The most powerful and trusted advocates for any business are its loyal customers. This has been true for years now, but in this time of social media, it is possibly the most important type of word of mouth. It’s so easy for people to share info with their colleagues, friends and family – both recommendations and condemnations!
People rarely try a new business and spend money on its products after only browsing the homepage. They want to know if existing clients are happy and willing to recommend the company’s products and services to others.
Do you know that 88% of potential customers read product or business reviews before making a purchase?
This is how powerful referrals are, and this is also why the best way to attract new customers is by persuading your satisfied clients to become your business advocates. This type of persuasion, however, must be done carefully, without the slightest impression of coercion. Here are a few ways to do it:
1. Identify Your Most Loyal Customers
Polls and questionnaires are great – they offer you free information about your customers. You can find out how satisfied they are, what they expect from you, if they are willing to continue buying from you and so on. One critical question in any poll relates to the willingness to recommend your business to family and friends. People who choose 9 or 10 on a scale of 10 are your brand advocates.
You should always keep them on a separate targeting list and approach them in a closer, more personal manner. This is the first step in creating a business advocate: develop a personal relationship with your most loyal customers.
2. Encourage Writing and Sharing Reviews
Happy customers will not deny you a glowing review or testimonial if it is easy for them to do so. Always remember to send thank-you notes after each purchase and invite the client to write about their shopping experience and their opinion about the new purchase. Embedding a social media sharing function on the comments section of your website also makes it easier for customers to share their enthusiasm on the social media.
3. Be Proud of Your Loyal Clients – And Show It
Do not keep great referrals and inspirational comments to yourself. Share the best of them on your social media page. Every once in a while cut back your margin and reward the clients who left the best comments with a discount on their next purchase. When people take the time to share a positive review about a product or a business, their inner motivation is to feel that they are acknowledged, that their opinion matters to the business and is shared with all the other clients or potential clients.
4. Keep Incentives Under Control
Do not go overboard with incentives for positive reviews. In people’s minds, there is no difference between a paid review and a review given in exchange of a discount. If you have a consistent policy of rewarding positive review givers, soon it will be known all over social media and new customers will not trust the reviews anymore.
5. Answer and Exceed Your Clients’ Expectations
This is the best policy to create brand advocates and keep them loyal for a long time. Never stop listening to them, improving your existing products and services, and creating new ones. Be the one stop shop for your customers’ needs in your niche and they will continue being your advocates.
With these five simple ways, you will be able to channel your loyal customers towards speaking out and supporting your business and creating a new wave of customers through positive reviews and referrals.