Why Advocate Marketing Should Be Part of Your Lead Generation Strategy – Part I of 2

« Back to blog home

Posted on by

speech bubble whtie backgroundAs sales prospects rely more on word of mouth, they’re quickly shifting the way business buying decisions are made.  And smart B2B marketers are leveraging this customer influence to the max to drive and nurture leads.

How are they doing this?

With advocate marketing.

If you’ve heard about it but aren’t sure how it works, read on.

What is advocate marketing?

Simply put, advocate marketing is the mobilization of customers, employees, partners, investors and other fans to provide support throughout a prospect’s buying process (including before your marketing and sales teams are ever engaged).

Marketers engage fans in fun activities and challenges around surveys, reviews, referrals or social campaigns. As their engagement deepens, they’re rewarded and recognized with points, recognition and awards.

As this army of advocates grows, their influence reaches prospects which turn into more leads, sales and ultimately, profit. It’s a big, powerful tribe-gathering movement!

Why advocate marketing works:

  • Buyers trust their peers: When it comes to buying decisions, a recommendation from a friend or an online review is more trusted than branded company website information, email newsletters or editorial content, according to Nielsen. If your customers love you, chances are their peers will love you too!
  • Happy customers are naturally inclined to help:  They believe in your solution and have seen it impact their own success on the job.  Advocate programs make it crystal clear how they can help, offer shortcuts to make it easier to do, and provide just enough recognition and rewards to motivate action.
  • It deepens customer engagement: Customers are more likely to share feedback when they feel directly involved in a company’s success, so the benefits go beyond sales and can spill into product design, content marketing or positioning.  In some cases, advocates even help plan product roadmaps and marketing calendars.

Once they’re mobilized and engaged, happy customers can become a brand’s most powerful influence.  And marketers who tap into this passion are reaping benefits many times over.

Why marketers love it

Today’s buying environment is so transparent, which is why happy customers and fans are a B2B company’s biggest asset.  Advocate-generated referrals have been shown to be 4-10 times as valuable as an average lead.  That’s because continuous engagement attracts more leads, and then helps nurture them and close the deal. And that’s why tapping into their excitement makes so much sense.

The strongest advocates are those whose value extends beyond the buying cycle. They help acquire and retain customers, and then contribute to your business in other ways too. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Awareness:  Plant the seeds with referrals, through social media, and by sharing content and comments on blog posts.
  • Consideration:  Nurture leads with product reviews and case studies.
  • Purchase:  Help close the deal with customer testimonials and reference calls.
  • Feedback: Improve your product, processes, marketing and more by sharing feedback or participating in user groups.

If advocates can boost sales and marketing efforts from end to end, how do you hook them and keep them coming back?  Stay tuned for a future post on how to create valuable experiences to keep your advocates engaged.

Advocate marketing playbook

 

Want to learn more? Download Influitive’s Advocate Marketing Playbook and discover how to turbocharge your next marketing campaign.

 

 

 

 

Chris Newton is VP of Business Development at Influitive. He started the first product-centric customer advisory board at Siebel, and created one of the earliest advocate marketing programs using Influitive’s AdvocateHub platform at Xactly before joining Influitive. In his life before software marketing, he was a pilot in the U.S. Navy and earned an MBA at Harvard.

« Back to blog home

  • Thomas Craft

    We have struggled with advocate marketing for the last year, getting our whole company involved has been a challenge and crucial to success. In the last 3 months our efforts have been more focused and comprehensive and the results show that it is working . Good article, and Pay close attention to why customers respond and are inclined to engage.

  • Jay McBain

    Great post – advocate marketing has been key for us in our B2B industry marketing with key influencers and connectors driving trusted endorsements to their networks.

    • http://www.influitive.com/ Cassandra Jowett

      Thanks for sharing your insight, Jay.

  • bri44any

    I also think that the customers that become advocates are naturally better salespeople than anyone you can hire for the job. :)

  • http://merryrichter.tumblr.com/ Merry Richter

    Great post! Looking forward to part 2 very much and for strategies to enlist new advocates.

  • Pingback: Why Advocate Marketing Should Be Part of Your L...

  • LizAtBomgar

    The relationships that a customer advocacy program allow you to build are invaluable. Not only are our customers getting to know our company better by interacting with us much more frequently apart from the sales process, but as a manager of our customer advocacy program, I’m getting to know these folks as a whole and at times personally. That connection goes a long way when it comes to enlisting help from our customer or being able to mediate if they ever have concerns. It’s a beautiful thing. ;)

  • Holly Zoba

    We are just starting advocacy marketing and learning so much every week, I can’t imagine how we marketed for so long without it now!

  • Bo Bandy

    Great post, Chris. At ReadyTalk, we’ve seeing tremendous value in having strong advocates at the point of purchase. A customer reference goes a long way!

  • http://www.brainshark.com/ Brainshark

    Great insights, Chris. We’ve had some great success utilizing advocate marketing to identify customers who are interested in acting as a reference for us with potential customers!

  • http://jeffogden.net/ Jeff Ogden

    Agreed. Advocates are your best ally in B2B lead generation. And we have Influitive CEO Mark Organ on Marketing Made Simple TV soon too.

    • http://www.brainshark.com/ Brainshark

      Jeff – If you have a link to the upcoming Marketing Made Simple TV session featuring Mark, we would be glad to share with our community.

      • http://jeffogden.net/ Jeff Ogden

        Mark Organ’s show premieres on 1/30/2014. I will share then.

        • http://www.brainshark.com/ Brainshark

          Excellent, we’ll stay tuned, thanks for the update!

  • Jeff Pedowitz

    Beyond email and nurturing and search and content syndication. It is old-fashioned word of mouth in its best form, using the best of technology. Customer advocacy trumps all other marketing channels.

  • Deena Zenyk

    It’s hard to imagine marketing without a solid plan for leveraging advocates. A well-done advocate marketing program straddles the dusty chasm between sales and marketing perfectly! And, as a marketer, how often is it that the “sales side” actually takes an interest in what marketing is doing? Advocate marketing appeals to common sense – no matter which side of the office you sit on.

  • http://www.fashionhippo.com FashionHippo

    What do you like best?

    Ability to streamline testimonial requests, product ratings, and press release quotes from customers who are already passionate about the brand.

    What do you dislike?

    Happy with the features and functionality.What business problems are you solving? What benefits have you realized?

    Getting customers who are passionate about the brand to spread the love.For which purposes do you use Influitive AdvocateHub?

    Gamification & LoyaltyWhat is your primary role when using this product?

    Administrator

  • Ray Gans

    Nice article Chris. One challenge I found is getting some sales people to part with contact information of their most passionate customers so I could invite them into the advocacy program. Sales should work well with Marketing, but they don’t always trust us to deal with their people responsibly — which in the case of Advocate Marketing is precisely what we must do to reap any benefits (i.e., play very well with them). It often takes one-on-one conversations with internal people to get buy-in and build some trust to get names of those great potential customer advocates! It’s not difficult, but it takes a little effort to convince some people that this REALLY WORKS and isn’t just the latest Marketing fad.