As part of our “Challenges CMOs Face” series, we addressed 8 common challenges encountered by CMOs and marketing leaders, and included insight on how to overcome them. Our recommendation is to develop a long-term agile marketing roadmap to overcome common challenges. For our “Roadmapping – Next Steps” series, we have invited industry experts to provide their insights to help you take your marketing strategy to the next level. Chris Newton, VP of Marketing and Business Development, at Influitive talks about empowering your brand through your customers.
What types of organizations benefit from Advocate Marketing?
Do your customers love your product and are they willing to tell their friends and colleagues about it? If so, your business—large or small—can benefit from an advocate marketing program.
Larger organizations often need a technology solution that can help them scale one-on-one relationship building with their many potential customer advocates in order to maximize the value of advocacy, and small businesses quickly learn that an advocate marketing program can pay for itself through the generation of new leads, customer referrals, and positive product reviews.
Businesses that are ready and willing to commit headcount and budget for a formal program are the ones that can run a successful program. They will often assign a staff member to run the program and allocate resources for software tools, and advocate rewards.
If you’re not sure if you need an advocate marketing program, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Does your organization struggle to create positive word-of-mouth about your company on third-party channels, like online review websites, industry forums, and social media channels?
- Is it hard to quickly source and create customer case studies, testimonials, blogs, and other forms of user-generated content for your brand?
- Do you wish you had a stronger, more supportive customer community?
- Is it difficult to source referrals and references to quickly accelerate sales?
- Is your process for collecting customer feedback too time-consuming? Is it tough to even get responses to surveys?
- Are you unsure of how to educate customers and guide their success post-sale or post-onboarding?
- Is it a challenge to understand all of your customers’ needs on a deeper level—making retention and account-growth ad hoc and difficult?
If you answered yes to a few or all of the questions above, your organization could greatly benefit from building an advocate marketing program. You’ll be amazed how much a strong community of advocates can accomplish.
Once you’ve decided to implement an advocate marketing program, it’s important to develop a strategy that will generate high value for your business and your advocates.
Organizations must first get buy-in from the top down and across their teams to understand how they will measure success. Though not always required, the best programs have involvement from every department and results tied to overall company goals. You’ll also need to identify an internal champion to run the program, allocate resources, and find the advocate marketing platform that’s right for your business. (If you’re shopping around, these are the 10 must-have features you should look for in your advocate marketing software.)
Here are the key strategic considerations you should work through to make sure your program is engaging and serving your advocates:
- Develop advocate personas so you can appeal personally to your customer advocates preferences, personalities, and day-to-day challenges—whether they’re developers, HR professionals, project managers, or educators. (We’ve written many eBooks about how to engage specific personas, including IT advocates, finance advocates, educators, marketers, and project managers and more.)
- Prioritize reciprocity and nurturing an authentic customer relationship. To gain value, you must also provide value to customers in exchange for their advocacy. Some ways to do this include: helping them advance their careers through educational content or raising their professional profiles through mentorship and speaking opportunities. This post explains how to give various types of recognition to your best customers.
- Offer recognition and rewards that appeal to your specific audience. Rewards don’t end with physical gifts, like swag or gift cards. Professional recognition, VIP treatment, and other forms of special treatment from your organization are often the most impactful ways to show your advocates appreciation. These helpful best practices will give you some more ideas on how to get started.
Defining Success Metrics
A winning advocate marketing strategy is not complete without a process for monitoring key success metrics. The best results come from tracking a combination of hard metrics (such as revenue sourced or influenced by advocates) and more qualitative measures of success (like program engagement levels, positive feedback from customers, and an overall feeling of deeply knowing your customers.) While these secondary metrics are harder to capture, any experienced advocate marketer can speak to their necessity and power.
Common metrics our customers measure are:
- Revenue generated via reference calls where your advocates speak with your prospects
- Positive customer reviews created on popular online review sites
- Closed-won referrals from advocates
- Pieces of content content created by advocates
- Social media shares of content
- Cost savings from doing beta testing, feedback, and QA through AdvocateHub
- Cross-sell and upsell opportunities sourced by advocates
- Increased NPS and retention of customer advocates
For a deeper dive on identifying the KPIs that are right for your advocate marketing program, visit the Influitive blog to learn more.
If you’ve thought through all of the questions in this post, then you’re ready to seriously commit to an advocate marketing program. The next step in your journey will be to set an appropriate budget and assign an internal advocate marketing champion.
Influitive is driving the shift from company-centric marketing to advocate marketing. Our engagement and advocacy platform, AdvocateHub, and our team of experts help the world’s most successful businesses discover, nurture, and mobilize their greatest marketing asset: their customer advocates. We believe the companies that put their customers at the heart of their marketing—and their business—are the ones that will win. To learn how Influitive’s advocate marketing software makes accelerating sales revenue and increasing customer lifetime value easier and more predictable, visit www.influitive.com.