Four Ways to Turn Every Customer into a Brand Advocate

03/26/2015 05:25 pm ET | Updated May 26, 2015
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As more small businesses enter such a saturated market, it becomes more and more of a challenge to stand out. Customers become inundated with options and can rarely tell what companies will provide the best bang for their buck. To compete, retailers must realize one thing -- it's all about the experience.

Brands that create a holistic, memorable and exceptional experience for customers know how valuable brand loyalty is. It encourages buyers to evangelize your product, allowing you to keep marketing dollars in your pocket.

Now, not every shopper will immediately sing their praises, so it'll take work. But with these tips below, customers will come back for more and tell all their friends to join, too.

Create a practical website experience

When building and maintaining your website, think of the audience. Why are they visiting? What is the most important thing they need to know? How often are you moving things around? What is your best selling item and is it easy to find?

This doesn't mean you can't test things or get creative with how a viewer experiences your brand. But the best practice is to think about what your customer is looking for and keep the navigational experience uncomplicated. If there are multiple items you'd like to feature, dedicate a hero image that changes. For repeat visitors, make it easy to find the products they love and know where to look for new ones, because they've already made it to your website so don't make them work to buy a product.

Provide pain-free returns

This may seem like an odd way to entice customers, but buying items online can be intimidating and the promise of an easy return is comforting. Customers are often turned off by the difficulty of returning the item in short windows of time or paying extra to ship it back.

A great example of a company doing it right is Zappos. The company often promotes the easy return language and on the homepage and throughout the website, which provides shoppers with a safety net that says, "Hey! Don't like our products? No worries! We'll gladly take them off your hands."

Offer a rewards program

Providing a way for customers to feel like they're earning something exclusive is key in customer loyalty. If you break down rewards programs, a lot of them aren't all that beneficial, but if you do it right, you can create a community of brand advocates who are passionate about the same thing - your product. And what's better when you're trying to grow your business?

Treat them with a surprise

Thoughtful little tokens such as samples go a long way. It's easy to feel like businesses are all about the transactions, but when you step out of the same old process we see everywhere, shoppers don't forget. Start digging through old inventory bins because there will likely be products you can afford to give away in the name of boosting customer experience.

Using these four tips you can begin to boost brand loyalty and get your customers talking. Just remember, be consistent in the experience you provide customers and communicate these values across the company.