How to encourage positive reviews and brand advocacy among customers

When it comes to building your brand and growing sales, turning your highly satisfied customers into brand advocates is one of the best strategies you can deploy. Brand advocates are the people or customers who talk favorably about your business or products, passing along valuable word-of-mouth messages that often influence others to buy.

According to research by Nielsen, the Keller Fay Group, and Forrester, as reported by the brand advocacy solution Zuberance, brand advocates are three times more trusted and influential than paid advertising or other similar media. This means that people who review your business online or talk to other people about your company and products are much more likely to be trusted than paid media, and they are much more likely to influence others’ buying decisions.

Brandy advocacy can produce enormous benefits for your business. According to the McKinsey Quarterly, marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and, according to Deloitte, customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

There are many simple actions that your business can take to elicit positive reviews and use them to start laying the foundation for brand advocacy among your customers. Here are some strategies to encourage and increase positive reviews and help your customers become brand advocates.

1. Give your loyal customers an outlet for sharing information about you

To start and encourage word-of-mouth discussion online, you need to give your loyal customers a way to share their enthusiasm for your brands and products. This can be done in a variety of ways, starting with your social media pages and your company website. If you have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, for example, invite your customers to like and follow your social media pages and then invite them to share or submit reviews. On your website, provide a mechanism for customers to submit reviews and testimonials. Give them a simple tool to help them submit and share their name, affiliation, and comments about your company and products.

2. Use links on your website and promotional materials to promote brand advocacy

Of course, if you have a social media presence, it is important to promote it by providing links to your social media pages on your website and in your marketing materials. Make sure that your customers know that you have pages on social media, and provide them with your Facebook or Linkedin page URL, your Twitter handle, or any other relevant links to sites or services where they can review your company. Encourage them to be active and to share their feedback. You can even create and run contests to encourage customers to share their stories and join the conversation.

3. Make privately collected feedback “shareable”

If you are collecting feedback privately through website submissions or through phone calls, emails, or letters to your business, make sure to convert this feedback into shareable content. You can seek permission from your customers to share these reviews and comments on your website, via social media, or in your marketing materials. This can help increase your positive reviews and ensure that your customers’ voices are heard, regardless of the medium they use to share their enthusiasm.

Also, if you are using a feedback mechanism on your website or other online tools to gather customer reviews, you may also be able to configure them so that customers who submit their reviews can also share them on their social media pages or via email. Give them the tools to share their positive feedback and recommendations with the rest of the world.

4. Use QR codes to drive traffic to your review sites

Similar to using links on your website or in your promotional materials, you can use quick response (QR) codes to direct your customers to the online sites or pages where they can share their stories and positive feedback. QR codes use scanning technology on smartphones and tablet devices, similar to a bar code, which allows users to scan the code and immediately visit a particular web page destination that you specify.

QR codes are now used widely on printed marketing materials and in advertising, and they provide a quick and convenient way for people to visit review pages without having to enter a website address manually. By adding QR codes to your marketing, advertising, newsletters, or other printed materials, you can drive customers to your website or other sites to share their reviews, no matter where they may be, as long as they have access to their smartphone or tablet.

5. Display testimonials on your website, social media, and promotional materials

Once you have gathered positive reviews and feedback from your customers, it is important to display these as testimonials on your website, social media feeds, and in your marketing materials. This helps build trust in your brand, shows prospective customers that you have already succeeded in serving other customers with similar needs, and can even influence other customers to share their reviews as well.

With some social media services and review sites, your customers’ reviews and comments will be immediately visible and available once they are submitted. But, if you are gathering feedback through your own mechanisms or you want to share those social media stories across different channels and media, then make sure that you have secured your customers’ permission and then post their testimonials accordingly.

If a customer shares a great testimonial on your Facebook page or through a heartfelt email, ask her if you can share it on your website and in your promotional materials as well. Re-purposing your positive customer reviews and feedback will help you maintain and encourage the discussion across all of the channels that you and your customers and prospective customers use to communicate about your brand and product.