Got Advocate Marketing?

Most people would agree with this statement:

“Word of Mouth is the best form of advertising.”

You may see or hear hundreds or thousands of ads for a brand or product. Most of these ads never even register with you.

But if a friend recommends a brand or product, people listen, remember, and buy.

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

  • People are 4X more likely to buy a product when a friend recommends it to them (source: Nielsen)

What is Advocate Marketing?

Advocate marketing (“Word of Mouth marketing”) is a marketing approach that gets your highly-satisfied customers (“Advocates”) plus others to spread positive WOM about your brand and products.

Advocate marketing works well for consumer and business brands and products. In fact, customer advocacy programs are very popular in B2B companies.


Four Ways to Leverage Advocates

Don’t limit your advocacy program to referrals only. You get much more impact and value when you enable and encourage Advocates to spread positive WOM in multiple ways like these:

  1. Create original content (AKA “UGC”) like positive reviews, stories, testimonials, videos, etc. and post this UGC on their social channels (like their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)

  2. Share brand content like your videos, photos, testimonials, etc. on Advocates’ social channels

  3. Tell friends about your promotional offers like Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals; holiday offers like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day; plus many other promo offers

  4. Refer friends to purchase your products, get a free trial, subscribe, download or take other actions that help you build your sales funnel and drive revenues

Best Way to do Advocate Marketing

The best way to do Advocate marketing is via an ongoing Advocate marketing program, not a one-off campaign.

An ongoing Advocate marketing program enables you to leverage Advocates in all of the ways above (see 1-4) vs. limiting yourself to one activity.

Plus, you can learn who your Advocates are and build relationships with these VIP customers.

Advocate Hub

The best way to do an ongoing Advocate marketing program is via an Advocate hub.

An Advocate Hub is a private, by-invitation-only website for Advocates. (No haters, competitors, or evil doers allowed.)

On the Advocate Hub, Advocates learn about and participate in “challenges” — actions you’d like Advocates to complete.

This includes all of the activities above (again, see 1-4) plus other things like answer surveys, provide product feedback and ideas, etc.

Rewarding Advocates

When Advocates complete challenges, they earn points that can be redeemed for rewards.

Plus, they can earn badges, get on a Leader Board, and achieve status within the Advocate group.

This helps boost challenge participation and ongoing engagement.

Advocate marketing Benefits

Here are the three biggest benefits:

  1. Increased awareness. Getting Advocates to spread positive WOM is a very effective, inexpensive way to boost awareness of your brand and products. The average social media user has a total of over 1,000 friends and followers on their social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) If you have 1,000 Advocates sharing on their social, you can reach 1 million people.

  2. Lots of valuable UGC. A key part of Advocate marketing programs is user-generated content: stories, reviews, videos, photos, and more. Most brands struggle with creating compelling content. Your Advocates will help solve this problem for you. They’ll create fabulous content at a tiny fraction of the price you’d pay to social influencers or for professional video shoots.

  3. Increased sales activity. An Advocate marketing program can help you generate highly-qualified referral leads, prospect traffic to your website and landing pages, and actual purchases.

    Many factors determine how much sales you get from an Advocate marketing programs. These factors include how large your Advocate group is; how compelling your products and promotional offers are; how compelling the rewards are that you offer Advocates for helping bring in new customers.

    Like almost any marketing program, it takes time, patience, and testing to get sales from an advocacy program.

Summary: Get Started Now

More than ever, your success depends not so much on what you say about your brand and products, but rather what your customers say.

If you don’t have an ongoing Advocate marketing program, you’re missing a major opportunity to build your brand and business through your best marketers and salespeople: your authentic Advocates!

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"

An “Advocate Army” is a group of Advocates that go out of their way to spread positive WOM about your brand or products on social networks, e-commerce sites, and elsewhere.

Depending on the size of your customer base, your Advocate Army can be hundreds or even thousands strong.

We work with a software company that has an Advocate Army of over 100,000 enthusiastic Advocates!

How an Advocate Army can Help You

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! You can leverage this content on your social; on your website; on your landing pages and elsewhere to drive conversions and sales.

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 Advocate Army 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 (WOM) is the #1 driver of purchase decisions.

It’s a proven fact: WOM plays a huge role in purchase decisions because it’s the most trusted form of marketing communications.

  • 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)

Cut Customer Acquisition Costs via Advocate Marketing

Here’s another proof point below.

This company was paying a whopping $216 per customer to acquire a new customer using traditional marketing methods like paid media. The company cut this to $52 per customer via Advocate marketing.

In other words, the company was able to acquire new customers via Advocate/WOM marketing for one-quarter of the cost of traditional marketing.

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 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.