9 Ways To Bring Customers Into Your Advocate Marketing Program

The great thing about advocate marketing is that it’s not just a one-channel initiative.

Depending on how open or large you want your own program to be, you may use some or all of the following onboarding tactics:

Use email as a scalable recruiting tool

Email will be one of your most important onboarding channels. You should test a variety of email templates. Some basic ideas to test include:

  • A letter from the CEO
  • The promotion of content that was recently contributed by advocates
  • An update showing growth in the number of advocates
  • Articles in the customer newsletter promoting the advocate marketing program

Enlist sales and customer support

Employees from sales and customer support can help enlist advocates in the program in a one-to-one manner. Marketing should provide these “recruiters” with information on target advocates, key campaigns and tools, such as call scripts and email templates.

Leverage inbound marketing

You can incorporate the advocate marketing program into your content calendar. Blog posts, webinars and videos that feature advocates and the success of your program are all good tools for promoting it.

Regardless of the type of content you publish, make sure that there is a strong call to action about participating in the program and that the content links to a landing page where people can sign up as advocates.

Use social media

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all powerful recruiting tools, particularly for companies that already engage customers, partners and influencers on social media. Use these channels to promote the overall program, specific campaigns and advocates who are active participants.

Get your product team involved

Especially for technical audiences, some of your strongest advocates may be already interacting with product management and engineering teams through user surveys and product beta programs. Canvas these teams to ask which customers are the most active ‘hand-raisers’ for trying new product features, or who is actively involved in product user groups (either by hosting or speaking).

Align your launch with a customer event

Annual user conferences or customer-oriented conferences are a great place to launch your advocate program. Not only do they literally give you a stage from which you can deliver an impassioned call for participation, but physical events typically carry with them a level of excitement that you can tap into to boost membership.

Not to mention, events offer opportunities for dozens of types of advocacy that you can put into action – from spontaneous meet-ups and gatherings, to active promotion of keynotes and track sessions from impassioned customers.

Looking for executive advocates? Visit the C-Suite

Customer advisory boards, whether formal or informal, are usually staffed by external advocates who are strong supporters of your company’s vision and mission. In addition, they are typically seasoned and well-connected business executives who are happy to open doors and recommend your company to others.

Customer advisory boards are critical sounding boards for your C-suite, but they typically only gather once per quarter – and some may be looking for other opportunities to help. Consider inviting them to your advocate program, albeit in a more exclusive way that carefully selects the right campaigns or asks. They are likely not the right candidates to ask for a product review, but they are perfect for referrals, analyst engagement or media interviews.

Make advocacy part of the customer experience

The advocate marketing program should be embedded in your overall customer experience. For example, when onboarding a new customer, make the advocate marketing program part of the welcome email. You can also promote the program via customer channels, such as the support portal or online customer community.

Recognize early adopters and strong advocates

As the program grows, capture early feedback and success. You can record video testimonials about the program and recognize your advocates by promoting early adopters. You should also champion early successes internally to motivate your colleagues to talk to their customers and prospects about the program.

The Advocate Marketing PlaybookDownload Part 4 of The Advocate Marketing Playbook: Engaging and rewarding your advocates

There’s so much more to an advocate marketing program than bringing your customers into it. Learn more best practices in Parts 1-4 of The Advocate Marketing Playbook.

Download Part 4 of the Playbook

This post is part of a series of resources excerpted or adapted from The Advocate Marketing Playbook, created by TOPO. Click here to read the other posts in this series.

Photo credit: Christian Holmér