Mobilizing Brand Advocates & Brand Ambassadors boosts social reach 10X
A few years back, rock-star business author Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee, gave a famous talk entitled, “What’s the ROI of Your Mother?”
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?
Study after study shows that recommendations from customers, i.e., advocacy, is the #1 way people decide what to buy.
Yet, some marketers still ask: “What’s the ROI of Advocate marketing?”
I get it.
Marketers get asked the ROI question all the time by their managers, boards, and others.
Advocate Marketing is Measurable
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:
Each piece of UGC created by Advocates (five-star reviews, glowing stories, videos, photos, etc.) has value. We can assign monetary value to this UGC.
Each time an Advocate shares and/or publishes this UGC — or shares content you provide Advocates — there’s more media value. An army of 1,000 Advocates can reach approximately 1 million people each time they share. We can assign monetary value to that reach.
Enable your Advocates 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.
Calculating Advocacy ROI
Here’s the formula:
Media Value + Sales Value = Advocacy Value.
Advocacy Value - Advocacy Investment = Advocacy ROI
By the way, there are other things that should and can go into an Advocacy ROI model. Reach out and we’ll share more with you.
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
2. Advocate marketing is highly effective.
Here are three data points that prove this:
The conversion rate for most traditional marketing programs is about 1% or less. However, conversion rates for Advocate marketing programs is about 35% (Ogilvy)
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)
Customers brought in via Advocate referrals are 37% more loyal than customers brought via traditional marketing (Deloitte)
Here’s another proof point:
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.
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.
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:
It motivates your Advocates to recommend your brand and products during the holiday season, which drives sales.
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.
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.
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.
LinkedIn 0.054% (source: Forrester)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
A marketer recently asked me: "What's the business value we're getting from our Advocate community?"
Here's the answer:
1. Significant amount of valuable user-generated content (UGC)
Consumer marketers know how valuable content is. They spend a ton of money paying for it.
The most valuable content is authentic user-generated content like five-star reviews, compelling testimonials, success stories, photo's, videos, and more.
Advocate communities are like a content engine. Neato Robotics, for example, has generated hundreds of pieces of UGC created by Advocates who are members of "Neato Nation."
2. Improved brand and product awareness.
Building awareness is challenging and expensive. Plus, most consumers don't trust or ignore what brands say about themselves.
One of the biggest values you get from an Advocate community is the increased awareness from Advocates taking the positive content they create and sharing it on their social networks.
If you can get 1,000 Advocates sharing the content they create -- or content you provide -- on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest accounts, that's powerful. In many cases, you can track how much traffic is going to your website as a result of Advocate sharing.
3. Increased sales.
Advocate communities help directly boost sales in these three ways:
- Referring friends to try and/or buy your products.
- Sharing your promotional offers with their friends.
- Buying more from you via exclusive, Advocate-only offers.
All of these actions are popular, effective challenges for Advocates.
Another way Advocate communities boost sales is by publishing their positive reviews on Amazon and other sites.
Key data: Nine out of ten consumers say reviews influence their purchases. Plus about eight in ten won't buy products with less than four (out of five stars.)
So even if you can't directly measure the positive sales impact from increased ratings and rankings, you know there is business value in boosting your ratings.
4. Increased engagement, enhanced relationships, and loyalty.
With an Advocate community, you transform the customer relationship from a transaction (buy this product, thank you) to a genuine relationship.
Advocate communities do this by providing the platform that enables two-way dialogue between you and Advocates and amongst Advocates.
You can even give rewards to Advocates for additional or follow-on purchases, which has a direct and measurable revenue impact.
Still wondering about the business value of an Advocate community for your brand or products? Shoot me an email to email@example.com.
Advocate marketing is 3X more trusted and influential than ads and other forms of paid media marketing, according to studies by Nielsen and others.
In short, people place a LOT more credibility in what real product owners and friends say about a product than what brands tell them.
But did you know that Advocate marketing also has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing program?
$1 Investment = $10 Return OR MORE
We've managed and powered over 1,000 Advocate marketing programs for B2C and B2B brands involving more than 10 million Advocates.
Through our analytics and custom reporting, we carefully track the return that our customers get from these advocacy programs.
Here's the key finding: Most of our customers get at least a 10X ROI on their Advocate marketing investments, as measured by sales and media value.
In short, for each $1 invested in Advocate marketing, they're getting $10 or more back!
Here are three examples:
Software Company Gets 47X ROI on Advocate Referral Program
- Annual Investment: $120,000 (includes platform, services, Advocate rewards)
- Return: 47 new customers x $30,000 annual contracts = $1,410,000
- ROI: 47X
Consumer Electronics Company Gets 46X ROI on Advocate Content Program
- Annual Investment: $70,000 (includes platform and services)
- Over 2,000 pieces of content (Advocate reviews and stories) created @ value of $250 per content. 5,000 x 250 = $1,250,000
- Over 2 million people reached via Advocates sharing and publishing content online; 2 million x $1 = $2 million
- Total return = $3,250,000
- ROI: 46X
Start-Up Gets 20X ROI from Advocate Community
- Annual investment: $75,000 (includes platform, services, and Advocate rewards)
- Over 1,000 pieces of content (Advocate reviews, stories, photos, videos, etc.) created @ value of $250 per content. 1,000 x 250 = $250,000
- Over 1 million people reached via Advocates sharing and publishing content online; 1 million x $1 = $1 million
- Over 1,000 Advocates engaged on community; estimated value of engagement = $250,000
- Total return = $1,500,000
- ROI: 20X
Get an Estimate of Your Advocate Marketing ROI
If you're considering Advocate marketing, we'd be glad to help you assess the potential return on your investment.
We have an Advocate marketing ROI tool that you can easily customize by plugging in your own numbers.
While it's not a predictor of actual performance, the tool can help you give you a ballpark estimate of the ROI you'll get from Advocate marketing.