New Study Shows Fans May be Retailer’s Greatest Untapped Marketing Asset

SILICON SLOPES, Utah (February 23, 2016) – Needle, the leader in advocate-powered e-commerce, today unveiled the Advocate Marketing Cloud—a new suite of products designed to help marketers and e-commerce leaders generate higher quality traffic, deliver better online shopping experiences and drive sales. The Advocate Marketing Cloud is the industry’s first and only product suite that enables online retailers to activate their most passionate customers across the marketing funnel to create a more trusted online shopping experience.

New research from Needle reveals that advocates are critical to driving online sales, yet one in four marketers have not mobilized their brand loyalists to reach new customers. In fact, the study of nearly 300 advocates from top brands including Norwegian Cruise Lines, Newegg, Reebok, Coach and more, reveals that 93 percent of brand advocates feel they are a better marketing asset for the brands they represent than sales associates. In Q4 alone, Needle advocates interacted live with online shoppers more than 56,000 times over the Black Friday weekend, generating $3.6 million in sales.

“Our advocates—a community of golfers and golf equipment expert brand loyalists—enable TaylorMade to deliver custom, personal experiences to each shopper on our website,” said John Gonsalves, vice president of Direct to Consumer at TaylorMade – an early adopter of Needle’s Advocate Marketing Cloud. “Needle’s marketing technology not only provides an invaluable resource for our shoppers but has also had a measurable impact on our average order value, conversion rate and customer satisfaction scores.”

To help brands deliver the information customers need to make a purchase, Needle’s Advocate Marketing Cloud mobilizes advocates to acquire new customers and deliver tailored content throughout the entire shopping experience. Key features of the Advocate Marketing Cloud include:

Advocate Generated Content: Gives online retailers the ability to garner high-quality photo and video product demos from advocates, which can be leveraged on websites and social channels to assist shoppers in the discovery phase.

Answers: Catered towards customers in the product discovery process, advocates provide on-demand answers to customers who might not want to engage in a conversation, but have questions that are keeping them from making a purchase decision. For example, a shopper looking for golf balls on TaylorMade’s website wants to quickly know the difference in “Tour Preferred” and regular golf balls. Rather than sifting through online search results or engaging in a conversation, the shopper can ask the question right on TaylorMade’s product page and receive a pre-populated answer from a golf enthusiast in a matter of seconds.

List Builder: Leverages advocates to aid in the customer acquisition process by providing a natural way to harvest emails, helping build a strong customer database based on trusted relationships with advocates. According to the advocate survey, 91 percent of advocates report that unidentified online shoppers are willing to share their email addresses.

Additional features include Insights, Q&A Responder, Advocate SEO and Ads will be rolled out later this year.

“Needle’s Advocate Marketing Cloud naturally extends our existing feature set, enabling credible, trusted guidance further up the funnel during the discovery phase of the shopper’s journey,” said Needle President and COO, Scott Pulsipher. “Advocates provide the unbiased, authentic advice shoppers crave when making a purchasing decision. Our desire with the launch of our expanded offering is the same as with Needle: to make e-commerce more trusted and efficient.”

Brand Advocates – Marketers’ Biggest Asset
Brand advocates are more valuable to marketers because their hands-on product experience enables them to relate to customers in an authentic way. According to Needle’s survey, 83 percent of advocates say their biggest value comes from sharing personal anecdotes as a result of using the product every day (62 percent) or several times a week (29 percent). Advocates ability to create a more personal and trusted connection is another benefit for marketers, as 84 percent say they receive personal questions that shoppers would never consider asking a live sales associate.

“Customers want unfettered access to others like them. They value the ability to learn from others, and they like to engage in free-form discussions that help them grow and their organization get more value from a product. Connecting advocates with each other provides an easy way to enable these conversations,” said Hank Barnes, Research Vice President at Gartner.

Ultimately, advocates can help marketers and e-commerce leaders with what matters most, sales. According to the survey, 42 percent of advocates say their interaction with a shopper converts to a sale 25 percent of the time, and 30 percent of advocates say it converts to sales 50 percent or more of the time.

Consumers Crave Honest and Authentic Advice
Needle’s survey also revealed unique consumer shopping habits that provide e-commerce leaders added insight into how to best engage with their customers. The study revealed that while 51 percent of respondents most often receive questions related to size, style and product details, they also receive questions that traditional sales associates cannot answer, including questions about their own personal use of the product (15 percent) and comparing two or more products from a different retailer (5 percent). Advocates also found that after sharing personal advice with customers, they were more likely to offer direct feedback on website design, product quality and overall brand impressions—something that shoppers are typically too shy to share in-person.

Needle polled 277 advocates from leading U.S. retailers from their advocate database via Survey Monkey between January 19, 2016 and January 29, 2016.

About Needle
Needle, the leader in advocate-powered e-commerce, strives to make online shopping more personal and trusted. Founded in 2010, Needle provides a marketing platform that enables online retailers to leverage their most passionate fans and connect them with their customers. The result is a truly awesome customer experience that builds trust and increases satisfaction with customers while delivering high-quality traffic, net new sales, and better online experiences. For more information, visit or send us a note at


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Jeff Adcock

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