Most consumers today don’t trust marketing ploys and do not take a brand’s word at face value. People are tuning out advertisements at an unprecedented rate, leaving marketers to find new avenues to build awareness around products, services, and companies.
Nowadays, when individuals find themselves interested in making a purchase, they take to the web and research extensively to find the best option available.
This is partially why content marketing has become such an effective modality; because content provides value and has the ability to convert a consumer into a customer.
Anyone who has spent a bit of time in business or marketing understands that it is far more cost effective to retain customers than acquire new ones. But there is a way to have the best of both worlds; it involves leveraging your current customers into helping recruit new ones. Enter: Advocate marketing.
What is Advocate Marketing?
Advocate marketing is relatively new to the industry yet possesses massive potential to elevate a business’s bottom line. Consumers trust the opinions of peers far more than that of brands. Advocate marketing takes individuals who have first-hand experience with a company they believe in and transform them into a brand advocate who will spread the good word to the masses.
Influitive, a software company that is leading the charge in mobilizing brand advocates for businesses, describes these folks best by stating:
“Advocates are not just satisfied customers. They are enthusiasts who embrace your company’s vision and willingly advance your interests through their interaction with others. Whether by sharing experiences online, referring new business, or recommending your products, these supporters have enormous influence on your brand, demand generation, and pipeline efforts.”
How exactly will advocate marketing improve a business and launch it to new heights?
The Case for Advocate Marketing
Peer opinions are far more valuable to consumers than virtually any form of advertising, promotion, or marketing message. The folks at Mintel recently conducted a study which revealed that nearly 70% of Americans seek out advice before making a purchase. Additionally, 72% of those individuals, ages 25 – 34, turn to their social media contacts for recommendations. And the average satisfied customer typically influences 42 friends on social.
This is, in part, why influencer marketing is so powerful. Followers view these individuals more as friends and trusted resources than anything else. But word-of-mouth is clearly still one of the most effective forms of advertising; the exact reason why creating brand advocates is such a dynamic and influential way of marketing.
Since advocates believe so strongly in a brand’s vision, they are more than willing to oblige if asked to write reviews, share their special and inspiring stories through social, and even create blog posts and various other types of content preaching the gospel of your company.
When an individual is converted to an advocate, you gain an asset in a person whose sentiment is seen as the most authentic and credible source available.
And it might be worth mentioning that Influitive’s AdvocateHub program helped Docusign influence over $3 million in sales. On that note…
How Advocates Drive Sales
Advocate marketing not only can acquire new business through reviews, content, and word-of-mouth promotions, it can send peer-to-peer- recommendations through the roof.
Advocates who are engaged are often more than happy to refer friends, family, business associates, and others to your company. These folks can also be utilized to speak with potential prospects and move the needle to sway their decision to purchase. Advocates can generate referrals for a brand through a variety of means; contests, referral challenges, incentives, and related calls to action work like a charm with people who believe in your brand.
Having just a handful of advocates won’t cut it. Sure these people can be tapped for references, testimonials, white papers, case studies, and so forth, but they will eventually run dry. By employing a full-fledged advocate program, increased numbers of supporters can be identified and mobilized to ramp up operations and cited for these types of materials without burning out.
Additionally, having a large pool to draw from allows prospects to be matched up with industry relevant advocates which ultimately increases your chances of gaining a new customer.
More Compelling Campaigns
While advocate marketing is a highly effective means to gaining new prospects and customers, it should not be viewed as a replacement to more traditional digital marketing efforts, but rather as an enhancer.
Advocates can add loads of value to marketing campaigns in a plethora of ways. For instance, the message and materials generated can be split tested through asking for advocate feedback on the elements that resonate most. Advocates can even be featured within the campaign to share their successful results with your target audience. Once a campaign is in effect, these people can help heighten social conversations, content shares, answer questions for those engaging with the campaign, and so much more. Integrating advocates into marketing campaigns adds a deep level of authenticity that cannot be duplicated by other means.
Today, more businesses than ever outsourcing their social media efforts and marketing mediums to agencies; this creates a huge divide between brands and advocates. Consumers want authenticity and to interact with trustworthy companies more than anything else.
By employing brand advocates, that divide is minimized as peers act on behalf of the business to supply individuals with sound advice on the decision that lies before them. There is no marketing message more powerful than the one your company’s advocates can create for you.
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