The internet has transformed brand-to-customer relationships. In this new dynamic, customers take a more active role in the buying process and spend more time researching products and services to make better purchase decisions.
The customer journey begins at the awareness stage, where customers begin to realize a pain point that needs solving. At that point, they start looking for brands that could fill that need, bringing them to the consideration stage. At this stage, your online reputation is front and center and monitoring online reviews and managing your online reputation matter the most in bringing in sales.
The acquisition stage, where customers start purchasing from you, is the natural next step from the consideration stage. Ans for many businesses today, this is the culmination of their marketing efforts, the end-all and be-all of their campaign. But savvy business owners know that there’s more to the story than just making a sale: The key to long-term marketing success is cultivating customer relationships and building brand advocacy – the final and most crucial aspect of the customer journey.
Having brand advocates to promote your business on your behalf is the true definition of online marketing success and a solid brand reputation.
Customer advocacy and online reputation management go hand in hand. A positive online presence attracts customers and compels them to make a purchase. Meanwhile, a loyal client base provides social proof and attracts even more customers through customer referrals and word of mouth marketing. All of that begins with knowing how to improve online reputation.
This blog talks about the role of customer advocacy in online reputation management and how to improve online reputation to help you create more brand advocates. Specifically, we provide answers to such questions as:
- What are brand ambassadors, and how are they similar to advocates?
- Why is it important to have customers advocating for your brand?
- How does customer advocacy help you manage your online reputation?
- How do brands build brand advocates?
What Are Brand Advocates, and Why Are They Important?
Brand advocates are highly satisfied customers who perform word of mouth marketing to promote your brand on your behalf. They are consumers who have reached the final stage of the customer journey – advocacy – and are proactively sharing positive information about your brand to their networks through online reviews, social media posts, emails or any other online content.
You may have also heard the similar term “brand ambassadors.” What are brand ambassadors? Brand ambassadors also represent and promote your brand but differ in two major aspects.
First, brand ambassadors are either celebrities or people who already hold a considerable influence. And unlike advocates who promote brands for free, ambassadors typically receive incentives in exchange for the promotion.
So now that we’ve cleared the distinction and answered the question, “what are brand ambassadors,” let’s proceed to the more important question: Why are brand advocates important?
It’s no secret that online reviews have a significant impact on a brand’s online reputation. In the internet era, nearly nine out of 10 consumers read online reviews for local businesses, while 94 percent steer clear of businesses with a handful of negative reviews (ReviewTrackers). It then becomes easier to manage your online reputation with an army of loyal customers spreading the word for you.
In a business landscape where customers rely on online reviews to influence their buying decisions, online reviews coming from satisfied customers offer a significant advantage because of one key element: authenticity.
Unpaid, proactive reviews from previous customers appear more authentic and are perceived as more credible than incentivized reviews, boosting customer trust and increasing the likelihood of customer referrals.
But by how much? According to a report, customers who see these reviews are 50 percent more likely to be influenced into making a purchase.
How Do Brands Create Advocates?
Brand advocates do not happen overnight. That is because they are products of a strong brand-to-customer relationship that has been nurtured as the customer goes further along the customer journey, only made possible by great products and customer service.
Brand loyalty – the type of loyalty that creates advocates – is earned, not bought. Simply, you have to put in the work.
Here are some ways to improve customer trust in your business dealings and turn customers into advocates:
Offer Personalized Service
The internet has changed the face of marketing as we know it. No longer are we bound to traditional methods of marketing where brand messages were created for a general audience. Today, customers demand more personalization when interacting with their favorite brands.
But personalization isn’t just about adding a name or using a better channel for communication. You have to create unique experiences for each user. It can be as small as sending birthday messages or adding features to a product or service specific to the user.
But more importantly, listen to your customers. Nothing says personalized like taking the time to get their opinion and applying this information to your product or service delivery.
Deliver More Than What You Promise
Your customers always expect a certain level of quality when dealing with any business. Failing to meet these expectations is a surefire way to lose their business. On the other hand, delivering on your promise keeps them happy and satisfied.
But in order to build true brand advocates, you have to take it a step further and over-deliver.
First, identify your customers’ expectations and keep track of the promises you make. Then, go the extra mile and deliver more without compromising on the quality of your product or service. The goal is to give your customers more than what they asked for.
Respond Accordingly to Customer Feedback
Review monitoring is always a good idea to stay on top of your online reputation. It lets you know more about customers’ perception of you and your success at satisfying their needs. Throughout your review monitoring activities, you will undoubtedly come across negative feedback. Instead of hiding or ignoring these types of reviews, take it as an opportunity to regain customers’ trust by responding accordingly.
Effective review response goes beyond replying to feedback. Pay attention to what is being said and take action. This way, you are improving the way you do business while showing that you care about customer experience. This will go a long way toward gaining more customer referrals.
Thank Your Customers
Don’t be afraid to show gratitude to your customers. When you stumble upon positive customer reviews during review monitoring, be quick to thank them for their time and effort. When you receive negative feedback, thank them for their honesty and insights.
You can also generate more engagement by sharing positive reviews on social media and thanking the customer in the process. This simple gesture doesn’t require a lot on your part, but it can make a massive impact on your customers and go a long way in turning them into advocates.
Collect User Feedback and Showcase It on Your Website
Online reviews and user feedback help boost consumer trust, attract new customers and improve brand sentiment among existing customers. But only when they’re visible to your audience. And while many consumers spend ample time online looking for reviews, what about those that aren’t actively looking? According to reputation management consultants, the best way to improve review visibility is by showcasing them wherever you can on your website.
Feature the right reviews on specific pages on your website. Many online reputation management companies today do so by adding testimonials on the home page and service-specific reviews on service pages.
But you can also automate this process by using an appropriate reputation management tool like the Rize Reviews widget. With the Rize widget, you can easily monitor online reviews and showcase specific reviews on all your pages seamlessly without altering your website’s design and layout. Plus, you can keep reviews fresh, ensuring that you only provide review content that is relevant to your customers.
Create More Brand Advocates With a Trusted Reputation Management Tool
Brand advocates are priceless assets that elevate your brand through word of mouth marketing. As a source of credible insider information, they help attract more customers – their peers – by lending authenticity to your marketing campaigns and empowering your online reputation management efforts. Leverage the power of advocacy marketing and showcase the best things about your brand with the Rize reputation management tool.
Rize is one of the leading online reputation management companies today. We know how to improve online reputation and provide reputation management services that boost your online presence and foster trust among your target audience. Work with trusted reputation management consultants and harness the power of online reviews through our reputation management services.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can protect your online reputation.