There is no doubt that advocacy marketing is one of the most (if not the most) powerful marketing tools nowadays. And that’s not just an opinion. Take a look at these numbers:
Whether a company’s goal is to increase sales, generate brand awareness, or ensure customer engagement, these stats make it clear that advocacy marketing should be a go-to resort. There may be many reasons why 92% of customers trust recommendations from people they know, but the biggest contributing factor is that people no longer have faith in the traditional way of advertising and marketing. With that said, it is no surprise that in 2016 marketers leaped on advocacy marketing with full force. Here are the advocate marketing winners of 2016–we can all learn from them!
Advocate Marketing Winners of 2016 #1: Buffini And Company:
Buffini And Company, North America’s largest real estate coaching and training company, really gave some advocacy goals to many marketers in 2016. What is interesting in this case is that the company predicted its referral pipe would go dry in the summer. To avoid that barrier to growth, it decided to make use of employees, in addition to customers, to create as many referral channel alternatives as possible. To create enthusiasm among its employees, Buffini And Company came up with the idea of distributing t-shirts with the message “Got Referrals?”. And to put this enthusiasm in a realistic and workable plan, it asked its employees to talk about referrals in every 1:1 conversation with customers. The employee who got the highest number of referrals was rewarded with Buffini Bucks valid for an entire year.
Buffini think tank was more than aware of the fact that the boost of this referral initiative would be useless they spread the word about it. So the company flooded its communication channels like blogs, videos and social media with one clear message: “Got Referrals? Get Rewards”. The initiative also stood out due to its classy ways of rewarding top referrers–highly experiential rewards like five-star resorts stays and meals with Buffini’s founder were bestowed upon the top referrers. The maximum utilization of human resources, in this case employees and customers, plus the use of all the possible communication channels to pass on the message, plus enticing rewards made the perfect dish of referral success. And this is reflected in the results:
Advocate Marketing Winners of 2016 #2: Marketo
Marketo, a marketing automation software giant, decided to use the power of positive reviews to its benefit. With no doubt, the credibility that honest and non-fabricated reviews brings was at the core of its decision. And that is extremely powerful, considering the fact that the company operates in a tremendously competitive field. Marketo needed to showcase itself as the best available option for B2B buyers. And with that in mind, the goal of getting 50 reviews per quarter was set.
The company leveraged one of its live events–The Marketing Nation Summit–and digital channels to encourage its customers to write reviews. It built a contest and offered a branded hoodie to customers who wrote a review online before the event. Seeing the immediate success that this effort was creating, Marketo immediately decided to run the same contest across its roadshows. To further enhance the reach and momentum of the contest, it decided to collect reviews through Marketo Jeopardy and Purple Palooza, two of its exclusive online experiences. This whole act was incentivized–it offered points and prizes to advocates who submitted reviews and interacted with the advocate community. Marketo hit the bull’s eye–at least that’s what the results suggest:
Advocate Marketing Winners of 2016 #3: MuleSoft
To be able to leverage the power of customer advocacy, first you must have a strong pool of advocates. And that doesn’t happen overnight, it requires work. MuleSoft, a provider of integration software for connecting applications, data sources and APIs, has proved that.
With the goal of building a community with thousands of developers and encourage them to advocate for MuleSoft, the company launched an advocate program called MuleSoft Champions. To make the program attracting, MuleSoft tailored the program’s communication and challenges based on the developers’ interests and skill levels. The masterstroke of this program though, was Champ Bot–a robot that helped with automatic approval of challenges–which was great help in speeding, as well as scaling up, the entire activity.
To increase the program’s value proposition, MuleSoft created the expert level developer certification. For developers, it was a way to reach an extra step in the ladder of skills. The company created 42 badges to showcase the learning excellence of the participants. It was not only that though, it featured champions–people with more badges and learning experience–on its website. That was the participants’ chance to feel like a celebrity by grabbing the spotlight, and looking at the astonishing results, you can say that it was a success:
Advocate Marketing Winners of 2016 #4: Insight Squared
Insight Squared, a sales performance analytics company, didn’t want to bask in last year’s glory which was winning a BAMMIE award for its referral program. The company wanted to revamp the entire DNA of its customer advocacy framework. In that quest, it decided to focus on the 4 R’s: reviews, references, referrals and resources.
Insight Squared leveraged the award winning program, The Square, to acquaint its advocates with its award winning culture. It came up with a three tiered system in the program: Get Acquainted, Challenges and Larger Asks. As soon as any new members joined the program, Insight Squared made sure that they received a welcome message from its team members coupled with the challenges devised to help Insight Squared in better understanding them. On the next stage, the company focused on making customers strong product users.
After finishing at least 20 such challenges, they were asked to advocate for the brand vocally. Now, after such close engagement, customers were in the perfect position to grasp the first-hand experience of the product along with a good rapport with the company. Naturally, that reflected on the quality of reviews and referrals, which they submitted. And it reflected in the overall results too:
After gathering all the pieces of all the above-mentioned examples one thing is clear: referral programs or reviews alone cannot do wonders. If either operates alone, they fail to capitalize the inbuilt potential that they have. Simply because a solitary referral program, or review system cannot become your USP, as all of your competitors also offer them in the same solitary fashion. For Buffini And Company, that aha-moment was the idea to incorporate both the employees as well as customers in its aim to generate more referrals. MulSoft did that by using robotics to speed up the whole process of forming the community. All in all, the gist of these examples sends a lound and clear message: innovation, as an effort to safeguard customer advocacy, is called for!
Note: To run a successful advocate strategy, you need to have advocates first. Go through our white paper to discover how to convert your loyal customers into advocates. To know more about advocate loyalty and how to implement it effectively, this white paper is all that you need to read!