Creating a lasting relationship with a customer can be challenging. Advocacy marketing emphasizes this long haul relationship and is effective at building loyalty and bringing in leads.
How do you get someone to go the extra mile for you though? What can you do to plan ahead to keep customers engaged in your business? If you figure out these key steps, you will find that a brand advocate will always have your back, even if you face a bump in the road.
Advocacy marketing enables customers to promote marketing to occur. They can take a brand’s message and make it their own, amplifying the voice your business. The challenge is getting to the point where people want to speak on your behalf.
What Is Advocacy Marketing?
Advocacy marketing plays a role in encouraging word of mouth marketing to occur. It gets existing customers to speak on your behalf and create a ‘buzz’ for your company. Think of it as a megaphone for your business. Happy customers choose to brag about you, without you coercing them to do so.
Advocacy marketing uses a brand’s most enthusiastic and loyal customers to spread the word. Advocates, typically, choose to share on their own simply because of how much they like the business. Advocacy is a little more difficult to hone in on because it’s not as structured as other marketing types like influencer marketing or ambassador marketing. It’s really more about a brand providing an excellent product or service and then recognizing those who really love the brand.
Why are Brand Advocates Important?
Brand advocates can be awesome for your business. All you have to do is provide them with something they like. Give them some good customer service, and bam… they take care of the rest.
- They share, without anything in return – Yes, you read that correctly. Most advocates will share you just because they like you. So keep doing your job well, and they won’t expect anything more from you. Awesome, right?
- They will share everywhere – They have no shame is sharing you where ever they can. If they have a blog, you’ll be on it. They’ll share you on their social sites, and they will share you in person. Whenever it makes sense to bring you up, consider it done.
- They will provide reviews – Another reason brand advocates are great is that they will happily provide you with some online reviews. Most of the time you won’t even have to ask because a true advocate will have done so already. We all know the importance of a good review, so this one is great news!
How Do You Create Advocates?
So advocates aren’t always easy to find. In fact, it’s a lot easier to create them. But, you can’t just push a few buttons and expect magic to happen. You have to do a little work. And turn customers into advocates. Here are some ways you can better your business and produce loving advocates.
- Always be customer first – Putting your customers first well worth it, and pretty easy. If you make the customer feel important and meet their needs, they will develop a sense of loyalty for you. A customer-centered culture is key for a unified company. Plus, it probably means internal relationships are thriving too.
- Try to be ahead in the field – Think of Apple. The brand has customers practically waiting in lines wrapping around buildings when new phones come out. These people are advocates and stand by the company because it offers something that they feel they can’t get elsewhere. If you provide something that people can’t live without or that is above par from the rest, you have a good chance of having quite a few advocates.
- Listen to customer concerns – One of the easiest ways to build an army of happy customers is simply to listen to them. If they feel like their voice is heard, you start tapping into relationship building and their loyalty takes a big jump up. Once this happens, you should start to see some advocates emerge. Then it’s just a matter of time until advocacy marketing will start.
- Take action when feedback is given – It’s not just about listening though. You also have to walk the walk. Sure, some feedback you get can roll off your shoulders. However, once you start hearing similar feedback, or see a pattern, it’s time to take action. Your customers use your product, so make sure you are giving them what they want. They are the ones who can help you build something great.
- Always be thankful – It never hurts to tell your customers how thankful you are for their feedback and business. Even if they call in to complain about something, take the time to listen, address, and then thank them for their feedback. A thank you can have quite the impact.
How To Run An Advocate Program
Time to put your thinking cap on. What can you do to make the magic happen and spark up an advocacy program? Obviously, you need to consider the customer journey as it will lead your customers to brand loving advocates. So, if you want your customers to effectively share your brand’s message, you need to do a few things to prime the behavior. Here are a few tips on creating a sustainable advocacy program.
1. Figure out the big picture – Do you want to create long-term relationships or is the goal to get a big buzz going?
If you need a quick buzz, you may opt for some higher-ups. Like celeb and athlete endorsements. Of course, you may have to pay a pretty penny. This could also work with paid endorsements of regular people. They will ‘love’ your brand and get the word out, and a buzz will be created relatively quickly.
If you’re searching for the long-term commitment you may want to start providing excellent customer service and building your customer relationships. The more effort you put in, the more effort they will put out. Let your top customers know they are important and give them a little VIP treatment… that should get them talking to you on a consistent basis.
2. Recruit the right people – Decide how you will choose advocates is probably one of the most important aspects of an advocate program. You get what you put in. So, you have to find the right people to share your message. Start by looking at your current customers and choose ones that seem to be most engaged with your brand. They’d be the perfect people to start out with.
3. Figure out your plan for keeping advocates loyal – The same way you made them an advocate is going to be the same way you keep them active in your advocate program. You need to have a relationship with advocates, and let them know you appreciate their help. Remember, people, become advocates because they like your business, not because they have been paid to do so. But, a small incentive may be a good way to show you care and it helps keep them motivated and loyal to your brand. Just remember organic love is always better and more genuine than paid love. So find a balance if you do decide to throw them an incentive.
4. Advocate program engagement – You need to decide how you want advocates to engage with future prospects. You may want to have some sort of platform where all your advocates can engage with each other and you because which can help build better content. You may only want advocates to engage on their own. Whatever you choose you have got to have the tools in place for your advocates to advocate. Plus, you need some way of tracking engagement. That can be tracking it on a platform, or having them send you snapshots of their engagement on their own.
5. Perhaps choose a software to help – Software can make your life so much easier. Plus, it can provide you with the perfect platform to keep advocates engaged. In fact, many advocate marketing communities use software because it helps gamify the process. Some popular advocacy marketing software include…
Influitive – which allows your customers to have a voice and build your social proof through telling their stories, sharing their reviews and more.
Crowdly – helps you find your true brand advocates who help to spread your business by word of mouth. A great software for running an advocate marketing program.
Advocacy Program Examples
- Nike is one of the many great advocacy program examples. Nike+ knows their customers love a good competition. So, they built a community that encourages this behavior and focuses on their other love… sports. The platform keeps advocates engaged by hosting challenges (a great use of gamification). The results of these challenges can then be shared by the customer on their social profiles, hence providing a direct link to Nike and showing off advocacy of its customers.
- Naked Wines is another advocacy program example. They have a group of super customers that they call ‘Archangels’. They choose their top customers who have used word of mouth or provided some other sort of value to them. Then rewards them with special events and other merchandise. Oh, and it’s a pretty exclusive group, there is apparently a long waitlist… Goes to show Naked Wines has a lot of fans and is doing something right.
Some of the brands we hear about most are those who make special connections with their customers. They are able to turn their customers into advocates because they motivate brand advocacy to happen. Again, this happens by providing a personal touch to each interaction, listening, and keeping the best interest of the customer in mind.
To add on to that, creating an advocacy program or using similar types of marketing campaigns can further boost these relationships to occur and make organic word of mouth happen.
Read More: What Is Advocacy Marketing?