Figuring out budget can be tough, especially for new initiatives like advocate marketing—but understanding the costs can help.
You already learnt where you can get funds for advocate marketing in our previous blog. (Hint: it’s from initiatives you already pay for!)
Here’s how you can establish a budget to help convince your boss.
(P.S. If you want our complete guide of creating a justifying budget for advocate marketing, download this guide.)
How much does advocacy cost?
While costs for your program will vary, here are the two main costs associated with effectively running an advocate marketing program:
1. Advocate marketing software
Having a centralized platform to interact with your customers makes creating strong, personal relationships with hundreds of advocates possible. It will also give your advocates an experience one person with spreadsheets and emails can’t replicate. An advocate marketing platform makes sharing content and opportunities with advocates scalable. It also automates the recognition process so advocates get instantaneous feedback that drives them to engage. Finally, it should also integrate with your current tech stack to make advocate management seamless across functions.
Software pricing for advocate marketing platforms is usually based on:
- The number of advocates (or advocate persona types) in your program
- Product add-ons, such as enhanced reporting and referral features
- The level of customer support you want
Many companies can expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 per month for an advocate marketing platform. Enterprise companies can expect to invest more depending on the size of their advocate base and program complexity.
2. Rewards and recognition
The most effective advocate marketing programs give advocates special perks, recognition amongst their peers and occasional tokens of appreciation. These incentives often include low-cost rewards (such as gift cards or swag) and higher value items (like tickets to your annual conference).
The most valuable rewards don’t cost a lot. Experiential rewards that give advocates access to your company, career growth and social capital mean more than physical rewards. Offering advocates an exclusive meeting with your CEO or a chance to be in the spotlight in front of their peers will incentivize them to participate more in the long run.
There are two methods for establishing a rewards budget:
- Set a budget for rewards and make it work
Sometimes it’s easier to set an monthly reward budget and then limit the monetary rewards that can be redeemed by advocates to stay within your budget. (Try setting aside about 20% of your software costs.)
The key is to communicate this limit with your advocates so they aren’t disappointed. It will also motivate them to complete challenges faster so they can redeem prizes before they’re gone.
- Tie a value to each act of advocacy
Once you’ve established a baseline value for different acts of advocacy, you can estimate how much you should budget for rewards based on how many acts of advocacy you expect.
For example, let’s say your goal is to get 100 referrals this year, and you consider the value of a referral to be $20. If you hit your goal, you’ll spend $2,000 to get 100 referrals.
However, before you set aside $2,000, you should know that only 20% of advocates redeem their points for rewards. This means that you’ll likely pay only $400 for 100 referrals (or $4 per advocate). It’s a good idea to budget a bit more than you need, so plan for a 50% points redemption rate for all of your challenge to prevent yourself from running low on funds. In this example, you’d budget $1,000 for referrals to be safe. Follow the same principle for any other advocacy challenges that you plan, such as reference requests or writing blog posts.
“In terms of rewards, we have found that only advocates who provide real value (in the form of reviews, testimonials, or referrals) tend to redeem prizes—so it just feels like we’re saying thanks!”
How to build a budget to convince your boss
Example: Acme Co. has decided to cut their booth and sponsorship at one event this year that costs $20,000. They plan to decrease their PR retainer spend by $10,000 per month for 6 months and collect more customer stories using an advocacy platform. They will also eliminate a product feedback and NPS survey tool they use, which costs $15,000 per year. Instead, they will use their advocacy platform to collect this data. The total cost savings for the year is $95,000.
They plan to spend $3,500 per month on software to facilitate the management of their advocate marketing program, and $700 per month on rewards and recognition (20% of software costs).
|Item||Cost / Month|
|Advocacy platform software||$3,500 x 12 = $42,000|
|Reward costs||$700 x 12 = $8,400|
|Total budget needed by Acme Co.||$50,400|