You probably have heard of brand advocates. You may even see countless advocates talking about specific brands on social media. Perhaps you have even done it yourself, advocated for a brand you love. Advocate marketing actually happens naturally on its own because people like sharing good things with their friends.
It’s a type of marketing that encourages existing customers to create a buzz for a company. It’s the megaphone of word of mouth marketing - meaning super happy customers do super bragging on the business's behalf.
Advocate marketing takes the topmost passionate customers and uses them to spread the word about a brand or a specific product. Advocates will typically share or motivate others purely by how excited they are about the brand or product. An advocate can really be anyone who loves your brand.
Why does this work? Well, to start off most advocates will do this without anything in return. Typically, an advocate will share because they genuinely like the brand or product. Usually, the advocate who is sharing is largely respected in their community or network. Because of this, the followers trust the advocate’s opinion. They are intrigued to try the brand/product for themselves. Not only are they intrigued to try the brand, they may also see how they can benefit from it.
Let’s take a look at this in the perspective of an advocate. Perhaps the person has a blog or a website that caters to a certain type of individual. Typically the individuals who follow the blog are in a similar boat or seek guidance, ideas, and advice from the blog owner (advocate). The advocate will mention this product to their followers. Then the followers will then know about the product and perhaps may try the product since someone they trust has spoken highly of it.
The thing is, people, search for reviews before committing to a product. Whether it be a software, electronic or even a type of beauty cream. People watch and read reviews online, on top of getting advice from their friends and family. We’ve heard many times that people tend to trust their friends and family the most. In a study by Nielsen, it was suggested that a whopping 66% of people trust the opinions of consumers found online. Meaning, advocate marketing can definitely drive new customers.
Because customer advocacy marketing is based on trust, it can seriously benefit a company. The best news is that a customer advocacy program is actually quite inexpensive. It’s not like influencer marketing, which is based on influencers having a vast amount of social media followers, it’s more about having someone who actually likes your brand.
In fact, it’s also the easiest to use, because it uses the people who are already promoting you. Think of it as peer to peer marketing. You're having customers engage other customers in buying your products. Buyers simply trust other people in their situation, or friends and family. This is the exact reason peer to peer marketing and customer advocate marketing work so well.
To make things even easier you can use an advocate marketing software to find your perfect match.
Social Media - Look at who is talking about you on the web. Whether it be social media or a positive review on a listing site. These people are already talking highly of you, make them an advocate.
Email Correspondence - You may have had a few pleasant emails come in. Think about it, those who want to provide you with a testimonial make great brand advocates.
NPS Scores - Perhaps you sent out a recent survey, turns out these people basically told you that they would recommend your brand to others.
Recent Interaction - Think of recent phone calls or face to face interaction where the customer advocate expressed gratitude or excitement for your brand. These customers are also great advocates.
As you can see, these people who are praising your business may not have the most followers on social media but what they do have is a passion for your brand. These are the people who will support you and help you because they believe in your business and love your product.
Okay, so this is where it gets a little different from the traditional referral marketing. Advocate marketing isn't based on spreading the word because someone was provoked by an incentive. However, this type of marketing can't be a one-sided relationship either.
This doesn't mean incentives have to be as clear-cut as something like referral marketing, but brand advocates need to be shown appreciation too. Whether it be a physical reward or a little bit of recognition, it can go a long way (of course offering great customer service plays into it too).
This could mean sending the advocate a t-shirt for adding a link to your website. It could also mean expressing how awesome they are via a Tweet or a Facebook post. This type of appreciation doesn't need to occur all the time, but frequently enough so that they want to continually promote you.
As you can probably tell by now, advocate marketing basically occurs on its own as word of mouth. It takes people who are already promoting you and gives them added reason to continually support you. Making it an inexpensive marketing alternative. There are many forms of marketing, check out some other referral marketing ideas.
Megan Mosley is a marketing specialist at Referral Rock, who makes referral marketing software. When Megan isn't writing, you'd be able to find her at her favorite coffee shop or exploring nearby trails.