As marketers, we all wish that we had more people representing and promoting our businesses at a minimal cost. It’d be even better if they would actually get involved in projects like content creation or finding new potential customers! Is that too much to ask? Well, in a sense, that’s the definition of advocate marketing. Before moving ahead, it’s a must to understand the exact and accurate meaning of the term advocate marketing. There is more than one definition of advocate marketing, but the two following ones should illuminate its concept.
“Advocate marketing is the art of identifying your highest-potential customers, nurturing their potential, and motivating and empowering this “Golden 5%” to preach positive about your company. In this two-part series, you’ll learn how to capitalize on their work.”
Source: Marketing Watchdog Journal
“Advocacy marketing is a form of marketing that emphasizes getting existing customers to talk about the company and its products.” Source: Big Commerce
In short, it’s a process where you identify a group of your customers who genuinely love your products and are willing to spread the word about you in areas where they can have an impact. It can be in any format like social media posts, videos, emails, mobile messages or white papers. An advocate may build a community around himself too.
Now that we’ve reached a definition of advocate marketing, let’s take a closer look at how it can help your business.
You don’t have to be a marketing maestro to understand that no marketing effort can stand on its feet without the clutches of social media and the internet in general. No points in guessing here- the reason is the gigantic mass reach that it gives to the business. This explains why almost every business has an online presence. It’s in the line of normalcy then that more than 80% of shoppers research online before buying.
That’s precisely what makes having your advocates to go vocal about your brand on internet becomes so unavoidable. The content shared by your advocates will somewhere cross the path of the buying journey of your customers. The feedback, reviews, videos, and pictures that your advocates share online are crucial for painting a positive image of you.
It has been proved an umpteen number of times that people trust peer recommendations more than any other marketing ploy. That’s understandable too. Watching an ad on TV is less likely to convince me than the recommendation by a peer or an expert.
Nielsen’s 2015 Trust in Advertising Report found that 83% of consumers placed the most trust in the recommendations of friends and family. Furthermore, 66% trusted the opinions of consumers they found online. Naturally, it means that peers and online customers possess the highest ability to influence the opinions of other customers.
Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point discusses three unique kinds of people can make social movements possible: connectors, mavens (experts) and salesmen. The beauty of a brand advocate is that he seamlessly blends the strengths of a connector and a maven without looking like a salesman.
Furthermore, studies have found that advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a source of reliable information. Under any circumstances, people will believe him. Brand advocates are also 50% more likely to create content that influences a purchase.
Thus, it’s not at all shocking to see that with just a 12% increase in advocacy, on average, companies can experience a 2X growth in revenue, according to a report in the Harvard Business School Press.
In a recent Annex Cloud case study, we saw a client use our Sharing and Referrals advocate marketing solutions to grow their orders by 38% in one year and achieve a 10:1 ROI! Clearly, advocates are likely to have an ultra-positive impact on businesses sales.
At the end of the day, your marketing campaigns need to be cost effective and sustainable. Advocate marketing is budget-friendly, as in its simplest forms it purely works on word-of-mouth- the cheapest and oldest model of reaching out to people.
Just think. How much money is required to create and run a TV or digital ad? I am sure the amount will be much higher than the amount that is needed to run an advocacy program. Also, after spending that high amount, you will realize that you have spent on the medium which is going through a rough credibility crisis. According to research by Nielsen that looked at consumer trust, 92% of respondents trust recommendations from people they know, which is well above any other information source. Ads on TV are only trusted by 47% of respondents, while online banner ads are trusted by a measly 33%.
So, it comes down to two things: You are missing out the most trusted source to affect people and second you are spending too much on the source which people don’t trust much. It’s like completely going off the track! Moreover, with advocates you’re now targeting people who are just like your best customers. It automatically makes your targeting much sharper. Obviously, your response percentages will increase. This lets you eliminate less effective sources for acquisition.
Also, the unseen benefit of this targeting is those targeted customers are likely to be less cost-sensitive because they have been influenced by someone they trust. This inherently means they trust the price and value they get from the product or service.
It’s not that you should use your advocates only to recommend your brand to people. They are much more valuable assets than that. Remember that they contribute valuable content that can power your other marketing campaigns in-store, online, on social, and in your app.
Given that they’re fans of your business, they’ll also be more than happy to participate in your own content efforts, like videos. These videos can be used on your website, social media or other digital media campaigns. By doing this, you will be giving a human face to your marketing campaigns…and nothing moves people more than real stories! Indeed, nobody wants to attend a party where the host speaks about himself all the time. The world of marketing can learn a lot from it. Whether it’s B2B or B2C marketing, customers are not at all interested in knowing what you as a marketer is saying about your products. They want to know what customers are saying about your product. Advocate marketing lets you do just the same!
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!
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