Commentary

This Spring, Use Voice of the Customer to Drive Brand Awareness

Spring has sprung, and for those of us who suffered through the bitterly cold winter (shout out to our readers in the North) – it’s time to come out of hibernation and get moving! 

With people more on the go, spring can be a great opportunity to reach those with the gift of gab (or at least the gift of opinion) to steward and leverage their sentiments for some great brand advocacy.

In fact, earlier this year Facebook passed a milestone with 1.2 billion monthly active users (MAU), which should be a great motivator to look more closely at customers who are actively reviewing, posting and talking about your brand online.

TripAdvisor is one example of a company in the business of soliciting and providing helpful business reviews.  Through the years they’ve honed in on ways to steward their customers to drive brand awareness – not just for the businesses being reviewed, but also for TripAdvisor itself. Let’s take a look at some of their tactics.

Encourage feedback

Take the following email (left). TripAdvisor does a great job of encouraging feedback by gamifying the review process.  Customers can earn titles and badges based on the number and types of reviews they provide. They also send periodic emails that feed into one’s sense of status by indicating the number of people who’ve read their review.

Lesson learned? Consumers have great branding power, so let them do some marketing on your behalf. You can start by providing an area for feedback or recommendations that allows customers to give constructive feedback to help improve their brand experience. You can even incorporate user-generated content (user reviews or merchandise popularity rankings) into your email promotions. This will encourage participation in your community and give people something to buzz about. Respecting your customers enough to solicit their feedback may boost the affinity they have of your brand.

Make it easy to spread the word

Simply encouraging feedback or even making it fun is not a strategy in and of itself – you need to make it easy to spread the word.  TripAdvisor does a good job of taking the referral experience from digital to tangible, making it fun AND easy to do. As you can see in this email, TripAdvisor has emailed one of its best customers to follow up on a car magnet he was sent in the mail and request a few words (easy) or a photo (not so easy) about how he loves and uses the car magnet.  His incentive to provide such feedback is more free gifts.

Other items he’s received in the mail that offer him ways to easily promote TripAdvisor include a luggage tag, which was a free gift for providing a certain number of reviews, and TripAdvisor branded stickers to give his favorite businesses. The business in turn is able to put the sticker on their front doors or wherever they choose.

Following suit, your organization should look for creative, powerful and easy ways to spread the word. As in the case of TripAdvisor, you can even transcend the digital world to “surprise and delight” your best customers with physical tokens of appreciation that amplify your brand image.

Always pay attention

It should go without saying that customer feedback is a conversation and should be treated as such. Always have someone monitoring what’s filtering in. Your customers have taken the time to tell you what they think – capitalize on the dialogue they’ve started and send a note or acknowledgment back. Doing so recognizes the true 1:1 nature of your business relationship and will keep your best customers “fed” and coming back for more.

In conclusion…

The voice of your customer is very strong, surpassing even your own promotional messaging about your brand or product. According to IBM, the biggest influencer on purchase decision is friends’ posts/pins about items purchased or retailers shopped. Nearly 6 in 10 consumers say that friends’ social media posts influence their purchase choices.

This spring, use the voice of the customer to drive brand awareness and get more ROI from your digital and email marketing efforts. Encourage feedback, make it easy to spread the word and always pay attention to what’s coming in. Your customers will feel appreciated and your company will enjoy unmatched branding power by engaging those who are eager to talk about your brand.






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