As we start to fall into a routine in this “new normal,” the need for customer engagement and advocacy continues to grow. According to data presented at the Forrester/SiriusDecisions Summit in May, companies who focus on advocacy in their customer marketing programs drive deeper relationships over time. In fact, 92% said it increases their credibility with customers.
We asked our customers how the value of customer advocacy and engagement has shifted within their programs and amongst their organization, and what tactics they’ve employed. Here’s what we learned:
Companies are prioritizing long-term customer engagement
Forrester believes that “customer-obsessed companies will prioritize customer engagement over net new acquisition to survive a COVID-19-induced downturn and that tech investment will follow to scale those early CX successes.” Companies already invested in advocacy and engagement have double-downed on those efforts while companies exploring these strategies have been quick to shift focus. “We are much less focused on driving short-term business results and more focused on how we can continue to drive customer success and adoption as a trusted technology partner,” said Kathleen Orazio, Customer Advocacy Marketing Manager at Viewpoint.
Increased focus on educational resources and nurturing customers
Successful customer advocacy programs provide a healthy mixture of ask, educational and fun activities for their users to complete. Times like these require an adjustment as customers seek out comfort and education from their communities. “We created a new content channel for COVID-19 resources, blog posts, discussions, etc. and have started creating those resources more frequently so that our clients can easily find the resources they need right now,” said Katie Raeburn, Customer Marketing Manager at Rosetta Stone. “Our number one focus is to equip our customers with valuable content that makes them more effective in using the PowerDMS platform,” added Cameron Moreau, Customer Marketing Specialist at PowerDMS.
For others, equipping customers with data to demonstrate impact and their program ROI has become a top priority. “We’ve recently pivoted our approach to focus on nurturing our customers who are most impacted by the crisis, and capturing case studies on those who can maintain business (mostly) as usual,” said Sameera Kelkar, Customer Marketing Specialist at Sage Intacct. “We’re also softening some of our messaging to focus on the intrinsic benefits of our software, like allowing customers to plan or forecast, rather than highlighting cost savings or growth metrics.”
Giving customers a brain break with a bit of fun
As we said before, advocacy content does require a delicate balance, which means incorporating a bit of fun to lighten up a customer’s day. “We’ve created more engagement activities, rewards and content that could help, entertain and inform customers. There has been an increase in the number of posts we create daily,” said Megha Jetley, Customer Marketing Team Lead at Cvent. “We’re focusing more on educational resources, connecting customers with each other to encourage best practice sharing and mostly, we’ve been upping our ‘just for fun’ activities,” added Sarah Connor, Customer Advocacy and Engagement Manager at PointClickCare. “Our customers are looking for a distraction or a place to take a break, so the fun stuff is keeping them engaged.”
For others, providing a seamless but consistent experience has been beneficial. “We are continuing on the same track with daily contests and monthly campaigns,” said Dérick St-Hilaire, Digital Marketing Specialist at Devolutions. “We continue to engage our advocates since most of them have more time to give to the platform.” “We have started focusing much more on our community and providing resources that will help our clients feel supported during this strange time, added Raeburn. “I think this has made us realize just how important having a community is, especially for clients who are feeling isolated and quite alone.”
Increased interest from multiple business units and c-suite executives
Having a direct line to customers always has its merits but in times of uncertainty, it becomes top of mind for an entire organization. Advocacy programs provide a single valuable touchpoint for multiple business units to gather customer feedback and insights.
“Our executive team is relying even more on the insights I can gain to determine our customers’ sentiment and status,” said Storey Sheriff, Advocacy Marketing Specialist at Greenway Health. “Everyone wants to understand how the crisis is impacting customers,” added Kelkar. “Rather than having a dozen people reach out to the same set of customers with the same set of questions, we can leverage our [Influitive] program to share the questions with advocates. This way, we can make sure we’re not asking redundant questions or being too pushy.”
Click here to learn more about how Influitive is helping customers during this unprecedented time.