Guest post by Anastasiia Khlystova,
Head of Content @ HelpCrunch
What customer service has to do with affiliate marketing?
Actually quite a lot.
According to stats, 89% of businesses believe that great customer service improves retention. Another study shows that existing customers are 60-70% likely to buy more from the same company, while for new customers the probability is 5-20%.
Next, a PWC research reports that people point to positive customer experience as a crucial factor in their decision to buy from a certain company. At the same time, over 80% of Americans expressed their readiness to purchase if a product or service was recommended by a friend or family.
Here comes the value of affiliate marketing. By inviting loyal customers to your affiliate program, you get numerous dedicated pages for your product or service. Consumers search for goods in your category and see multiple results, which automatically builds trust. Another benefit is that affiliates create highly relevant content for their audiences, so, if they like your product/service, you’ll get more customers.
Here are seven tips on how to build customer service that will make your customers fall in love with your brand and start promoting it as your affiliate partners:
1. Provide multiple ways of contact
A Zendesk survey found that 54% of customers are willing to buy again from the company where they received good customer service, and 67% expressed readiness to recommend that company to other people. Thus, polite and knowledgeable customer service is an opportunity to support your company’s image and improve sales. So, how can you combine the motivational power of customer service with the one of a good old peer’s advice?
The core responsibility of customer service is to tackle issues and address complaints. But the way they do it leaves a certain impression on customers, affecting your marketing results.
You might have the most extensive FAQ section, and still, your customers will have questions. Don’t make them spend time searching for your contact information. Instead, offer your phone number and email address in an easy-to-spot place on your website. Don’t forget about social media as people like to go there to share good moments and express their frustration.
Forrester reports that users who were engaged in a conversation through a live chat are almost three times more likely to become customers than those who weren’t. Adopt the best practices for live chat support and collect the necessary data to determine your audience’s preferred communication channels.
2. Understand your customers’ triggers
As a communication bridge between clients and the company, your customer support department should know the customers and help define the right affiliates for your business. They may put a simple NPS (Net Promoter) survey to ask if clients are willing to recommend the company’s product/service to friends. If they do, the follow-up questions may be about how they would do it and, ultimately, if they are interested in becoming your affiliates.
It’s okay to ask direct questions, you might be surprised by your clients’ motives. Recent statistics show that 58% of Gen Zers want to become influencers to change the world, and only 20% would agree to promote a product they’re not excited about.
Not only can customer service reps provide extensive information about the product or service, but they also can collect valuable feedback from loyal customers. Believing their voice is heard makes customers feel empowered, and knowing all the tiny details helps to compare your offer to others in the market.
This way, your clients have the bigger picture and can make an educated choice about staying loyal to your company. Next, they can share their research with others, attracting customers and becoming valuable affiliate partners.
3. Offer a loyalty program
According to one research from GetVoIP, having a good customer experience makes people 5x more likely to recommend a business to friends and family, 4.2x more likely to buy again from your business, and 7.2x more likely to try a new offering.
A loyalty program that offers bonuses for buying regularly can make your clients turn to your brand rather than looking for something else. Having a loyal audience minimizes your churn and increases the chances of successful brand advocacy.
A good loyalty program must:
- Have clear and measurable goals;
- Have well-tested action drivers;
- Provide personalized offers;
- Be updated regularly to serve the customers’ interests;
- Be segmented to tailor needs of different demographic groups;
- Have seamless customer support.
4. Run an affiliate program
Now it’s time to think about who is the right person for your referral program. This decision is quite personal for every company and depends on several factors: time, money, and how niche your product or service is. Maybe you should work with fewer referrals having high industry expertise, or, on the contrary, you want to reach clients across multiple niches.
There are several indicators of a money-making affiliate:
- They have experience in affiliate marketing or at least in online marketing;
- They have an active audience of their own;
- Their communication style matches your brand voice;
- They use stats to know their audience;
- They have a promotion plan for you.
Even if you have the most impactful brand mission, the commission still remains an important factor in the relationship with your affiliates. So, before you reach out to your customers with an offer to become your affiliate, think about your offer. Of course, your customers love your brand, but to start openly advertising it to other people, they need an extra incentive. And it has to be generous.
For example, Tesla offered a special “founder series” Model X and an invitation to a Gigafactory grand opening party for ten successful referrals. No wonder the company boomed with a $0 marketing budget.
Your affiliate program should be clear and understandable. Make sure you have covered the following:
- What is your commission grid;
- What is your cookie life;
- What are the terms and conditions of your affiliate program;
- How fast you process the commissions;
- How fast you make the payments to your affiliates;
- Why should the affiliates promote your affiliate program;
- What is your competitive advantage (e.g. quality products/unique products, competitive prices, attractive promotions, free delivery, etc.);
- What is your customer target’s profile.
Learn more from the Advertiser’s Guide in 2Performant.
5. Shout out to customers about your affiliate program
Make it easy to notice your affiliate program for both online and offline customers. Creating a dedicated landing page that describes the benefits of promoting your company through affiliate marketing is a good start. Next, you can promote it through your newsletter and social media. You should aim to use as much of the communication media as possible, including events and outdoor media.
However, the most effective way to promote your affiliate program among existing customers is, you guessed it right, via customer service. Support reps are constantly in contact with your most active and vocal customers. So, dropping a few hints and referring people to the designated landing page takes no effort but can be extremely helpful. Clients will be able to ask any related questions on the go and join your program in no time.
Keep an eye on your audience to spot the next stellar affiliate content creator. Regularly send out emails with an invitation to start getting passive income by sharing their experience about buying from your company. Don’t get upset if you don’t get many brand advocates soon after starting an affiliate program, there is a survey reporting that one-third of consumers need to make more than five purchases before they start feeling loyal to a given brand.
In fact, you can combine the benefits of a loyalty program and an affiliate marketing program, like Noriel does, to make participation even more attractive for your customers.
6. Create a community for your affiliate partners
A strong and positive community alone can be the reason to become your brand’s affiliate. Having a place to discuss your company’s product usage and beyond brings people together and creates a sense of belonging. On the other hand, having a community around your brand can get you unexpected ideas and insights into what customers are looking for.
Сustomer support plays a crucial role in managing your community and making it the building center for your brand advocates. Here are some tips to make this process simple and effective:
Provide consistent communication. Keep your affiliates informed about the latest news in the company and the recent industry happenings. Create a database of tools and information that can help affiliates with their promotions. Having successful affiliates means your maximum profit, so make sure all the members of the brand-support-affiliates chain have access to all the potentially useful resources.
Be honest. Remember the social justice scandal in Starbucks? The company has admitted their employee’s mistake and took steps to resolve the issue by closing 8,000 stores for training. Even though they lost $16 million in sales, their net revenue has grown by $2 billion next year. Meaning the emerald mermaid got even more popular despite the criticism.
This proves that the best way to maintain a high level of trust in your brand is honesty. Inform your affiliate partners about the planned website maintenance, bug issues and internal changes that may temporarily affect performance. If something goes wrong, admit your mistake. Both your customers and affiliates will appreciate your willingness to care about their time.
Give your loyal customers a sense of ownership. Involve them in some decisions that are called to grow your business. For instance, you may share a new design of your website with your affiliates and ask for their opinion. Alternatively, you can survey the ideas for future promotions. Giving your affiliate marketers a chance to participate in business processes is another excellent way to build a community — and improve your brand’s performance.
A good example of a company that improved its image by using customers’ feedback is Dell. Having analyzed ideas at their IdeaStorm platform, they gave a Full HD display to Dell XPS 13 laptop and made it one of the most luxurious laptops in the U.S. market.
7. Be there for your affiliates
Remember that your affiliate marketers are the continuation of your in-house team. They represent your product and speak on behalf of your brand. So, make sure your affiliates always get the support they need.
A good idea is to provide new affiliates with a “welcome kit” — a collection of terms, tips and materials that will help them get started with your product/service. Additionally, provide them with information on your target customer, demographics, and best practices. Reaching out to them with content ideas and holiday reminders will help your affiliate marketers better tailor their content to your expectations.
Give your affiliate partners a quick and convenient way to get in touch with your customer service in case any questions arise. By prioritizing their support and providing them with timely assistance, you can ensure they are at the top of their game.
Great customer service is crucial for turning customers into your brand advocates. But remember that customer service is everyone’s job. From sales to C-suite, everyone should see every customer as a priority. Be open about your brand values and take the time to talk to your loyal audience about their needs to create a sense of community.
Giving your audience something to relate to will get you a team of fans that will eagerly protect their favorite product or service in front of the “enemy” brands’ followers.