Fans That Love Your Brand
While brand fans like us may not convert, we’re immensely important to your brand. It’s time to stop focusing all your attention on converting customers and start considering how to engage and retain your fans.
Content Marketing Builds Fans, Not Customers
We all know there’s no point in pursuing content marketing if you’re only looking at conversions. Impressions, reach, and shares matter just as much as the final purchase. Measuring by customers and conversions goes against everything content marketing represents, so why are we suddenly considering looking at customers as the only valuable result? As Rand Fishkin touched on in “The Greatest Misconception in Content Marketing,” the greatest myth is that people absorb brand content and then immediately go to purchase a product. Instead, the path of content marketing is slow and winding, and (no surprise here) it may never end in a conversion.
Content marketing is all about building relationships with people over multiple times, earning their trust through their experience with the brand. It’s about gaining fans, people who have a budding relationship with your brand and care about what you’re saying, not just what you’re selling.
The Differences Between Customers and Fans
Customers buy from you. They shell over money for what you’re selling. For this reason, customers are often valued the highest among a brand’s audience. After all, without paying customers, there would be no business. Yet customers may not love your brand. They may just need an item you’re selling in that moment, or may stumble upon your service, try it out, and then move on. It’s not necessary to have any brand loyalty in order to be a customer. Yet fans are loyal. Brand fans are your cheerleaders. Most of the time, they’re also your biggest customers. But not always.
Research shows only 4.7% of brands fans are responsible for 100% of their social referrals. This statistic applies to referrals that end in conversion – not reach. Even within the measurable fans, a very small percentage is responsible for the majority of word-of-mouth.
Let’s take a deeper look into why the minority of brand fans do the majority of the talking. It turns out, the talking isn’t always all positive. Brand fans seem to take it upon themselves not just to praise their favorite brands, but also criticize them. Sometimes brand fans who double as customers can also serve as your harshest critic.
A study found that 5% of negative product reviews on a site were from customers who never purchased the item. However, these people weren’t bots or fake reviewers – they were real customers and huge brand fans. It turns out that this small percentage was leaving comments on items they had never purchased because they felt it was their duty to voice their opinions on products the company produced, even if they had never bought it. They felt they had enough experience with a brand that they were “self-appointed brand managers.”
This doesn’t mean brand fans should scare you: it means that you need to pay attention to them, for better and worse. Listening up to what these customers are saying can give you insights into customer sentiment that you would never get from an average buyer. Many brands forget about fans who aren’t necessarily customers. These fans love what you represent, even if they may not buy what you’re selling. Or, they love you and buy from you, but not as frequently as your biggest customers. Yet they are much more valuable than customers who buy frequently, because they’re responsible for spreading word-of-mouth marketing that brings you new traffic.
How to Find & Keep Your Brand Advocates
In order to keep your brand advocates, you need to know who they are. Social media is a smart place to start. Look for people who are constantly mentioning you, re-sharing your content, or reaching out to you. Brand fans don’t worship for nothing. It’s important to reach out to them and appreciate them in order to keep their ties strong.
Create a Community From Exclusivity
People like to belong, and a feeling of exclusivity can strengthen this urge. People want to be included in exclusive circles. A lukewarm customer can turn into a fan if they feel they’re in on something special.