You know what’s better than you telling your customers how great you are? Other customers telling customers how great you are!
While this type of advocacy is seen as a dream, most organizations expect it to happen organically. Little do they know the secret of companies that dominate mindshare- Advocacy Programs. While the types of customer engagement can be a no-brainer for businesses, setting up shop is where the real work ensues.
Outline Your Goals
What does customer advocacy that pays off really look like for your company? Is it referrals, loyalty, community forums, publicly sharing positive sentiment, or a combination of these? Understanding why you need an advocacy program will feed your social media management strategy moving forward. It will also work as a guiding light when people digress from the context of the program. For instance, if it’s important that your customers have a safe space where they can discuss your product, services and make honest recommendations- then cross and up selling them can cost your brand’s program integrity.
Get Internal Buy- In
Who are the stakeholders that can stop or derail your customer advocate program initiative? Find these people, and get them on your side, right now. Why? You’ll get an opportunity to find out what’s important to them, and you’ll also have your very own influential team of advocates behind you. Furthermore, you’ll have the tools to build your case. For instance, if you know that customer retention is at an all-time low in your company, but advocacy programs in your industry usually result in a higher retention rate- use that to your advantage.
You Already Have Advocates, Use Them
Believe it or not, you already have brand advocates. Are you paying attention to how people are talking about you on social media? Or, are you just pushing out content, hoping for downloads? What types of questions do people have about your company or industry? How often are people referring you to someone asking about your company? By finding people who already have positive sentiment towards your organization, you can reach out to them and ask them to leave a review or to refer your company to other customers. This is a small, but powerful start to building out your program. The power of social media engagement in this regard is grossly underestimated.
You might find out that people don’t feel comfortable exclusively promoting your company- in fact, they just use your product or service as a tool to discuss industry standards or best practices. Either way, you’ll have insights into how people react to requests for advocacy. This will also help you shape the way you approach the tone of your advocacy program.
People love gifts. I mean, don’t you? You may see that people are hesitant to provide reviews exclusively about your company. They may, however, push past that hesitation if there’s a shiny reward at the end of the road. That reward could be anything from points to gift cards. You’ll see what people respond to positively, and once you have that information – you can adjust your strategy for the best results.
Measure the Return
Find a way to tie what you’ve been able to do as a result of your advocacy program to revenue. Were you able to update your products or processes to the standard that customers expect? Did the advocacy program fuel updates to your onboarding process, now that you can anticipate what people are asking? How about ROI? Are you able to measure an increase in retention as a result of your program? Knowing these metrics will be the key to validating the need for a customer advocacy program in the first place.
In five simple steps, not only will you be able to get your advocacy program off the ground, you’ll be able to prove it’s worth. How are you connecting with your customers? Do you know how they really feel about your company? Request a demo and find out!