What is customer advocacy?
Customer advocacy takes place when satisfied and delighted customers proactively recommend and speak in favor of your brand and your products/services to other potential customers — so, basically customers who are in love with your brand and willingly spread the good word about you to others on their own channels.
What is a customer advocacy program?
A customer advocacy program is a marketing program with the goal of turning your best customers into customer advocates or spokespeople, and have them recommend your brand, product and/or service. How do you do that? By incentivizing them, through the program, to take up certain behaviors that will get the word out about your brand.
Why are customer advocates important?
Consider the following statistics:
- 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know over any other form of advertisement. (Nielsen, 2013)
- Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions. (McKinsey, 2010)
- Experiential word of mouth accounts for 50 to 80% of word-of-mouth activity resulting from a consumer’s direct experience with a product or service. (McKinsey, 2010)
- 74% of people go through social networks to help make purchase decisions. (Ogilvy Cannes, 2014)
- 49% of people make purchasing decisions based on influencer recommendations. (Twitter and Annalect, 2016)
- 96% of people do not trust the advertising industry — 69% of these people attribute their mistrust to advertisers needing to sell more. (IPSOS, 2015)
- With just a 12% increase in advocacy, on average, companies can experience a 2X growth in revenue. (Influitive)
Need more to be convinced?
Brands that have more customer advocates – more people speaking positively on their behalf on different channels – are more trustworthy in potential customers’ eyes. People become more willing to buy from companies if they can read up on others’ experiences and confirm their satisfaction and delight with their experience of the products/service purchased. New buyers today are more empowered and are taking the time to look at company and product reviews — they research the companies they consider to buy from, and their products and services. And based on the information gathered, they will make a decision – using others’ experiences, comments, reviews, etc. Therefore, customer advocates give brands credibility and help build valuable trust.
The 6 Benefits of having Customer Advocates
Lower your marketing costs
If customers really love you and your brand, they will create content that references you, your products or services, and share it on different channels without asking for anything in return. Satisfied customers who become delighted in their customer journey will speak about that experience and share it with others. This, practically, is free marketing for a customer-centric company (and let’s not forget, as the stats above show, we are talking about the most effective kind of advertisement there is). If you do decide to run a customer advocacy program, the ROI will far outweigh the costs of running the program and the rewards you will give your advocates.
Drive company revenue
If you have many advocates speaking well of your brand, chances are that more people will be buying from you as they trust that kind of advertisement. According to Zuberance, companies get a minimum of $10 return for each $1 they invest in customer advocacy programs. If you decide to implement a customer advocacy program, you will be incentivizing your advocates to take up specific behaviors. This will lead to new customer acquisitions and increase in customer spend and frequency from existing customers – increasing company revenue.
Increase trust and credibility of your brand
Studies show that people do not trust brands that try to sell too hard and speak wonders of their products and services. The customer journey has changed a great deal, as customers are now doing their own research to determine whether a brand is worth buying from or not. Also, customers love customer-centric brands — companies that have customers’ interests at the forefront of every action they take. So seeing a community of people speak well of a brand or experience means that that company really cares about their customers, and that they have a promise of always delivering the very best for their clients. Customer advocacy increases the credibility of a company and the trust in a specific brand to always go above and beyond to keep their customers happy. And obviously, increasing trust will mean an increase in new customers and revenue.
Gain valuable insights into customers
Customer advocates want to help, in whichever way they can. So they don’t only speak wonders about your brand. They are willing to fill out surveys, give feedback and let you know all the ways they think you might improve. Being able to gain this kind of visibility can be difficult to obtain, but it is crucial. This kind of information helps companies make smarter business decisions and continue to deliver the most value to their customers.
Increase engagement and build loyalty
If a company decides to implement a customer advocacy program, engagement levels increase and (studies show) engaged customers are less likely to churn. By implementing a customer advocacy program or incentivizing your customer advocates to take up specific actions, they will feel they are taking part in your business and that they belong to a community. And if rewarded properly for their actions, they will feel cared for and continue to engage with you. Higher engagement creates a long-term relationship which, if everything goes well, increases loyalty levels and customer satisfaction. And the more loyal customers you have, the more they will spend with you, promote you and refer your products/services to other people. To learn a bit more about how to incentivize and reward your customer advocates, read this quick social advocacy and engagement post.
Extend brand reach
If different people are promoting and speaking well of your brand on a number of different channels, you will have a wider brand reach and increase brand awareness amongst a public that you would otherwise not reach, or have difficulty doing so. And you would succeed in doing this through no cost of your own, which is even better.
Having customer advocates is a great benefit to any company and one which will really make it stand out from its competitors. But, like all marketing efforts, having a customer advocacy program cannot be a marketing strategy on its own. It has to be a part of a wider marketing mix whose final objective is always to deliver the best customer experience possible, so as to create that bond which will lead to a long term and fruitful relationship. A customer advocacy program on its own won’t make miracles, but it can definitely up your game if done properly.