It should be of no surprise to you that marketing and the way your organization generates sales have altered over time. Sure, traditional digital marketing strategies still work and many are necessary items if you want your company to compete.
But if you find that your organization is not altering and pivoting strategies as the industry shifts, your company can quickly be left behind. And one major strategy that has become imperative to any successful business is advocacy marketing.
So what is advocacy marketing? And why should your organization care and focus attention on it? Keep reading to learn how to create an advocacy marketing engine that generates results.
- Advocacy Marketing Defined
- Advocacy Marketing vs. Influencer Marketing
- What’s So Good About Advocacy Marketing?
- Utilizing Brand Promoters
- Advocacy Marketing Examples
Advocacy Marketing Defined
Advocacy marketing is the process and strategy that encourages and equips employees and customers to share their enthusiasm for your company’s brand, products, services, or experiences. This buzz is created through social media, online reviews, and word of mouth.
This process is a powerful method to drive more brand awareness, increase sales, improve company reputation, and even improve sentiment around people wanting to work for your company.
When employees and customers are advocating for your company, you have an extended team of marketers who are trusted by their colleagues, family, friends, and online networks.
After all, a past Nielsen study found that 83% of consumers placed the most trust in the recommendations of friends and family. And 66% trusted the opinions of consumers they found online.
Types of advocacy marketing
When it comes to advocacy marketing, there are two types you can generally focus your efforts on: employees and customers.
What your organization decides to focus on is entirely up to your business goals and strategies. The best solution is to focus your efforts on both and really power up your brand.
Employee advocacy is a type of advocacy marketing that encourages employees to share and create content around the company they work for in an organic way to attract new business and top talent.
Customer advocacy is a type of advocacy marketing that encourages customers to share and create content and leave company reviews organically in order to drive more awareness and sales.
Advocacy Marketing vs. Influencer Marketing
Utilizing one or both of these types of advocacy marketing can be much more effective than influencer marketing. Think about it, employees and customers work closely together with your company, products, and services every day.
Employees and customers have more trust and influence than you may realize, even if they don’t have 100k+ social followers.
That’s not to say influencer marketing doesn’t have its place, as it can be a great way to get your brand in front of a large audience quickly.
But advocacy marketing is the way to build authentic, trusted, and long-term influence that will continue to strengthen your brand. Influencer marketing has an immediate impact but quickly trails off until you spend more money to engage an influencer further.
What’s So Good About Advocacy Marketing?
Besides having your employees and customers creating, sharing, and talking about your company, there are some powerful data points to back up its effectiveness.
- Over 90% of consumers trust WOM marketing recommendations over any other type of marketing
- Peer-to-peer marketing is the leading driver behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. (McKinsey)
- Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate
- On average, brands see a 650% ROI for every dollar invested in advocacy marketing.
- Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. (Social Media Today)
- 76% of individuals admit that they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than content shared by brands
- Customer advocacy has been shown to increase marketing effectiveness by as much as 54%.
Creating Your Advocacy Marketing Strategy
Hopefully, advocacy marketing is sounding pretty good to you! And it’s a strategy that continues to be incredibly valuable and not just a “fad” for many brands. The idea of utilizing and empowering employees and customers further impacts your business, without a doubt.
So how do you create your advocacy marketing strategy? Well, to really harness its power, your organization needs to focus on these key tips.
1. Why do you want to incorporate advocacy marketing?
Before you really start to put an advocacy marketing strategy in place, you need to understand your “why.” Is doing this another checkbox for executives and your team or is it just to make your lackluster product or services look better?
Certainly, your reasoning can be selfish in nature, but your advocacy marketing needs to be a two-way street where your advocates are also benefiting. And your organization needs to genuinely care about delivering great experiences to employees and customers.
Trying to slap a half-assed strategy together without being genuine, is not going to yield you authentic advocacy marketing results, nor will advocates continue to support for very long.
2. Provide the best product or service possible
Although it should be obvious, I can’t ignore including it in the list — without the BEST product, service, or work culture possible, customers and employees are not going to your advocates.
Your overall marketing, employee experience, or client success can only do so much — but a lackluster product, services, or work culture can be devastating to an advocacy strategy.
Figure how to deliver on those areas, continue to delight, and advocacy marketing becomes much easier and more effective.
3. Focus on the customer experience
Without your customers, you don’t have a business. It’s as simple as that. And that means the customer experience is one of the most important needs when it comes to how you deliver your product or provide a service.
The better these interactions and experiences, the easier it is to harness a customer advocacy strategy.
And it becomes less of an intensive process because you have customers that do not need much additional encouragement to leave reviews, create social posts about your brand, and tell others about your company.
4. Focus on the employee experience
While advocacy marketing might lean more towards customers, don’t forget the impact your employees can have on your brand. They have insights into your organization and additional networks to make your company known.
But if you aren’t building a great work culture, providing professional development, and genuinely caring about your people — you’ll find employees actively disengaged, tuning out their work, and not going out of their way to be advocates.
When organizations get employee experience right, they can achieve twice the customer satisfaction and innovation that generates 25% higher profits. (Avanade)
5. Build an attractive brand
Ask yourself, what attracts you most to a brand? There are probably tons of qualities you look for in a company, but what about their brand makes you want to advocate for them? You have to put yourself in the customers’ shoes, but also how employees feel, too.
Building an attractive brand is no easy feat, as it takes multiple departments and leadership to create an environment and brand that people connect with beyond the great product or services.
It doesn’t mean your company needs to get it completely perfect on day one, but continual efforts need to be made to make more emotional connections.
6. Find current advocates and learn from them
Your company probably already has advocates talking about your brand online, even without you realizing it. The more obvious advocates are customers — as reviews, social media company tagging, or emails can be some indications of their experiences.
But employees are also talking about your brand online. 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company (Weber Shandwick).
Spend time identifying customer advocates and employee advocates via social listening, review sites, or surveys (internal and customer feedback).
These can help you understand the views of your company currently, who is advocating, and then later be able to run advocacy campaigns or initiatives more effectively.
Utilizing Brand Promoters
As you recall from the last step in the previous section, finding current advocates and brand ambassadors is important to advocacy marketing. You need to get to know them, why they are promoting your brand.
From there, it helps you know how to build campaigns to ramp up efforts or how you can partner with them to encourage more advocacy results.
Utilizing these current brand promoters helps you guide your strategy, gain more enthusiasm from them for their recognition, and can help you lead more advocacy initiatives such as:
- Creating loyalty, rewards, and experience programs
- Implementing contests around user-generated content (UGC)
- Making it easy for people to advocate with the right tools, content, and assets (employee advocacy software, rewards platforms, etc.)
Advocacy Marketing Examples
Although you might be new to advocacy marketing or you are a seasoned pro, it’s great to see some examples of companies doing well with this strategy.
There are multiple variations and creative ways to engage customers and employees, but these are some solid examples of brands engaging their advocates well.
It’s hard to ignore Elon Musk and his company Tesla these days, but they have also implemented more customer advocacy initiatives into their marketing.
Encouraging those with great branding, innovative products, and referral programs that incentivize customers further.
Their current and simple referral program includes:
- You and anyone using your referral link can each earn 1,000 miles of free Supercharging with the purchase of a new Tesla car. And each car referral also gives you a chance to win a Model Y monthly or Roadster supercar quarterly. Owners who already have free Supercharging get two chances to win.
- Anyone using your referral link can earn a $100 award after system activation for solar panels or Solar Roof to reduce reliance on the grid and produce clean solar energy. You will earn a $400 award for each solar referral. Additionally, you will earn one Powerwall for 10 or more solar referrals, limited to one award.
One of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, T-Mobile has nailed down their customer advocacy and employee advocacy efforts.
Utilizing their amazing customers (business owners to individual users) and their employees to elevate their brand in numerous ways.
For example, social media is a big part of T-Mobile’s marketing, and getting their employee advocates involved is massive for their branding and reach.
Not only are corporate employees advocating, but it trickles down to all parts of the company including frontline employees in their stores who work closely with customers every day.
This content is used internally to drive more awareness to more employees and content that is shared to their individual social networks.
The digital and creative tech company has always been an innovator in their space, which should be no surprise about their early emphasis on advocacy marketing.
While some companies may focus more on customers or employees, Adobe draws their attention to both equally.
They utilize EveryoneSocial to engage over 900 internal brand advocates, to help them spread the word about their company.
This leads to an additional 3 million+ network reach and encourages more employees to get involved through their contests.
Additionally, the company utilizes user-generated content and stories about creatives all over the world utilizing their products. Take a look at their Instagram for example and you’ll find examples of this.