Every business dreams of having customers zealously advocating for their brand with the same kind of steadfast loyalty that Apple and Google have proven is possible.
However, turning a customer into a fan is hard enough, and turning a fan into a die-hard brand ambassador requires a type of loyalty that goes beyond business, and creates a deep emotional connection. This kind of loyalty builds the strongest kind of customer base.
Here are five things to consider when turning customers into brand ambassadors:
First and foremost, the product or service you offer must be worth fans lining up to get their hands on. If not, there’s no way you’ll be able to turn customers into brand ambassadors—and it doesn’t matter how superior your customer service is.
It sounds straightforward, but just think of the momentum Apple was able to build through its iPod and iPhone, despite neither one being the first MP3 player or touch-screen phone that existed at the time. It was through Apple’s superior design, user-friendliness, and the deep loyalty the company had already instilled in customers that led to long lines of customers all over the world wanting to be a part of the Apple movement.
Sure, having an excellent product means you’ll be able to catch people’s attention, but the thrill of a new purchase rarely lasts long. What stays with the buyer way beyond the purchase is the way you make customers feel. What is it about your customer service that goes above and beyond? Do you treat each customer as if they’re individuals and do whatever you can to solve their problems or issues? Do you make efforts to maintain a relationship with them after the sale?
Case in point is Zappos, a company widely known for providing the ultimate customer experience. When a best man’s shoes were delivered to the wrong address, a Zappos rep immediately sent a new pair via overnight delivery to the wedding location, set up the customer for a lifetime of free Zappos shipping, and refunded the entire purchase price.
Customers see themselves as distinct individuals and, consequently, also expect brands to see them as individuals. But the only way you can tell your customers apart from each another is by getting to know them well. Once you do that, you can communicate effectively with them and get the right messaging to the correct target audience.
Consider using marketing automation to get to know, keep track of, and identify customers. Automation tools allow you to track what customers are buying, saying, and their purchasing behavior. Anytime you have an interaction with them, you will know exactly who they are because they’re in your system.
Customers today know that businesses collect user information on them, but the bottom line is whether or not a business is using that information effectively. Have you identified customers who are sharing information and engaging with others on behalf of your company? If so, what have you done for them? Have you reached out so that they know you value their support?
The more you interact with your clients, the more you’ll make them feel like their feedback is important to you. One way brands can make fans feel important is to bring them into the “inside” team by inviting them to try out new products and launches. When you involve your strongest supporters, you’re giving them an opportunity to refer and share news about your brand with their networks.
This is a powerful marketing move that only the strongest brands truly understand. Case in point is Snapchat, when they launched an initiative that allows users to turn their lives into an advertisement; as a result, millions of people became brand ambassadors overnight. When users snap a photo, they are able to imprint company names with taglines called “sponsored geofilters” which make it look users are in a company ad. For instance, during the holidays, when users took a photo or video near a big Christmas tree in certain cities, they were able to add a digital sticker of Hallmark’s latest ad campaign to share.
Geofilters off a level of branding that target the right audience and, according to Snapchat, each campaign has garnered between 30 to 50 million views per day.
No matter how enthusiastic fans are about your brand, you need to make supporting your business worth their while. Show gratitude to your brand ambassadors with a personalized video message or an entry to a cool event. Sometimes, though, a simple positive reinforcement is sometimes all super fans expect. When you see them engaging with your content and interacting with their network about you, like and reply to their tweets, like and comment on their Facebook comments, and favorite and regram their Instagram posts.
It takes a lot of work and commitment to turn fans into brand ambassadors, but once your customers feel very loyal to you, they’re no longer sensitive to price, and they believe that your brand adds intangible value to their life.