Advocacy marketing is the process of leveraging the customer-speak to power your new customer acquisition. Advocacy marketing requires first that you have happy customers, then they help you gain market share.
Advocacy Marketing is about getting your most enthusiastic existing customers to talk about and evangelize your company and its products. Referral marketing is about positive peer to peer influence that can be brought about by your current customers on potential new customers. Thus, Advocacy marketing works at a group level – and meant to scale for the brand, referral marketing works at a personal level. As you can see, these two types of marketing go hand in hand and can’t be cleanly separated.
One of the best examples of Advocacy marketing is how Apple used the photos shot on the iPhone by its customers on billboards, public transit as a way to evangelize the iPhone camera capabilities.
“Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family,” according to the Nielsen Global Trust (2015). This statistic is about referral marketing. Apple handpicking 70 odd photos out of thousands submitted from 24 countries for their advertisement campaign is Advocacy marketing.
Traditionally, advocacy marketing focused on case studies and testimonials. In the new world, order, vlogs, videos, blogs all come into play.
How does one recruit an advocate? Of course, one would have to ask – ask a satisfied customer. It will significantly help if it is fun to advocate your brand, not a tedious affair.
Along with gaining advocates who are ready to champion your cause, you should also ensure that you can make the advocacy visible where it makes sense – on your product, a website, your social media page, so on.
Finally, it is essential to acknowledge and recognize your advocates.
Advocacy marketing works because one gets to hear the message from different sources. The more people advocate you, the newer potential customers likely to trust the recommendation.
Another reason for advocacy marketing to work is the fact that when one is not a subject matter expert can’t make a choice based on their own knowledge, one tends to seek out opinions.
Here are some great examples that you would want to look up to gain more understanding:
- #tweetacoffee campaign by Starbucks
- KBC’s campaign on using WhatsApp to interact with the bank
- Tesla’s referral program
- “Shot on iPhone” campaign by Apple
An IDC report, How To Achieve Customer Advocacy Program Success in 2017, has found that customer advocacy programs have grown 570 percent year over year among B2B vendors.
That has shifted a lot with social media and with the idea of applying gamification to allow companies to thank, reward, and recognize customers for doing things for them
Employee advocacy is a type of Advocacy Marketing. Employees know the business and products. In other words, they have inside knowledge. Customers seeking insights perceive this inside knowledge as valuable.
The bulk of employee advocacy happens on social media, and there are now efforts to organize and channel the same.
As in the case of a customer advocacy program, this type of advocacy requires guidelines, support, rewards, so on.
“Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels” per Social Media Today
“Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7x more frequently than other leads.” per Marketing Advisory Network
Finally, we can say that ad clutter and the emergence of influential social media have led to the strengthening of the advocacy marketing position. Advocacy marketing avoids ad clutter and is able to reach the target audience. The pervasive use of social media led to an entirely new focus for advocacy – Social Media Advocacy.
Social Media Advocacy
Advocacy marketing used to be about testimonials, so on. Now, with the all-pervasive social media, “Social Media Advocacy” has gained a significant edge. Social Media Advocacy is simply about leveraging customers that are delighted with your product, on social media. With Social Media Advocacy, you would add a qualifying criterion of social media presence while selecting the advocates. In social media advocacy, you not only need to be good at advocacy marketing but have a nuanced understanding of working the social media. However, having a strong social media presence for the brand is a prerequisite for social media advocacy.
You would need to assess which regulations, if any, apply to Social Media Advocacy. As an example, healthcare has one of the most complex regulations in place. HIPAA has stringent rules on how health-based companies should operate in the digital world.
Other regulatory bodies that we recommend you consider are:
- FTC (the Federal Trade Commission) - Make all reasonable efforts to know what endorsed partners and advocates are saying about your brand
- FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)
- The Office for Civil Rights (HIPAA)
- SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission) - Maintain all social communication records