Customer Advocacy Program to Nurture Customers into Brand Advocates

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Sruti Satish
Sruti Satish Member Posts: 9 Contributor
First Comment 5 Likes First Anniversary GGR Blogger 2022
edited January 2022 in Strategy & Planning

Have you ever sat down and taken note of how many customers talk about your brand in a positive light? You are missing out on a gold mine of marketing currency if you haven’t. But if you have, then how about the different ways you can use their voice to promote your brand? That is the crux of a customer advocacy program. Your advocacy marketing is crucial to stay relevant in your niche. In this article, we will talk about the different programs to turn customers into brand advocates.

What is a Customer Advocacy Program?

An advocacy marketing program or customer marketing program is a strategy to nurture your highest-quality customers into brand advocates so that their voice promotes your product and services within their circle of influence. 

If you look at the relevant data you will understand what you are missing out on. According to a 2017 study by IDC, 67% of B2B IT vendors have customer advocacy programs, a 570% increase over 2016.  

The Inner Workings of Customer Advocacy Programs

If you want to learn more about the importance of customer advocacy, you can refer to this guide. Here we want to talk about the 5 major steps that make up a customer advocacy campaign. These are:

  1. Segment
  2. Invite
  3. Enable
  4. Reward
  5. Re-engage

Segment

The first step to creating your customer advocacy campaign is to segment and find your best customers. If you reach out to customers who have a strenuous relationship with your brand then it will just worsen things. You want to reach out to the best prospects and to do that you need to look at the customer data. In B2B SaaS, you have to care about the customer's health like a baby and it will be your best indicator of a potential prospect. Keep a close look at the goals achieved too. If you have good customer health and goals achieved, you can move to the next step with the prospect.

Invite

Write a beautiful email to your best prospects explaining to them what the program will entail. Tell them about the incentives that they will receive and please don’t be salesy. Even though we have segmented the customers, you can also invite customers through social channels with a post or your product or surveys. This will be a shot in the dark but with a lot of targets, the chances of hitting a couple are high.

Enable

Now that you have a list of people interested in your customer advocacy campaign, it is time for action. People will soon lose interest if you don’t take the next step. Mobilize, encourage and enable them to participate. Get advocates to:

  1. Post positive content: Tell your advocates to post reviews, testimonials, get them to post about your product on their blog or social media, quote, and more. Draw inspiration from the goals they have achieved through your product. 
  2. Share your content: Have the advocates share your content to their channels. This will be a huge boost as peer-to-peer recommendations get the highest clicks. It will be easy traffic for you.
  3. Referral Leads: Oh this is the best part of having strong brand advocates. Have your advocates share your sales offer with their circle. Referral leads have a 5x-10x higher chance of conversion and people are 4x more likely to purchase through friends. 

You can also enable and encourage Advocates to:

  • Participate in product beta programs
  • Take surveys and polls
  • Speak on online events like virtual conferences, webinars, podcasts, etc.
  • Participate in reference calls with prospects
  • Participate in formal case studies; and more.

Reward

Customer Advocacy programs are attached with unique incentives and rewards that drive value for your customers. If you don’t think of a reward system that provides quantifiable value to your customers, your program will fall apart. Gift cards, discounts, exclusive invites to events, or a stage to tell their story. Make them feel at home, make them feel a part of your community, and see the magic of advocacy happen.

Re-engage

Advocacy campaigns are a full circle rather than a one-off system. You have to keep re-engage and re-enable your customers from time to time. Have goals and tasks set up monthly or every two months for your advocates and have tiered rewards attached. This way your advocates get more value out of your brand and you get more value out of your program.

Before you read further: This Customer Advocacy Template will help you create your Advocacy Program in just a few steps.

Customer Advocacy Program Examples

For you to understand what good customer advocacy marketing looks like here are a few examples from top brands like Cisco, Hubspot, Tesla, etc. Note: all the programs are centered around the customer and not their brands. 

HubFans- Hubspot Community

How beautiful is it to have a community of loyal people that talk about your brand, promote it, improve it with regular feedback and create content for you? Hubspot is a very popular CRM and marketing platform. They took their community marketing efforts and advocacy efforts to the next level with the launch of HubFans.

HubFans is a fan group for Hubspot where for loyalty you are given tier rewards, recognition, access to private events, and exclusive communities. It also allows for the top advocates to connect, network, and grow their own brands respectively.

On the first look, HubFans looks open for everybody but you can only reap the benefits if you are an active member. This allows them to kick out any spam accounts.

Spotify

One of the most interesting advocacy campaigns in my eyes was run by Spotify. They quickly realized their popularity during launch and thus added a gate to download their app. You had to be invited by a current user to download Spotify. This scarcity tactic attached with the incentive that every 5 invites got you 3 months of premium membership worked splendidly for Spotify. This is one of the major advocacy programs that made a brand who they are right now.

Cisco

Cisco was quick to analyze and realize that their customers loved to talk about networking. To that end, they launched the Cisco Champions Program. This is a community initiative that encourages proponents to talk about the Cisco brand on networks and social media channels. In return, Cisco has provided the opportunity to network with relevant colleagues, emphasize their expertise, and improve their IT knowledge and skills. 

Examples of program initiatives include influential people posting articles on Cisco's blog, participating in #CiscoChat on Twitter, and participating in the company's weekly podcast to interview Cisco experts. I've appeared in the brand's Engineers Unplugged video series. 

In addition to presentations, Cisco provided loyal customers with other rewards such as invitations to special events, early access to new products, and opportunities to discuss technology-related topics with top Cisco engineers. The result was pretty decent-the Cisco Champions Program did it: 

 

  • Generates about 55,000 Cisco-related tweets. 
  • It persuaded promoters to post 100 posts on Cisco's blog, resulting in over 8,000 social media mentions and over 44,000 hits. 
  • Encouraged influencers to write over 200 Cisco-related articles and posts on their websites and blogs.

Wrapping Up

Customers will always be your most effective supporters. If you can create good customer engagement and focus on those customer needs, you can quickly increase your customer support. Continue to focus on raising customer interest and take advantage of that strong voice. 

 

Now that you understand what constitutes a good customer advocacy program that nurtures brand advocates, it is time to run it and share it with us. You can read more about Customer Success and its role with B2B SaaS marketing here.

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