Advocacy marketing is marketing that encourages customers of a business to share their experiences with (and opinions of) the company and/or its products and services. This public feedback is important because studies have shown that consumers trust recommendations from their peers far more than any form of traditional marketing or advertising. Advocacy marketing taps into the idea of social proof, indicating that if a product is good enough for one of their peers it will likely be good enough for them as well.
While there has been an emergence in “online influencers” over the past decade, advocacy marketing acknowledges that all people and customers carry influence - albeit to different degrees. Regardless of a person’s status or online following, an honest assessment, review, or endorsement of a product or service can have a significant impact on how others perceive a business and their offerings.
While advocacy marketing includes the transfer of ideas through word-of-mouth, it also goes well beyond it. Common forms of advocacy marketing includes online reviews and ratings, testimonials, and case studies.
Online Reviews and Ratings
It is common consumer behavior at this point to check online reviews before making a purchase. This occurs for online shopping, but also in-person at physical stores through the use of mobile devices. Interestingly, more than 80% of customers will research a product or service online before visiting a store. This underscores the value of positive ratings and reviews for any consumer-focused business. In addition, 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, demonstrating that reviews are mostly seen as unbiased and worth factoring in to purchase decisions.
By displaying positive customer testimonials on their website and other forms of outbound communication, businesses can appeal to their audience with higher effectiveness. One study suggests that 72% of consumers believe that positive testimonials and reviews result in them trusting a business more. When the content is genuine and reflects how good a typical experience that customers have with a product, it can make a meaningful difference in purchase decisions for potential customers. Testimonials can have a dramatic effect on a business’ sales as well, generating up to 62% more revenue per site visitor. In addition to formal testimonial content, social media may be a strong source for personal opinions about a business and their products or services. These can be repurposed or re-shared organically within social media for a similar effect.
Case studies, while requiring more attention and time investment from consumers, have the power to relay highly detailed data and information that can influence purchase decisions. By utilizing customer surveys and relevant information gathering, a business can demonstrate the overall satisfaction levels that a customer base has with a product or service. This could include ratings, frequency of purchase, level of improvement of related issues, and more.
Different types of businesses will undoubtedly have different strategies when it comes to advocacy marketing, however a fundamental part of encouraging advocacy is through overarching improvement of the business in ways that serve the customers. By improving the customer experience, businesses improve the likelihood of customers recommending a product or service to others or leaving an online review. Some things to keep in mind:
Once the foundation of a business has been established in ways that support and enable a broader advocacy marketing strategy, there are many tactical approaches of creating brand advocates to support marketing efforts.
A benefit of referral marketing is its custom-targeting nature, as brand advocates are able to provide offers directly to people who they know or think may be interested in a product or service that they love and would recommend. In the case of Talkable’s referral marketing software, product sharing is also an option that allows loyal customers to share a specific product within a brand’s website This allows products to be paired with individual consumers’ interests or needs to maximize the effectiveness of the referral offer.
This can be incredibly useful and create a positive long-term ROI if a relationship can be established between the brand and the advocate. These advocates can be tapped for special campaign promotions, product seeding, product feedback, or even be provided with special gifts or rewards from time to time as a ‘thank you’ for their support. This individualized attention will likely deepen the advocate’s connection with the brand, and heighten their advocacy for the business.
While an advocacy marketing strategy begins with solid business principles, it excels with strategic initiatives that promote further engagement from customers. If managed well, customers can turn into true brand advocates that have meaningful impact on sales. The opportunity to share feedback and information about a brand are key tenets of an effective advocacy marketing strategy. It is that publicly shared information that builds trust, awareness, and engagement amongst new people in one’s personal social network.
Both referral and loyalty marketing have the ability to supercharge advocacy marketing efforts by incentivizing brand interaction, outreach, and engagement amongst their best advocates and customers. The people who already support a brand will be the most authentic options to share why they love what it offers. If your marketing program needs more advocacy, reach out to Talkable for a free demo of its referral and loyalty marketing tools and capabilities.