How this Company Got a 400% Increase in Positive Reviews

Online reviews can make or break your company:

  • 92% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews (source: BrightLocal, 2015)

  • 90% of people say online reviews influence their purchase decisions (source: Dimensional Research, 2013)

  • 88% of people trust online reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations (source: BrightLocal, 2014)

Negative reviews can kill your sales:

  • 92% of people will hesitate to do business with companies with less than four out of five stars (source: BrightLocal, 2014

Company Gets 400% Increase in Positive Reviews

Zuberance created and powered a program for this company to identify and mobilize their customer Advocates.

A key part of this program is encouraging and enabling customer reviews.

Here are the results after only a few weeks.



  • Customers were not paid to create reviews.

  • The reviews were not edited or altered in any way, nor were the reviews subject to prior approval.

  • Customers were encouraged to post honest reviews based on their actual experience with the product.

3 BIG Marketing Advantages of having an "Advocate Army"

Brand Advocates are your most loyal, enthusiastic customers. Some of them actually tattoo your logo on their arms.

Yet many companies don’t have a structured program to identify and mobilize their Advocates. Missed opportunity!

Here are three BIG marketing advantages of having an Advocate Army:


1. More UGC

User-generated content — stories, reviews, testimonials, posts, and more — is 2X more trusted than brand-generated content and is proven to have significant influence over purchases.

By mobilizing your Advocates, you can enable a ton of UGC. On average, a brand with with 1,000 Advocates can get over 3,000 unique pieces of UGC in one year.

That’s a powerful content marketing engine!

2. More Reach & Impressions

Awareness still matters. That’s why many brands continue pouring money into advertising and other forms of paid media.

Amplify your Advocates! Make it easy for Advocates to share their content and yours on their social channels; shopping sites and review sites; plus elsewhere online.

On average, each Advocate has 1,045 friends and followers. (The average Twitter user has 707 followers and the average Facebook user has 338 friends. Source: Brandwatch)

(This is a conservative estimate that doesn’t include the number of social contacts Advocates have on other social networks like LinkedIn and Instagram plus the number of people who view Advocate’s five-star reviews on Amazon, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other sites.)

This means you can reach 1,045,000 people via 1,000 Advocates each time they share on their social channels.

This brand got its Advocates to re-tweet a tweet of theirs. Look what happened: a 10X increase in the number re-tweets.


3. More Referrals & Sales

People are about 4X more likely to purchase a product when referred by a friend, according to Nielsen.

And referred-in customers have a 37% higher retention rate than other customers.

Depending on much customers pay for your products or services, and how long they typically stay, referral programs can generate millions in dollars in revenues for your company. (source: Deloitte)

Start mobilizing your Advocates now to get these three big marketing advantages - and more.


Quick intro to this topic:

A few years back, rock-star business author Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee, gave a famous talk entitled, “What’s the ROI of Your Mother?

As usual, Gary Vee is funny and provocative. And as usual, he drops several F-bombs. So if his salty language is a bit too much for you, skip down to the rest of this post.

Gary’s point was that asking about the ROI of social media was silly and pointless.

There are some things, like motherhood, that you just instinctively know have value. Not everything that has value can or even needs to be measured, Gary argued.

Another way of putting this: If your company couldn’t prove an ROI for social media, would you ignore doing social?

What’s the ROI of Advocate marketing?

By now, most everyone knows that having an army of thousands of authentic Advocates and Ambassadors spreading the word about your brand and products is valuable.

The good news is that the ROI of Advocate marketing isn’t like the ROI of your mother.

We can actually measure the ROI. Here’s how:

1. Content Value

Each piece of UGC created by Advocates (five-star reviews, glowing stories, videos, photos, etc.) has enormous value.

Studies show that UGC is up to 3X more trusted and credible than brand-generated content like brand-generated blog posts, case studies, videos.

It’s also more trusted and credible that content created by paid social influencers, including celebrity endorses.

So assign a value to each piece of UGC. You may want this to be $100 or $500, whatever seems reasonable. OK, this is arbitrary. But you need to peg the value of UGC.

2. Media (Reach) Value

Each time an Advocate or Ambassador shares and/or publishes this UGC — or shares content you provide Advocates — there’s more media value.

An army of 1,000 Advocates or Ambassadors can reach approximately 1 million people each time they share. We can assign monetary value to that reach.

3. Sales Value

Enable your Advocates and Ambassadors to distribute your promotional offers and refer friends. We can track the in-bound traffic, leads, downloads, sign-ups, and sales you get from this out-bound sharing.

SUMMARY: Calculating Advocacy ROI

Here’s the formula:

Content (UGC) Value + Media (Reach) Value + Sales Value = Advocacy Value.

Advocacy Value - Advocacy Investment = Advocacy ROI

Other Values to Add into Your ROI Model

By the way, there are other things that should and can go into an Advocacy ROI model, like:

  • Loyalty value

  • Engagement value

  • Relationship value

We’d be glad to share more.

3 Reasons Why Advocate Marketing should be in Your 2019 Marketing Budget

This is the time of year when many marketers are creating their 2019 marketing plans and budgets.

Here are three reasons why Advocate marketing should be in your 2019 marketing game plan:

1. Word of mouth is the #1 driver of purchase decisions.

It’s a proven fact: Word of Mouth (WOM) like online reviews play a huge role in purchase decisions.

  • 92% people trust Word of Mouth (WOM) over any form of advertising (Nielsen)

  • Up to half of all purchases rely on WOM (McKinsey)

  • 88% say buying decisions are influenced by user-generated content like customer reviews (Gartner Group)

It’s therefore critical that you have a systematic, ongoing program to get your Advocates to recommend your brand and products by doing things like:

  • Creating and posting positive reviews and stories

  • Sharing your content and offers

  • Referring friends

2. Advocate marketing is highly effective.

Here are three data points that prove this:

  1. The conversion rate for most traditional marketing programs is about 1% or less. However, conversion rates for Advocate marketing programs is about 35% (Ogilvy)

  2. On average, when brands send messages to 100 prospects this results in about five in-bound clicks. When Advocates send messages to 100 prospects, brands get about 70 in-bound clicks. (Zuberance customer data)

  3. Customers brought in via Advocate referrals are 37% more loyal than customers brought via traditional marketing (Deloitte)

    Here’s another proof point:

This SaaS company acquired subscribers via Advocate marketing for about one-quarter the cost compared to traditional marketing.

This SaaS company acquired subscribers via Advocate marketing for about one-quarter the cost compared to traditional marketing.

3. Advocate marketing is inexpensive, relative to paid media.

For only about $10K per month, you can build and unleash an “army” of thousands of Advocates to enthusiastically recommend your brand and products to thousands of prospects — all year long.

For an investment at this level, and depending on the size of your Advocate Army, you can get:

  • Thousands of pieces of valuable UGC (stories, reviews, photos, videos.) UGC is 12X more trusted than brand content. (source: BazaarVoice)

  • Millions of impressions from Advocates sharing their content and yours on their social channels. The average number of followers and connections a Brand Advocate has 1,000. If you get 1,000 Advocates to share your content, you reach 1,000,000 people.

  • Hundreds of thousands of in-bound clicks to your website, online store, and landing page

If you know of another marketing approach more cost-effective than Word of Mouth, please let me know.

PS: It’s not too late to start mobilizing your Advocates to drive sales for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and during the entire holiday season.

3 Ways to Boost holiday sales by Mobilizing Brand Advocates

Brand Advocates are like your “Santa Elves” — they’ll make your cash register ring by posting and tweeting about your brand, products, and holiday offers.


Here are three ways to boost sales this holiday season by mobilizing Advocates:

1. Give Advocates promotional offers to share with their friends

Running a Black Friday or Cyber Monday special? Get Advocates to share your promotional offers on their social networks.

Getting Advocates to post your holiday offers will extend your reach, boost impressions, and generate sales.

On average, each Advocate reaches about 1,000 people each time they share your offers or content on their social channels. If you get 1,000 Advocates to share your Black Friday or Cyber Monday special, you’ll reach 1,000,000 potential buyers.


PS: Show your Advocates you care about them by giving them exclusive, early access to Black Friday deals.

Ooma, the #1-rated VOIP company, got thousands of Advocates to post its Black Friday promo on their social channels.

Ooma, the #1-rated VOIP company, got thousands of Advocates to post its Black Friday promo on their social channels.

2. Get Advocates to create holiday-themed UGC

Encouraging Advocates to create and post stories and photos with a holiday flavor is one of the best ways to drive awareness and sales.

Starbucks’ annual “Red Cup” contest is the best-known example of this. Each holiday season, Starbucks asks fans to share images on Instagram of how they celebrate the red holiday cups. Prizes include Starbucks gift cards. The contest generates thousands of pieces of UGC and millions of shares.


You can do something similar.

For example, create a contest that encourages Advocates to post photos or videos about why your product would be a great holiday gift for a friend or loved one. Example: “Why my Mom would love this pasta maker for Christmas.”

Select the winning stories, then reward Advocates by giving free product to the person the Advocate mentioned in his or her story.


3. Support a charitable cause

Here’s how to do this:

Each time an Advocate recommends your brand or product on their social channels, give a donation to a charitable organization and rewards points to your Advocates. This accomplishes two things:

  1. It motivates your Advocates to recommend your brand and products during the holiday season, which drives sales.

  2. It serves a social purpose. BTW, did you know that consumers are far more likely to buy from and be loyal to brands with a social purpose? After all, the holidays are about giving.

Ooma asked Advocates to share their annual “Tell Santa what’s on your wish lists this holiday season” promotion. Ooma makes two lucky kid’s wishes come true.

Ooma asked Advocates to share their annual “Tell Santa what’s on your wish lists this holiday season” promotion. Ooma makes two lucky kid’s wishes come true.


One other way to mobilize your Advocates during the holiday season: Give them 2X rewards points for recommending your brand or products.

Our clients have driven double-digit engagement and conversion rates with a “Double Points December” promotion.

Plus, it’s a nice way to thank your Advocates for their support during the year.


It’s Not Too Late

Black Friday is right around the corner. But it’s not too late to make the 2018 holiday shopping season your best ever by mobilizing your Advocates!

PS: This blog post assumes that you’ve identified your Brand Advocates and have created an “Advocate Army” that you can mobilize during the holidays. If you haven’t, feel free to contact us and we’ll show you how.

B2B Company Gets 44% Customer Advocate Engagement Rate

No, that’s not a typo.

One of Zuberance’s B2B customers is getting a whopping 44% Advocate engagement rate.

The company sells ERP software to smaller colleges and universities. Not exactly a passion category.

Nor are its Advocates any more enthusiastic than Advocates for other B2B companies. (In fact, this company has low promoter score.)

Yet, the company's Advocates are creating reviews and testimonials, posting videos, referring peers, and completing other actions at an outstanding 44% rate.

How 44% Compares to LinkedIn & other Social/Peer Networks

Just to put 44% in context for you, here are the engagement rates for brands on leading social networks, according to the ”2018 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report,” by Rival IQ.

Facebook: 0.16%

Twitter: 0.046%

LinkedIn 0.054% (source: Forrester)

Instagram: 1.73%

Are You Under-Estimating Your Advocates?

As B2B marketers, we often under-estimate the willingness of our customer Advocates to go out of their way to pro-actively recommend and refer us to their peer networks.

Or we mistakenly assume that because our products or services aren't very exciting, few customers would be willing to participate in an advocacy program.

We'e finding that both of these assumptions are often incorrect.

So What's the Secret to Getting a 44% Engagement Rate?

Our real-world experience is showing that there are three keys to driving B2B advocacy:

1. Make it easy

Don't ask too much of your Advocates. Even Advocates can get fatigued.

2. Make it rewarding

Give Advocates rewards they value.

3.  Make it fun

Yep, participating in B2B advocacy programs should be enjoyable.

And Advocates will Reward You with...

Advocates will drive real results and ROI for you, like significant increases in:

  • Referral leads
  • User-generated content
  • Sharing of your content (reach, impressions)
  • Traffic to your website

Will you get a 44% engagement rate? It's hard to say.

But if you're not systematically identifying and mobilizing your Advocates, you're missing a highly cost-effective opportunity to drive positive Word of Mouth and sales.



How Much is Negative Online Word of Mouth Costing Your Brand?



Most everyone knows that negative online Word of Mouth  -- critical online reviews, harsh comments in social networks and online forums --  is bad for your business and brand.

But the actual cost of negative online WOM may be dramatically higher than you think.

Our analysis shows that negative online WOM can cost a company an amount that's equal to about 25 percent of its total annual revenue.

In other words, the financial impact of negative online WOM for a company with $100 million in annual revenue may be $25 million a year or even more in cases when online WOM is especially hostile.

An Unhappy Customer Tells 5 People...Wait, Make that 5,000

Remember the old saying that an unhappy customer will tell five people about a negative experience with your company?

Thanks to the power of social media, it's time to update the old adage and make that 5,000 people.

And by the way, that's 5,000 people who were shopping for your product or service on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, or asking friends for recommendations on social networks.

The "Silent Sales Killer"

I call negative online WOM the "Silent Sales Killer" because rarely if ever will prospects contact you to say they decided to buy a competitors' product after reading complaints about your product.

They just take their business elsewhere.

And PS: they go out of their way to warn friends about your company and products. Ouch! More lost revenues.

How Does Negative Online WOM Affect Your Business?

Left unchecked, negative online WOM has many negative impacts on your business including:

  • Decreased sales and revenues
  • Decreased customer loyalty (customers churn out faster and in higher percentages)
  • Increased difficulty attracting and retaining employees
  • Increased difficulty attracting partners and investors
  • Lower market valuation and stock prices

How to Combat Negative Online WOM

Of course, you should respond consistently to negative reviews, posts, and Tweets. And it goes without saying that you need to identify and fix the issues that are causing customers to bash you online.

However, a critical key to fighting negative online WOM is to go on the offense. 

That means you need to have a systematic, pro-active program to identify, mobilize, and amplify your highly-satisfied customers and other defenders, i.e., your Advocates.

Mobilize & Amplify Your Advocates

Here are four powerful ways to activate your Advocates:

1. Enable and encourage your Advocates to post positive reviews, stories, testimonials, videos, photos, and other original content.

2. Make it easy for them to share positive news about your company and products.

3. Give them rewards for referring friends and peers.

4. Invite them to join an Advocate hub, where they can learn about ways to recommend and refer plus earn points, status, and badges.

When PC Mag named the new Neato Botvac Connected D7 an "Editor's Choice," Neato Robotics encouraged its Advocates to share the exciting news with friends.

When PC Mag named the new Neato Botvac Connected D7 an "Editor's Choice," Neato Robotics encouraged its Advocates to share the exciting news with friends.

Waiting Costs You $$$... So Why Wait?

Prospects are making decisions TODAY about whether to buy your product, enroll in your school, eat at your restaurant, or stay in your hotel.

These choices are being heavily influenced by what's online about you today.

So waiting to address negative online WOM is costing you money right now. More reason to get started now to launch a systematic WOM advocacy program.






Why I Hate the Term "Micro-Influencers"

You've heard the term "Micro-Influencers," right?

This term is used to describe Influencers who have a smaller number of fans and followers (between 1,000 and 25,000) than Mid-Tier Influencers (between 25,000 and 100,00 fans and followers) and Top-Tier Influencers, who have 100,000 or more fans and followers. 


There are two reasons why I dislike the term "Micro-Inluencers" (OK, "hate" is probably too strong of a word.)

1. There is nothing "micro" at all about the influence of Micro-Influencers.

In fact, these Influencers -- which often includes customers -- have huge influence over purchase decisions and brand perceptions.

There is nothing more influential than a recommendation from a friend or peer who is an actual user or owner of a product or service, study after study has proven.

People trust recommendations from peers or friends 2X to 3X more than recommendations from paid influencers, i.e. Mid-Tier and Top-Tier Influencers.

2. Reach alone is a very limited way to measure influence.

Categorizing Influencers on the basis of reach alone is dumb.

True influence is the ability to get people to take action, like inciting others to buy the recommended product or service.

Recommendations from friends or peers is what really gets people to buy products or services -- not so much what paid influencers say.

Check out this post from social media marketing guru Jay Baer on why confusing reach with true influence is a mistake:

So what should we call Micro-Influencers?

I don't have a better term to describe Micro-Influencers.

More than anything, I hope the next time you hear or use the term Micro-Infuencers, you consider this perspective.



How to Host an Advocate Community

Being the host of your brand’s Advocate Community is like being the host of a party. (In this case, your "guests" are hundreds to thousands of your brand's most loyal, enthusiastic Advocates.)

So how can you be a great host of your Advocate community? Glad you asked!


Introduce yourself. You can do this with a pinned post. You should also make sure to fill out your profile card completely including uploading your profile photo. Tell your guests about yourself. And, of course, make sure to say why you’re passionate about your brand.

Check in on your guests often. A good party host checks in with guests to make sure they’re enjoying themselves. You should log onto your Advocate community at least twice a day to see what’s happening. BTW, hosting an Advocate community can be pretty addictive. You may find yourself logging on several times each day.

Like members’ posts. You should like just about every post on the community by clicking on the heart logo. By doing this, you’re acknowledging and encouraging members. Do this at least once daily.

Comment on their posts. A good party host participates in conversations and compliments guests. You should do the same. Here are a couple examples:

  • “Debbie, that’s a great post! Love it!”

  • “Nate, what an awesome post. Keep up the good work!”

Ask questions. Encourage discussions and interactions by posting questions in response to members’ posts. Here are a couple examples:

  • “Terry, that’s a really beautiful photo you posted. Where did you you take it?”
  • “Shailesh, those pics of your latest meals you created look amazing. What inspires you to cook?"

Notice that in the above examples, members are addressed by their names (or screen names.) Helps make it personal.

Use a conversational tone that reflects your brand's positioning. When commenting on members' posts -- or creating posts yourself -- don't come across as stiff or too formal. A good party host is relaxed, friendly, warm, and welcoming. So too with a good Advocate community host. 

Respond quickly to any problems. Ever have a guest spill a drink at your party? You probably grabbed the paper towels and quickly rushed to their aid.

Same thing with your Advocate community. Whenever members post that that they’re having problems (e.g., they completed a challenge but didn’t get their points; they’re having product problems, etc.) respond ASAP. Either fix the problem or let them know you’ve reported the problem. Invite them to contact you directly via email if the problem isn’t solved.

Here's to hosting a successful Advocate party! Cheers!