As the digital landscape continues to develop into 2017, expectations of brand communications has evolved beyond single channels of discovery and consumption. Digital marketers are constantly seeking ways to optimize content, digital ads, and media channels to cut through the clutter, generate buzz, drive engagement, and influence actions. In fact, one-time viral marketing campaigns are quickly losing efficacy due to short-term engagement and lack of depth for ongoing social evolution. To survive in an era where the customer is king, brands must go beyond counting video views and focus on a much more important goal: turning customers into brand advocates.
What is a brand advocate?
Brand advocates are satisfied customers who believe in a brand’s products and services so much that they promote it to friends, colleagues, and peers. The also share brand content on social networks and protect brand reputations with positive perceptions. That’s not to mention they do it for free. A recent study by Influitive and Heinz Marketing suggests that:
- 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral
- 82% of sales leaders say referrals are key to sales success
- 78% of marketers said that referrals have a higher conversion rate compared to any other type of lead.
Buyers trust recommendations from people they know, and in the digital age, word of mouth interactions are readily available through email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and review forums. A strong referral program that builds emotional and behavioral connections with customers will not only help increase profit for brands, but will also drive higher customer lifetime value.
How can businesses leverage brand advocacy?
Businesses that develop strong brand advocacy or referral programs, spend less on advertising and create higher engagement through user-generated content. To be effective, brands should identify the specific reasons behind why people share content and then amplify them. For instance, Jonah Berger, an expert on word of mouth and social influence, recommends crafting content that makes consumers feel like exclusive insiders and in-the-know. In other words, consumers like to share information that makes them look good. Another way to motivate people to talk about a brand is creating memorable, immersive experiences for consumers. When interactivity is executed well, immersive experiences tap into consumer emotions, resulting in a stronger opportunity to connect in a meaningful way. After all, emotions drive people to take action. Lastly, businesses should promote and celebrate their brand advocates to show they are valued and appreciated. When consumers know they are valued, they become attached to the brand through trust.
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What is a mobile messaging app?
Digital marketing reports have suggested that mobile chat is the “next killer app” for 2016. Mobile messaging apps are a cost effective way to send messages and media in real-time from sender to receiver on a mobile device. Unlike smartphone text messages, mobile chat apps are free stand-alone programs that have evolved into mini-platforms, incorporating a wide set of tools like built-in web browsing, shopping, payment options, online communities, web-based video, and on-demand communication. In 2015, AdAge reported that the main contenders in the U.S mobile messaging app space are Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. However, Adweek’s 2016 predictions suggest that global players like WeChat, Line, Kik, and Viber are beginning to become popular among brand marketers and millions of millennials. Most of these mobile messaging apps have similar features, but each offer different tools that impact the way businesses and users engage on these platforms.
Most popular global messenger apps, based on a number of monthly active users.
What does this mean for Google?
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Google is developing a new mobile chat app in efforts to maintain its position as a top search tool. Although Google’s new service is still in the works, reports have suggested that Google plans to develop an “artificial intelligence-enhanced” platform to contend with Facebook owned WhatsApp and Messenger. In fact, The WSJ suggests that Google’s new app would enable users to message one another or a chatbot, a computer program that engages in human conversation. These chatbots have the ability to figure out a range of appropriate responses and remember earlier conversations. For instance, chatbots can help a human troubleshoot IT problems. This way, users won’t have to leave the app to discover new information.
How does mobile messaging apps benefit clients?
According to research conducted by Activate, Inc., mobile messaging apps have grown with 2.5 billion registered users in 2015 and an additional 1.1 billion new users expected by 2018. Mobile chat is a powerful tool for businesses because the stats show consumers prefer to be engaged in this manner. While messaging apps provide excellent personal support, eliminate phone calls, and foster consumer-brand relationships, there are additional benefits for businesses. Given that consumers look to brands to meet immediate needs, mobile chat apps offer an interface for a customer to ask what they want on-demand in a comfortable space. That is, brands can now reach consumers during their purchasing decisions. In addition, specific features of mobile messaging apps give connected consumers access to essential store and product information like inventory availability, product reviews, and a user-friendly shopping cart. With that, mobile messaging platforms provide an opportunity for businesses to tailor their digital marketing strategies in way that will organically insert themselves into mobile conversations.