16 inspiring examples of customer advocacy (+50 others)
Customer advocacy is one of the best indicators of loyalty and repeat purchase intent, according to Forrester.
Advocates love certain brands precisely because they deliver above — and often well beyond — expectations.
Being satisfied is one thing, but being delighted is something entirely different.
The happiest customers are inclined to say favourable things about your brand, and in this highly connected world in which we now live, that’s the best form of marketing there is.
It’s also one of the cheapest. Why spend vast amounts of budget on low-rent advertising, when you can invest in the customer experience instead?
What drives customer advocacy?
Often, as with many things in life, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Many of the best tactics have a few things in common:
- The personal touch
- Unexpected delight
- The feelgood factor
- Doing the right thing
- Great packaging
- Going the extra mile
- Human voice
- Listening and responding
- Customers buying into the mission
- Customers having brand (or actual) ownership
How to build customer advocacy
Embracing advocacy is straightforward enough… you just need to care enough to bother, and that’s very much a cultural thing. Driving customer advocacy is a team sport.
There are so many specific ways of delighting customers. I’ve identified 66 customer advocacy examples and have bundled them together into an easy to read guide, which you can access for free. Beats writing a very long blog post, and it’s a lot easier to print.
But first, let’s look at a few highlights…
I’ve cherry picked 16 examples from the guide — you can grab the PDF for the other 50. They’re worth checking out.
So then, how can you deliver delightful experiences to customers, to support advocacy?
1. Have amazing brand values
It’s going to be easier to develop customer advocacy if your company is one of the good guys.
Patagonia has a mission statement that is fully in tune with its audience, and it uses it as the basis for its advertising.
2. Be awesome to young people
LEGO won the advocacy lottery by replying to a young fan called Luka, who had lost a minifigure. He got a fantastic response. The letter went viral, with 2.3k retweets on Twitter, and swathes of positive PR.
3. Give people double what they paid for
Cin Cin, an Italian restaurant in Brighton, served up a double helping of an octopus salad to a diner who loved it so much that he ordered a second portion. He was a very happy man.
Note that advocacy extends well beyond our octopus-munching fiend. The act was witnessed by lots of nearby diners.
Also, the network effect ripples out from those in earshot — I actually heard about this from another diner. I shall eat there soon!
4. Add a handwritten note to orders
Sweden-based Ten Points sent a lovely note of thanks with the first order to one happy customer, along with a little edible treat.
There’s a lot to be said for the personal touch. Using the customer’s first name, writing the note rather than printing it, a heart and hugs…
5. Give key customers shares in your company
CraftedCrate achieved early customer growth by offering the first 200 subscribers a chunk of its business. Founder Chris Drummond distributed ‘micro equity’ via Vestd to help acquire customers and encourage loyalty.
These shareholders will want the company to succeed, as they are vested in its growth, and are likely to be more committed customers. You can check out the back story here.
6. Respond to weird customer requests
Pizza Hut was asked to draw a Pokemon on a pizza box for a delivery order. More often than not these requests are perceived as an annoyance by staff, but in this case they honoured the request.
This picture has been viewed almost 179,000 times on Imgur and received 6,200 upvotes on Reddit. An easy win.
7. Embrace the voice of the customer
Waitrose gathers customer reviews online but uses them in its stores, to attract shoppers towards products.
The customer voice is incredibly authentic and persuasive, and it makes sense to use it in key merchandising opportunities like this…
8. Send some free sweets with orders
Firebox has for years sent little goodies with its orders, including free packets of Haribo. Low on the cost front, high on the feelgood factor.
9. Hire humans to pick up the phone
Firstdirect won my business partly because it promises to answer your call in a highly reasonable manner.
That means no automated systems, no “please visit the website” messages, no lousy hold music, no delays. It means a human on the other end, ready to help, after one or two rings.
It shouldn’t be amazing, but it truly is. Bravo!
10. Rename your products if customers really really want you to
Sainsssssssssssssbbbbbbbbbbbburyyyyyyys did the logical thing after receiving this letter from a three and a half year old toddler called Lily.
She wanted to know why Tiger Bread wasn’t called Giraffe Bread. Obviously the bread in question looks more like a giraffe than a tiger.
The supermarket’s brand people duly changed the name of the product, and sent Lily a gift card. It made for a massive PR win.
11. Work with celebs in wonderful ways
Direct Line sent Countdown’s Rachel Riley to drive a family to the airport after their car was stolen. Talk about customer delight…
12. Create beautiful unboxing experiences
Some brands absolutely excel at product packaging, and they also know how to build consumer anticipation, which makes unwrapping newly bought items very special.
Apple is the most obvious example. It’s products sit snugly in beautiful boxes. They even smell good. And this, believe it or not, is worth its weight in advocacy gold.
Try searching for ‘Apple unboxing’ on YouTube. Note the huge quantity of results (and the millions of video views).
13. Like customer love on social channels
PingPong responds to customer feedback on Twitter by replying, and also liking tweets. I often use the like button to bookmark things to read later, but brands can exclusively use it as a way of saying “thanks”.
14. Identify and reward high profile fans
Marmite sent Jeremy Waite (who has a lot of followers on Twitter) a personalised bike, after he said nice things at an event.
15. Let customers return items in store
Neiman Marcus does omnichannel well. It provides customers with the option of returning items via its stores, even if they were bought via the website.
It is prudent to allow consumers to choose the most convenient channel to return items.
16. Invite exclusive customers to exclusive events
Naked Wines has a customer segment called ‘archangels’. These are cherry picked customers of high value and / or influence. It rewards them in a number of ways, including special events.
Customers really love the ‘archangel’ status too…
Want to see the rest?
You can access another 50 examples of customer advocacy here (it’s an easy to read PDF). I hope it proves inspirational in your quest for lots of advocates.
Did I miss something obvious? Leave a comment below if so, or if you’d care to share success stories, or flag other ideas that you’ve seen in the wild.