Thought Leadership

Growing Brand Loyalty and a Subscriber Base through Social Media Marketing

Use social media to inspire customers to become true brand advocates

Jason Warnock
VP, Intelligence Products

Marketers can inspire (and incentivize) customers to become true brand advocates while building and strengthening the relationship.”

#1. What’s the role of social media in digital marketing?

Social media is supposed to help brands achieve the following and more: 

  • Increase reach: social sharing amplifies the number of people exposed to brand marketing 
  • Improve brand trust: consumers consider word-of-mouth/peer-to-peer messages more credible than messages from brands 
  • Boost the number of brand advocates: marketers should be able to establish and nurture relationships with customers to build loyalty

#2. How can marketers measure their return on social media?

The impact of social media by itself has been challenging to quantify. The success and value of email marketing, on the other hand, have been relatively easy to measure. Integrating social media into a brand’s email strategy can prove very helpful in identifying consumers who share brand content and effectively tracking the revenue they generate for the brand. Marketers can then create incentive-based campaigns that influence these valuable subscribers and multiply brand reach while acquiring new subscribers.

#3. What are the steps to turning subscribers into influencers?

  1. Pinpoint sharing subscribers— Once you determine which subscribers are sharing your content, you can determine the business outcomes generated by each subscriber. To do this, you can use email to social attribution technology—with its tracking capabilities, you’ll gain insight into shares, new subscribers, revenue, and other results on an individual subscriber basis. This will enable you to target your brand’s most valuable subscribers and measure ROI of your social campaigns.
  2. Share insights with subscribers— Give subscribers visibility into the activity they’re generating so they can monitor their progress toward earning rewards.
  3. Decide on reward offerings: Develop an organized system with goals subscribers have to achieve in order to gain rewards. The prizes have to be valuable to advocates, and offset the time and effort they expend. Rewards can range from free shipping to free products or the crowd favorite (read: most effective incentive)…discounts. For instance, advocates who get five more subscribers on board through social sharing could receive a 10 percent discount code for their next purchase. As subscribers move forward in the rewards program and generate even more new subscribers, the discount could get steeper. Even if you offer a different type of reward, the value of incentives should increase as subscribers progress through the advocate stage in order to keep them motivated to share. Ultimately the possibilities for reward packages are endless, and the cost of offerings like discounts is chump change compared to the typical cost to acquire a new subscriber.

#4. How can brands plan their budgets around incentives for advocates?

Long-term brand engagement, much less brand advocacy, can be hard for a brand to achieve and maintain. The brand has to switch from short- to long-term incentives as the advocate’s relationship with the brand progresses.

When coordinating your social media strategy with your email strategy, be sure to factor the cost of loyalty rewards into your budget.

  1. Run several test campaigns to gauge how many of your email subscribers will share a campaign with their social media followers.
  2. Identify the number of advocates that will engage with your brand’s emails. A simple formula: Campaign Volume * Advocate % = Advocate Subscriber #. This will give you insight into how many advocates you have to work with for each email campaign.
  3. Estimate your brand’s advocacy buy per campaign by multiplying the number of advocate subscribers by the average reward per advocate. For instance, the advocacy buy for a campaign would be $10,000 if your brand anticipates 1,000 advocate subscribers per campaign and the average incentive for each advocate is a $10 discount. As marketers track and learn more about advocate subscriber behaviors, they should optimize their reward strategies to maintain relationships for the long-haul.

Author Bio

Jason Warnock

Jason Warnock is a seasoned veteran of digital marketing. After creating successful email applications for Canadian bank CIBC (2004), Jason initiated and managed Deliverability Operations for Digital Connexxions (2006) implementing several key strategies for major publishing clients. After a successful acquisition of Digital Connexxions in 2006 by infoUSA, Jason proceeded to become Director of Deliverability for Yes Marketing (2007) followed by VP of Deliverability Services for Yes Marketing (2011). Jason has transformed Yes Marketing's Deliverability into an industry leading solution through enhanced offerings of technology and client services. Jason has designed successful technical and business strategies for several large Fortune 500 companies including: HP, Coke, Kodak, Facebook, eBay,, and United Airlines.

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