Do You Know Who Your Advocates Are?

Your Advocates are your most valuable customers, far more valuable than average customers and even more important than loyal customers.


Unlike average customers or even loyal customers, Advocates go out of their way to recommend you, refer customers, and defend your reputation from haters. 

In short, Advocates are powerful, trusted "salespeople" for your brand and products.


Missed Opportunity

Yet many marketers don't know who their Advocates are or only know who some of their Advocates are. They don't have a database of Advocates with names and contact information for Advocates.

This is a huge missed opportunity.

Each Advocate you identify is a valuable asset for your company. Therefore, identifying Advocates on an ongoing basis should be a top priority. 

3 Ways to Identify Advocates

Good news: it's actually easy to identify your Advocates. 

Here are three ways to find customers and others who would (or actually do) recommend your brand and products:

  1. Ask
  2. Listen
  3. Enable

1. Ask

One of the easiest and most effective ways to identify your Advocates is this:

Just ask

More specifically, ask your customers how likely they are to recommend you to others. 

One of our clients -- a workwear apparel brand -- identified almost 1,000 Advocates with a single email send to about 10,000 customers. That's the start of what can be a powerful Advocate Army.

Intuit Quicken Identifies Advocates

Intuit Quicken sends dedicated emails to Quicken customers asking the "likely to recommend" question. This has enabled Intuit to identify thousands of Quicken Advocates.

In addition to email, we also suggest asking the "likely to recommend" question at other online touch points including:

  • In your email newsletter
  • On your website
  • On customer portals
  • In post-purchase and post-usage emails

Don't forget offline opportunities to ask the "likely to recommend" question like at trade shows or at kiosks in your stores.

AT&T Mobile Uses SMS to identify advocates

If you're an AT&T Mobile subscriber, you may have received a text from the company asking the "likely to recommend" question.

Here's a text message below I received recently after I was on the phone with AT&T Mobile customer support. 

By the way, as a test, I've responded to this question several times with a 10 rating (indicating that I'm an Advocate) and with a 1 rating (which means I'm a Detractor.)

I've never received a follow-up from AT&T Mobile in any of these cases. Again, this is a huge missed opportunity for AT&T Mobile.


Calculate Your NPS

One of the advantages of asking the "likely to recommend" question using a 0-10 scale is that this will allow you to capture your Net Promoter Score (NPS), a powerful customer loyalty metric created by Bain & Company and Satmetrix.

Here's the formula for NPS:


% Promoters (Advocates) - % Detractors = NPS


Keep it Short

We recommend that Advocate ID surveys be no more than five questions with the "likely to recommend" always first and the only required field. 

Remember: the purpose of this survey is to identify Advocates. The more questions you add to the survey, the lower your response rate and the fewer Advocates you'll identify.

2. Listen

Listening is also an effective way to identify Advocates.

When a customer gives you a "shout-out" on social media (like the example below), immediately follow-up by thanking the person and inviting them to take an action like writing a product review. You may even want to invite them to join your Advocate community.

The key thing is to capture the person's email address so you have a way to communicate with them on an ongoing basis and they can be added to your Advocate database.


3. Enable

Lastly, you also can identify Advocates by inviting all customers to write a review, create a testimonial, refer a friend, or perform other advocacy actions. 

Customers who perform these actions are Advocates. They haven't just said they're likely to recommend, they've actually done it.

We categorize customers who give five or four-star ratings when creating product reviews as Advocates.

One note: It's still a good idea to ask the "likely to recommend" question, even if you use this third approach (enable) to identify Advocates. Some customers may be willing to recommend your brand or product, but may be unwilling to write a review or just don''t have the time. You don't want to miss identifying Advocates in these cases.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Identifying your Advocates should never be a one-time exercise. You should be identifying Advocates and growing your Advocate Army on ongoing basis.

The more Advocates you identify, the more impact and value you get from your Advocate marketing program. For example, if you have 10,000 Advocates recommending you, you'll get more positive reviews and referrals than if you have 1,000 in your Army.

So what are you waiting for? Start identifying your Advocates now!