Why You Should Turn Your Customers Into Brand Advocates

Guides & Tips
August 28, 2023

Why You Should Turn Your Customers Into Brand Advocates

Gaining loyal customers is one thing, but creating brand advocates is a whole different ball game.

Word of mouth influences nearly 50% of all purchases, claims McKinsey & Co. This staggering statistic proves how important it is to take good care of brand advocates by rewarding them for each reference they give.

In this blog, we’re going to look at the benefits of having customer brand advocates as part of your marketing strategy. We'll also dive into ways you can encourage and incentivize them, and how you can quantify (and measure your brand advocacy program.

What is brand advocacy in ecommerce? 

Brand advocates are brand affiliates who share their positive experiences with others and recommend the brand's products.

Check out how online fashion store ASOS created a feed on their site featuring UGC— customers sharing outfits they’ve purchased from ASOS on Instagram using the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe.

ASOS brand advocacy strategy: #AsSeenOnMe

These customers styled great outfits with ASOS clothing and shared with hundreds of thousands of their followers where they got their clothes from.

How to turn customers into brand advocates

If your product is great, customers might recommend it to a friend once or twice. However, if you also offer incentives, your customers are more likely to become enthusiastic members of your marketing team. They'll share your product with their friends, as long as the referral incentive stays attractive.

Create a referral program to motivate your customers to mention your product more often in their social circles. 

For example, the supplement brand, Your Heights, has a referral program where customers can earn discounts on their store whenever they refer a friend.

A screenshot of Heights referral program.

This not only incentivizes existing customers to promote the brand but also brings them back to your store, increasing your LTV and retention rate. This strategy is particularly effective with refill products (or subscription products) since your customers will be incentivized to get a discount every time they need a refill of their product.

Implementing a referral program is one of the best ecommerce practices to encourage customers to become brand advocates. 

With the Moreover Rivo app, you can set up your referral program in just minutes. Just set the advocate incentive and the friend incentive.

A screenshot of the Referral program set up in Rivo.

Rivo has a visual editor where you can refine referral form layouts and configure how brand advocates interact with the popup or form embed.

Choose the type of referral rewards: 

  • Amount discount
  • Percentage off
  • Free shipping
  • Free product

With Rivo, you can automate sharing rewards with new and existing customers and distribute unique referral codes via email or social media. You will also have complete control over how your referral program is displayed on the storefront.

How to measure brand advocacy

While online stores often focus on metrics like the number of Instagram followers or likes, these have little to do with brand advocacy. Brand advocacy translates into sales, and only by looking at sales can we understand whether our efforts are paying off. 

While we can’t know when our customer mentioned our product while on a hike with her friends, we can surely see how many friends she referred through dedicated forms.

Let’s take a closer look at the HexClad cookware store, which managed to measure brand advocacy by pulling out the numbers from their referral program created with the Rivo App.

A screenshot of Hexclad's Referral page

In the first 90 days after implementing the referral program, HexClad achieved:

  • Over $450K in revenue
  • 92X ROI
  • 17% increase in the average amount spent by referred customers

These numbers have been presented in the Rivo dashboard to give the team an understanding of whether the offer is appealing enough and if it brings the desired outcomes.

Is brand advocacy worth pursuing?

Since we already went through the trouble of explaining how to set up a referral and brand advocacy program for your ecommerce store, let's talk about the benefits you'll see when you finally set one up:

Higher conversion rates 

Brand advocacy in ecommerce is a powerful marketing strategy.

When customers advocate for your brand, they lend their personal credibility to your business. Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues carry more weight than traditional advertising. According to Marketing Charts, brand advocates are 50% more likely to influence a purchase.

Cost-effective marketing

Brand advocates provide organic promotion at a fraction of the cost. Even if you decide to reward your brand advocates for every referral, it’s still cheaper than running paid marketing campaigns and hoping to convert new customers.

The results of the referral program at HexClad illustrate this point.

Increased customer retention

Brand advocates are typically highly engaged and loyal customers. While converting customers into advocates, you also enhance customer retention.

These advocates are more likely to make repeat purchases and remain loyal to your brand over time. According to industry research, 82% of companies recognize that retention costs less than acquisition.

Who are your brand advocates?

Brand advocates are usually loyal and engaged customers. They happily participate in brand referral programs, leave positive online reviews, and create user-generated content (UGC) that brands can leverage for their social media or website.

There are different types of brand advocates that your ecommerce store can build brand advocacy campaigns around. Firstly, you have your past, satisfied customers who become your affiliates. These affiliates will refer their friends and family to your brand through (most commonly) word-of-mouth marketing.

Secondly, you have influencers. These are growing to be a popular choice of brand advocates since they already have a social media following they can push their marketing efforts towards. They'll share their positive reviews about your brand with their already-established audience.

So, while your brand advocates can be virtually anyone willing to share positive reviews and testimonials about your brand, influencer marketing brings you the largest visibility. And customers bring you the biggest customer loyalty.

How do you generate authenticity among your brand advocates?

We've already discussed the importance of having really good incentives in place that encourage your advocates, whether that be your past customers or affiliates that you partner with, to advocate for your brand. But, to really invest in your brand's reach, you need to invest in your customer service.

Excellent customer service can make your advocacy strategy. Poor customer service can (and often does) break it. So while you might have a great product that people would happily refer their friends to, having bad customer service could easily prevent you from getting better results from your advocacy program.

Signals of good customer service

If you want prospective customers to buy from your brand, you need both your past customer service and your future customer service to be on point. Here are a few ways you can signal that your customer will have a positive experience with your brand:

Customer reviews

This is the best way to gain trust among potential customers. Customer reviews will show up on your landing page, helping you build trust and increase your add-to-cart and conversion rates.

Encourage your customers to leave a review once they've bought from your store and received their product. If they reach out to your customer support, train your customer success manager to also ask the customers for a review. This way, not only will potential customers know that your product is legitimate, but they'll also gain your trust.

Here is an example customer review from the brand WaterBoy.

A customer testimonial from Water Boy

Affiliate testimonials

Another good way to signal the trustworthiness of your ecommerce store is by asking your affiliates (your past, loyal customers) to give a testimonial on their experience as an affiliate with your store. For example, not only can they say that the sign-up process was smooth and easy, but they can also talk about how they received their "advocate incentive" as soon as they referred their friends.

Endorsements from past shoppers and people currently acting as advocates for your brand are another way to increase participation in your advocacy programs in general. And it shows how your brand's team puts effort behind your customer advocacy programs.

Social media marketing

Social media attention is not only a good way to increase your brand's reach and get more eyeballs on your brand, but it's also a great way to showcase your company's culture. Have your employees act as advocates, posting company content on Twitter and Facebook.

Employee advocacy goes a long way in signaling trust for a brand since they can see your company's "backstage." They'll grow to be familiar with your company culture and the people who run your brand.

Why you should turn customers into brand advocates 

One of the most effective and sustainable ways to grow your ecommerce business is to transform your customers into brand ambassadors.

Why not let your happy customers do the talking and build your credibility, lower your marketing expenses, boost customer retention, and raise conversions?

Rivo’s referral platform lets you quickly and easily build an efficient and scalable way to reward customers when they refer friends who convert. Rivo plugs right into your existing ecommerce store and lets you set up custom referral campaigns in just a couple of minutes without any interruptions to your normal business.

Invest in brand advocacy today. Request a demo at Rivo to turn brand advocates into an acquisition channel.