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The Third Stage of the Customer Journey: Achieving Advocacy

by Amobee, September 01, 2016

This is the third post in a series on the customer journey, the ever-evolving model of how people are using technology today. For more, see the intro post; the first stage of the journey, awareness; and the second stage, buy.

Last year, a woman in India went into labor but couldn’t get an ambulance for a ride to the hospital. In desperation, she hailed an Uber. The woman was so appreciative that she named her child “Uber.”

Brand advocacy doesn’t get much better than that. While this consumer represents a small market slice, every marketer hopes to initiate some level of advocacy and bonding among its target market. Doing so is at the heart of encouraging repeat purchases and positive word of mouth – brand building, in other words. And it all boils down to hundreds or thousands of touch points between consumer and brand.

The Power of Data

The value of data can’t be overestimated in the advocacy stage. It helps marketers understand the complexity of their audiences, creating better experiences across the customer journey.

For example, a brand could aim to reach a large cohort like millennials. But do all millennials share the same interests and backgrounds? The answer, of course, is no. Through cluster analysis, Turn uncovered four millennial subgroups based on factors such as income and spending habits. Groups included “Struggling Aspirationals,” a health-conscious, deal-focused group, and “Active Affluents,” including new parents or couples who enjoy travel and outdoor adventures. With data-based insights like these, brands could create more tailored messages that resonate with unique groups.  

A molecular-level understanding of audiences translates to better messaging and a better experience across the customer journey, which “ends” in advocacy and bonding. (In reality, the journey doesn’t end; it’s an ongoing conversation where one phase leads to the next.) Nearly half of marketers say data analytics will have a dramatic impact on the customer experience within the next two years, according to a Forbes survey. And with improved experiences comes customer loyalty.

How Brand Interactions Carry Weight

If the experience is great, there’s a a small, vocal minority who talk up the brand on social media, blogs, reviews and ecommerce sites. Their opinion carries weight as they’re perceived as independent from the brand and its marketing. A Nielsen survey found 66% of respondents said they trusted consumer opinions posted online.

This can be important when it comes to getting advice on a purchase. If you’re in the market for a car and your friend is thrilled with his Toyota Camry, that may help pivot you away from the Ford Fusion you were checking out.

Such latent brand advocacy is best measured in the Net Promoter Score, a simple index developed by Satmetrix that asks consumers on a one-to-10 scale how likely they’d be to recommend a brand, product or service to a friend.

Invariably, the NPS is influenced by brand interactions. While some of that is related to the quality of the product (and thus out of marketers’ control), there are countless other brand interactions that weigh on the NPS. Some cutting-edge brands like Uber, Seamless and Lyft are able to quantify such interactions in real-time because their apps are designed for instant feedback.

Taking a Holistic Approach

Social media, of course, provides a window into brand perception. Marketers can use platforms like Turn to study those perceptions and reactions and address them. If messaging isn’t working, for instance, marketers can adjust it. If the brand makes a social media gaffe, then the brand can make amends.

It’s more difficult to create brand advocates without a holistic approach. That means ensuring every interaction with a consumer is positive. If the brand is a brick-and-mortar retailer, then staff should be trained to be pleasant, helpful and unflappable. If a website or app is slow or buggy, then it should be fixed. Leave these unaddressed and you risk firing up critics. A study by Social Media Marketing University found 56% of negative social media posts occurred because of a bad experience with the brand.

As marketers know, one mistake can overshadow many positive interactions; consumers are more apt to share bad experiences than good ones. For every heroic deed that prompts a consumer to name her child after you, there’s a quotidian faux pas that creates a hater.

That’s what makes advocacy such a valuable stage of the journey – and provides both a challenge and an opportunity for marketers. If done right, advocacy isn’t the end of engagement with customers, but the beginning.

See an overview of all the stages in the customer journey series here


About Amobee

Founded in 2005, Amobee is an advertising platform that understands how people consume content. Our goal is to optimize outcomes for advertisers and media companies, while providing a better consumer experience. Through our platform, we help customers further their audience development, optimize their cross channel performance across all TV, connected TV, and digital media, and drive new customer growth through detailed analytics and reporting. Amobee is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tremor International, a collection of brands built to unite creativity, data and technology across the open internet.

If you’re curious to learn more, watch the on-demand demo or take a deep dive into our Research & Insights section where you can find recent webinars on-demand, media plan insights & activation templates, and more data-driven content. If you’re ready to take the next step into a sustainable, consumer-first advertising future, contact us today.

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