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From Customer to Champion: The Brand Advocacy Continuum

Written by: Mark Pearson
(View Author Bio)

Explore the fourth stage of the customer lifecycle and learn how to turn your customers into vocal brand ambassadors.


The amplification stage of the customer lifecycle is focused on social engagement and advocacy. Customers who have reached this stage tend to be regular and profitable customers who have an emotional attachment to your brand; the goal is then to engage these loyal customers in a social dialogue about their experiences with your brand. Realistically, only a small percentage of customers reach the highest level of advocacy. However, any degree of progression along the advocacy continuum is beneficial and can be used strategically to boost your brand's marketing message.

Amplification in the Customer Lifecycle
The amplification stage is focused on social engagement and advocacy. Ideally,
customers who reach this stage are loyal from both transactional and relational
perspectives. They have completed the development stage, by becoming
regular and profitable customers, as well as the retention phase, by establishing
an emotional connection with your brand. Now it’s time to engage these loyal
customers in a social dialogue about their experiences with your brand. The
ultimate goal in this stage is to elevate loyal customers into advocates who will
share, contribute, evangelize, defend and refer on behalf of your brand.

While social engagement is particularly important to the amplification stage,
it can be effective at all stages and should be a strategic component of your
overall lifecycle marketing strategy.

Amplification Behaviors
These behaviors generally fall into three categories: affinity, collaboration
and advocacy.

Affinity focuses on getting loyal customers to engage socially with each other
and with consumers who may be interested in the brand, product or service.
Specific behaviors include the full spectrum of social media activity — like, follow,
pin, tweet, connect, vote, poll, rate, post and review — that occurs within social
networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. But don’t limit yourself to
open communities like these. When it comes to loyalty and lifecycle marketing,
social engagement via closed communities (often within the loyalty program
website) can be particularly effective. A closed community offers several
compelling advantages:

• Increased relevance, deeper engagement and a more open dialogue
• Easier to moderate and control
• Isolated from your competition
• Traceable, measureable and actionable data and information

Collaboration focuses on evolving loyal customer social engagement from
passive to more active activities and behaviors. This includes leveraging loyal
customers as a resource multiplier for marketing and PR via crowd-sourcing
or user-generated content.

Advocacy is the ultimate goal of lifecycle marketing. This includes leveraging
loyal customers for referrals to drive acquisition and close the loop on the
customer lifecycle. However, advocacy is so much more than just referrals.
Specific advocacy behaviors include:

• Viral Engagement – Share/Forward
• Earned Media – Advocate Content
• Endorsement & Testimonial
• Referral
• Evangelizing & Defending

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Mark Pearson

Vice President
Loyalty Marketing

Mark is responsible for multi-channel marketing strategy and solution design. He applies expertise in customer lifecycle, loyalty and interactive marketing to develop programs that leverage behavioral economics and gamification to drive engagement and targeted behaviors. Most programs are deployed online via responsive design, often incorporating social media extension and sales channel integration. Mark has more than 25 years of experience, a BA in English from Gustavus and an MBA in Marketing from St. Thomas.