Customer Loyalty vs. Brand Advocacy – Why They Are Different

Customer Loyalty vs. Brand Advocacy – Why They Are Different

John Wang
4 July 2017

It’s not uncommon to hear C-suite, sales teams and some marketers using Customer Loyalty interchangeably with Brand Advocacy. However, the two in fact are not the same, and their differences may not be as subtle as you’d think. Regardless of your role or responsibility at your company, it’s imperative to understand why the two are different and what you need to consider for the two.

Let’s check out a couple of different scenarios…

Scenario 1:

Imagine you’re a B2B or B2C business and you sell a particular product or service to Customer A. A is a fan of your offering because they recognize the tangible or intangible value of the offering – be it implied status, functionality, gratification etc. B likes it so much that they come back consistently to renew or repurchase the product from your business.

Scenario 2:

In some cases, it’s possible that Customer A does not even like the product that much, but they come back to renew and repurchase from Business A because of the comfort or convenience factor. While this certainly helps your bottom line, you’re not doing anyone, especially yourself a favour when you recognize this segment and don’t do anything about it.

In both the above scenarios, Customer A may be considered a Loyal Customer of your business, however not yet a Brand Advocate . In several companies, loyalty is only measured by repeat purchases, which both the above scenarios would positively qualify for. However, when you add an additional dimension to gauge actual loyalty through surveys, you’ll find that only Scenario 1 qualifies. This is why businesses need to look beyond financial metric of repeat purchases to measure and ensure true loyalty (cue in Brand Advocacy).

Scenario 3:

Now imagine that Customer A loves your product or service and shares reviews or speaks about your brand or products to others in various forums and on their social channels. They endorse your brand by simply sharing their delightful experience, which in turn, influences others to the value of your offering. Simply put, this Loyal Customer is a Brand Advocate because of the actions they’ve taken to prove they believe in your brand.

The important differentiating factors about Brand Advocates is that they can also be anyone who comes into contact with your brand – employees, journalists and non-customers. Brand Advocates are super fans of your business because they believe in your brand, your customer experience, your mission etc. and will shout your name from the rooftops. The advantages of Brand Advocacy are numerous including word-of-mouth marketing, free testimonials, amplification of your brand and increased brand trust, which will all ultimately positively impact your bottom line by way of new and repeat customers.

To summarize, marketers should not only consider Customer Loyalty but should also expand their outlook to consider Brand Advocates and analyze engagement KPIs like mentions and sentiment. Focusing on only financial KPIs such as repeat purchases will leave room for a competitor to swoop and steal business. To survive in the long term, companies must first ensure a strong brand reputation and have an awesome customer experience before they can build a community of Brand Advocates.

In an ideal world, everyone who comes into contact with your business would be your Brand Advocate. However, this is much easier said than done.

How does your company identify Brand Advocates today? Speak to Meltwater about identifying potential Brand Advocates on social.