How To Build Advocacy Habits Early On With New Customers
When starting an advocate marketing program, most organizations seek out advocates from the obvious places: NPS promoters, customers who have provided testimonials and case studies in the past, referenceable customers, etc.
This approach is a good starting point, but it’s very reactive when it comes to identifying and growing your advocate base. A better approach is to build the habits of advocacy early on in the customer life cycle through your advocate marketing program.
The benefits are obvious. Building habits of advocacy at the outset creates happier and more engaged customers who are more likely to stick around and refer their friends in the future.
In this post, I’d like to take you deep into my domain—the customer success world—and show you some best practices you can build into your advocate marketing initiatives to accelerate the pace of transforming new customers into raving advocates.
1. Start with customer onboarding
Think about it: when you purchase a new product like a smartphone, you have this euphoric moment when you can’t wait to rip open the packaging and use your new toy. At work, we experience similar emotions when launching with a new vendor.
As the vendor, it’s at this moment that you can start to transform the positive sentiments of your excited customers into raving fans by asking them to do small acts of advocacy. These can include:
- Following your company on Twitter and LinkedIn
- Liking your company on Facebook
- Opting in to get your newsletter and/or product updates
- Tweeting about their experience as a new customer
Here is an example of how we make tweeting about starting the onboarding experience fun:
I’ve started my onboarding experience with @Influitive and advocate marketing. Bring on the advocates!
— Tracy Kennedy (@Tracy_Kennedy) September 4, 2013
It’s really that easy. Ensuring that these items are part of your onboarding process can start your new customers down the path to advocacy from day one.
2. Ask for customer feedback early and often
While asking new customers to follow you on social channels will keep your customers in the loop, you need to provide activities that will benefit the customer too. One of the most effective ways to do this is to give them the opportunity to tell you what they really think of you.
Getting feedback from customers is invaluable for any organization. It’s important to hear from your customers about their experience throughout the customer lifecycle and not just at the specific points along the way that you define.
This is an example of a Net Promoter survey that we provide to our new customers:
There is no better opportunity to ask for feedback than at the outset of the customer relationship. This will help guide you on the customer’s level of satisfaction and indicate if they are on the path of becoming an advocate, or if they are already are one.
Once your customers provide positive feedback, it’s time to turn up the dial and ask them if they want to do some additional advocacy for you. This can include:
- Becoming a reference
- Providing a testimonial on their onboarding experience
- Submitting an online user review on sites like G2 Crowd, TrustRadius or IT Central Station
- Becoming a beta tester
- Providing referrals
Of course, if you receive negative feedback, you need to have processes in place to get your customers back on track. Ideally, this process is automated and your advocate marketing program will adjust the content it serves to match the sentiment of your customers.
3. Encourage community participation from the outset
Driving customers to participate in online user communities is an ongoing battle for any community administrator. Getting customers involved early on in their relationship with you can help lead to greater product adoption and customer satisfaction since it can help remove anxiety and feelings of isolation. It can also build the right habits in terms of seeking out assistance.
As part of the Influitive onboarding experience, we encourage our customers to ask a question in our support community and seek advice from our more seasoned clients.
4. Recognize new customers for their achievements—in a fun way
Who doesn’t want to have more fun in their life? Rolling out a complex product or service is not as fun as tearing open the packaging of a new iPhone, but there are opportunities to add some excitement to this process.
Gamifying the onboarding experience not only makes it more fun, but it also helps you track your customers’ progress and recognizes them for the progress that has been made. For example, we recommend rewarding your new customers for achieving key implementation milestones.
In this example, new customers receive points for configuring a major component of their AdvocateHub. This helps new customers start their trek up the leaderboard, where they can compete against other customers as part of a larger advocate marketing program.
Once a number of these advocate activities are completed, they will receive a badge for their efforts which indicates that they are no longer Influitive rookies—something they can display proudly to any newcomers.
Bottom line: Early advocates perform more acts of advocacy
From our own analysis, we found that new customers who were added to our own revised advocate marketing program during the onboarding stage performed an average of five more advocate activities per customer than those who were not part of this revised program and who were at a similar stage of their customer lifecycle.
Identifying advocates can be easy for most companies. Maintaining and growing your advocates can be more difficult, but there is no better way to build long-lasting fans than to start the process as soon as the ink (or digital signature) is dry.
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