For organizations adopting a brand advocacy strategy, finding brand advocates is just the beginning. A big part of keeping brand advocates onboard and engaged is incentivizing them. While some organizations may be pursuing a short-term, one-off brand advocacy strategy focused around a particular campaign, those that wish to build long-term, loyal brand advocates must build out a strategy for incentivizing them and motivating them to stay involved.
These incentives can vary, but they must be valuable to the advocates. Advocates will not want to get, or remain, involved if they do not feel that they are being properly compensated for their time, effort, and loyalty. Incentives should gradually increase with the time that advocates have stayed involved, or with the level of engagement. Organizations should consider increasing the value of the reward each time customers share.
While simply offering monetary compensation is an option, it is not a popular way that organizations choose to compensate brand advocates. Monetary compensation is more common with brand influencers, such as a celebrity who gets paid to endorse a skincare product on her Instagram account. With brand advocates, more creative forms of compensation are typically chosen. Some ways that an organization can incentivize and reward brand advocates include:
- Offering products and services in advance. When introducing new products or features, organizations can make them available to brand advocates first. This makes the advocates feel special, for getting first access. It is also a great way for an organization to test a new product or features with loyal customers that may be more understanding with potential flaws or bugs, and more willing to provide feedback.
- Send personalized cards and/or gifts. Brand advocates want to feel that they are appreciated. Sending personalized cards or gifts is a great way to reach out and thank advocates in a way that feels personal to them. Organizations can send thank you letters to loyal brand advocates every so often, or on specific holidays, such as the customer’s birthday. To take it even further, organizations can send “branded swag”, serving as both a thank you gift to customers and another form of marketing.
- Invite them to special events. Organizations can give brand advocates special access to company-sponsored events. They can also host events specifically for brand advocates, giving them an opportunity to connect with one another.
- Highlight top advocates. A great way to encourage brand advocates is by acknowledging the best ones. Organizations can have a “Brand Advocate of the Week”, offering a special reward or prize to the chosen advocate.
- Offer exclusive or VIP offers. Organizations can have offers, products, or features that are advocate-exclusive, which will make advocates feel like VIPs.
- Ask them for feedback. Organizations should make it a point to collect frequent feedback from brand advocates. Advocates will feel like what they have to say matters, and their feedback can be valuable.
In conclusion, a crucial aspect of any brand advocacy program is incentives. Organizations must consider what their advocates desire and value, and what would most drive them to stay engaged and involved as a brand advocate. There are a variety of ways that organizations can incentivize and reward brand advocates, and they should be incorporated into the brand advocacy strategy.
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