While areas like mobile, content and personalization are hot topics in marketing this year, the customer experience topped the list.
A recent report by Adobe and Econsultancy found that 20% of client-side marketers said the customer experience is the single most exciting opportunity for their company this year. (Mobile was #1 for agency marketers.)
These numbers are consistent with the B2B marketers and customer success professionals I’ve been speaking with this year, too. They’re making room on their teams and in their budgets for innovative new ways to engage with their customers and provide a better customer experience overall.
For many, the solution is an advocate marketing program. Even Gartner says “2014 will be the year of advocacy marketing.”
You may think that, as great as this new concept of advocate marketing sounds, it doesn’t apply to you if you don’t have the words “customer,” “advocacy,” or “marketing” in your job title.
The truth is that advocate marketing can make a huge impact in virtually every part of a company.
Here are some examples of how advocate marketing impacts customer experience, engagement and delight across an entire organization:
Sales and Demand Generation
The usefulness of advocate marketing to your sales department can be summed up in one word: leads. Advocates bring you more leads through referrals and social shares than any ad you can buy. People trust their friends, and rarely make a purchase without sourcing it out first. The fastest way to get more interest in your company is to encourage your advocates to promote it.
Advocates are like steroids for any marking campaign. Every single marketing initiative should be given to your advocates to go wild with – and they will go wild, especially if it’s good.
Advocates don’t churn. If something is wrong, they will tell you. And not in the ‘I’m going to complain and be annoying’ kind of way, but in the ‘I’m going to explain the issue in detail, with screenshots, be very patient while you figure it out, and be appreciative when you fix it’ kind of way.
Many companies have trouble finding beta testers because they don’t know who to ask or how to ask. What product manager wouldn’t want easy access to more beta test volunteers and instant feedback?
Here’s a riddle: Who is as qualified on your product as your trainers, yet have more credibility because they are working in the trenches day in and day out? Yep, you guessed it. Sales reps? No, silly. Advocates! They take your other customers’ questions and jump all over them. They can be incredibly helpful, citing their own experiences, examples and stories.
Happy customers have higher NPS scores and tend to spend more, which means greater loyalty and satisfaction, and more opportunities to up-sell.
Nobody puts advocates in the corner
So, if your advocates have such an amazing impact on all of these areas of your organization, why would you have them cornered off in a small area of your company doing a reference here and there, or a grand total of one case study in their tenure as a customer?
Data from across our customers’ advocate marketing programs shows that engaged advocates complete an average of 90 actions per year, ranging from referrals and product reviews to social shares and survey questions.
Give customers a platform to be rockstars in your organization – and theirs. Encourage them to help your company in any way they can and, in return, show them oodles of appreciation.
Everyone in your company should know who they are and how they have made an impact on your business. Put their picture on the wall. Feature them in your content. Send them to industry conferences. (Hint: They will talk about you a lot!)
There’s a reason marketing leaders are making customer experience, engagement and happiness a priority this year: happy, engaged customers are the best advocates and they have the power to make your company grow.