Customer retention is not advocacy


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We often assume that customers who stay with us the longest are “loyal” and therefore potential advocates for our company.

Not the case.

Recent research by has shown that retention is not a sign for advocacy by itself. Rather, the only time that a customer could be considered an advocate is when they are both retained and have “attitudinal loyalty” — have a relationship to the company or brand, and indicate willingness to recommend.

Do not confuse retention with loyalty; many customers purchase from a store or brand due to convenience rather than any innate connection. When another alternative appears, they are gone so fast, you don’t even have time to say goodbye.

In order to nurture your advocates, you have to determine who they are. Find them on social media (particularly Facebook fan pages) and through surveys and other customer attitude measures.

Then you can build a word-of-mouth program to the right target.

One of the reasons that customer loyalty is considered such a valuable commodity is the idea of word-of-mouth marketing. Essentially, companies believe that a loyal customer is one that is spreading the value of the business to others, leading new people to the business and helping the company grow.

The data showed that customer longevity (the traditional measure of loyalty) was a weak link to word of mouth marketing. Indeed, the idea that customers that use a company or product often care enough about it to market it to others appears to be nothing more than a myth, as many survey respondents showed very little interest in spreading information about the company to others.

These findings show that customer loyalty does have benefits, but only if the customer expressive both longevity AND attitudinal loyalty. Unless they have both, they proved to be unreliable word of mouth marketers.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Price
Mark Price is the managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting (, a consulting firm that specializes in customer analysis and relationship marketing. He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing, and talent acquisition. Mark is also a RetailWire Brain Trust Panelist, a blogger at and a monthly contributor to the blog of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.


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