SiriusDecisions: Customer Advocacy Will Drive Demand Generation In 2015

More B2B marketers are putting “start a customer advocacy program” at the top of their New Year’s Resolution lists.

And with good reason …

Customer advocacy can help you drive referrals, leads and sales. According to SiriusDecisions, companies with more advocates significantly outperform their peers in revenue growth.

I recently interviewed Bob Peterson, Research Director for SiriusDecisions, on BAM!TV and asked him how customer advocacy will drive revenue in 2015.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

Q: Why are customer experience and customer advocacy top priorities for B2B marketers?

A: In the past, B2B marketers paid lip service to customer experience. Now, they’re paying attention to data about how customer experience can impact the bottom line.

Our recent research established a link between customer experience and growth. The clients we surveyed who invest in customer experience and customer advocacy see higher response rates, Net Promoter Scores, revenue and customer retention rates.

We at SiriusDecisions are convinced that customer advocacy will become an important asset to drive improved demand gen performance.

Q: Who should own the customer experience?

A: The CMO plays a central role in owning the customer experience. In certain cases, the Chief Customer Officer might own it – with a dotted line to the CEO and other senior-level executives.

Q: Is customer experience the new demand generation?

A: Customer experience and advocacy used to be a subset of sales and marketing. For example, the demand generation team might have asked for an advocacy asset at the end of the sales cycle.

Now, forward-thinking demand centers want to bring customer experience and advocacy into every stage of the sales cycle. This means customer experience is the new demand creation.

More B2B marketers are using customer experience and advocacy to “protect” late-stage opportunities – or keep them from slipping away to your competitors at the last minute. Your advocates can give these late-stage leads the motivation they need to cross the finish line.

Q: How do customer experience and customer advocacy intersect?

A: Customer experience and customer advocacy are similar – yet distinct – concepts. Customer experience is how customers perceive your value after they have an experience with your brand.

Customer advocacy is the activities that allow customers to share their experiences with your brand. This can be through references, case studies, video testimonials, social media, etc.

Q: Should B2B organizations have a dedicated customer advocacy role?

A: The most successful customer advocacy programs have a role dedicated to customer advocacy. Our research has shown that results go sideways when advocacy is a shared service. For example, an organization might ask a busy marketer, “Can you also run our advocacy program?” This is a roadmap for failure.

Q: Are B2B marketers successful at both mobilizing advocates and measuring their impact?

A: Many of our clients want to measure the impact of advocacy throughout the buyer journey. However, there’s disconnect between wanting to do it and effectively doing it. They’re starting to use marketing automation and advocate marketing platforms to measure their results. However, this is just the beginning. If we have this conversation in a year, I think we’ll see a marked change in the ability to measure the impact of advocacy.

Q: Why do so many customer communities fail?

A: New communities are shiny objects. Then the initial interest wears off. B2B marketers realize that they don’t have the resources to grow – or even maintain – their communities.

With the rise of customer experience and advocacy, more B2B organizations are realizing that their communities – even stalled ones – are valuable. They think it’s time to “get the band back together” and revive their investments.

Q: Will there soon be a single platform that can manage the entire customer experience?

A: Our clients have been asking us about the technology needed to manage the customer experience. They currently have disparate pieces of technology that are helpful. However, they also realize that it doesn’t necessarily make sense for all of the technology to be in a stand-alone application.

I believe we will see changes in terms of consolidation and aggregation – about how all these tools work together to provide a holistic view of what’s happening with the customer.

I’m presenting a session on the changing customer community at our 2015 SiriusDecisions Summit in Nashville. During the session, I’ll look at all the tools that fit into the customer community and discuss how they’re evolving.

Q: What can you do today to help nudge your organization towards advocacy?

A: When change happens, there’s always a little pain first. It might be a bit uncomfortable for customer advocacy and demand gen teams to talk to each other, because they might not think they have natural synergy.

I strongly advise each group to build their own distinct plans. Then, they can sit down together and look at their advocacy assets and interactions. They can think about how to build advocacy into each other’s plans. For example, which assets will help in each stage of the buyer’s journey? It’s about being proactive – not reactive – to impact demand generation and drive revenue.

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For more B2B marketing insights, tune in to BAM!TV. Influitive’s late-night style talk show focuses on today’s dynamic marketing landscape, exploring why customer engagement and advocacy have rocketed to the top of the modern marketer’s agenda. Click here to watch BAM!TV now!

2 Responses to SiriusDecisions: Customer Advocacy Will Drive Demand Generation In 2015

  1. […] customer engagement strategy and its execution. “If you make your customer experience great, the demand generation problem takes care of itself,” says […]

  2. […] why we asked him to join us for a webinar about how brands can harness their customer advocates to drive consistent growth and sales. (Watch it […]

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