As marketers look to take their strategies further, one area that can deliver big results includes the most effective advocates for your company: your customers. When you successfully incorporate their experiences and voices into your strategy, your marketing efforts will go further.
Here, we’ll talk about what advocacy marketing entails, why it’s so effective and how to get started with your own advocacy marketing program.
Why Advocacy Marketing Matters
I like Hubspot’s clear, concise definition: “Advocacy marketing is the process of inciting and equipping customers to generate buzz around your brand through social mentions, reviews, and word-of-mouth marketing. In other words, it’s providing products, experiences and customer service so good that customers can’t help but share.”
This customer-centric tactic leverages customer voices and experiences to build on your business and relationships with them and to attract new customers. It’s similar to influencer marketing, but the key difference is that you typically have to offer something to access an influencer’s audience. With advocacy marketing, you leverage existing relationships with customers who are eager to share their experiences.
Advocacy marketing can attract new customers and increase company revenue—and there’s research to support its effectiveness.
- 92% of consumers say they’re more likely to listen to people they know or know of more than advertising when they make purchasing decisions.
- 88% of consumers look for and trust reviews other consumers have written online when they make purchasing decisions.
- Companies that invest in advocacy marketing can see up to a 650% ROI for every dollar they invest.
Despite how effective advocacy marketing can be, most companies aren’t leveraging its full potential. For example, only one-third of companies are actively seeking and collecting new reviews, which means they’re missing out on a proven tool consumers will use to make purchasing decisions.
Get Started With Advocacy Marketing
Advocacy marketing can expand the impact of your existing strategy. If you’re interested in testing it for your company, begin with these three steps.
1. Know Your Advocates
Advocates can have a huge impact on your marketing efforts. It’s crucial to know who your most vocal customers are so you can equip them to become advocates.
- Review your social media. See who regularly engages with your company’s social media posts to identify who consistently gives positive feedback. Reach out to those customers to begin building relationships with them.
- Review your reviews. See who’s written positive things about your company. Check out sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and even Reddit. Once you’ve identified those customers, reach out to them to build relationships with them, and consider leveraging their positive reviews in some of your marketing materials.
- Get creative. Brainstorm with your team about ways to identify who you can build strong relationships with that you can count on over time. The Cisco Champions program is a great example of how a company leveraged the advocates who were eager to share their expertise. In exchange for creating and sharing content about the Cisco brand across their platforms and social media pages, advocates could show off their expertise with eager audiences, meet like-minded advocates, enhance their knowledge and gain early access to events and products. The program generated thousands of tweets, social media shares and hits for Cisco-branded content, spawned hundreds of new articles about Cisco and has grown to include advocates from 49 countries.
2. Leverage User-Generated Content
User-generated content is one of the easiest ways to start having your customers advocate for you. They do the work in creating and sharing content about your company through their reviews and social media posts.
- Create a hashtag. A hashtag encourages customers to share pictures and posts of them interacting with your company. Promote the hashtag in your marketing materials and strategy and highlight positive posts with the hashtag on your own social media pages.
- Offer incentives for reviews. If your customers take the time to write a review, consider doing something to show your appreciation that would build loyalty to your company. For example, once a customer writes a review, you can offer them a discount on their next purchase, a code to unlock a new product feature or early access to your next sale.
- Consider social media giveaways. Many companies will offer giveaways on their social media pages that encourage customers to self-identify and share content about the company. These giveaways typically require customers to take a step to self-identify, such as tagging the company in something they post, or tagging themselves and a friend as a comment to something you’ve posted. Use this information to identify potential advocates for your program.
3. Improve Your Purchasing UX
UX and advocacy marketing are closely related. Customers want a seamless purchasing experience, and a good UX can make or break an advocacy marketing program.
Forrester released a report that found having a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%. On the flip side, customers don’t hesitate to share negative purchasing experiences in reviews and on social media. By teaming up with others in their company, marketers can advocate for efforts that lead to easier purchasing experiences that, in turn, will make it easier to identify customers who could become advocates for the company.
- Collaborate with your customer service team. The team regularly receives customer feedback, so work with them to identify any feedback they’ve received about the purchasing process. What feedback can your UX colleagues can work on? Once that work has been done, how can you market the improvements and encourage customers to share their experiences?
- Don’t forget mobile devices. One Google study found that if customers have a negative experience purchasing from you on mobile, they’re 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future. By supporting your web development team to ensure this process is optimized for mobile, you’ll stop the company from losing out on new and repeat customers who help your advocacy marketing program—and your bottom line.
If you treat your customers well, they can become powerful allies who advocate for your company. Incorporate these customer experiences and voices into your marketing strategies to take them to the next level.
Read more about putting customers at the center of your strategies in Why Content Strategists Must Understand UX.
As a Content Strategist at Content4Demand, Toni Boger partners with clients to build successful content strategies that empower their digital marketing objectives at all stages, from ideation and creation through execution and promotion. She has a decade of experience in B2B content strategy and development across several industries. Outside of helping clients take their content to the next level, you’ll find Toni learning how to paint, reading a good book, taking aerial arts classes at circus school and watching classic films.