Building the Best Brand Advocate

As Web workers, we all strive to provide experiences for our customers that ultimately transform them into loyal and lifelong brand advocates.

But the truth is that the majority of customers don't think much about the companies from which they purchase product, outside of the transaction cycle. In fact, for smaller and medium-sized businesses, finding meaningful support from customers can be a difficult task.

There are, however, some best practices that brands can follow to turn certain website visitors into their most valued customers.

Here are four that you should know:

Market, market, market
Success starts with getting your brand recognized - so market it. The best way to reel in those potentially permanent customers is to keep getting the word out about your business, casting a net wide enough to pull in as many people as possible.

This also means giving them a reason to notice you in the first place. Create promotions that incentivize their patronage, which can mean discounts, deals for a quantity of items purchased or additional accessories/items when customers buy a complementary product.

Evaluate interest
You may have many customers that stand out based on the number of orders they place, but there is always more to it than meets the eye. If these customers have a habit of buying only through promotions, or are only purchasing outlet items, they are probably not in line to become your top revenue generators.

That isn't to say they don't have value, nor that you shouldn't continue to try to cultivate relationships with them. But they may never grow to become your most profitable customers, so instead focus on users who are always coming to your site to shop - not just when you are offering incentives.

Build relationships
The cornerstone of a good business is good customer service. If you want to create the perfect customer, it has to be a two-way street. This requires addressing any issues that your customers may have in a timely and efficient manner, always offering useful information and always being available as a resource whenever the customer may need you.

Brands are expected to take a more active role in giving customers personalized experiences that are relevant to their wants and needs. A little analysis goes a long way, and simply paying close attention to a user's purchasing behavior should provide great baseline insights.

If you're really interested in optimizing your connections and generally streamlining the process, try using a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. There are a number of worthwhile options out there, including, Fiitfu and NetSuite CRM+, plus many others.

Show your appreciation
When it's all said and done, the trick to creating a true brand advocate is to remember that people like to feel appreciated. This is especially true of your premier customers, as they've invested a lot in your business.

Once you've defined this top-tier segment of your audience, establish loyalty programs with them specifically in mind. Not only will they feel as if they are getting rewarded for being such dependable customers, but it will likely also increase repeat purchases.