A lot of sessions at the 2015 Content Marketing World conference focused on how B2B marketers can show the ROI of their content.

A 2015 report from Gleanster found that poorly managed and cumbersome content management processes were leading to an estimated $958M each year in inefficient and ineffective content marketing spend for mid- to-large B2B organizations.

So, how can content marketers prove their worth and invest their budgets wisely?

Most marketers tie new leads and closed deals to show business value , usually through some kind of UTM tracking.

However, a lot of marketers don’t think about how content can help build better relationships with customers—and drive loyalty, retention and advocacy in the process.

Not only can your content help turn customers into successful and happy advocates for your product or service, but an army of loyal brand fans can also make your content marketing efforts more effective.

Here’s a few insights from speakers at Content Marketing World 2015 about how content can boost customer advocacy—and how customer advocates can improve your content marketing strategy in return.

1. Make doing content gut-checks easy

Ever wonder if your customers really like your content? If it’s moving the needle with your prospects? If it’s what your audience really wants to read next?

Jay Baer, speaker, author of Youtility, and content marketing genius, shared one of his guiding principles during this year’s conference: The Mom Test.

jaybaerThe Mom Test posits that if your mother (who is supposed to love you unconditionally) doesn’t like your content, no one is going to. “If you can’t convince your mom, you can’t convince anyone,” says Jay.

However, aside from asking a parent for their feedback, who can content marketers turn to?

Your advocates are your best bet. Share your content ideas and marketing campaigns with long-time customers and power users before hitting the “Publish” button. They’ll be happy to give their opinion, and help you figure out if you’re going in the right direction. After all, they are your target audience.

Letting your advocates get involved in your content creation process will make them feel like someone is really listening to them. Plus, since they’ll feel a sense of ownership over the pieces you create, they’ll be more likely to share them with their peers. You can also ask them for suggestions for your next content piece, or ask them to help name your next ebook.

Using your advocates for The Mom Test ensures you’re not just creating content that benefits your brand, says Jay. “Are you making content or making a difference?”

2. Generate more UGC & engagement

User-generated content from passionate customers is every content marketer’s dream.

In reality, finding these customers, then going through multiple rounds of revisions while trying to keep your publishing schedule on track can be a nightmare.

However, a customer community could be the answer to your UGC prayers.

David Kelly, Program Director at The eLearning Guild, uses his company’s customer community to source blog posts, conference speakers, and content ideas.

David-Kelly-photo_revThe key to success? Getting credible advocates into your community who will “be generous with their knowledge.” David says your community members want to hear from people who have walked in their shoes and become successful. Their insights will be your community’s most valuable asset. Encourage successful customers, industry thought leaders or knowledgeable employees to become your community’s power users.

To do this, you’ll need to recognize your top contributors by shining the spotlight on them in your community and your content. Once other members see that they can build their professional profile by participating, they’ll be happy to join the conversation.

A robust community can be a place to get quotes, interview sources, content ideas, speakers for your next conference and more. (Also a great spot for some of the aforementioned Mom Tests you may want to try).

The bonus? A customer community will help engage your advocates and make them feel like they’re getting a valued-added resource in addition to your product or service.

3. Partner with CS to turn haters into advocates

Your customers are going to give you feedback. How you choose to handle their constructive criticism can become a competitive advantage for your brand.

As buyers increasingly use public forums (like social media) to voice complaints, beleaguered Customer Service/Success teams need all the help they can get. That’s why Jay says marketing should team up with CS to delight customers, turn haters into fans and build a better brand in the process. “CS is the new marketing,” says Jay.

For instance, take Warby Parker’s response to a customer asking for help picking a pair of glasses.

You can bet Bruce will likely be a Warby Parker customer for life.

When CS gets tough questions or complaints, they should ask marketing for help. Jay says the first step is thanking customers for their comments, and embracing their feedback wholeheartedly. Marketing’s job is to help empathize with customers and use their criticisms to improve the customer experience. Jay says this means responding to every complaint—and not with generic copy-and-paste answers.

If marketers go above and beyond when it comes to helping CS craft appropriate responses, marketers can expect to have customers who will happily share your content, refer their friends and write reviews.

“Blow their minds and win their hearts,” says Jay.

How can content marketers harness the power of their customer advocates to fuel their content marketing strategy? By starting an exclusive advocate marketing program that rewards and engages their top customers.

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