Digital Marketing

Are You Harnessing The Power of Brand Advocates?

Social Influencer Case StudyYesterday I wrote a case study post on ReadyTalk and how they worked with Influitive to work with all of their happy customers to market their brand.

In this case study, we learned that advocates are simply people who are happy with your brand. In order to get them to keep talking about you without getting burned out or feeling like their being used, you need to reward them.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Once we understand what an advocate is, where we can find them, and who exactly they are, the hardest part is yet to come – asking them to talk about you.

A Bold Marketing Claim

To get a more in depth look at advocate marketing, I talked to Mark Organ, Founder of Influitive.

Before starting Influitive, a platform designed specifically to serve as a hub for companies to house their advocate marketing programs in, he started Eloqua, which was acquired by Oracle two years ago. It’s safe to say this man knows his stuff when it comes to engaging customers… 

Mark claims that in 10 years, every marketing team will have an advocate marketer.

“Influitive is simply riding on the wave of a powerful force—the voice of the customer.” 

He says that advocate marketing will be as mainstream in a few years as email marketing is today. (tweet this)

I dig bold claims and I am a strong supporter of bringing customers in to the brand instead of treating them as an outside part of a brand, so I was naturally drawn to this topic.

More Control with an Organized Process

Whether it’s using a platform like Influitive or  setting up an internal process, having an organized advocate marketing strategy and reward system in place gives marketers more control over word of mouth than they’ve ever had.

Aside from keeping customers satisfied, WOM is generally out of your hands. However, implementing an advocate marketing program gives marketers a little more control over their program when executed well. For starters, you are creating and incentivizing a group to share brand recommendations and information.

Mark explained that the main difference between traditional WOMM and advocate marketing is that with advocate marketing “marketers can scale the voice of the customer across the entire organization while providing an ongoing mutually beneficial relationship for advocates.”

The fact that advocate marketing programs are opt-in-only and propelled with incentives gets rid of the whole “customer burnout” factor that results when you ask too much of your customers.

“We all have companies and products that we love and want to talk about but without a system that provides recognition for this effort, advocate activity tends to wane over time.”

Who are the Right People?

One of the most crucial components of outreach marketing is that marketers reach out to the right people at the right time

I asked Mark for advice on finding the “right” people to invite in to a program. I liked what he had to say:

“Every customer, partner and employee should be considered a potential advocate—they just need the right experience, relevant content and feedback to keep them engaged.”

Authenticity?

Some marketers may ask if incentivizing advocates to talk about you leads to inauthentic posts.

I think, when done well, an advocate marketing program can simply amplify sincerity in the voice of people who like your brand.

Scoring authentic brand recommendations comes from inviting the right people to be in the program in the first place. Find advocates based on the following criteria and you can’t go wrong!

Here are some ideas for finding the right people for your advocate program:

  • Send a customer survey to your entire client base. Set a certain score that people need to rate you and consider these the “uber happy people” and invite them in to your advocate marketing program.
  • Talk to your customer facing employees such as support and sales and ask them to recommend people who would be a good fit.
  • Monitor the social world and invite people who write about you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Any customers who have participated in acts of advocacy in the past such as worked with you on a case study or recommended other clients.

Closing the Feedback Loop

Not only can advocate power be harnessed for the good of sales, but working with them closes the feedback loop as well.

It’s no secret that your customers have the best input on how to improve your product or service. However, getting this input can sometimes be tough especially if you’re asking the same customers over and over again.

Part of having a group of advocates that you work with in an incentive program is that you can also ask them product improvement questions and reward them for their input.

campaignideas-webimageMark explained that, “Advocate marketing gathers a large pool of stakeholders into one central location where they can be surveyed about almost anything at any time. Advocates can choose to participate in these activities according to their timeline, not the company’s.”

Do you think advocate marketing is the next big thing? Please share your input in the comments! Cheers to an awesome discussion!