Nothing in marketing is more powerful than a fan of your product or service talking about their positive experience to future customers. This little trick is used all the time in B2B marketing. That’s why you see logo banners and customer case studies on most B2B websites.
Using your existing customers to have conversations with your future customers becomes much, much harder in the B2C world. With literally thousands/millions of customers and a multi-channel experience, how can you possibly match advocates with shoppers?
Gone are the days of the Geoge Foreman grill. Millennials will trust peers and anonymous online reviews before they will follow the fads of celebrities and paid influencers. Current customer who have purchased, liked, shared, and even become experts of your brand are perceived as true advocates in recommending products and services.
Consumer advocacy marketing is about connecting your advocates, super-fans, ambassadors, and product experts with online and in-store shoppers that are considering a purchase. With all the different aspects of the internet, there are so many ways to make these connections. Let’s talk about a few of them.
Online customer reviews
When you are ready to look for what others thought about the product before you purchase, most people skim the marketing messages and go right to the customer review section. Ecommerce professionals know the value of getting someone to rate a product and review it online.
It’s a weird phenomenon, but most people will trust a stranger over your marketing messages. When shopping on Amazon, many people look at the star rating and instantly scroll to the reviews to see what others think.
Unfortunately, there have been too many scams to inflate these ratings. So much so, that consumers are questioning whether they are true or not. Regardless of the dangers, most consumers still trust and use customer reviews as an influence on whether to buy or not.
Using advocacy marketing, many companies incentivize their best customers to leave glowing reviews because they know the true value to future shoppers. They may even add an additional incentive such as discounts on future purchases to leave more than just a star rating such as a full review, pictures, or expert advice.
Advocates are very vocal on Social Media. There are so many bloggers and social media advocates who specialize in just about every area of retail: fashion, high tech, sports, home automation, scrapbooking — essentially a list that goes to infinity. These advocates already talk about your products and services and are spreading the good word of your brand.
Many companies incentivize, give out prizes, etc for getting social as a marketing effort. These are all good ideas and can lead to short bursts of social media.
Other companies focus on the “get it viral” aspect of social media. Although this has worked with a small handful of companies, both small and large brands, it’s very difficult to simply make something go “viral”.
Organizing and incentivizing your social media advocates will make your brand grow and leverage the power of good thoughts. They will be able to answer questions about your products and brands, talk about why they love your products and make recommendations based on their expertise.
Needle, an advocacy marketing company, specializes in finding those who are already influential and putting them to work for your brand.
Live chat on your website
If you were physically in a store, you would be able to ask a question of one of the associates. If you are an online shopper, who would you talk to? Most consumers would like a way to instantly be connected to a product expert to get near-instant answers to their questions.
That’s the power of using advocates for live chat. You can talk instantly to someone who is genuine, who has purchased the product or used the service, and loves it!
Needle sets up advocates for live chat and other channels. They continually get comments praising how amazing it is to talk to someone who understands shoppers’ needs and has actually used your products or services. Shoppers can immediately tell the difference between an advocate and a quota-baring salesperson.
Connecting online shoppers with advocates is like shopping with friends. You can review the product, get expert advice, recommend additional products, and answer real-world questions about how the product performs, fits, and looks.
Advocacy marketing just got better, faster, and stronger!
This one is unusual, but starting to gain popularity. There are advocates that would love to interact with customers in your store. They could set up demonstrations, show off their expertise, show off their fashion sense, and interact with your customers face-to-face.
Why Advocacy Marketing?
Powerful messaging that does not involve your marketing department is more impactful and speaks the language of the consumer, influencing them to buy more. They feel they have a trusted resource for getting information about your products and services which will lead to upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Customers love to have a trusted advisor when buying a product. Instead of them taking the company’s word for it, they now have someone who is not affiliated with your brand telling them good things about how the product works and how it will fulfill their needs. For advocacy marketing, it’s about people helping people.
This type of interaction between your customers may be harder to facilitate but will be essential to your brand. Building real relationships and real conversations with your customer through customer advocacy marketing will keep them coming back for more. Check out how Needle does Advocacy Marketing