value Through Cost
If something is free, customers may feel there is no actual value to the offering. Take Amazon’s Prime membership, for instance. Yes, it costs about $100 per year, but that only makes customers want to commit to the service and extract every last bit of value out of it. Amazon reports that about 40% of its U.S.-based customers use their Prime service at a cost of $99 per year – that’s almost half of all U.S. households!
5. Implement a Referral Program
If you do this the right way, you’ll effectively increase new customer acquisition and turn these customers into brand advocates who can encourage others to adopt your product or service, which may lead to a larger pool of customers who will eventually become brand ambassadors themselves.
6. Personalize the Experience
Brand ambassadors want to feel valued, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to personalize their experience with your business. Use their name, welcome them back to your site, offer diversification or personalization within reason, and keep it simple and professional. Think of your site as the neighborhood bartender or restaurant server who knows everyone on a first name basis. Relate to customers, advocate for them, support them, and they’ll return the favor.
7. Send a “Just Because” Gift
How would you feel if you received a “free shipping” email on your birthday? Or a trinket in the mail that aligns with your likes and preferences? Just like randomly coming home with a bouquet of flowers for your special someone, it truly is the thought that counts more than the actual gift.
8. Keep Customers Informed
If your business operates mainly via e-commerce, make sure your site is designed to allow customers to have total control over their order. They should know where the item is warehoused, how it gets shipped, how to track, and who to contact if there is a problem. Amazon, for example, allows you to track packages with the click of an embedded UPS link, and their customer service representatives can call the local delivery professionals to check on individual orders.
9. Stress Honesty
If you’ve messed up – ‘fess up! Don’t be afraid to admit to a mistake, just do everything in your power to fix it. Remember to apologize, analyze the situation, offer a solution, seek agreement with the client, and always follow up to ensure an agreeable resolution.
10. Ask for UGC
UGC, or user-generated content, is a powerful tool that can help you to market your brand and create a base of brand ambassadors. It’s free, it acts as relevant and valuable feedback on customer-to-customer basis, it validates your business, and it converts a customer to a brand advocate.
If you’re looking for ways to turn your business into a top-tier player within your field, you absolutely must leverage the power of brand advocates. Reflect on the ten tips above when creating your own social influencer marketing strategy, and you’ll find it much easier to convert loyal customers into fierce advocates for your business.