Advocate Marketing ProgramOver time, some of the most important and attractive aspects of our relationships can become stale, overlooked or completely forgotten.

The same can sometimes be said about the love affair between an administrator and their advocate marketing program.

All that hot and heavy talk of referrals, reviews and references that got you so much attention back in the early days of your program was exciting.

Then, there were the results. So. Many. Results. Too many to keep track of, it sometimes seemed. Testimonials in the middle of the day on a random Tuesday. Engagement numbers exceeding expectations. More new joins than you knew what to do with. Those were the days.

Then, things slowed down a bit. Your advocates were still there, but they weren’t as excited as they used to be. (And maybe you weren’t either…)

Moving a relationship from hasbeen to happiness often means digging deep to see what’s working well and where things are falling short.

That’s why I recommend doing a deep-dive into the health of your advocate marketing program at least once a year (doctor’s orders!). Whether your program has experienced a change in administration, a shift in strategic focus, or perhaps you simply want to know how you can improve, there are many reasons to do a program checkup.

Here’s how a step-by-step guide for assessing the health of your program, and reigniting the spark.

Show your advocate marketing program some love

When it comes to your advocate marketing program, there are five key indicators of program health to consider when you are planning how to take things from so-so back to sizzling hot:

  1. Advocates
  2. Challenges
  3. Rewards
  4. Gamification
  5. Branding

1. Advocate analysis: who is in your program?Advocate Marketing Program

Have a look at who is active and who is engaged in your program and who hasn’t made an appearance in a while—or at all. Understanding the habits and preferences of your most engaged advocates can help you better target those folks who aren’t bringing as much to the table as you had initially hoped.

Remember: an inactive or unengaged “advocate” is still more reachable as a member of your advocacy program than if they were not in it at all. Nurture those less vibrant relationships with a perk or a direct message. Reach out and let them know you care and that their participation matters.

2. Challenge analysis: what are they doing?

Advocate Marketing ProgramsOnce you understand who is in your program, think about how you can inspire all of your members to become rockstar advocates.

Start by taking a closer look at your top performing challenges. Examine the image, the tone, the timing. Go back and ask advocates who completed a recent popular challenge what it was about that challenge that appealed to them. Then, based on your learnings channel your program objectives in the most compelling ways possible.

For example, if your advocates love social challenges, channel your top-level program goals through social challenges. You could also design a micro-campaign geared towards your program’s most popular opportunities and incentives.

If your program data shows that educational challenges are most popular, but you have a pressing goal around referrals, consider a series of challenges designed to educate your advocates on why referrals are important to your business, and what makes a great referral.

3. Reward analysis: why are they doing it?

Customer Referral Program AwardNine times out of 10, the most popular reward in the catalog is a gift card—and for good reason. They are quick and easy from an admin’s perspective, and have an immediate tangible value to the advocate. But gift cards are also very impersonal. A $10 gift card for the world’s largest online retailer, for example, says very little about your program. In fact, it likely says nothing about your company and your brand. It also doesn’t reveal much about your advocate because you’ll likely never know what they actually bought with that card.

A persistent focus on gift cards can be a lost opportunity for the astute advocate marketer. Consider rewards that are a reflection of your brand: something environmentally aware or made from 100% recycled materials if your company is big on eco-friendly initiatives; a high-adrenaline experience if your brand is all about being a fast-paced market leader.

Don’t be afraid of experimenting with rewards. When in doubt ask your advocates what incentives will drive their participation. You may be surprised to discover it’s not those gift cards that keep them coming back.

Advocate Marketing Program4. Gamification analysis: how are they doing it?

Just as you can reinforce your brand through the rewards offered, the gamified parts of your program—like levels and badges—are also an important consideration.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do the level names play off the program name?
  • Does the progression of the levels make sense from an effort perspective?
  • Is it easy to advance to the second level and very hard to achieve the top level?

It may also be time to consider a refresh of your badges. Over time, badges that are off-brand and quickly created can degrade the overall look and feel of your program. Consider refreshing yours using a free online badge generator, like

Advocate_Marketing_Program_Badges5. Branding analysis: where can you improve your branding?

Finally, go back and review your program invitation and logo, and the Sign-up, Welcome and About pages. The messages and creative might require some tweaking since your initial launch, especially once you take into account what your current advocates have found to be the most valuable and engaging aspects of the program. You’ll want to try to incorporate those findings into the value proposition in the program invitation, and reflect them clearly in the program branding.

And, last but not least, remember your advocates are in a relationship with you. What your company stands for resonates in some way with how your advocates self-identify. Be respectful of the time and effort you are asking them to put into your program, and keep in mind that all relationships work best when the feelings are mutual. Take some time to show your advocates how much you love them.

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