In recent times, loyalty programs have gained more ground in the B2B segment, but same can’t be said about advocate marketing software.
Reasons for this disparity are apparent. More than a transaction, customer loyalty has always been a sentiment, regardless of the business type or segment. But advocacy, which isn’t just restricted to sharing and referrals, but also includes other solutions, such as Ratings and Reviews, Questions and Answers, and Visual Commerce has always been about virality.
Many B2B marketers have lived with the thought that their buyers will not find any motive to spread positive messages about their purchases, as unlike B2C products, B2B products can be too “technical” and less appealing to the masses. Yet advocate marketing–when done properly–is highly targeted, and can be used to appeal to the executives of the companies who make the buying decisions. The arrival of LinkedIn and other B2B forums paved the way to the means of catching and influencing those decision makers. All these factors, along with the following realizable benefits have strengthened the case for B2B advocate marketing software.
A B2C sales and marketing team has to convince only a single person for the sale, as he is the sole decision maker. That’s not the case with a B2B team, as B2B products are often high ticket products. A lot is at stake with every purchase. Thus, there is no scope for impulse buying. To make sure that the decision is right, on an average, the corporate decision-making group involves 5.4 people. The number of people may increase if the deal is costly and complex. This is what delays the sales cycle of B2B products.
As it’s obvious, time is eaten by the lack of immediate trust in whatever communication has been put forth in front of B2B buyers. They remain suspicious. But if a recommendation for that product comes through referrals, one of the most powerful advocate marketing solutions, the trust deficit tends to reduce in size.
One study found that a referral from a brand advocate is 50% more likely to convert than a referral from a non-advocate. Furthermore, 86% of B2B buyers consider word-of-mouth to have the greatest impact on their purchasing decisions. Also, 49% of B2B marketers list their peers and colleagues as a top source of information, rising significantly from 20% in 2015. That’s why referrals are typically the highest converting lead source! On average, leads generated by B2B advocates are 4 to 10 times more valuable than regular leads. It doesn’t just shorten the sales cycle but also increases the win rates and larger order sizes. And all this is achieved by without breaking the bank. According to eMarketer, a company could fund an ongoing advocate marketing program for an entire year for about the cost of two full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal!
After surveying 750 B2B marketers, Gleanster Research found that 90% of respondents believe that inability to align marketing activities with sales is one among their top concerns. The reason for this is that your sales people are ready with a list of customers who they can call on when they need references. But before they do that, customers are in no mood to listen to them. Because as per Forester’s report, 74% of buyers go online for business purchasing, and more than half (53%) would rather research online than speak with a salesperson.
This grim scenario can be changed by advocate marketing solutions. Advocates can easily identify, organize and mobilize the customers best-suited to each of these requests from a larger pool of advocates. It allows your sales people to choose the advocates who are most applicable to your industry, seniority and use cases.
The B2B segment is notorious for not sending content to its target audience. It is believed that up to 70% of content produced by B2B marketers goes unused. As content is the only way to bring your business in front of people who don’t want to initially be bothered by your sales team, this is too huge a loss. But by getting advocates to share your content to their networks and other important channels, advocate marketing solutions can form a well-oiled content distribution channel.
Moreover, advocates can also assist you by crowdsourcing content through surveys, interviews, product reviews, and more. With the help of activities such as blog commenting and online reputation management through Ratings and Reviews, they can also boost your SEO efforts and inbound lead capture.
Apart from these key benefits, advocates also help in enhancing customer engagement. But all these lucrative and shiny benefits of advocate marketing solutions can be milked in a much better way when linked with the loyalty software. This claim has stemmed from the below listed two reasons.
The same Gleanster Research has also concluded that access to existing customer data as well as failure in collecting the right customer data is also the top concerns raised by B2B marketers. Implementing a B2B customer loyalty program along with advocate marketing software will give a complete picture of buyers’ behavior.
You’ll get data such as addresses, social networks, buying frequency, overall spend on the purchase, total reviews written, total questions answered and total referrals sent. It’s almost like a 360-degree view of your customer. After analyzing all these data, a B2B marketer can decide which customer needs which types of products and communication. He can also activate those customers who have been at the forefront in praising his brand by bringing them into the circle of brand advocates.
A loyal customer doesn’t just spend more money by buying from you again and again. He spends more time enhancing your brand’s image too. More than a non-loyal customer, he will be more likely to write more positive reviews about your product. Likewise, he will send more referrals and will fight your case more strongly by ridiculing the false criticism directed towards your brand through writing apt answers in your Questions and Answers platform. But to do that, he needs all these advocate marketing solutions. It can be made possible if and only if loyalty and advocate marketing solutions get into the groove of an alliance.
Note: To run a successful advocate strategy, you need have advocates first. Go through our white paper to know how to convert your loyal customers into advocates. Plus, this white paper of ours will enable you in setting up your own advocacy program.