Despite all of the opportunities the internet has created for brands to market themselves to consumers, brands still covet consumers who sing their praises and help drive sales through word-of-mouth recommendations.

While many brands hoping to drive word-of-mouth buzz focus on courting digital influencers – individuals with large online followings – technology is making it possible for brands to target individuals of all shapes and sizes who will advocate on behalf of the brand, online or offline, to friends, family and acquaintances.

So how can brands assemble an army of everyday brand champions? Here are five ways.

1. Mine order data

Order data is a powerful asset for identifying customers who might be inclined to sing your brand's praises, and there are many ways to slice and dice it.

Order frequency, average order value and customer lifetime value are all worthwhile metrics that can be used to single out customers of interest.

The best thing about order data is that it's accessible; most brands selling products or services to consumers through direct channels have it, own it and can analyze it. 

2. Look who's clicking and forwarding

Subscribers who frequently open, click and/or forward emails may be worth targeting as potential brand champions.

What's more: Email lists can help identify potential brand champions who won't show up in an analysis of order data. Money talks, but brand champions aren't always the customers with the biggest wallets or most extravagant spending habits. 

Many brands, particularly those that are in luxury markets, have a strong base of aspirational consumers who will lend their voices to brands even if they can't yet afford to purchase their goods and services.

Email lists often have many subscribers who are in the aspirational camp. 

3. Use creative proxies

Potential brand champions are everywhere – if brands recognize the signals they send.

For example, an observant retailer with an online wedding registry might recognize that couples choosing to make it a part of their matrimony are expressing a high level of interest in the retailer's brand.

That interest, if developed wisely, can be used to create brand champions.

4. Get social

Brands looking to find influencers look to social media activity, and for good reason: Social media is so easy to monitor.

Thanks to increasingly sophisticated monitoring tools, including newer tools that can analyze the images users are sharing, brands can do more than identify users with the loudest voices.

They can keep track of what consumers are saying about them on social media at a micro level in a scalable fashion, allowing them to locate and target users who aren't online celebrities. 

5. Don't forget the power of customer service

Channels in which customers interact one-on-one with a brand are some of the most powerful for creating brand champions.

Just as delightful experiences are key to encouraging good online reviews, a great customer service experience can instantly create a brand champion for life.

Patricio Robles

Published 23 October, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Peter Cunningham, Product & Marketing at Buyapowa

Customers represent a great and comparatively untapped source of brand champions to refer new customers to your business. Top bloggers and social media celebrities are getting almost as expensive as celebrities in the physical world and while second or third tier influencers can generate a lot of reach when aggregated, they are difficult to find, contact and manage. Customers, on the other hand, are fairly easy to identify and reach if they buy online or if you get contact details in-store as they give you emails, phone numbers etc.. The way to engage them is to ask them to refer their friends, write a review etc and incentivise them properly to become your brand advocates. At Buyapowa we learned that mixing personal rewards, gamification and communal targets achieves the optimal mix of incentivisation.

almost 2 years ago

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