How to Turn Customers into Advocates Using Email Marketing
Written by
Naid Alabata

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How to Turn Customers into Advocates Using Email Marketing

Published : June 5, 2019

“The best way to find new business is to talk to old business.” That was from the 2004-published “Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffrey Gitomer. And while a lot has changed in the marketing field since 2004, along with the rise of the top social media trends, the statement still holds true.

According to the 2019 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, it costs nine to 11 times more to recruit a new customer than to keep an existing one. The study also found that an increase in loyalty of only 7% can increase lifetime profits per customer by as much as 85%.

When you have loyal customers, you’re one step away from turning them into advocates. And with email marketing providing a massive ROI, it makes perfect sense to try and turn customers into advocates using email marketing.    

This article discusses the importance of having brand advocates and provides tips on creating an email workflow for building customer advocacy.

Why Email Marketing?

According to a study by DMA, for every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $32—that’s an incredible ROI of 3,200%. Add to that the fact that 49% of customers said they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis, and you have a solid equation for turning loyal customers into advocates.

With the growing distrust for traditional advertising, email marketing allows you to establish a personalized communication channel with your customers—a platform where you can cultivate customers from merely being consumers into advocates.

How to turn buyers into brand advocates

Before we dive deeper, it’s important to note the distinction between a loyal customer and a brand advocate. A customer can be a loyal repeat customer, but that doesn’t mean they’re an advocate. The main difference lies in how advocates actively engage their peers in promoting your brand. And the value of having loyal customers lies in their potential to eventually become advocates.

Below is a sample email workflow that can help you build customer advocacy.

Step 1: Thank you email

Apart from providing basic post-purchase information like order confirmation, summaries, and tracking information, thank you emails allow you to set your customers’ expectations that they’ll be hearing from you again. This does a few things:

  • By informing them that you’ll be emailing to know if they are satisfied with their purchase, it makes them feel that you value their business.
  • It also primes them to expect email communication from you, making them more likely to engage. Emails that come out of nowhere are more likely to be perceived as spam.

Source: Skubana

Step 2: Satisfaction poll email

A few days after delivery, add a message to your email sequence with a poll asking for the customer’s overall satisfaction. It’s important to note that this poll should be kept as simple as possible, often asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1-10.

Source: Skubana

It’s common to send these types of emails three days after delivery, providing customers time to test your products. As well, before the poll email, you can even send personalized educational content to help them enjoy the products better. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction.

Source: Shopify

Step 3: Create a segmented list of potential brand advocates

From those that responded to your poll, create a segment of those with satisfaction ratings of 9 to 10. You can even add another segment from those with high satisfaction ratings who have also opened your educational content email. These customers show an active willingness to engage with your brand, making them strong candidates for becoming advocates.

Step 4: Build an email sequence for these segments

These emails are designed to further build on your relationships with customers. These can include:

  • More educational/helpful content two days after they respond to your satisfaction poll (ex. Day 7 after purchase)
  • Day 10: Request for review on the website. This could be incentivized by a special discount on their next purchase.
  • Day 14: After a customer leaves a review, you can send a powerful relationship-building email by sending free content as Help Scout does below.

Source: Skubana

  • Day 20: If you have a referral program in place, you can then send an introduction of it similar to ZooShoo’s example below. As you can see, in this kind of email, an identified advocate receives a link with a special offer that they can share with their peers. For each referral (or made purchase made using the link), they receive a reward. It also helps that ZooShoo did all the explaining with eye-catching graphics, communicating what would’ve been a mouthful to explain, visually.

Source: Campaign Monitor

With the zoomed out view of the same email, note that the referral program is explained multiple times. There are also subtitles provided under the graphics clarifying the terms and conditions, while icons make explaining the program to a friend even easier.

Source: Campaign Monitor

This basic email workflow from a thank you email (immediately after purchase), and satisfaction poll, to relationship-building messages, and referral program introduction is a simple way to nurture customers into being advocates. This way, you’re able to build relationships, identify which customers have the potential to become advocates, and further engage those candidates into becoming brand advocates.


As you can see, even with the most basic of email sequences, it’s easy to envision how customers can be engaged with valuable content, and ushered into becoming advocates. And with email being such a cost-effective means of sending personalized messages, it’s a great platform for boosting your business. As well, the ability to automatically test multiple emails and sequences to see what works is an added benefit of leveraging email marketing.

What kinds of content do you find your customers engaging the most with? How can you use these to turn them into advocates? Sound off in the comments below.

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