5 Ways to Increase Holiday Sales by Leveraging Brand Advocates
Whether your company sells TVs, computers, clothes or home goods, we all know the holiday season is the most crucial time of the year for retail brands.
In preparation for the holidays, many retailers are bumping up their ad spend, cutting prices or offering free shipping to get the attention of consumers. But guess what? Your prospects are bombarded by advertising messages every day and they're tuning you out. They're looking to their friends, social networks, review sites and elsewhere online for recommendations. In fact, Nielsen found that 92 percent of consumers trust word-of-mouth and only 33 percent trust online banner ads.
So before dumping cash into traditional pre-holiday marketing methods, consider investing in your brand advocates to drive recommendations and sales for your products. Brand advocates are your most passionate and loyal customers. They're eager to support, promote and defend your brand, and the best part is, they'll do it for free. They don't need perks or incentives to share their enthusiasm. They do it because they've had a great experience with your product(s) and they want to help others.
Here are five ways that your brand advocates can help increase your holiday sales:
1. Advocates will boost online ratings on shopping sites. Did you know that four out of 5 consumers would reverse a purchase decision based on negative online reviews? Your company can't afford to lose sales over a few bad comments. Fight back by giving advocates the opportunity to share their positive reviews where prospective customers are lurking.
2. Advocates will share offers with their friends on social networks. Advocates are avid sharers. They'll gladly share an offer or discount via Facebook, Twitter, email and elsewhere so their friends can enjoy the same great experience they've had. Amplified by social media, advocates will help you reach thousands to millions of holiday shoppers at a fraction of the cost of paid media.
3. Advocates will accelerate purchase decisions and help reduce shopping cart abandonment rates. According to Forrester Research, seven out of 10 online shopping carts are abandoned before a sale is completed. This is an even bigger problem for companies selling high-ticket items like TVs or computers. However, because advocates are trusted and influential, their recommendations can speed up purchases that may have been considered for weeks or months to days or even hours.
4. Advocates will increase inbound clicks and traffic. The average clickthrough rate for advocate-shared content (e.g., the reviews and testimonials they create) plus branded content and offers is about 50 percent. This is about 10 times higher than clickthrough rates for traditional online marketing.
5. Advocates will get you new customers - and for less. A VoIp provider is acquiring customers for 54 percent less than other online marketing channels by getting its advocates to share promotional offers with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, email and other channels.
Advocacy is the engine that powers the retail industry. Don't wait to activate your brand advocates; the time is now to amplify the enthusiasm of your best customers to drive sales and recommendations for the holiday season.
Rob Fuggetta is the founder and CEO of Zuberance, a social media marketing company. He's also the author of "Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force" (Wiley, 2012).