What is customer advocacy? 8 strategies you need to implement

Learn how this ingenious customer retention strategy will boost your sales and build brand awareness.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Customer retention methods are evolving rapidly, and these include how businesses leverage customer loyalty. While false advertising and fake online reviews have created a lot of scepticism, genuine customer advocacy has emerged as a pertinent and powerful strategy for building trust and reaching new audiences.

Customer advocacy involves fostering close relationships with your existing customers, transforming them into vocal supporters of your brand. They can bring their friends, family, or followers on board via peer-to-peer recommendations.

This article delves into the key principles and practical strategies of effective customer advocacy, so you can implement it in your own marketing plan and cultivate a community of enthusiastic brand champions.

What is customer advocacy?

Customer advocacy is when satisfied customers report positively about a brand, product, or service. This can encompass various actions, such as writing online reviews, sharing experiences on social media, or simply recommending the brand to friends and colleagues.

Proper customer advocacy requires the customer to come first. Impressing your customers from your very first interaction means they’ll be more likely to praise the experience they had with your business.

For example, a local bakery might encourage its customers to post a Google Review of the business. Interested locals who see a positive review may decide to pop in and sample some baked goods, turning them into regular patrons.

What is a customer advocate?

Customer advocates are the chosen consumers or clients who can act as spokespeople for your brand. They’re more than fans; they share your posts and actively promote your business.

An advocate’s endorsement should carry weight. The best advocates garner large online reach and engagement, and boast top industry recognition.

Organic influencers as opposed to paid influencers can be a great example of customer advocacy. They generally have a tight-knit community of social media followers who genuinely support a company and voluntarily share their experiences or opinions about it online without being paid.

Why is customer advocacy important for SMEs?

Customer advocacy offers significant advantages for SMEs and addresses two key challenges: limited budgets and lack of brand awareness.

Good word-of-mouth from advocates can build trust and confidence for those who are unfamiliar with the organisation, especially for smaller firms that lack established brand recognition.

Retaining existing customers and nurturing them into advocates is also significantly cheaper than acquiring new ones, making customer advocacy a smart way to improve reach without requiring significant marketing spend.

In fact, our own research found that UK businesses will invest more in nurturing strong customer relationships than in AI in 2024.

Another benefit to creating customer advocates in your early stages is the insights they bring. Advocates can provide valuable feedback into your goods and services, which can be used to tailor your offerings to meet customer needs for a positive feedback loop.

Benefits of customer advocacy in the UK

It’s no longer enough to say your product or service is ‘the best’. Today’s businesses need to prove it with real-life cases where customers say it for you. Here’s how customer advocacy can supercharge your marketing materials:

  1. Relevant audiences: compared to traditional advertising, where your message might reach a broad and potentially irrelevant audience, choosing your own customer advocates allows you to focus on your ideal demographic.
  2. Competitive advantage: today’s crowded business landscape means branded content can easily be drowned out by rivals. Passionate advocates who are speaking from their own channels can amplify your messaging, giving firms an advantage over competitors.
  3. Long-term strategy: customer advocates aren’t just with your brand for a one-off campaign. They’re loyal customers who might buy your products for years, building loyalty and trust for long-term wins and returns.
  4. Improved employee engagement: happy customers means a happier organisation. Knowing their work is valued and appreciated by the end-user boosts employee morale, leading to a more engaged and motivated workforce believing they’re doing meaningful work.
  5. Increased Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): CLV is a measure of how valuable a customer is to your business. Finding relevant sales leads is the ideal way to build a loyal audience who will make repeat purchases and prove more valuable in the long-term.

Strategies for building customer advocacy

The trick to building a loyal fanbase of eager brand advocates is to make the experience as simple and effortless as possible for the consumer. Here are five strategies to smoothly turn a sales prospect into a promoter:

1. Deliver exceptional customer service

Customers are more likely to champion a brand they had a good experience with. That means your customer service teams must master eight important customer service skills, such as empathy, product knowledge, and problem-solving.

2. Create personalised experiences

Whether it’s a thank-you card in their Vinted parcel, or a special discount offer sent on their birthday, tailoring your customer service is a great way to make customers feel special and valued by your brand inspiring greater loyalty.

3. Encourage customer feedback and testimonials

Customer reviews are a great way to reassure new sales leads that your business is what it claims to be. Buyers are impatient, so make leaving feedback as easy as possible. Star ratings and a comment box will give customers a quick way to share their thoughts.

4. Establish loyalty programs

The best way to encourage advocacy behaviour is to reward it. Particularly in today’s economy, 28% of consumers are on the hunt for discounts and promotional codes. With boy one get one free, you can potentially garner dozens more sales from an impressed customer.

5. Leverage social media and online platforms for advocacy

Google is going the way of the Yellow Pages. Few customers now search for brands using a search engine, instead preferring platforms like TikTok or Instagram. Customer advocacy cements your position on these channels for a modern, diverse marketing strategy.

Example of a customer advocacy program

Vancouver, CANADA - Dec 9 2022 : The website of Spotify Wrapped (2022 Wrapped) seen in an iPhone. Spotify Wrapped is a annual viral marketing campaign by Spotify

One of the best-known examples of customer advocacy is so effective that many people won’t even realise they have become an advocate.

Each December, Spotify’s ‘Spotifty Wrapped’ campaign sees millions of global customers share screenshots of their most-listened to songs across social media, taking over the internet for the day and getting eyes onto Spotify’s unique branding and mobile app.

The impact of Spotify Wrapped has been so great that it’s even sparked copycat ‘annual roundup’ campaigns from major tech firms like Monzo and Trainline.

Measuring and analysing customer advocacy

Like every strategy, customer advocacy requires careful planning to ensure effective execution. There’s no point in doling out discount codes if it has no impact on customer retention. Measure the impact of your efforts using key performance indicators (KPIs) such as:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): index ranking that displays the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others on a scale of -100 to 100
  • Customer Generated Content (CGC): tracks the number of user-created content like photos, videos, and testimonials by volume, user engagement, and reach. It’s also known as User Generated Content (UGC)
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score: measures customer satisfaction with specific interactions or experiences, such as during checkout, on a numerical scale
  • Customer Retention Rate: monitors the percentage of customers who repeatedly engage with your business (this can be a great way to identify future advocates)

Be sure to take both quantitative and qualitative measurements. That way, you’ll be able to get more insight into why a customer likes your product, creating a narrative you can use to inform future marketing efforts.

Qualitative methods include tracking organic brand mentions and shares online, and monitoring community engagement such as participation in forums or social groups.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software can be a helpful tool for recording this data. These systems allow firms to embed web forms to their website so that customers can send feedback directly to the company.

Challenges in customer advocacy and how to overcome them

In addition to plenty of business benefits, there are also many risks associated with customer advocacy. Here’s why, and how you can navigate them:

  • Fake or absent customer reviews: customer advocates must source genuine and compelling customer stories to win customer trust. This requires smart thinking about how to gather testimonials and encourage high praise
  • When advocacy becomes affiliate: unlike affiliate marketing, customer advocacy is unpaid. Legally, paid-for advertisements need to adhere to advertising standards, so it’s important to remember the difference between them
  • Measuring impact: there are many customer advocacy strategies to pick from (we’ve highlighted four above). Test them all and keep track of their impact to find which are most effective for your business
  • Identifying potential advocates: Not all satisfied customers make ideal advocates. Pinpointing those most likely to champion your brand requires key metrics such as NPS, CSATs, and customer retention scores


We’ve presented effective strategies to encourage organic customer advocacy. Organisations should use these to turn enthusiastic users into vocal brand champions.

Managing a business is time-consuming enough. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to feel daunted by the idea of chasing up customers to ask for referrals, reviews, and recommendations.

The good news? When done well, customer advocacy is a self-perpetuating cycle. By prioritising positive customer expectations and experiences, your advocates will come naturally.

Customer advocacy FAQs
  • What is the role of a customer advocate?
    Customer advocates organically promote your products and services to their circle of friends, family, or followers, acting as an authentic mouthpiece to market your business to new audiences.
  • What is the definition of customer advocacy?
    Customer advocacy is a customer service strategy where loyal customers promote and recommend a business using non-traditional marketing methods like word-of-mouth or online reviews.
  • Why is customer advocacy important for brand reputation?
    Buyers who advocate for your brand can reassure prospective customers that the business is a genuine provider with good quality services or products. This helps to attract new audiences by removing the trust barrier and making consumers more likely to try the brand.
Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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