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Three things to consider to build an effective ecommerce advocacy and influencer programme

Brand advocacy and influencer marketing is gradually becoming the most effective way to drive traffic and sales especially with the decline of traditional outbound marketing. You need more than billboards, banner ads and commercials to win over modern consumers. But as said, you need to know how to do it right. Here are three things you need to consider to build an effective brand advocacy and influencer program for your ecommerce brand.

What do most talked-about brands do differently than yours? They create a special bond with their buyers by promoting brand advocacy. These brands are always looking for new ways to get their messages to their target audience. And the message itself are no more simple marketing messages as buyers today tend to tune out such messages even if they contain excellent content. Buyers rather rely on their peers and colleagues to make a purchase decision.

The big brands understand this and try to use it to their advantage. They use advocacy and influencer programs in order to better reach their potential customers as “brand advocates are 50 per cent more likely to influence a purchase.” These brands not only turn the existing customers into company fans but also empower them; thus creating multiple promotional conversations instead of focusing on a one-way marketing channel.

The increasing popularity of social media is largely responsible for growing trend of brand advocacy and influencer programs. The voices of customers have been amplified by social channels like Facebook and Twitter. Allowing happy customers to speak about your brand can therefore have a significant and positive impact on your bottom line.

In this post we will discuss the three most important things you need to consider while building a successful and sustainable advocacy program. But before that, let’s consider what are influencers and why your brands need them.

Influencers and their importance for your brand

Word of mouth marketing is nothing new. Marketers have been leveraging this since years. And in this age of social media, recommendations and criticisms spread faster than a wildfire. Brands therefore need to reach out to influencers and niche promoters who are active on blogs and social landscape to promote their products and services within their network. And if you are to believe Jay Baer, one of the most inspirational marketing and customer service speaker: “True influence drives action, not just awareness.”

Your influencers should therefore be contextual fit for your brand who not only expose your brand to their friends and followers but can also drive leads. For example, Katy Perry or Justin Bieber with their over 71 million and 64 million followers respectively on Twitter are perhaps the best influencers for a fashion or lifestyle brand. But what good would their tweets about your B2B brand do? It can hardly bring in sales. Context is therefore the key when targeting your brand advocates and influencers.

The importance of influencers for your brand can’t be stated enough. Customers trust third-party recommendations more than your well-crafted marketing messages. In a more personal context, a brand advocate or influencer is the mutual friend who connects your target audience with your brand. And the best part about brand advocacy and influencer programs is that your influencers not only bring in their audience but also the network of their audience. This means, you are expanding your market reach by simply leveraging the loyalty of your influencers’ audience.

Brand advocacy and influencer marketing is gradually becoming the most effective way to drive traffic and sales especially with the decline of traditional outbound marketing. You need more than billboards, banner ads and commercials to win over modern consumers. But as said, you need to know how to do it right. Here are 3 things you need to consider to build an effective brand advocacy and influencer program for your ecommerce brand.

1. Define your brand advocates/influencers

When building your brand advocacy and influencer programs, the first thing you need to consider is your advocate network. Who are your brand advocates or influencers? Remember the Katy Perry and Justin Bieber example we gave earlier. Your influencers must be a contextual fit for your products and services.

You need the right people in your brand advocate networks, otherwise it won’t serve your purpose. Create a robust brand advocate recruiting and screening process, targeting people who can influence your target audience. The best place to begin is your most loyal customers, especially those who are popular in your current communities. Gradually expand your reach and build relationships with other influencers in your particular industry.

2. Look beyond their Klout score

More often than not, marketers emphasise on recruiting people with high Klout scores as their influencers. But this is a big and a common mistake. Now we are not disregarding the importance of Klout as a social influence score but there is more to it than you may realize. Klout influence score is based on the number of audience you have and the number of conversations you create. It however fails to determine the real influence.

For example, an influencer with high Klout score can actually have zero influence over the audience you are targeting. As said, you don’t need a brand advocate with a large audience but someone who can influence your customers. The macro influencers like celebrities and marketing gurus can only drive awareness but here you are looking for people who can drive sales.

Your focus should therefore be on micro influencers who can actually influence your target customers’ buying decisions. Get them to talk about your product and recommend them to reach a larger audience and leverage more qualified leads.

3. Organic advocacy or a paid one

This is perhaps the most important thing you need to consider when building your brand advocacy and influencer program. It is more like what do you prefer: Organic love or paid love? Of course, organic advocacy is the best option for a brand as the recommendation comes from their love for your brand. Apple never pays their fans to recommend their brand; rather, these people are irrationally loyal to their brand and that’s what (the love for the brand) encourages them to talk about it. You will never find the similar passion in a person who is being paid to do the same thing.

You can also create a similar kind of brand love. Pick your loyal customers who want to engage with your brand. With proper customer service and loyalty programs you can easily turn these loyal customers into brand evangelists who will willingly spread positive word of mouth about your brand, even if there is no monetary reward. Your advocate network should include more of these people.

Conclusion

It takes time to create a successful advocacy and influencer program for your ecommerce brand. It is a long-term strategy where you need to plan ahead and engage with your brand advocates and influencers on a regular basis. Invest in building strong relationships; show them you really care. And if you can do this right, these people will have your back whenever you need them.