How To Invite And Onboard Customers To Your Advocate Marketing Program

With a solid plan in place, you can start identifying and inviting your first advocates into your company’s advocate marketing program.

Recruiting the right advocates early on is a critical element of any advocate marketing program and is often the single biggest determinant of whether the program will succeed.

Those first 20 or so advocates will need to be trailblazers; they will be the first to participate in your advocate marketing campaigns.

It is important that they become involved right off the bat because the advocates that follow will often base their engagement based on the activity levels of others in the program.

If they join a program that seems quiet or subdued, they are less likely to take action themselves.

While recruiting can be challenging, there are a handful of tactics that can help ensure the success of your efforts.

Create a plan that details how you’ll meet your onboarding objectives

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Consider how many initial advocates you want in your advocate program and what steps will you take to not just invite them into your program, but make them want to join, participate and remain engaged for the long haul.

While many companies will be tempted to invite only a small number of advocates to start, to test it out, it is more effective to launch with as many advocates as possible.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your invitation copy. Is the tone exciting and engaging? Does it outline why the advocate has been selected to join? Does the program sound exclusive?

Answer the following questions as you create your plan:

  • What’s in it for your advocates?
  • How will you make the program sound enticing?
  • What channels will you use to recruit and onboard your advocates?
  • How many advocates will join via each channel?
  • What’s the total number of advocates you want to have after one month? One quarter? One year?

Early on in the program, use personalized outreach to invite advocates

Many first-time advocates will need to have a personal conversation to understand the value of the program. If certain advocates have a relationship with a salesperson or account manager, enlist these people to understand why you’re launching an advocate marketing program and how they should conduct outreach.

Think of this process as a personalized selling effort where you’ll want to use all of the resources at your disposal to onboard these advocates. As you enlist the help of sales, make sure they know that their advocates will be taken care of and recognized for their efforts.

Tip: Some organizations incent their sales and customer success teams to proactively identify and invite advocates using content and prizes.

Sell the program with a personalized pitch

Most of the customers, fans and partners identified for your first round of invitations should be well known to your company and have already helped support your brand and marketing initiatives. These are the people that you would rely on to speak to members of the media or analysts, or participate in sales reference calls.

Make sure you express to them why they have been selected to join this program. Point out that their prior activity has been crucial in the growth and success of the company, and that the program has been designed to get them the recognition they deserve for their efforts.

Tip: Some great invitations include video welcome messages from the CEO or another highly recognizable person in your company. Remember, you want to convey that this is an important, highly visible program in your organization.

Success Story: How Katie Boosted Retention By 58% Through Advocacy
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Present a small number of advocacy campaigns to these early advocates

Start with at least 10-15 “asks” that will allow advocates to engage immediately. For example, when recruiting a potential advocate, show them a list of relevant asks and ask them to respond to one. Always remember that building an advocate community involves simultaneously recruiting and engaging advocates.

Solicit feedback early and often through personalized interaction

One of the premises of your advocate program is that it is a better way to listen to your most devoted fans. Put that benefit to work early by getting feedback from your initial members on the invite process, the tone and style of communications, alignment of campaigns to segments, and efficacy of rewards and recognition.

Use this feedback to fine tune the program and optimize engagement with future advocates. Conduct these feedback sessions by individual email or phone, not a blanket survey.

You’ll want to do this early because, while you can always optimize the program, you will want the next wave of advocates to join a program that confidently directs them towards action, versus asking the late adopters for feedback right away (and unwittingly suggesting to them that the program hasn’t been fully thought out).

Scale the program to include more advocates and campaigns

Once you understand basic onboarding behavior via your trailblazers, you can begin scaling the program. The first step is to identify where you can find additional advocates.

In many cases, they’re right in front of you. They may be active on social media, following you on Twitter, commenting on your blog. They may be customers who have already contributed to case studies and testimonials. Your advocates may also be technical users who are active on customer support message boards or frequent participants in beta programs.

The Advocate Marketing Playbook
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