What is Advocate Marketing: What it is and Why Does it Matter?
B2B businesses are throwing the kitchen sink at their marketing tactics in hope of finding the "silver bullet"" that effectively reaches and converts new prospects.
But the fact is: prospects are getting more difficult to effectively reach and convert.
Customer acquisition costs are rising, and companies are burning money trying to reach customers through new channels.
To counteract this, businesses are focusing on advocate marketing in hopes they can activate existing customers to do the selling for them.
There are three key reasons why this strategy will work for your business. Before we dive into them, let's define advocate marketing and discuss how to leverage it.
What is advocate marketing?
Advocate marketing is the art of leveraging your customers' positive endorsements of your brand to convert new customers in their network.
This can be accomplished by amplifying their social media posts, video testimonials, and written endorsements and turning them into valuable marketing assets.
The best part about advocate marketing: when customers have a positive experience with your company, they are ready to share it. It's nearly intuitive.
More than 72% of customers say that they will tell someone in their network about a positive experience they have with a company.
You just need to be ready to repurpose that user-generated content into assets that are beneficial for your company.
When you think about advocate marketing, consider it driving three different actions: product adoption, customer lifetime value, and revenue growth.
First, customers sharing their positive experiences with fellow colleagues will increase their interest and trial of your product. This may strengthen the existing customer's commitment to your company and drive their lifetime value.
Collectively, both customers will drive revenue growth for the company—one by purchasing the new product and the other by renewing their product subscription since they are now an advocate for the brand.
This cycle can continue as you convert more customers into passionate advocates.
It's a flywheel that will keep on spinning as long as you deliver a premiere customer experience and figure out how to effectively amplify customers' positive recommendations and testimonials.
The significance of advocate marketing
The way prospects evaluate and purchase from businesses is constantly changing.
Customers aren't just paying attention to the message anymore. B2B marketers need to consider the way the message is delivered. This includes taking into account the messenger and the medium.
There is so much marketing clutter bombarding customers. People will pay more attention to the messages that come from those they trust.
That's the power of advocate marketing. An endorsement from an existing customer will always be more powerful than a paid ad by a company.
Customer voices can cut through the marketing clutter, because they are believable to other potential customers that are facing similar challenges. They're looking for solutions, so they are going to listen to the people that know what they're going through.
These voices will champion your brand in a way you might not have been able to embrace before.
Reviews from customers who have seen your product and worked with it carry more weight than the word of a marketing exec or sales person.
Companies need to shift their marketing from a push marketing strategy—constantly publishing whitepapers, webinars and blog posts.
Sure, there is still a need for those assets. However, the true value of customer-based marketing is facilitating and amplifying unique customer voices that can be trusted.
Businesses need to stay ahead of the trend and leverage customer endorsements to ensure that their messaging is authentic, believable, and true.
3 reasons why advocate marketing is essential
Advocate marketing is quickly becoming an essential marketing tactic for all businesses.
Companies have been focused on delivering superior products and services for years. Why is customer advocate marketing so essential today?
Let's take a look at three of the primary reasons why businesses are leveraging customer advocate marketing to reach their prospects.
1. Buyers are wary of company-led advertising.
Let's face it: the companies that pushed the boundaries with deceiving advertising have ruined it for the rest of us.
Public trust in advertisements has taken a nose-dive over the past few decades. Only 25% of buyers trust advertisements. This is nearly half the amount (48%) who trusted advertisements in the early 1990s.
Customers are wary of advertisements that are produced and promoted by the business unit.
Even worse, ads aren't even reaching prospective customers like they were in years prior.
With the mass adoption of ad blockers, prospects can easily navigate digital environments and bypass ads. Approximately 47% of internet users use an ad-blocker today, making it even more difficult for businesses to reach customers through traditional digital means.
The diluted effect of these traditional and digital advertising methods can be felt in their diminishing effectiveness.
That's why advocate marketing is so essential. Advocate marketing eliminates the issue of trust. Since the message is coming from someone who is actually using the product, the prospect may value their word over the business' recommendation.
With customer advocate marketing, businesses are transforming customers into vocal, loyal endorsers that are sharing their successes with the company in their inner circles.
Businesses need to harness these advocate marketing channels to ensure that they are reaching potential buyers in a way that will resonate with them.
In a recent study, 74% of customers had the highest level of trust for a product or service when they were first introduced to the brand by a peer and then learned more directly from the company's owned channels.
The least trustworthy method? Only 65% of people trust a message when they see it in an ad and then again on social media.
The missing component is the peer reference, which can be achieved and amplified if an advocate marketing strategy is in place.
Peer, owned, social and paid components can all contribute to the level of trust someone has for a branded message.
However, a vital advantage that advocate marketing has in leveraging word of mouth peer communication as opposed to paid channels is the low-cost associated with it.
2. Customer acquisition costs are soaring.
No matter your industry, your customer acquisition costs are likely rising. Even worse, marketing budgets are tightening as businesses look for new ways to stretch dollars.
Ad budgets are getting analyzed with executives putting pressure on strategists and ad managers to continuously optimize to lower their customer cost of acquisition.
There is so much competition for ads on digital channels and thousands of websites competing for the top organic result on Google for the same focus keyword.
With this heightened competition, bids are increasing for each cost-per-click.
However, focusing on lowering your customer acquisition cost can have a dramatic impact on your revenue.
In fact, a 1% improvement in your blended customer acquisition cost results in a 3.3% increase in revenue. It doesn't stop there, though. If you retain the customers — and improve your overall retention by 1% as well — you'll enjoy a 6.7% increase in revenue, on average.
Simply moving beyond the investment in digital ads and content can help lower your customer acquisition cost — especially if you focus on advocate marketing.
Customers that have a positive experience with your company and share it organically in conversations with your friends will cost you next to nothing.
That's why businesses need to leverage their customers as a natural marketing channel that can reach more high-value customers.
The right endorsement from the right customer can be the impactful nudge that a prospect was needing to finally convert.
And the best part is: it can happen organically without your marketing team even needing to chase that prospect down with an elaborate account-based marketing campaign.
Most of the reasons to leverage advocate marketing that we've discussed so far focus on external circumstances that require a need for a low-cost marketing channel that people trust.
However, it's important to highlight that the user-generated content that can be extrapolated from advocate marketing is truly an effective form of content by itself too.
3. Customer-driven content is a powerful marketing asset.
People don't just listen to their peers. They buy based on their recommendations.
The key here is the conversion rate of customer marketing in terms of channeling those customer-driven reviews and testimonials.
Businesses need to harness the power of their customers' positive experiences and package them into reusable marketing assets.
These assets can include:
In addition, they can simply be added to the website's homepage or product page to increase their visibility in front of interested prospects.
Your conversion rate can increase by as much as 380% when reviews and testimonials are added to a product page for high-priced items.
Look at this testimonial for BlueTarp:
Rick Thonet, Director of Credit Marketing for Northern Tool & Mailer shared why BlueTarp drives so much value for the company.
They are incredibly focused on customer experience (as any company that wants to increase their advocate marketing is) and appreciate that BlueTarp can deliver an optimal experience for their customers when they need credit.
He adds, "They care about your customers as much as you do."
This is a powerful asset that amplifies the voice of an existing customer who has been transformed into an advocate for the BlueTarp brand.
Rick has had a positive experience with the company and was more than willing to work with BlueTarp to create their video and share his customer experience with his network and the world.
Assets like these are what you need to have in your digital content arsenal.
Video testimonials are high-value assets that businesses can use to start to really get the value out of their advocate marketing.
Video testimonials can generate 62% more revenue from every customer, simply due to how enticing and believable they can be.
To put it simply: advocate marketing works. It's a cost-efficient and effective form of marketing that businesses need to deploy.
But how do you know if someone is a good fit to be featured in a video testimonial?
To find potential brand advocates, review your current customers and try to get a sense of which would make a good brand advocate.
You can examine existing customers by their customer relationships or by considering who would give you a referral in the form of an advocacy campaign.
Customer satisfaction is critical to the success of your advocacy marketing program. You don't want to hound a new customer immediately once they purchase.
Instead, focus on creating relationships with potential advocates that you can work with later to drive brand awareness for potential customers.
By leveraging your most passionate customers, you can create valuable marketing assets including video testimonials, webinars, case studies and more.
The way businesses reach their customers is changing, and marketers need to find channels that work for them.
Marketers can activate their current customers and turn them into their ambassadors through customer advocate marketing.
This is an essential, low-cost way to reach new buyers through the voice of your current customers.
Due to a lack of trust in advertisements, rising customer acquisition costs, and the overall effectiveness of a customer endorsement, it makes sense to adopt this strategy.
By doing so, you’ll reach more prospects and convert new sales without burning through marketing dollars in the process.
Want to harness the power of your customers’ voice with a video testimonial? Take a look at our gallery of video testimonials to understand how you can amplify your advocate marketing efforts and share your customers’ experiences with the world.