The Tool Shed Blog

Customer Advocacy Guide: Your Resource for Sustainable Growth

People-obsessed companies are the ones who win. They get customers to share their positive experiences with other potential customers. And, they do so in a way that is organic and enjoyable. These brands understand that customer advocacy is an important asset in their marketing efforts.

Unhappy customers are less likely to leave positive reviews.  However, good customer service is one of the best ways and the first step in providing  a “WOW” worthy experience. Happy customers have higher average lifetime value and help reduce the cost to acquire a new profitable customer.

The Rise of User-Generated Content (UGC)

The core of customer advocacy is to create a community that keeps talking about your brand and recommend it to others. So, the best way to create a community of advocates is by putting them in charge of their own marketing efforts. You can do so by giving them access to tools and resources  to create their own content and share it with their friends on social media platforms.

User Generated Content (UGC) is created by real customers to promote a brand, product or service.

What is customer advocacy? 

The primary goal of customer advocacy is getting your customers  to act as brand ambassadors. But, customer advocacy isn’t just important for growing brands. It can also help businesses save money by reducing marketing costs. Moreover, customer advocacy increases sales through referrals from the right people - satisfied customers.5 stars

What is a Customer Advocacy Strategy?

A customer advocacy strategy is a coordinated plan of action that enables a company to become a customer-obsessed business. It focuses on building strong relationships with customers to turn them into brand promoters. It's also a way to create a sustainable competitive advantage by understanding your customers' needs and delivering exceptional service.

Customer advocacy  requires collaboration across multiple departments and functions within your organization.  Sales, marketing, customer service, and customer experience (CX) are all involved in the process.

Customers on your marketing campaigns aren’t the ones spreading the word about client service. It's your loyal customers who will spread the word of your business once they have great experiences to share.

Word of mouth marketing is a powerful tool that drives  business growth. This exemplifies just how important  brand and customer experience are to the success or failure of the company and the business' prospects.

Benefits of Customer Advocacy

Scalable systems create the foundation to make the customer an advocate. When customers share your products or services through social media, referral marketing, etc, trust is built, and friction is removed from the buyer’s journey.

Benefits of customer advocacy strategies include:

  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Increased revenue
  • Reduced costs, time, and environmental impact
  • Increased customer lifetime value
  • Reduced cost to acquire new profitable customers.

Brand advocates are remembered for the social proof they create over long-term relationships with brands. In this way, brand advocates reach other customers through social media, goodwill, or peer-to-peer referrals. Check out this article to learn more about the benefits of customer advocacy.

Customer Loyalty Through Customer Advocacy

As noted above, customer advocacy provides direct links to your website and recognition for your brand. A successful customer advocacy program makes it easy for loyal customers to participate and creates more loyalty in the long run.  Increased customer-loyalty can end up driving more referrals, allowing you to reach your desired outcome faster and make the process more cost-effective.

Customer Advocacy is designed to keep good customer advocates and potential buyers engaged through:

  • Brand advocacy
  • Customer engagement
  • Advocacy marketing campaigns

Customer advocacy increases Customer Retention

Your customer success team is at the heart of advocacy in your company. They're the ones who build relationships with customers. They learn about what's important to them and what's not.

Customer success teams help customers succeed by:

  • Identifying opportunities to increase product adoption, usage, and retention
  • Taking action to resolve problems before they become issues
  • Helping customers get more value from your product or service
  • Providing additional information and resources that can help customers succeed

Your customer success team should use referrals, reviews, customer feedback, and social media to continually improve customer experience and increase your loyal customer base.

Furthermore, a dedicated customer advocacy team will regularly earn and reinforce the trust of your new customers and nurture anyone that might not yet see your promise of success.

Industry Expected Earnings Growth

Today, word of mouth customer advocacy marketing drives $6 trillion in annual global spending. It's also responsible for 13% of all sales.

Customer advocacy is one of the most powerful growth channels for any business. In fact, it's a high priority for many companies looking to increase brand awareness and sales.

At gardenpatch, we've worked with clients to create and implement a strong customer advocacy program. This brings their business values into the spotlight and unites them with their core components to form a winning brand for both internal and external customers. 

Why is customer advocacy important to your business?

Loyal customers are worth 10x more than the value of their first purchase. Creating loyal customers and earning positive feedback for your business requires that satisfy existing customer needs. 96% of  customers will tell others about your product or service if they are satisfied with their interaction with your business. In turn, brand advocates become like your external sales team, generating more sales, and repeat business.

Why customer advocacy? Customer advocacy or brand advocacy constitutes a vital part of your overall strategy for customers - both short-term and long-term.

Here are some short-term benefits of customer advocacy:

  • Build stronger customer relationships and increase loyalty throughout your target audience. A successful program can provide the spark that ignites interest and ultimately connects you to those prospects.
  • Increase customer retention. It's difficult to sustain repeat business without increasing customer retention. Plus, a positive product review or recommendation from a customer advocate is one of the best things to motivate a potential customer.
  • Increase customer satisfaction. A customer advocacy program amplifies existing brand loyalty by focusing on the needs of customers.
  • Improve customer service. Customer advocates are excellent sources for customer service because they can answer questions in real-time when customer support may be unavailable.
  • Increase sales. Customers who feel like they have a personal connection with a brand tend to spend more money. This is why influencer marketing has become such a popular method in recent years.
  • Lower marketing costs. By leveraging free advertising opportunities through customer advocates, your marketing expenses can go down considerably while still reaching new audiences and increasing sales overall.

Retention occurs through Loyalty

Loyal customers become more loyal with time. And, loyalty paves the way for brand advocacy. Loyalty programs are an important part of any customer experience strategy.  They are more than just rewards for repeat business. They can also be a powerful tool for generating word of mouth marketing.

Loyalty programs give your customers a reason to talk about you and stay loyal to your business. When loyal customers become advocates for your brand, they want everyone else to enjoy what they enjoy too!

Better Return on Investment

There is no question that return on investment (ROI) is fundamental for any business. Investment along the customer journey and buyer journey can directly increase the profits of a company/brand. Also, the ROI of an advocacy program is usually high after referral marketing. Brands generate a 650% ROI on average for every dollar invested influencer and advocacy marketing.

To accumulate more referrals and eventual sales, you need to use customer advocates to drive advocacy, advertising, and marketing.

Email /Social Media Marketing vs. Customer Advocacy Marketing

Customer advocacy marketing moves beyond the traditional transactional relationship between a company and a consumer. It's about building long-term relationships with consumers by helping them solve problems, share their experiences with your brand publicly, and refer others to you.

Email and social media marketing are still important parts of customer advocacy programs. But they're no longer enough. Today's consumers want more direct engagement with brands.

Preventing Customer Distrust

Only 34% of consumers trust the brands they use. Yet, over 80% of consumers consider trust a deciding factor in their buying decisions.

Customer advocacy programs are a great way to build customer trust and loyalty. Unfortunately, most businesses overlook the impact they can have on their brands.

Empower your happy customers to tell everyone else how awesome you are!

They don't realize that these additional benefits are purely focused on customer retention. However, so many areas related to business, workgroups, and the Customer Advocacy team are often overlooked as those crucial areas struggle to determine ROI.

Collect Your Customer Feedback

If you're not collecting customer feedback, you might as well be flying blind. Customer feedback is the single most important resource for any business. It can help you improve your products and services, create better marketing strategies, and strengthen your relationships with customers.

Likewise, customer advocacy programs are a great way to collect feedback from your advocates. Through their feedback, you can create an ideal advocate profile. Using that profile, will make it much easier to identify potential advocates for your brand.

So, take some time to gather your customers' feedback directly. This can be done through an online or a telephone survey. Before analyzing customer experiences, you want to know what drove them to try your products or services. More importantly, you want show that their feelings, concerns, and opinions are valuable. If advocates are aware of this, they will be more likely to leave online reviews.

How to Identify and Motivate Brand Advocacy

If you want to build brand advocacy, you need to identify passionate customers who will happily share their experiences with others.

Here are a few ways to identify and motivate brand advocates:

  1. Use a social media management tool  to monitor social media conversations and identify advocates.
  2. Ask consumers what they like most about your product or service. Use surveys or polls on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms.
  3. Create a loyalty program that rewards customers for making purchases and referring friends. Some companies offer discounts or points toward future purchases. Others offer free shipping or other benefits such as gift cards or coupons for every referral they receive.
  4. Make sure staff members are knowledgeable about your products/services. They should be able to answer questions customers may have when they contact you through social media channels.
  5. Make it easy for your advocates and followers to share their stories with the world.

Referral Marketing and Customer Advocacy

Referral marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. It's also one of the most under-utilized strategies.

But what makes referral marketing so powerful? And how can you use customer advocacy to amplify its effectiveness?

Referral marketing is all about trust. When someone refers a product or service, they're essentially vouching for it. The trust factor can be leveraged even further through rewards and incentives for successful referrals. This encourages  more people to refer others and help build a strong word of mouth community around your brand.

Developing and Implementing a Customer Advocacy Program

These programs can take many different shapes depending on your goals and resources.

Here are some tips for developing and implementing an effective customer advocacy program:

  1. Start by defining your vision for the program. What do you want it to accomplish? How will it fit into the larger picture of your business? What resources are available to you? How will you measure its success?
  2. Identify your advocates. These are persons who have already expressed interest in helping you promote your products or services. Set up processes for identifying potential advocates and inviting them into the program. Create a plan for engaging them over time, including ongoing communications about new products and opportunities for involvement in special projects.
  3. Focus on creating mutually beneficial relationships with advocates so they feel invested in helping your business grow.

How You Can Use NPS to Improve Your Customer Advocacy Program

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of customer loyalty that helps you determine how likely people are to recommend your brand or product. It asks customers a simple question: “How likely are you to recommend [brand or product] to friends and family?” Customers respond on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being extremely likely, 7 as neutral and 0 being not at all likely.

It can be used alongside other customer satisfaction data to help you improve your customer experience, and ultimately grow your business.

NPS is an important metric for many businesses in industries ranging from retail and hospitality to technology and financial services. In fact, it's been used by thousands of companies worldwide including Intuit, Apple and Amazon to track their customer satisfaction and loyalty over time.

The most important thing you should know about NPS is that it's not just a number. It's a tool with the power to improve your business strategy and increase revenue.

Here are some ways you can use NPS to boost customer advocacy programs:

  1. Improve communication with customers
  2. Get feedback on new product ideas
  3. Identify opportunities for upsell or cross-sell offers

How To Track And Evaluate Customer Advocacy Programs

With the right approach, you can track and evaluate your customer advocacy program to make it more effective. Customer advocacy analytics software can help you understand how much each of your customers is worth,. They can also help you identify which customers are most likely to become advocates, and what actions you can take to increase advocacy rates.

Customer advocacy analytics and software provide businesses with a holistic view of their customers’ personalities, preferences and buying habits. The insights gained from these tools allow businesses to create personalized experiences for each individual customer. Businesses can also use this information to understand their customers’ pain points and how they might be able to solve them.

The best customer advocacy software will help you:

  • Identify your most valuable customers so you know where to focus your user experience efforts
  • Understand what drives customer satisfaction so that you can prioritize improvement initiatives
  • Create personalized experiences based on individual interests and behaviors

Here are some other ways to track customer advocacy:

Sales Data

Sales figures and revenue reports can be valuable metrics for tracking the success of customer advocacy programs. They show how many new customers were referred by existing ones before making a purchasing decision.

Customer Satsifaction Ratings

Compare customer satisfaction ratings before and after implementing an advocacy campaign. This is especially important if you've made changes in response to feedback from advocates who responded during the first survey round.

Compare the results of your advocacy program with other marketing efforts. Do they correlate? Are they similar? If not, what can you do to improve them?

Customer Advocacy and Social Listening

The customer is at the center of every business. And, digital marketing has made it easier than ever to connect with them. With social listening, you can gather insights into how they interact with your brand on social media and use this information to improve your customer advocacy strategy.

Social listening can help you identify the influencers who are talking about your brand. Those insights can then be used to target them with relevant content or offers in order for them to share their experiences with others.

How customer advocacy impacts your marketing team

Customer advocacy is a powerful tool for marketing teams. In fact, it can be the difference between success and failure.

Marketing teams are responsible for driving sales and increasing revenue. But with limited resources and an ever-increasing number of competitors, it’s becoming harder to get your message heard above the noise.

Customer advocacy is an essential part of any modern marketing strategy that helps you build trust, drive engagement, and grow your audience.

Here are some benefits customer advocacy has on your marketing team:

  1. It improves brand awareness
  2. It drives sales growth
  3. It boosts social media engagement
  4. It strengthens relationships with influencers

Bottom Line

Create a holistic view of your increasingly interconnected world. Map all transactions carried out on your customer networks. Measure how your loyal customers engage with your brand, and for that, an advocate is your best bet.

Customer Advocacy is Still on the Rise

Customer advocacy isn't going away anytime soon. In fact, it will become even more important for businesses to find ways to engage their customers and encourage them to share their experiences online. The challenge will be figuring out how to do this without being intrusive or annoying.

The concept of customer advocacy has gained widespread popularity and adoption in business circles. It has gradually started taking a prominent role in customer engagement and loyalty program performance. Getting started with a customer-centric advocacy program is an exciting and highly achievable dream.

The key to a successful and productive advocate-customer relationship will be a blend of effective advocacy tactics and an incentive program.

Let us help you to decide the right strategy and initiatives that will help you achieve your goals. Talk to a growth specialist at gardenpatch, today!

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