Creating the Ultimate Brand Advocate through Survey Research

Creating the Ultimate Brand Advocate through Survey Research

All businesses should strive to create the ultimate brand advocate, or at least attempt to form some degree of brand advocacy. 

This is because brand advocates play a major role in strengthening a business; they raise brand awareness, help brands acquire new customers, reinforce brand trust with existing customers and even vitalize brand equity

Brand advocates influence 50% of purchasing decisions. In addition, a heaping 92% of online customers trust recommendations from their social circle; clearly, brand advocates are integral players when it comes to helping businesses achieve success, as they make word-of-mouth marketing possible.

This article explains what a brand advocate is, along with describing the importance of brand advocacy, what makes a strong advocate and how surveys help brands obtain a loyal brand advocate.  

Understanding Brand Advocacy

A brand advocate is a person who shares positive feedback about their experience and patronage with a company across their network and through various means and media. 

Unlike a partnership or an endorsement, brand advocacy doesn’t rely on influencers, though they too can become brand advocates. A brand advocate works without any incentive other than their appreciation for a brand. This means, they do all of their advocacy for free

Although typically associated with word-of-mouth marketing, a brand advocate can support a company via social media channels, online reviews, forums, chat rooms, emails, and other electronic and non-electronic means.

A brand advocate can also express their satisfaction with a company through their own content, whether it is a blog post, images or videos of their using a product or interacting with a company. 

This kind of advocate acts as a representative of a brand community, showing others how a brand and its offerings are valuable. Their support for a company is entirely voluntary, thus, they want to take part in advocacy but don’t have to, as they aren’t getting paid for it

Brand advocates are usually enthusiastic, and outspoken ambassadors, that rank as promoters in an NPS survey. When businesses identify and leverage ambassadors to drive new business opportunities, they are using brand advocacy.

Examples of Brand Advocacy

Brand advocacy can include various actions. It works best when advocates do it authentically because, although brand advocacy can include influencers, this kind of marketing is unpaid and completely organic.

A few examples of the work that brand advocates can provide include:

  • Personal (word-of-mouth) recommendations to friends, family and colleagues
  • Social media posts 
  • User-generated content (UGC)
  • Customer referrals
  • Reviews
  • Participating in (or building) customer communities
  • Mentions in forums
  • Link-dropping

What Makes a Good Brand Advocate

In addition to recommending a brand privately, a good brand advocate is anyone who doesn’t shy away from publicly supporting and praising a brand and its products and services.

A valuable brand advocate is one who proactively promotes your business through various outlets and media. Such an advocate is typically a customer but they can virtually be anyone, such as employees, executives, partners and influencers who are genuinely satisfied with your brand and are happy to publicly show their support for it.

The more ideal brand advocates are loyal, have a high customer lifetime value (CLV), have an online reach and closely represent your company’s values and personality.

As aforementioned, a brand advocate works best when they act authentically; no one likes being marketed to under the guise of genuineness. That’s why most advertisements and the like are marked as such. Ex: “paid partnership with…”  

When your advocates’ values align with your brand, their advocacy appears to be far more authentic than it would otherwise. This also means that these advocates are in a better position for reaching your target market, as they typically have a network full of people with like-minded interests and views.

For example, if you are an activewear company, a strong brand advocate will have a fitness background, such as that of a worker in the space or someone who takes their fitness routine seriously. 

It is especially important for your brand advocates to be real users of your product, service or experiences, as this kind of authenticity carries the core strength beyond brand advocacy: that of brand trust.  

This concept makes a brand advocate much more useful and impactful than an influencer, as paid influencers promote products they wouldn’t normally use, making it easy to label their efforts as product placement.

When your brand advocate isn’t affiliated with your company, their support is seen as more genuine and influential to potential customers.

Finally, engaged employees can also be ideal brand advocates, as they are loyal to a company and share their workplace experiences and culture as employee brand advocates. They share these experiences on their social media and other outlets.

The Importance of Brand Advocacy

Brand advocacy is not merely an added benefit for marketing departments and their corresponding businesses at large. It carries major importance for businesses on several fronts. 

First off, a successful brand relies on positive public perception, as this is the core of a business’s reputation. Brand advocacy contributes to this with positive messaging and other content that reinforces a brand’s strengths to the masses.

Secondly, customers who share their positive reviews and experiences about a brand on social media and other digital spaces can reel in new customers. As such, a brand advocate helps increase customer acquisition, which is often more expensive than customer retention

In this way, a brand advocate positively influences your sales. In fact, as the intro mentioned, brand advocates influence a hefty 50% of all purchase decisions — that’s a significant amount of revenue brought in via free marketing efforts

Brand advocacy is a must, as it renders a company to stand out in a crowd of competitors. This makes a brand seem more trustworthy than its competitors with few or no advocates. Brand advocacy operates as a powerful publicity machine beneficial for all types of organizations, from B2C retailers to B2B companies and even charities. 

Brand advocacy also encourages consumer loyalty. This is crucial, given that customer retention costs companies less than acquisition and yields more profits than acquisition. Retention drives 52% of revenue, whereas acquisition drives about 45%.

Brand advocacy and customer loyalty have a symbiotic relationship, in that brand advocates influence existing consumers to remain loyal, while loyal customers can be so committed to a company that they too become brand advocates. 

Brand advocacy also builds trust. When consumers trust a company, whether it is in its service, product promises or delivery of values, it will patronize it instead of its competitors. It will also remain in their minds as opposed to other companies in the same niche. 

Why? Consider this: a brand with brand trust is valuable, desirable and therefore memorable, whereas a brand without it is seen as just another fish in the sea, another filler or placeholder for the main player. In this case, the evident key player is the brand with brand trust. 

Brand advocacy is also important for content marketing strategy, as it boosts content creation. Whenever a brand advocate includes a brand in their social media, video or blog content, they’re providing free marketing. This becomes useful for SEO, when they include links to the brand, which can drive their readers and followers to your website.

You can also ask your brand advocates to contribute to your blog or other content assets, such as a testimonial. Content is king for a reason, as it keeps your website from becoming stagnant. A high content volume also contributes to brand awareness.

Finally, brand advocates can help expand a business’s target market. This is because advocates help convert members of audiences that are not part of a business’s target market. For example, a local gym may notice that most of its clientele are people ages 18-40. However, a brand advocate may encourage and convince a 60-year-old to frequent this gym.

How Surveys Allow Brands To Obtain Brand Advocates

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are brand advocates; rather they are cultivated personas that have to be assured of a brand’s excellence in products, services and experiences. 

Brand advocacy is also built through connections. When customers experience strong connections, they connect with brands. Whether it is through brand messaging, values or their CX, when customers form a connection with a brand, they trust it, and brand trust is the gateway to brand advocacy

But to build this trust, businesses need to first have a strong grip on their target market. As such, they need to study their consumers through easy and practical means. That’s where survey research comes into play as the key practice in primary market research.

Surveys are the most potent tools when it comes to studying a customer base, as they provide firsthand insights from the customers themselves. These insights include information on their customer buying behavior, their likes, hobbies, aversions, opinions, desires, needs, behaviors and virtually all else.

Surveys can be deployed to the masses, across a wide geographic area and tinkered so that only the respondent with the desired demographics, localities and even behavioral qualities are qualified to take part in the study. 

That way, businesses only observe the most relevant respondents and gain answers to their most pressing inquiries

Surveys provide brands with a window into the minds of their target market, allowing them to better market to them, serve them, and most importantly, understand them to cater to them properly and make them feel seen and heard.

Best of all, they are quick to complete, both in terms of deployment and completion of the surveys themselves, should you use the correct online survey platform, that is.

Forming Meaningful Connections with Consumers

Brand advocates are key players for businesses, as they not only posit them in a positive light, but sing their praises to their network of family, friends, colleagues and peers, along with third parties. All companies can therefore benefit from brand advocates

Surveys are the go-to tools for learning about and fully understanding your customers. While there are many online survey providers, they are not all built with the same capabilities and functionalities. Businesses should therefore choose wisely by opting for a potent online survey platform.

This kind of survey provider should offer an agile platform, one that can easily allow brands to take part in an agile research strategy. It should be a mobile-first platform, as mobile use dominates the digital space.  

It should also include advanced skip logic to route respondents to relevant follow-up questions, use artificial intelligence and machine learning to skout out low-quality data, have a wide range of filtering data options and engage respondents in their natural digital environments via random device engagement (RDE) sampling.

When brands use such an online survey platform, they are on the right track towards studying all their consumer segments and building the ultimate brand advocate.

How to Build Brand Trust With Surveys

How to Build Brand Trust With Surveys

Businesses must reach a sense of brand trust, as it reflects customers’ expectations of a brand being able to fulfill its promises about its products, services and experiences.

As such, all businesses must work towards securing a strong sense of brand trust, as no business is immune to customers who don’t trust it. 

Although large companies carry high brand equity and therefore seem to be at an advantage when it comes to brand trust, 76% of consumers trust small businesses more than large.

However, this doesn’t mean that small companies automatically have more brand trust and can reap all of its benefits. All brands have to establish this concept for themselves, as lacking it has dire consequences. 81% of customers say that they will only buy from a brand they trust, which leaves the brands that they don’t trust at a major disadvantage, one that will undoubtedly harm their revenue. 

This article explores the notion of brand trust, its importance, benefits, how to achieve it through five common ways and how survey research helps brands attain this consumer confidence.

Understanding Brand Trust

Brand trust gauges how much confidence a target market has in a business. Customers exhibit their trust in a brand as a kind of willingness to rely on the ability of a brand to perform its key functions and the other promises a brand makes, whether they are in the form of advertisements, social media, their website, their marketing content or otherwise.

Brand trust typically arises after customers evaluate companies' offerings. However, there is much more involved in trust-building. Customers, therefore, don't merely assess offers; rather, they weigh a company’s promises against their products, services and experiences. 

This involves CX (customer experience), the total of all the feelings that customers undergo throughout their customer buying journey

The concept of brand trust is rooted in a brand’s reputation, as such, it carries all the important aspects of maintaining a good reputation with customers and the general public. It should thus come as no surprise that brands with poor reputations struggle, while brands with good reputations strive. 

It may take longer for brands to establish a healthy level of brand trust when it is new, virtually unknown or untested, or in times of reputational crises. As for the latter, it can emerge during scandals, significant bad reviews, poor social mentions and more. 

The Importance of Brand Trust

This business concept is important for various reasons, most prominently because the way consumers, especially a target market, feels about business matters. Trust is important, as it is one of the most positive feelings that customers can have towards a brand. 

Brand trust brings value to a target market. While some situations may prompt customers to buy from a brand they don’t trust, these are nothing but one-off instances of need and lack of other options. Trust, on the other hand, fosters consumer loyalty, the bedrock of repeat sales, aka customer retention. It is no wonder that an increase in brand trust correlates with a higher customer retention rate

As such, when brands build trust, customers reward them with ongoing loyalty, a long-lasting relationship in which customers don’t merely buy from the same brand, but choose it over competitors time and again. In this way, the continuous support brands attain with brand trust yields a higher CLV, or customer lifetime value.

CLV denotes the total monetary value a customer will bring to a business during their relationship with the business across their lifetime. Given that brand trust incites customers to continuously purchase from the same brand, it positively ties in with customers’ CLV. Thus, the longer relationships present in retention spur more monetarily valuable customers.

Aside from valuable customers, brand trust is crucial to a company's livelihood, as it softens the blow of a reputational crisis. This is because customers who are loyal will continue to engage and purchase with a company they trust, as opposed to a company they have little or no trust in. As such, brand trust serves as a kind of security blanket, enabling companies to take more risks. 

Brand trust also forges brand advocacy. When a happy customer becomes a recurring customer, they tend to speak out about their positive CX, therefore becoming a customer advocate. Customer advocates help brands obtain brand awareness and augment their brand visibility, reputation and overall branding efforts. 

They do this by spreading rave mentions about the brand they trust on social media, forums, review sites, brand websites’ comment and review sections, along with via word of mouth. This is tremendously important for a business, as customer advocates do many of the things that salaried marketing and PR employees do, but for free.

Finally, when a brand reaches high levels of brand trust, it is not only setting itself up for a better reputation and higher sales, but it is growing in its potential to be a key player in the cultural trends of an industry. Sometimes, this potential may carry over to greater cultural relevance, such as being a household name of a product that represents an entire country. 

The Benefits of Brand Trust

brand trust

There are several benefits to brand trust, which complement its importance, as laid out above. These benefits also bring new ideas that support the need to establish and maintain brand trust. The following lists the key benefits of securing a strong sense of brand trust within your business:

  1. Brand trust drives new business, making customer acquisition more feasible.
  2. It makes consumers more receptive to marketing campaigns.
  3. It fosters connections with consumers and drives loyalty.
  4. It allows brands to innovate more, since consumers trust what they.
  5. It makes those who write or speak negatively about a company lose credibility.
  6. It helps brands achieve cultural relevance when strong enough. 
  7. Key benefits such as brand loyalty, advocacy and goodwill allow businesses to overcome various challenges and obstacles.

10 Ways to Build Brand Trust 

There is far more to building brand trust than simply executing a strong product experience. Consumers have growing concerns about the customer experience (CX) that brands promise, along with other promises brands make in their marketing messages, such as their impact on society. 

As such, businesses need to pay attention to other key facets to work towards strengthening, solidifying, and in some cases, establishing brand trust. The following lists include 10 pieces of advice for brands to build trust among their target market and the general public.

  1. Create quality products and services.
  2. Establish optimal omnichannel CX, including digital experience, in-person, over the phone, etc.
  3. Charges reasonable prices.
  4. Offer promotions, sales and customer rewards programs.
  5. Include a generous return policy. 
  6. Treat customers well, whether on a chat, on phone support, etc.
  7. Handle customer service issues quickly.
  8. Keep up your end of promises.
  9. Establish clear communication with customers.
  10. Create consistent content; content is king for many reasons.

How to Forge Brand Trust Through Surveys

Survey research is a proven method of accurately measuring consumer sentiment through customer feedback — when used with the correct online survey platform, that is. Surveys allow businesses to probe as deeply as they wish into virtually any business matter, from product satisfaction to customer effort. When it comes to building trust, surveys allow market researchers and business owners to understand their target market’s needs, desires, expectations and aversions, which essentially tells them all they need to know to build trust. 

Researchers can set up surveys with questions that are as granular as they need, allowing them to zero in on a topic, so that they can identify and apply the proper course of action, whether that entails correcting something, creating a new product feature, changing an existing experience and much more. 

Additionally, researchers can make their sampling pool as granular as possible in the screening section of a survey. In this section, researchers can filter respondents as precisely as they need, setting eligibility requirements on demographics, psychographics, device used and more. 

Researchers can even set restrictions based on how respondents answer additional screening questions, permitting only those who answer in a certain way to take part in the survey. That way, only the qualified respondents will be able to take the survey. 

By providing precise information and quality data, surveys enable businesses to extract only the information that they need to build brand trust. Businesses can deploy as many surveys as they deem necessary. By iterating surveys, brands can gather as many perspectives as possible from their target market, paving the way for new ideas to build and improve trust and maintain statistical accuracy in the findings.

Heightening Your Brand for the Long Term

Brand trust is critical for the survival of any business. Whether you seek to increase sales or customer loyalty, remain relevant or simply to stay afloat, you need to build brand trust for your business.

When your brand consistently delivers on quality, reliability and credibility, it will yield significant benefits, as customers will go to your brand first and repeatedly when they look for products and services in your niche. 

To build brand trust, you must understand your customers as precisely as possible, cater to their needs and form marketing campaigns and promises to begin with. Survey research has transformed businesses' access to consumers, allowing them to reach a wide swath of their target market and extract their feedback and other necessary customer data. 

However, not all online survey platforms are built the same, therefore, they don’t all offer the same capabilities and reap the same benefits. To gain the most quality customer data, businesses must use a strong online survey platform, the kind that offers random device engagement (RDE) sampling to engage respondents in their natural digital environments, uses

You should also use a platform that offers advanced skip logic to route respondents to relevant follow-up questions, one that implements quality data checks via artificial intelligence and machine learning and much more.

When an online survey platform offers these capabilities, businesses gain the most relevant and high-quality consumer data, the kind that allows them to accurately understand their customers’ preferences, expectations and virtually all else. In turn, it allows businesses to feasibly build and improve their brand trust.