Ever bought a product or service because it was hyped on social media? Or it came strongly recommended by online friends? You probably answered ‘Yes’ and so did 70% of customers that believe consumer opinions and 90% that rely on friends’ recommendations, according to recent research by HubSpot.
If you ask marketing and social media experts today, ‘What is marketing? How do you successfully advertise in this tech-savvy world to a technoid generation?’ The answer would be unanimous – Advertising is redundant, advocacy is the way of the future. Advocacy marketing and customer advocacy programs drive brand lift four times more than paid advertising.
To understand the intricacies of customer advocacy marketing and its true potential, continue reading.
Table of Contents
Advocacy marketing is leveraging word-of-mouth marketing from truly satisfied customers and their influence on their network of peers, friends, and family. In simpler terms, it is encouraging customers to proactively promote your brand and their customer experience on online platforms. Customer advocacy marketing is a conclusive result of excellent customer experience, satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty towards the brand and its products and service. You cannot expect customer advocacy to jumpstart or escalate when your customers are unhappy and dissatisfied with your brand.
Customer Advocacy Programs
Customer advocacy programs are strategically designed to motivate customers to promote your brand by incentivizing them. Needless to say, customers are the backbone of this initiative. You cannot expect them to promote your brand without offering something in return. However, this form of marketing cannot be categorized as paid advertisements, because, unlike paid campaigns, the content here is original and is distributed to audiences, hand-picked by the customer itself.
Its Relevance in Today’s World
In 2020, Facebook set new records in revenue and profits by closing in on a $1 trillion valuation by April, not even half of the way through the year. This is a small reflection of the expense of advertising on digital platforms in 2020 and 2021. The cost of digital marketing has shot up five times compared to the rate of inflation. Investing in paid campaigns is not as cost-efficient as it was a few years ago. Also, the reach of these ads is rather questionable. Banner blindness is rampant among online users. Almost 30% of users block all kinds of ads and 50% of the clicks are accidental.
As companies design new means of advertising to customers, the latter are getting smarter and are instead relying more on organic reviews and recommendations than on paid advertisements. A study by Nielsen underlines this fact, revealing, “92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.”
Merits of Customer Advocacy Marketing
- Increases Customer Retention – Retained customers are the pillar of advocacy marketing; whether intentionally or not, they positively influence other customers and have high a probability of staying associated with the brand for the long term.
- Reduction in Acquisition Costs – Average inorganic customer acquisition costs can range from anywhere between $160- $500, according to First Page Sage. Though extremely important, one cannot deny that customer acquisition is a very expensive process. Often customers rely on third-party validation before investing in a product; through customer advocacy programs, customers are influenced by a source they trust and therefore, investing in advocacy programs considerably reduces acquisition costs.
- Instills Brand Loyalty – Brands that encourage customers to review products online quickly gain customers’ trust. Customer advocates are also quite vocal about their opinions on social media platforms. These activities drive brand loyalty and improve the brand-customer relationship.
- Increases Revenue – Customer advocacy is responsible for $6 trillion of annual consumer purchases. Customer advocacy offers a high conversion rate and helps increase revenue. A 12% boost in customer advocacy marketing results in doubled revenue.
- Upsurge in Brand Value – Customer advocacy and organic brand promotion create a positive brand image in the market. Loyal customers also considerably help in improving brand credibility. As more and more customers begin to trust and associate with the brand, the brand value increases too. An increment in brand value ensures you have a strong foothold in the market and factors like competition and price fluctuations, among others, are less likely to impact sales and revenue.
Building a Customer Advocacy Program
- Select Suitable Customer Advocacy Platforms – Customer advocacy is a complex marketing strategy that requires experience and expertise, along with updated knowledge of the latest upgrades and trends in the field. A dynamic customer advocacy platform can help you to engage the maximum number of customers efficiently, manage data and analytics, and tailor result-oriented strategies.
- Identify Advocate Types – Customer advocates is an umbrella term that comprises various types of advocates. Marketing specialists have segregated advocates into 3 categories: 1) Informants, those who inform and educate other customers about products and services; 2) Reviewers who offer their opinions, reviews, and recommendations to others; and 3) Influencers actively persuading the purchase decision of other customers. It is essential that you identify your target customers and strategize accordingly to achieve the best results.
- Work on Engagement – Simply identifying and employing your advocate isn’t enough. You need to consistently work towards building a relationship with them. A one-time referral is no good for business growth. Consistent engagement with advocates can keep the referral ball rolling and add valuable customers to your database.
- Show Dedication and Consistency – Like various other marketing strategies, a successful customer advocacy program is the result of dedication and consistent efforts. For the program to come to fruition and bear incredible results, you need to revisit and monitor your program periodically, analyze advocate behavior, and study purchase patterns. This is a strenuous and complicated process but it can be accomplished with a systematic and expedient customer advocacy platform.
For an extensive study and to learn more about Advocate Marketing, click here
How Can Annex Cloud Help?
Annex Cloud understands that your brand needs more than just a software solution to harness the true power of customer advocacy campaigns.
Annex Cloud’s bespoke solutions are designed with careful curation and analysis of your marketing objectives, target group, and purchase behavior.
For tailored solutions and to know more about the latest trends in advocate marketing, connect with our team.