The idea that your customer can do your marketing for you isn’t exactly a new one. For as long as businesses have existed, word-of-mouth marketing and peer recommendations have been important ways for businesses to find new customers.
Today, we have more sophisticated ways to leverage our existing customer base to bring new people on board. We can use marketing techniques and tools involving social media networks, plugins, and content to make the voices of our existing customers the driving force of our communication strategies.
Let’s look at some specific ways you can get your customers to market your brand, and how to make these features a seamless part of your overall marketing strategy.
4 Ways to Get Your Customers to Market Your Brand
- Encourage reviews and ratings.
- Create a community.
- Offer a refer-a-friend giveaway.
- Leverage user-generated content.
Encourage Reviews and Ratings
A new customer who arrives at your website essentially has a blank space in their knowledge of your brand. And unless you step in with the right cues and content, they’ll fill that gap with discomfort and fear. After all, who wants to spend time or risk entering their credit card details on a website they know so little about?
But what if you could show your customers that other people have interacted with your brand and that they like it too?
That’s why having reviews and star ratings of your product is critical. They are signals of social proof created by past customers. Social proof is a phenomenon where people are more likely to do something because they see other people already doing it. For example, you’d probably go to a crowded restaurant because more people means better food.
Reviews and ratings tell new visitors that other people have bought from you. This is especially important for e-commerce websites that need to build trust fast and drive product sales.
On your website, make it easy for people to leave a review or a rating of the product they’ve bought. Send emails after a purchase to remind customers to share their thoughts. If you’re a business-to-business (B2B) company, approach your client and ask them if they’re willing to give you a testimonial.
Create a Community
There’s nothing like an avid and vocal community around a brand to elevate it above its competitors.
To achieve this, you can build a brand community by setting up a membership site and offering customers an exclusive place to talk to each other and access information that isn’t available to the public. You can also create groups on Facebook or LinkedIn and support conversations on them.
The act of creating a group or a membership portal builds a sense of belonging and group identity. Your customers start to identify with your brand and through their activities on social media and on your site, they vouch for your brand’s authenticity.
Big global brands know the importance of community. You’ll see that the marketing messages of brands like Nike and Apple focus heavily on values that resonate with their audiences. For example, Nike’s controversial ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick stays true to the company’s original message to go for excellence while addressing issues in society.
Apple’s focus on innovation, product excellence, and usability is also well known. Its users are extremely passionate about the brand and the product and identify with the company. Ad campaigns like “Get a Mac” went a long way toward creating a sense of identity with the brand.
These brands have developed communities with avid fans who promote new product launches and announcements without being prompted.
Small businesses and individuals building a personal brand can harness the power of community too. Beyond creating your membership site and starting groups on social media, consider having regular live video sessions and inviting your audience to engage with you in discussions. A growing community can be like an investment that compounds and pays off in the long run.
Make community building an important strategy from the start and you’ll leverage your customer base to draw attention to your business.
Offer a Refer-a-Friend Giveaway
Who doesn’t love to get something for free? If you’re looking for an effective way to create buzz and use peer-to-peer marketing, then a giveaway is what you need.
To use this strategy, you need to have strong tech skills to connect your giveaway event to email marketing and social media tools. If not, then an easy option available to you is to use a good giveaway plugin. With the right tool, you can build a landing page, get detailed reports, and, most importantly, create conditions for participating in the giveaway.
When it comes to using the power of your customers to reach a wider audience, a “refer-a-friend’ feature will give you the best results. You’ll get your current users to make personal recommendations to their peers online to participate in your giveaway.
An important part of creating your giveaway is picking an awesome prize. One of the best prizes you can offer is to give away your product for free. It gives your audience a chance to get familiar with your brand and to learn about how your product works.
When setting up your giveaway, make the entry method one where people can participate by sharing your contest via email or social media. The more people share your contest, the more entries, and the higher the chances are that they’ll win something.
For your audience, they now have compelling reasons to be a part of your giveaway. And remember, you want to make the process easy and attractive.
Leverage User-Generated Content
Creating content is not a scalable activity. So, you’re bound to create fresh and high-quality content regularly without any real way to make the process easier or faster.
We’ll probably see faster content creation in the future as AI tools become more commonplace. But for now, we need to rely on more manual methods to generate content.
Meanwhile, you can get more content without actually creating it yourself. You do this by making use of user-generated content (UGC) that’s freely available online. UGC is content made by your audience that they share on social media or on forum discussions.
Look for brand mentions and hashtags to see what people are posting about your business and products. If you use a social listening tool, you’re far more likely to pick up content you’d otherwise miss from a basic search on social media.
Sharing your audience’s images and posts on your own social media does a few things:
- It engages people since they’ll be delighted that you’ve recognized their content and credited their work.
- Gives you free and relevant content for your social media.
- Creates social proof that other people use your product.
You can also create another giveaway contest, but one focused on generating UGC. In this way, you make use of your audience’s content to win over new customers.
Now Your Customers Are Marketing for You
There you go. We’ve just covered a few effective strategies that you can use to have existing customers help grow your brand. You’ll have instant results from some of them, like the refer-a-friend giveaway, and will see longer-term outcomes from building a community. Combine these steps to get the best effect for your business.
The power of social proof can be your biggest strength if you want to build your brand image. You can always create ads for your business, but the result is that you’re making a one-way marketing effort in which people are being told what to think.
But with the strategies mentioned above, you aren’t telling but showing people that there are solid reasons for them to trust you.