Customer advocacy, also known as word of mouth marketing, is one of, if not the, most powerful marketing tools brands have today. Why? Because consumers trust third-party reviews, endorsements, and recommendations from real people far more than ‘cold’ marketing or advertising messages.
In fact, research suggests a 12 percent increase in advocacy (done well) can represent up to a 200 percent increase in revenue. Customer advocates are also 50 percent more likely to influence a purchasing decision and two times more likely to generate sales than paid advertising. Meanwhile 92 percent of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review.
That’s why one of the most critical components of the B2B marketing mix is having in place a robust and scalable customer advocacy program. Having your customers explain how they are using your product to solve their problem in a clear, authentic way is key to marketing and selling your B2B solution.
Customer advocacy too often ends up in the ‘too hard basket’
So why is this the case? From our experience, we’ve all too often seen companies place customer advocacy in the ‘too hard basket’. Approaching customers and getting their buy-in becomes manually intensive, producing the content internally becomes laborious and time intensive. Then amplifying the content across the right paid and organic channels turns into a logistical nightmare.
Suddenly, simply running an ad just seems so much ‘easier’ in comparison. You set it up, automate, boom. But what happens when you turn off those ads? Your marketing stops.
Meanwhile, the cost of digital advertising is rising 5 times faster than inflation, even though 30 percent of all internet users are now using ad blockers, and among both Millennials and Gen Xers, there is a consistent rise in ad blindness.
Customer stories however, when done right, are the ‘gifts that keep on giving.’ They remain on your site, PR, social and marketing channels, on your sales slides and on partner sites, for months, if not years to come.
That’s why they’re called marketing ‘assets’. You get sustained ROI from them over time. And that’s why we’re so passionate about driving, scaling and amplifying customer advocacy content and marketing strategies at AZK Media.
As the famous RockstarCX James Dodkins says, “find those organic stories, the stories that customers share themselves online, not the ones they’ve been ‘coerced’ to tell. If you’re going to be putting systems in place to find these authentic stories, then really make a big deal of them, share them!”
How to streamline and scale customer advocacy
First of all, your C-Suite needs to understand and value the business and commercial benefits of customer storytelling and advocacy. This needs to be cemented from the top and trickle itself down.
Next, employ a dedicated internal customer advocacy manager who is seasoned and can orchestrate a scalable and sustainable program that can be integrated with demand generation and inbound marketing, plus aligned with sales strategy.
Thirdly, invest in a seasoned media and marketing partner who understands strategic customer advocacy marketing. A specialist partner can help streamline internal strategy, scale internal efforts and produce the right content streams, such as webinars, events, videos, use cases, sales slides and media campaigns. These can then be integrated into a holistic inbound campaign aligned with sales KPIs.
The future is customer-centric
There’s ample evidence to show consumers trust ads less and want more personalised experiences. By putting the customer front and centre of your marketing efforts, you showcase how much you value the customer experience. At the same time, your customer champions get additional marketing and media exposure, which in turn, helps them enjoy an experience beyond the product or service you provide to them. It all starts with a mindset shift. Are you ready?