How to Measure the Value of Advocacy

In the age of empowered consumers, most marketers agree that advocacy (getting highly-satisfied customers and others to recommend their brand and products) is valuable.

But how can you measure the value of advocacy?

Here's our formula:

Direct Sales Value

The direct sales value of advocacy can be measured by tracking the number and value of the following items:

  • Sales leads including referral leads generated by Advocates
  • In-bound traffic from Advocates' friends (clicks and traffic to landing pages, websites, etc.) 
  • Conversions that occur from Advocates recommending  brands and products (customers acquired, revenues, sales; new members enrolled in loyalty programs, etc.)

At Zuberance, we can measure all of these items via unique tracking codes.

Example

The direct sales value of an Advocate referral program for a consumer electronics manufacturer was $350,000:

  • Value of referral leads. The company generated 10,000 referral leads. The company valued each referral lead at $15. Thus, the value of the referral leads is $150,000. 
  • Value of sales. The company got a 10% conversion rate on the 10,000 referral leads, generated 1,000 sales. Each new sales was valued at $200 and so the sales value was $200,000.
  • Total direct sales value = $350,000.

"Customer Lifetime Value"

In the example above, the value of sales is actually higher than $200 per sale. On average each new customer acquired by the company remains a customer for five years. During this time, the customer pays an annual service fee plus typically buys add-on products. So the gross lifetime value of each new customer acquired via the referral program is more like $1,200. Make sure to take this into account when assessing sales value if your company uses a product + subscription-based services model.

In addition, by getting Advocates to share information and offers for the new product, the company also received media value from the program. The media value of referral programs often outweighs the sales value. So to calculate the total value of the program, the company needs to factor in the media value.

Media Value

Many advocacy programs are aimed at getting Advocates to recommend brands and products by creating and sharing/publishing product reviews and testimonials plus other content.

How do you place a value on these recommendations? WOMMA and others have spent years trying to figure this one out.

Our approach leverages the methods marketers use to measure other online media.

Advocate Media

Advocate content like reviews and testimonials are a form of media. Since user-generated content is 2X-3X more trusted and influential than brand content and/or paid media, Advocate content is the most valuable form of media. 

The media value of advocacy can be broken down into two categories:

  1. Content value
  2. Reach value

1. Content Value

How much would you say this story from an Advocate for Rubio's is worth to the restaurant? This Advocate loves Rubio's so much she named her daughter Ruby.

$10? $50? $100? More?

Brands and their advocacy partners should work together to agree on a fair value for Advocate content.

2. Reach Value

The second way of measuring advocacy's media value is by estimating and assigning a value to the reach of Advocate media:

  • # people reached when Advocates share content and offers with others online
  • # impressions as a result from this sharing (each person reached by an Advocate may view the item shared by the Advocate more than once)

Example

In the example of the referral program for the consumer electronics brand, over 100,000 Advocates shared information about the new product and a promotional offer. 

The average Facebook member has 350 friends, according to the Infinite Dial 2014 report by Edison Research and Triton Digital. If all 100,000 Advocates shared the info and offer with their Facebook friends, the brand would reach 35 million people on Facebook alone.

(The brand also enabled Advocates to share on Twitter and via email. In addition, the brand would reach more people when Advocates' friends re-post and re-Tweet Advocates messages.) 

Anytime Fitness Reaches Millions of Prospects via Advocates

Anytime Fitness, a leading fitness company, reached millions of prospects via a highly successful Advocate stories program powered and managed by Zuberance.

Danyeil, an Anytime Fitness member, shared her inspiring story of how she lost over 230 pounds with her several hundred friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Here's Danyeil's amazing Anytime story:

Danyeil's story struck an immediate nerve with her friends, followers, and other people. They re-posted and re-tweeted it hundreds of times, enabling Anytime Fitness to reach thousands of prospects via a single Advocate:

Anytime Fitness Reaches 10M+ Prospects

Over 3,500 Anytime Fitness members like Danyeil shared their inspiring stories. Anytime Fitness reached over 10 million people and generated over 30 million impressions from this one advocacy program. 

How much would you say this reach is worth? Is it worth at least as much as a paid ad, which most people don't trust or even ignore?

Inferred Sales Value

If Anytime Fitness included a promotional offer with Advocates' shared stories, it could measure the sales value of this program.

But even if Anytime didn't, they can be certain that Advocate stories like Danyeil's help Anytime acquire members. 

Research proves conclusively that Advocate content like reviews and stories positively impact purchase intent and purchase decisions.

Other Ways to Measure Advocacy

Depending on your program goals, you may also want to use other metrics that assess advocacy's positive impact on:

  • Online ratings and reviews
  • Engagement
  • Loyalty/retention
  • Customer or subscriber acquisition costs
  • Brand reputation
  • Advocacy score

Get more information about measuring advocacy's value in my book Brand Advocates.