Better than the Sum of its Parts: Loyalty, UGC, and Advocate Marketing for Manufacturers

by Sean Ogino |

Better than the Sum of its Parts: Loyalty, UGC, and Advocate Marketing for Manufacturers

Loyalty, UGC, and Advocate Marketing For Manufacturers

Just like every other industry, manufacturing has not always been exact in pinning down the actual worth of loyal customers–they’re basically seen as entities that generate repeat purchases. Even though there is truth in this proposition of repeat purchases, it’s not the complete truth. The real power of loyal customer lies in his ability to bring more customers by becoming vocal about your brand in myriad ways. But he is allowed to do that in a logical and effective way when he is elevated to the status of a brand advocate. How can you make this happen? Combine strategies of customer loyalty, UGC, and advocate marketing for manufacturers.

The Growing Premise of Advocacy and UGC

Combining loyalty, UGC, and advocate marketing for manufacturers is a rational choice mainly due to two factors. The first one is the basic nature of a loyal customer to stay vocal about your brand. The second one is the growing premise of advocacy.

The definition of advocacy is that advocates are essentially “volunteer marketers.” They share and promote your brand for free, because they’re satisfied customers. Referral marketing and contests are giving more space for loyal members to express themselves in front of other customers.

Additionally, UGC, also known as user generated content, is spreading like wildfire. By contributing reviews, answers to product questions, posts on forums, photos, and videos, your customers vouch for your brand and give other consumers more information.

In the manufacturing industry, where the desirability of the product steadfastly depends upon its usability and functionality, having more “real” people talking about the finer aspects of your brand through reviews, videos or photos is a definite leg-up to the overall marketing schema and revenue funnel. This is especially true when we throw a glance over this stat: 88% of customers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Moreover, manufacturers also need to pay heed to the remarks of MIT Professor Glen Urban, an authority on trust-based marketing. According to him, traditional push/pull marketing is not going to work, as today’s customers, who are superiorly empowered by technological advancements and have access to boundless information, expect more than mere relationship marketing. He further notes that just as push/pull marketing was an outcome of the economics of mass production, and relationship marketing was driven by the saturation of push marketing and intense rivalries, so will customer advocacy become the next imperative because of the accelerating growth of customer power. Combining loyalty and advocate marketing for manufacturers can actually prove a prudent strategic move in right channelization of that humongous customer power.

Close monitoring of these changing paradigms made us think about how they can be used to mitigate the intensity of the challenges that brands all across the globe face. The another line of thought was to be proactive and assist manufacturers in enhancing their operational efficiency in all possible avenues. That’s how our combined platform of loyalty and advocate marketing for manufacturers germinated.

The Benefits of a Unified Platform of Loyalty, UGC, and Advocate Marketing for Manufacturers 

A) Easy Implementation and Integration:

It’s often chaotic when multiple business solutions need to be installed from multiple vendors. The first issue that your tech team will need to tackle is of platform compatibilities, as they have to integrate data and functionalities between different point solutions. Similarly, multiple vendors mean multiple contact persons. This can disrupt the existing work flow of the platform in case of functional failure. Furthermore, assembling multiple solutions from multiple vendors is costlier than assembling from a single vendor. This holds truth particularly when you add up the set-up fees and unproductive (in terms of direct manufacturing) training hours.

B) A Singular View of Overall Customer Data:

Due to their over-dependence on retailers for sales, manufacturers have always found it incalculably difficult to know who their actual loyal customers are. They don’t have reliable and actionable data about how many people are buying, how many are repurchasing and how many are actually referring their brands. This happens due to their association with multiple retailers, distributors, and sellers. Even if data arrives from so many points, it will be disjointed and incoherent. This combined platform of loyalty, UGC, and advocate marketing for manufacturers eradicates these woes of data silos. Its dashboard gives a clear and singular view of a customer’s behavior. Among other insights, it shows:

  • Total purchases by customers
  • Referrals sent by customers
  • Reviews posted by customers
  • Sentiment reports
  • Answers submitted by customers
  • Revenue generated per solution, per customer, and more
  • Demographic insights
  • RFM (recency, frequency, and monetary) data

Of course, this actionable data enables manufacturers in better targeting and analysis. But it also helps in streamlining the operational efficiency. Manufacturers don’t need to have different people to collect data from multiple vendors. A criminal waste of human resource can be terminated through this combined platform of loyalty and advocate marketing for manufacturers.

Learn more about the possibilities of UGC and advocate marketing data here!

C) Ease and Flexibility of the Platform:

As the main vision behind this platform was to enable smooth integration of multiple solutions, its module has been designed in a way to simplify the addition, enhancement, and removal of software components. That’s precisely why we have built it in a pre-integrated framework. It allows connection of the core loyalty product with other advocacy solution without any big technical overhaul. Consequently, it assists you in scaling up the scope of the solution.

Clearly, combining loyalty, UGC, and advocate marketing for manufacturers is not just enabling you to use the power of a loyal customer in an effective way. It is also answering some of the pressing issues that have always followed manufacturers, most predominant one being the data deficiency. And all these beefed up operational efficiency is necessary if manufacturers want to be on the curve of perpetual growth. Remember that over the past 25 years, U.S.-manufactured goods exports have quadrupled. It was $329.5 billion in 1990…and in 2014 it reached $1.403 trillion!

Increasing Visibility with Product Reviews For Manufacturers

product reviews for manufacturers

When Jonney Shih, the chairman of Asus, put forward his idea of selling laptops under the company’s own name instead of through its contracted partners, not many gave him much chance. Practically speaking, the detractors of his vision were not outright wrong.

Compared to household names like Dell, HP, and Apple, the idea of getting consumers used to Asus seemed daunting. But just like every visionary and self-believing leader, he continued on. in 2007 an Asus-branded product, the Eee PC, got stellar reviews and became a smash hit. When 2012 arrived, Asus was the world’s fifth-best-selling brand of PC, and have since climbed to fourth place. Of course, it proved that Jonney Shih’s conviction was spot-on.

asus-eeepc
A 2007 Ars Technica review sums up the reaction to Asus’s debut own-brand computer.

But there was much more to this story that manufacturers must read. First, it underlines that the term “brand” is overrated and people care more about the product itself rather than the brand. The importance of the brand name is on the verge of extinction. The decline of Nokia, once a classic case study of brand loyalty, can be easily looked through this prism.

Second, public opinions have an almost immeasurable impact in shaping a purchase choice of countless people. But, the real point is to understand how exactly product reviews for manufacturers help in reaching the highest peak of the sales funnel and what has made reviews the most powerful atom of the business nucleus.

Needs for Product Reviews for Manufacturers: Shoppers Crave Opinions

Until now, more or less, the buying choice of customers was heavily influenced by their past experiences, preferences and communication from retailers. Due to the latter part, ads were considered the de facto instruments in capturing customers’ attention.

But with the mushrooming of social media platforms, other review sites and discussion forums, the availability of expert as well as general opinions became a new normal. Clearly, it placed the buyer in a position where he can take a well informed buying decision after evaluating all the essential elements of the products. The simple reason behind this is that it clarifies the picture for customer about what he will get from the product.

This is the status quo that makes product reviews for manufacturers (as well as retailers) a necessity.

Needs for Product Reviews for Manufacturers: Lack of Trust in Traditional Communication

Studies commissioned by Google have found that shoppers consult 10.4 sources of information, on average, before making a purchase.  Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than descriptions that come from manufacturers. Now, these two data points paint the grim but real picture of the fact that people don’t take manufacturer’s product descriptions as the complete and total truth.

No manufacturer will bring to the surface the negative aspect of his product…but honest reviewers will. And that’s what makes reviews really addictive! Besides, the fakeness of ads is so unchallengeable that they have been dead for long, as far as evoking any amount of authenticity is concerned. They have no more significance than creating over-the-top-brand- awareness. Ads may get attention…but they can’t assure conversion. Because while buying, people enter into an analytical mode; especially if the purchase is costly and requires a long term commitment. That’s precisely why the weight of trusted reviews usually overrides any residual effect of fleeting exposure to an ad.

Needs for Product Reviews for Manufacturers: Staleness of Market Research

There is no doubt about the value and insight of market research. But that doesn’t take away the fact that it dwells in the past of customers. Each and every expensive survey hinges upon the past behavior of the customers and their past preferences. And more or less, manufactures decide their new product range based on that. But manufacturers are the creators of new things…and thus they must have a more nimble, forward-looking way of getting customer insights. If they believe that this is the product that is going to make this world a whole different place, they must pour everything into it.

Remember that a market research study conducted in early 2007—before the release of the first iPhone—concluded that U.S. consumers are not yet ready for a device that combines the functionality of a cell phone, an MP3 player, and a camera. But we know how big a game changer the iPhone proved in the end. The study had measured P, i.e, preference, but as soon as the iPhone hit the market and early adopters began gushing over it, people became influenced by the O factor- opinions of people.

I think this example is an ideal template to the thought that if your product has something in it, reviews can take it to unbelievable heights!

Benefits for Product Reviews for Manufacturers: Visibility

The worth of reviews grows when they reach out beyond just your website. Obviously, the single channel approach is helpful on its own, but you can also distribute your review content to your retail partners through syndication.

Apart from pure visibility through syndication, product reviews for manufacturers are also helpful in getting good SEO results. Through reviews, manufacturer’s website will get fresh content on a regular basis. If recent development of most of the search engine algorithms is concerned, it’s quite obvious that they value fresh and original content. It’s a simple part of this domino effect: More reviews? More visibility? More traffic? More chances of conversion.

When you have extremely positive reviews and shoppers are searching or asking around for certain types of products, your name will be more and more likely to come up–just as with the case of Asus.

Understand that 30% of U.S. consumers say they begin their online purchase research by going to Amazon for product information and reviews. Voracious research before buying any home appliance or commodity has become deeply ingrained in many consumers. For manufacturers, thus, it’s a must that favorable reviews of their products should meet retailers as well as end customers in their research and buying journey.

Note: For Ratings and Reviews best practices, don’t miss this white paperFor a beginner’s guide, this blog is a great help.

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