A brand advocate is a highly-satisfied customer who recommends your company or product without pay or incentives. Brand advocacy is a hot topic for marketers in 2013, according to “2013: The Year of Advocacy,” a study conducted by Zuberance and UBM Tech.
The study found that:
- 89% of marketers say advocacy is very important or important in 2013
- 79% of marketers rate advocacy as more important in 2013 compared to 2012
- 70% of marketers plan to increase spending on advocate marketing programs in 2013
What This Means for Marketers
Rob Fuggetta, founder and CEO of Zuberance, said the survey’s findings mean that driving advocacy is now a “must-do” for marketers.
“In the age of the consumer, power has shifted from marketers to social media-empowered consumers including Brand Advocates,” said Fuggetta said, author of Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force (Wiley, 2012). “This means that marketers must engage and activate their brand’s advocates to spread positive Word of Mouth online and help drive sales.”
The findings are similar to results of a recent IBM survey of more than 1,700 chief marketing officers worldwide. In that study, 67% of CMOs said “enhancing customer loyalty and advocacy” is their number one priority.
Advocacy is Important. Now What?
Once a brand identifies its advocates, community managers can use this to develop content. Advocates enjoy giving their opinion, and knowing it matters. Community managers can poll advocates and generate new advocates via social networks. Brand advocates will tell you everything your marketing department is wondering, but is afraid to, or not sure who to ask. Should you create a peanut butter and jelly taco? How about help on naming that new nail polish color? Your brand’s advocates will tell you.
Brand advocates are eager to sell your products, tell your story, bring you new customers, build your brand, and defend you from detractors.
You may spend millions of dollars on elaborate marketing campaigns, but there is nothing more powerful than a trusted recommendation from a brand advocate.
Advocacy drives sales. Find your advocates, turn them into content creating machines, amplify them, leverage content, and track results.
A simple and effective way to identify your advocates is to ask them the ultimate question for customer loyalty: “How likely are you to recommend us to your friends or colleagues?”
The key is to make it easy for advocates to generate content by giving them online tools to create highly positive reviews that will boost awareness and brand reputation, tweets, and posts that will drive positive word of mouth and other content to boost engagement.
Advocate-generated content is digital gold, and keeping it authentic is critical to success. Recommendations that are spurred by perks or rewards compromise your credibility and brand reputation. Studies show prospects are less likely to buy the recommended product if they learn that the recommender was given an incentive.
How does your brand gauge customer loyalty?