Telling Your Brand’s Story: Turning Loyal Consumers Into Brand Advocates

How Amer­i­can Express, Uber, Yelp, and Bad Yogi have inspired their audi­ences to become active par­tic­i­pants in their brand sto­ries.

Brittney Sheffield By Brittney Sheffield from The Home Depot. Join the discussion » 0 comments

It’s one thing for a brand to be used fre­quent­ly by its con­sumers. When a brand is able to turn their con­sumers into advo­cates who mar­ket their prod­ucts or ser­vices for them, they forge a more cer­tain path to suc­cess. This jour­ney begins with a sol­id prod­uct, ser­vice, or idea – but it most def­i­nite­ly doesn’t end there.

The qual­i­ties that make a brand love­able can vary, but there’s a trend in what sep­a­rates tru­ly engag­ing brands from the rest. It takes a qual­i­ty prod­uct, ser­vice, or idea cou­pled with smart dig­i­tal strat­e­gy and a gen­uine con­nec­tion with con­sumers for a brand to cre­ate advo­cates out of loy­al cus­tomers. We can all learn from four brands (Amer­i­can Express, Uber, Yelp, and Bad Yogi) that have trans­formed the way their audi­ences live their dai­ly lives and have cre­at­ed brand advo­cates out of con­sumers by uti­liz­ing mul­ti-chan­nel dig­i­tal strate­gies.

American Express Inspires Customers To Earn Rewards

Near­ly every Amer­i­can Express mar­ket­ing mes­sage that is cre­at­ed seems to act as a reminder of the end­less oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to us thanks to their cred­it cards and the rewards you accu­mu­late by using them. Time and time again Amer­i­can Express per­me­ates our thoughts with these mes­sages through email, TV ads, YouTube videos and microsites ded­i­cat­ed to telling touch­ing sto­ries of their cus­tomers. Amer­i­can Express has cre­at­ed a cul­ture around a piece of plas­tic that allows you to do the things you love. Their advan­tage is that they can afford to cre­ate count­less, authen­tic dig­i­tal touch points to tell the sto­ry of their con­sumers, but by find­ing low­er bud­get ways to demon­strate how your cus­tomers can use your ser­vices in a unique way you can inspire oth­er cus­tomers or poten­tial cus­tomers to do the same.

Uber Turns Riders Into Party Hosts

Uber runs many dig­i­tal­ly inte­grat­ed cam­paigns. For exam­ple, its part­ner­ship with Spo­ti­fy allows rid­ers to play their own music while they ride. Now, Uber Events is expand­ing so that host­ing an evening with your friends and secur­ing safe rides home for every­one at the end of the night is eas­i­er than ever. Uber has lever­aged its trust­ed email chan­nel to car­ry this cam­paign. Uber Events allows hosts to cre­ate an event, receive Uber pass­es via email, and dis­trib­ute them to friends in advance of their event. Hosts can use one code for all guests or cre­ate cus­tom codes and event details so the codes are used on the right day. This is a smart dig­i­tal strat­e­gy because Uber is using email and, essen­tial­ly, refer­ral codes (a dig­i­tal chan­nel and deliv­ery method that con­sumers know and trust the brand to exe­cute prop­er­ly) to encour­age con­sumers to use a ser­vice peo­ple may oth­er­wise find over­ly com­plex. Addi­tion­al­ly, Uber has found a way to get its con­sumers to tell oth­ers about its ser­vice by help­ing them host a fun evening. If your brand has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to serve cus­tomers in a way that is a bit uncon­ven­tion­al, then uti­lize dig­i­tal chan­nels and strate­gies that your con­sumers already trust and are famil­iar with to exe­cute the idea. Inno­vate with the lifestyle of your audi­ence in mind, but always build off of the things you’re already good at.

Yelp Incentivizes Consumers Online & Offline

Yelp Sticker Yelp entices its users to write reviews in a few ways. At its most basic lev­el, Yelp acts as a con­ve­nient record-keep­ing tool for users that tells users where they’ve been, what they liked and what they hat­ed all in one place. Not to men­tion it acts as a reli­able source for find­ing high­ly rat­ed busi­ness­es for its con­sumers to try. With Yelp Elite Squad the com­pa­ny encour­ages users to post real reviews, pho­tos and tips about what to do with­in their local com­mu­ni­ty, and then nom­i­nate them­selves or oth­ers to become part of the Yelp Elite. The ben­e­fit for the user is pret­ty straight­for­ward; earn a spe­cial Yelp Elite badge for your pro­file, get invites to exclu­sive par­ties, and meet oth­er Yelp Elites with sim­i­lar inter­ests. Yelp has cre­at­ed a sta­tus that pro­vides real ben­e­fits to its users in a way they love. By reward­ing actions that Yelp users would have tak­en with­out incen­tive at all, they’ve aligned cus­tomer inter­est with their busi­ness goals. An engaged user base and authen­tic reviews help Yelp gain more users and encour­age busi­ness­es to use their ser­vices. Yelp is using offline incen­tives to dri­ve online engage­ment, and it’s work­ing. In Yelp’s Q3 finan­cial update they report­ed page vis­its had grown 40 per­cent year-over-year and local adver­tis­ing rev­enue totaled $115.9 mil­lion – a 36 per­cent growth com­pared to Q3 2014. Your brand can recre­ate some of Yelp’s strat­e­gy, by deter­min­ing what aspects of your prod­uct or ser­vice are inher­ent­ly use­ful or cap­ti­vat­ing for con­sumers and cre­at­ing addi­tion­al online and offline incen­tives to increase engage­ment.

Bad Yogi Gives Its Audience What They Want By Asking For Their Participation

Bad Yogi was found­ed to rede­fine yoga cul­ture. It val­ues peo­ple and prac­tices that don’t fit the typ­i­cal “yogi” mold. The founders struck a chord with a group of peo­ple who obvi­ous­ly felt the same way. Ear­ly on the Bad Yogi mantra was an idea and a 30-day Yoga Chal­lenge host­ed on YouTube. It has evolved into more than 100 videos, cus­tomized yoga cours­es, swag and a fol­low­ing of more than 100,000 Bad Yogis. The founders like­ly had some indi­ca­tion that they were on to an idea that many peo­ple would agree with, and they quick­ly pur­sued a few dig­i­tal strate­gies which kept them on the right track. Since its found­ing in 2012, Bad Yogi videos have had more than 3 mil­lion views. Through engag­ing dig­i­tal tac­tics, they get at the heart of what their audi­ence wants from their brand. Bad Yogi Facebook Mentions Bad Yogi reg­u­lar­ly takes advan­tage of sur­veys, email pro­mo­tions, and more recent­ly Live via Face­book Men­tions, which allows live video stream­ing capa­bil­i­ties for pub­lic fig­ures on the plat­form. Bad Yogi uses Live for Q&A ses­sions with their audi­ence. Some­times these ses­sions are more focused on what is hap­pen­ing in the lives of the founders, but they also focus on what the Bad Yogi audi­ence would like to see in future yoga-relat­ed videos that the team plans to cre­ate.

Making These Examples Work For You

The best brands, no mat­ter their size, bring a sin­cere lev­el of per­son­al engage­ment to prod­ucts or ser­vices that may oth­er­wise be con­sid­ered imper­son­al. Brands that find a way to make pur­chas­es a delib­er­ate and cel­e­brat­ed deci­sion for their con­sumers will always stay ahead of the pack. Find ways to con­nect with your con­sumers on a per­son­al lev­el. Then use the dig­i­tal tac­tics you’re good at, the tech­nol­o­gy you have on hand, and con­sumer feed­back and sto­ries to cre­ate even bet­ter expe­ri­ences that turn your con­sumers into active par­tic­i­pants in your brand’s sto­ry.

Brittney Sheffield

Written by Brittney Sheffield

Associate Search Manager, The Home Depot

Brittney is an experienced digital marketer specializing in SEO, content and agile project management. She's currently an Associate Search Manager at The Home Depot and previously worked agency-side as a digital strategist, marketer and scrum master.

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