Advocacy Marketing: the best marketers are your customers

Automate the process of promoting your business, your products, or services, make it free, and entrust it to the best possible testimonials: your customers, ready to spend their word and credibility to recommend you to their social network. Advocacy marketing is, in a nutshell, all of this.

It means leveraging the investments made to achieve excellence and ensure maximum customer satisfaction: happy customers tend to talk about what satisfied them in a natural, spontaneous, genuine way, which can lead to new customers at no extra cost.

It works because, as numerous studies conducted in recent years have shown, people tend to place their trust in their peers and no longer in direct advertising. According to a 2015 report by Nielsen, the global information and research organization, 83% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family the most.

Additionally, 66% trusted the consumer opinions they found online. That’s why advocacy marketing is so powerful and growing so fast. Making customers trust your company, and that they are happy throughout the life of your products or services can have a (hugely and positive) impact on sales.

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Advocacy Marketing: Definition

To summarize, advocate marketing means the method that aims to capitalize on customer happiness to achieve business goals. It’s more authentic than traditional marketing because it’s fueled by real human connections. Moreover, it is often practiced without having full awareness of it: drawing on customer comments and experiences to get case studies, testimonials, and feedback means already practicing a first form of advocacy marketing.

advocate marketing brings new customers

The key is to differentiate yourself, be consistent, amaze, give a reason to be loved, and thus trigger the virtuous circle that is activated when satisfied customers start sharing their experience within their social network.

The feedback from those who have already come into contact with your business and spontaneously share their satisfaction is infinitely more effective than any marketing campaign can hope to achieve.

Fantastic, right? However, achieving this goal requires a strategy that implies great application and constancy. Before starting to delve into it, let’s set some key points. Starting from the meaning of advocacy: patronage, support, advocacy.

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Brand Advocacy and Brand Advocate

The brand loyalty indicator expresses the maximum degree of consumer loyalty to the brand. Brand advocacy derives from brand advocates: they are satisfied consumers who recognize themselves in the brand and the values or models of behavior it inspires and who are inclined not only to use it but also to recommend it to their acquaintances through word of mouth.

Brand Advocate is a voluntary seller. A client who proactively uses their time and social capital to promote a business or cause. Here are further definitions of brand advocate according to the different interpretations of professionals in the sector.

Advocacy marketing strategy

To start defining a marketing advocacy strategy, you must always keep in mind who your advocates are, i.e. your best supporters. They are the people who have made a great purchase from your company. Regardless of whether they have purchased a product or a service, what is certain is that they have been extremely satisfied: you have solved their deeply rooted need, or you have been surprisingly better than the average.

Your product (or service) is where it all starts. If you want to invest in advocate marketing, if you want people to spontaneously talk about you, you have only one way: sell something first-rate. And that it stands out. Think about your direct experience: would you ever think of recommending to friends something you bought but didn’t find satisfactory? Or that you could have easily found elsewhere?

To offer a better product you have everything you need: it’s yours, and no one knows better than you how you do it. You know its purpose, so it’s easy for you to imagine what consumers expect when buying it. And then? Look at your complaints or your competitors’ complaints and capitalize on them – use that valuable feedback to improve what you are putting in the market.

Cultivate experience

Marketing advocacy begins when the sales team finishes their work and rolls the ball. Once the marketing work ended with the purchase of the product, today it is no longer possible to think in these terms.

A new phase simply begins one in which the company must focus on monitoring the satisfaction of the customer it has acquired, surprise them again, push them to grow perhaps with new purchases, and create a great brand experience aimed at loyalty.

Naturally, in this regard it is essential to have a metric to measure customer satisfaction and professional tools such as the Net Promoter Score are invaluable in this sense. Also, analyze customer engagement with your content on your website, social channels, and support channels.

In summary: when someone buys from your company you are selling them an experience that begins with the act of purchase but can (and must) go further. As? With memorable packaging, or with an excellent user experience on your website, or even a punctual and very rapid customer care experience. These are just a few examples, of course.

The importance of customer service

It is one of the simplest, but also the most tiring methods to stand out. The vicissitudes of those who buy are countless, the web is full of stories of misadventures and negative feedback. Equipping yourself so as not to end up in this magma of complaints is essential. It is possible to have problems with products, it is equally possible for a brand to be able to convert this difficulty into an opportunity.

customer advocacy marketing strategy

Prompt, precise, courteous, and punctual assistance can erase the bad experience during the purchase or use of the product and greatly increase trust in the brand.

Even more so if you sell digitally: did you know that 66% of users check the returns page before buying a product? Having a transparent and clear policy is essential, it is easy to understand what impact it has on sales.

Share experiences

Great, your advocacy marketing strategy works and you have many customers who support your brand. What to do with it?

You’ll want to showcase all the positive opinions and content your advocates share online about your brand, your business, and their experience with your services, in your online store and all the channels available to you. Integrating this content into your buying process can increase your conversion rates by 10-15%.

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Social Advocacy Marketing

When people who support your brand share content about you on their social channels, they automatically refer you to their friends and family, with all the benefits already discussed.

The shared content will become a native advertisement, a user-generated content which will contribute sensitively first of all to the creation of brand awareness (the infamous awareness ) and secondly to the increase of trust.

social model advocacy model

Posts of this type will have a diffusion, and a pervasiveness, far greater than what a sponsored ad could reach: the social network of your brand advocate will be predisposed to read, understand and trust that message more than it could ever do. one released by the company.

Therefore, for successful advocacy marketing, the importance of adopting a precise social media monitoring strategy and wisely supervising the virtual environments in which most of the game for success is played out is implicit.

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Brand Advocate VS Influencer (or brand ambassador)

People probably confuse an influencer with a supporter. They look like two similar figures, but they have many differences. The supporter of the brand is the first customer/consumer and becomes its fan and prescriber; the influencer is instead a figure with high credibility on a given topic.

But I propose to go into detail to better understand the differences:

  • Supporters of a brand communicate new opportunities on products and services to family and friends; influencers use social networks to spread the news to their followers and present what the brand offers them.
  • Brand advocates are trusted more than influencers, seen as closer to consumers and more like them.
  • Influencers are often celebrities, bloggers, and experts in a certain sector and they address a large audience; while supporters are satisfied customers of the brand and recommend it to their circles.
  • The messages of the influencers, although very generic, are of greater scope than that of the ambassadors. However, the latter conveys the message in a more personalized way.
  • Regarding the functions, a supporter favors a project, both in terms of communication and branding, and helps to improve products and services by becoming a sort of beta tester.

Employee advocacy marketing

In an advocacy marketing strategy employee activity can be very, very effective. In promoting and building trust in a company, employees are more credible and influential than their CEOs and directors, according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer.

Naturally, then, each employee can count on at least a few hundred contacts on their various social channels and this outlines their power and potential in terms of their ability to penetrate their audience with messages of interest to the company.

For this to happen, they need to be properly trained, educated, and involved in the corporate advocacy project. The benefits are for all the parties involved: for the company which spreads its awareness, and for the customers who (through skillful content strategy) increase their reputation and credibility.

It is crucial to define a policy and that the resulting best practices are shared and not imposed from above. Employees must know what they can and cannot do but at the same time are involved in the process of defining an advocacy marketing strategy.

Furthermore, it will not be possible to force them to share content on their channels, but by encouraging them to do so through rewards, it will be possible for all those involved to obtain the desired result.

employee advocacy marketing

Conclusions

Advocacy marketing is not a marketing strategy but a philosophy of life. It’s about focusing on being the best, every day, thus attracting your brand advocates naturally. By reporting their experience, these advocates will attract others, creating an “army” of loyal customers.

“Tell me and I’ll forget about it. Show me and I might forget. Involve me and I will understand”.

An American proverb sums up the meaning of advocacy marketing. Commitment to achieving excellence, involvement of the consumer who is no longer a spectator but a leading actor in this process. Only in this way will he be ready to follow us, advise us, promote us, and make us successful.

Are you interested in this topic? You could deepen it with our Web Marketing course, or with the Digital PR course.

Your customers can surprise you! How do you get them to talk about your company? Contact an expert and define the action plan with him

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