Want to know a secret?
Every marketer has an untapped power: the power of their customer advocates.
Customer advocates can be unleashed to help your business grow through positive word of mouth, referrals, testimonials, and much more.
However, you need to know how to properly incentivize them to wield that power for you.
And who better to teach you how than advocate marketing superhero, growth marketer, & co-founder of WebProfits, Sujan Patel?
In his webinar “How to Leverage your Customers to Unlock Growth,” Sujan explains how he leverages his customer advocates to grow his businesses. (You can watch below or read on for a summary).
He’ll also be speaking at Advocamp in more detail about how to leverage advocates to generate valuable content. Advocamp is the largest customer experience, engagement, and advocacy conference, held in San Francisco this year on December 6-8th 2017.
For now, he will be your guide on the journey that is this blog and by the end of it, you’ll have a complete superhero toolbelt to empower your advocates with. So let’s get started!
1. Use NPS scores to segment customers
Sujan draws a wealth of insights from NPS scores that inform his marketing tactics. “The NPS survey has been the most impactful, direct qualitative and quantitative feedback mechanism for me,” explains Sujan.
He also includes an open output option for customers to explain their score because “people who like you will tell you so, and will actually pretty much leave you a testimonial. And it’ll be very raw. You can directly use those for your website.”
People who give you a high score (9-10) are almost at advocate-champion status (i.e. promoters), so it’s up to you to give them a little push. Sujan says, “They already love you. Ask them for stuff.” But don’t forget to give back. Shoot them an email showing your appreciation and ask them to leave you feedback on a review site.
“Give them access to the early stuff, maybe the beta version of your product, new features that are coming out,” suggests Sujan. This will show them that you love them as much as they love you.
Armed with your love and an outlet for their own, your advocates will be ready to defend against your competitors
You may be wondering, But what about the people who didn’t score 9-10 on the NPS survey? I’m glad you didn’t forget about them, because there’s a way to help them too. Sujan says, “they likely have a problem or issue with your service… email them back a canned email that says, ‘Hey, sorry for the issues, what can we do? Can you explain that in more detail?’”
Sujan explains that even trying to solve your customer’s’ problems shows you and your company in a better light. This feedback will also give your CS team a point to jump in and improve the user experience for those customers and future ones. (Read about how Mary Mallard from Grasshopper engaged her NPS detractors here.)
2. Build a community where discussions can flourish
Now that you know who your top advocates are, Sujan suggests that you “create a community, and it’s as simple as starting a Facebook group.” Literally. “Groups is a huge part of Facebook. It’s replacing forums, and other older school methods of communication, and message boards; but essentially, it’s sharing good information, or curating good information.”
Sujan made a private Facebook group and invited his customers to join. He used it to share information, whether it was from his content marketing team or customers themselves. It eventually became a place for customers to start talking to each other.
In fact, last fall there was a big outage at narrow.io and 30% of customers’ accounts were turned off. However, “because we had this tight knit community on our Facebook group, they [the customers] actually were understanding of it. One of the customers actually formed a GoFundMe as a way for us to go and build it faster,” explains Sujan.
Another place to engage your advocate community is through your AdvocateHub. It creates some friendly competition between advocates with a leaderboard that gets updated as advocates complete challenges. With the discussions feature, admins and advocates alike can initiate conversations, bounce ideas, and learn from each other.
Having a space dedicated to your advocates will help your customers build stronger relationships with your brand and with each other. But, you can also start with a few good in-person relationships and turn that into a community. When Sujan travels, he reaches out to people in his field, like growth marketers, who he can meet up with.
“Now I have this awesome Slack group, a few hundred people are on there, of marketers I respect, and people I’ve already connected with. I built the community as a result of starting with the relationships.” Because after all, what is a superhero without some reliable sidekicks?
Advocates are the only sidekicks you’ll ever need
3. Find clever ways to encourage word of mouth
Remember that time your friend or coworker said, “Don’t go to that place—terrible service.” Did you go? Probably not. That’s how word of mouth works. It’s fast and it’s effective, and you should be leveraging that with your advocates. In today’s world of technology, there are so many ways for a person to “spread the word”.
When customers advocate for you on their own, that’s awesome—it’s exactly what you wanted! But what about when you want to ask them to advocate for you? It’s hard.
Because as Sujan says, “you’re interrupting them,” and you don’t want to step on your own toes by asking when they were going to advocate organically anyways. So what’s the workaround? Here’s what Sujan did at Narrow:
“I found the words ‘love using’ or ‘love [insert company]’ to be really polarizing,” says Sujan. But this was a good thing. Using the word love in his copy functioned as a filter. It resonated with customers who did actually love his product, and it was glossed over by those who were more passive.
By asking your customers to share your company/product on social media if they “love” it, you’ll get a glimpse into who some of your super-advocates or promoters are. With that in mind, Sujan asked his customers to tweet if they “love using Narrow”. The results: “It worked really, really well. I think about 10-12% of people who saw this message ended up tweeting it out.”
Sujan built on this by adding a “Love using Narrow?” button on their product—cleverly placed above the dashboard showing stats on new followers and how else their product is helping their customers. “And now, every new customer can see it, and it worked even better. About 15% of people who signed up ended up sharing or tweeting about it,” Sujan says.
These kinds of tweets work well because they give your customers a chance to share with their networks. They get to tell them how they’ve discovered this great tool. It makes them look good to their friends, which in turn helps your product look good to more prospects.
A virtual props from your brand is an easy way to make advocates feel special
4. Empower your advocates with education
An effective way to empower your advocates is to anticipate their needs. What kinds of questions will they have? What resources do they need to use your service to its fullest potential? How can they build on the momentum your product has given them? You can publish your thought leadership on these topics through various resources, such as playbooks, case studies, and blogs.
At Mailshake, Sujan and his team released an ungated playbook. “We created it because what we found with people using our product was they struggled when it came down to the strategy of how to leverage the software,” he explains. The playbook helped Mailshake prevent churn (from customers who were confused with how to use the product) and encouraged customers to share their knowledge with colleagues and friends. Sujan says that the playbook converts even higher than their homepage.
Shorter pieces of content can also be effective in teaching customers the uses and potential of your product. Take for example Mailshake’s blog where you can read all kinds of pieces about cold emailing, emailing tools, and case studies.
Knowledge is power, so don’t be afraid to share it with your advocates
5. Next level thank you notes
It’s as simple as it sounds and you probably already do it, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t take your thank you notes to the next level and get creative. Thank you notes are great at showing your customers your appreciation, but Sujan shares how to go that extra mile to really make customers feel special.
“Buffer, I think they do an exceptional job at this,” he says. “In their invoice, it’s actually a thank you note [with a picture and updates from the team.] It’s something that I actually look forward to reading.”
“You can do the same thing,” says Sujan. “It doesn’t have to be in your invoices. It’s in those emails, or notifications, those mundane things that have to happen for your business. Think about spicing those up. It’s really, really powerful.”
And why stop there? Personalized gifts or thank you baskets are all things you can build off a simple thank you note to show your advocates some appreciation in innovative and affordable ways.
The investment you put into your advocates is definitely something you’ll get back, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be tactical with how you choose rewards for your AdvocateHub.
And with these powerful tools, you can become a hero in the advocate marketing game, just like Sujan, and make your advocates just as strong!
Advocate love is a special thing—cherish it!