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The information age has ushered in an unprecedented level of connectivity that has allowed brands to reach almost anyone. As a result, we now get bombarded with extremely large amounts of advertising messages on a daily basis.
Think about the last time you scrolled through Facebook or watched a video on YouTube — how many promotions were you exposed to?
“With the rise of banner blindness and the phenomenon of children calling pre-roll videos “skip ads,” it’s clear that marketing has to become more about a conversation and less about an interruption.” Source
Enter: Advocacy marketing
In the context of marketing, advocacy tends to focus more on the results and feedback of your happy customers — empowering them to help you reach new people rather than blasting advertisements out to your audience.
This article takes a closer look at the power of advocacy and how you can amplify it in your marketing. We’re going to cover:
- Clarifying what advocacy marketing actually is.
- Your customers are some of your best salespeople.
- It all starts with a great product or service.
- Tools for success.
- Connecting with great content.
- Growing momentum through the flywheel.
- Becoming a farmer.
Clarifying what advocacy marketing actually is
“Advocacy marketing and advocate marketing are two terms often intertwined in the head of marketers. Advocacy marketing tends to focus on the results generated by implementing brand advocacy into your marketing strategy. Advocacy marketing is the result of hundreds of voices spreading positive word-of-mouth about your brand.” Source
By comparison, advocate marketing focuses on listening to the wants and needs of your customers and brand advocates and using this feedback as the inspiration for positive change.
When we talk about the power of advocacy, we are referring to the value of social proof and how your raving fans can be used to reach new audiences and organically grow your brand.
Your customers are some of your best salespeople
“Brand advocates will go out of their way to tell people about you — they will participate in online conversations, write reviews and comments on social media sites, leave positive feedback where they can, and push your own content so it gets more eyeballs.” Source
Humans are social creatures, and we tend to place a high value on other people’s opinions. In fact, one study indicated that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
That’s part of the reason why testimonials are a core feature of product and landing pages, and play such an important role in shopping online. They build trust and reduce the perceived risk of doing business with you.
But that’s not the only reason why your customers are some of your best salespeople. When people share your offerings with their friends, it is much more convincing than if you were to approach them directly. This is because:
- It comes with the persuasion factor already included because people tend to trust their friends recommendations.
- It is laser targeted — your customers are more likely to refer you to the people that you want to reach. After all, most people won’t share your content with others unless they genuinely believe that it will provide value to them. This results in free advertising that helps you to connect with the right people at little or no cost.
- With social media, the reach of referrals can be extremely high (compared to traditional word of mouth).
But getting more sales isn’t the only reason why advocates are a valuable asset in amplifying your marketing. Here are a few other ways that happy customers can help to improve your marketing activities:
- Creating unique content — otherwise known as ‘user generated content’, satisfied clients are much more likely to take photos and share their experiences with your brand on social media. When the message comes from people with no vested interest in your success, it is much more authentic and than branded promotions.
- Improving your online reputation — every positive review shared about your products is an asset for your company. It creates social proof that helps to influence other people’s buying decisions.
- Getting feedback — when people identify with your brand and have a personal connection to what you offer, they are quick to let you know if they like (or dislike) things that you’re doing. Listening to the views of your advocates is a great way to discover what needs to change and what should remain the same.
- Adds the human touch — large companies are often guilty of following ‘company policy’ and losing their personality when it comes to supporting the community. When communications come from passionate brand advocates instead of employees, it often appears to be much more genuine and helpful. For example, most questions asked on the Shopify and Amazon forums are answered by passionate customers and users before the support staff get a chance to respond.
- Cheap and easy — of all the ways to grow your brand online, advocacy is one of the easiest. In essence, it is the digital version of word-of-mouth.
It all starts with a great product or service
“Great companies are built on great products” Elon Musk
Most people enjoy talking about the things they love, and will often go out of their way to tell others about it. Advocacy begins with creating a great product (or service), and then leveraging your customers love to help convince others to buy.
Unlike advertising messages, people don’t go out of their way to promote things unless they see genuine value in them. If your product is lousy, it will be very difficult to find raving fans that care about what you do.
However, when you have a fantastic product that people identify with and offer an awesome customer experience, the power of promoters cannot be understated.
“Good word of mouth can speak volumes about the quality of your business and a trusted referral can do so much for the growth of a business where traditional marketing might fall short. Customer referrals online and in the real world still offer the most effective marketing return on investment, and arguably carry the most weight to a potential customer.” Source
How advocacy campaigns work
The best ways to encourage advocacy and referrals are the simplest. After all, who likes unnecessary complexity?
Here’s a basic overview of how advocacy works:
- Provide a fantastic product or service to the right people.
- Offer excellent customer service and content to support your fans and thrill them with the experience of buying from you.
- Politely ask for a review, testimonial, write-up or other activity that builds social proof. Be specific in your request.
- Share your social proof everywhere — social media, product pages, landing pages, case studies and advertisements.
- Reach new people through advocacy and delight more happy customers.
By getting your customers to do the talking, it shifts the tone of conversation from ‘look at what we are doing’ to ‘look at what people are saying about us’, which boosts your credibility and helps to align your offering with the needs and wants of the people that you’re seeking to serve.
Tools for success:
When it comes to setting up your tech stack, it’s important to look for ways to automate where possible. Reducing the level of human input makes your activities scalable and frees up time to provide the human touch where it matters most.
There are three key areas to think about when considering which tools to use. These are:
- Getting testimonials — politely asking customers for their feedback.
- Recording reviews — places and platforms where people can share their thoughts.
- Publishing feedback — automatically posting the latest reviews to keep it fresh and authentic.
Depending on the ecommerce platform you use, there are a range of apps that can be setup to ask customers for their feedback. When you’re considering which tool to implement, the main factor to consider is how easily it can integrate with your existing systems.
For ecommerce stores, our favourite tool is Delighted — it’s simple, effective and easy to use.
“Delighted is the fastest and easiest way to gather real time, actionable feedback from your customers, employees, partners, and vendors.” Source
When somebody makes a purchase on your website, Delighted automatically sends them an email asking how likely they would be to recommend you to a friend or colleague (out of 10) and if they have any feedback to share. This email can be sent immediately, or after a predetermined period of time (e.g: 5 days).
It’s easy to setup and can be automated within minutes. Simply connect the integration to your store, customize the message and parameters and it’s all ready to go.
This is a great way to maintain a regular pulse on customer satisfaction — but it’s more than just requesting feedback. Asking clients to rate you out of 10 forms the basis of the net promoter score.
“Net Promoter Score®, or NPS®, measures customer experience and predicts business growth. This proven metric transformed the business world and now provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs the world round.” Source
We use this tool in Paintvine as the most important metric for determining future revenue growth and identifying issues that need to be addressed before they become problems. Thanks in part to the use of NPS, our young startup grew from $0 to over $75,000/month revenue in under 2 years. Click here to read the case study.
From TrustPilot to Capterra, there are a myriad of review platforms that can be used to collect and display your customer’s feedback. Whilst there are a wide range of places that you can ask customers to leave feedback, it’s best to focus on one or two platforms to ensure that your reviews get the maximum effect.
Here are a handful of options to consider:
- Facebook pages — if you’re a consumer brand that uses Facebook as part of your marketing strategy, it may be worth asking customers to leave their feedback here. This way, it is highly visible and easy for people browsing social media to find.
- TrustPilot — as one of the original review websites, TrustPilot offers a simple and easy to navigate interface.
- TripAdvisor — the ultimate review platform for tourism and hospitality and providers. TripAdvisor gives consumers the ability to share their honest feedback with other travellers.
- G2 — a crowd-based review platform catered towards tech businesses.
- Capterra — this review site offers incentives for people to leave feedback about business software providers.
When considering which platforms to utilise, think about where your customers are most likely to spend their time and what is going to be easiest for them to use. You want to make it as easy as possible, and avoid any friction in gathering testimonials.
Now that you have an automated way of gathering reviews, and plenty of happy customers sharing their thoughts on your platform of choice, you’ll want to share these reviews with the world.
Our favourite tool to display this feedback is Fomo.
“I trial tested a few competitors, but none of them were able to match the ease of use, the number of integrations or the customization of Fomo. Hands down Fomo is the best value social proof tool out there. Perfect for e-commerce and perfect for my business.” — Source
Fomo (short for fear of missing out) displays real-time notifications to people visiting your website. These pop ups can show a wide range of things — such as customer feedback, recent purchases, the amount of stock remaining and more.
It is easy to customise (without needing to learn coding), and takes advantage of machine learning to constantly improve your conversion rates. In this manner, Fomo closes the feedback loop and helps to drive sales from your happy customers on-site.
Whilst this tool may not be perfect for every type of business, Fomo is certainly useful for Shopify stores that sell products and services.
Connecting with great content
“Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.” Source
It is often said that in the digital world, ‘content is king’. As consumers, we interact with all forms of content (blogs, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc.) to form the basis of our knowledge and buying decisions.
Content marketing is all about creating useful pieces of information that are designed to help your target customers with their unique problems.
There are all kinds of content that can be used in your digital marketing activities. Developing case studies is a great way to combine advocacy with content marketing to help people understand the value that you offer from a human perspective that goes a bit deeper than a testimonial can.
Building trust with case studies: A2X
A2X is an accounting integration that makes it easy for Amazon and Shopify sellers to maintain an accurate set of financial accounts. To help A2X build social proof, we developed a library of high quality video case studies that show how the app has solved tricky client problems.
By identifying common issues, and presenting A2X as the solution through real-life case studies, we were able to support our marketing partners with easily shareable content and give potential customers a glimpse of the benefits that can be enjoyed from working with us.
These videos form the basis of our paid advertising on social media, and we share them across a range of other platforms such as YouTube and LinkedIn. By syndicating the case studies on a wide range of platforms, they work as effective lead generation tools that continue to deliver value long after they are produced.
Growing momentum through the flywheel
Sales funnels are a concept that has been synonymous with marketing for close to 100 years. In essence, a sales funnel begins with finding leads and nurtures potential clients into paying customers through a series of communications and promotions.
Whilst this is great in theory, it treats customers as a resource to be gained — the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In reality, getting new customers is just the beginning.
“All of the time and energy spent sending them down the funnel is lost as soon as they hit the end of it. So it would make sense to put customers at the centre of all that you do and use this momentum to convert this energy into even more customers. That’s where the flywheel comes into play.” Source
Compared to the marketing funnel, the flywheel focuses on putting customers at the center of your business and building your growth engine around happy clients.
Whilst this may seem like common sense, the concept of the marketing flywheel was only introduced (by HubSpot) last year. Check out this resource for a detailed insight into how it works.
In essence, the flywheel seeks to grow the momentum of your business by empowering brand advocates to share your offerings with their friends and colleagues, and using their feedback to improve your offering and reduce friction at every step along the way.
“With the flywheel, you use the momentum of your happy customers to drive referrals and repeat sales. Basically, to keep your business spinning.” Source
Through our experiences with Hypergiant, A2X, Paintvine and numerous other brands, we have found the flywheel to be an extremely effective framework for growth that begins with caring for our loyal customers.
Becoming a farmer
This conceptual shift from ‘hunting’ new leads to ‘farming’ your existing community places a stronger focus on service and support — creating a sustainable business model that seeks to serve you well into the future.
With this in mind, what are you doing to look after your best customers, and how do you incorporate their satisfaction into your marketing efforts?