Brand Advocates

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.

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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.

Cha-ching!

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.

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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.

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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.

BONUS IDEA

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.

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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.













How this Home WiFi Company Boosted Online Ratings from 2.9 to 4.0

Situation

This start-up company manufactures and sells routers that cut or eliminate WiFi "dead zones" in homes.

Home WiFi routers are a highly-competitive market.  Dozens of companies offer products that make similar claims.

And like many other products these days, 90% of shoppers for home WiFi routers (and other products) are influenced heavily by online ratings.

Challenge

Online reviews and ratings for this company's product stood at 2.9 -- poor. Here are some of the headlines of these negative reviews:

  • "Horrible WiFi"
  • "Very frustrating"
  • "It does not work"

Negative Reviews = Lost Sales

These negative reviews were costing the company thousands of dollars in lost sales and damage to the brand's reputation.

Most consumers won't buy products with less than four stars, research shows. For example, 22% of consumers will not buy after reading just one negative review. After three negative reviews, that number jumps to 59% (source: Google consumer study)

It was imperative for this company to boost its online ratings. And they needed to do it quickly before more money flew out out the door.

Zuberance Solution

Zuberance created a program that identified and mobilized the company's highly-satisfied customers (AKA "Advocates") to create and publish reviews.

Via Zuberance's smart publishing system, Advocates were invited to publish their reviews on major shopping sites plus share them with their friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Additionally, Zuberance made it easy for the company to display selected reviews on the company's website, plus leverage the reviews in email, ads, and more.

Authentic Advocates

Importantly, Advocates were not offered incentives or rewards to publish reviews.

They were encouraged to share their honest opinions. In addition, the company didn't change, edit, or influence the reviews.

Zuberance's Turn-key Solution

Zuberance handled the entire program for this customer, from copy and design through development, management, custom reporting, and more. 

The program was powered by Zuberance's Advocate Marketing Platform, an all-in-one advocacy platform that also mobilizes Advocates to share brand content; refer friends; create stories, photo's and videos; answer prospects' questions; join Advocate communities; and more.

Results

Here are the results of the program, after about six months:

Ratings Jump to 4.0

Online ratings for the product have jumped from 2.9 to 4.0. This is extremely important and valuable for this company. Shoppers were very unlikely to buy this product when the ratings stood at 2.9. Now, shoppers are likely to purchase this product or at least give it strong consideration.

Online Ratings for WiFi Networking Product Before & After Zuberance

Online ratings for this product jumped from 2.9 (poor) to 4.0 (very good) after Zuberance started mobilizing the company's customer Advocates.

60% of Positive Reviews Online from Zuberance

Here's another important stat:

Nearly 60% of the positive reviews for this product are coming from Zuberance-powered Advocates. Without these Zuberance reviews, ratings for this product would be well under 4.0.

Positive Reviews on Shopping Sites from Zuberance vs. Other Sources

Nearly 60% of the positive reviews on shopping sites for this product come from Zuberance-powered Advocates.

Thousands of Shoppers have been Reached

Another key result from this program is that it has enabled the company to reach thousands of shoppers.

It's important to note that this kind of reach is much more valuable than reach achieved via paid media and ads.

Reach through your Advocates is 10X more credible and influential than reach through ads. 

And importantly, these Advocate-delivered messages are reaching prospects during that "zero moment of truth" when they're making a purchase decision.

Not a One-Time Campaign

Boosting your online ratings is not a one-time thing. It's not something you do now or then, or when you need it.

Here's why it's important to have an ongoing Advocate Reviews program:

1. Maintain and improve high ratings. Many times, ratings slip below the 4.0 mark as negative reviews pile up. It's important to continue finding and mobilizing Advocates to keep your ratings positive.

2. Keep a steady stream of fresh, positive reviews being posted online. Shoppers are more influenced by newer reviews (reviews published within the last three months, in most cases.) Additionally, most shopping sites including Amazon give more weight to newer reviews vs. older ones.

Getting Even More Value from your "Advocate Army"

In addition to leveraging its Advocate Army to maintain positive ratings online, the company is planning to leverage its Advocate in other valuable ways:

  • Generating thousands of referrals 
  • Getting Advocates to engage with shoppers via Zuberance's Advocate Answers
  • Generating hundreds of compelling stories, photos, videos, and other valuable "AGC" (Advocate-Generated Content")

The company even plans to create an online community of Advocates, where these enthusiastic customers can earn rewards points and even get on a Leader Board. 

Stay tuned for more updates.

 

 

What's the Difference between "Fans" and "Advocates"?

Marketers often use the terms "fans" and "Advocates" inter-changeably.

Fans and Advocates are more loyal and engaged than other customers. But there are three important differences between the two groups.

1. Advocates go out of their way to recommend your brand and products. 

For example, you may be a fan of a particular beer brand. You really like the beer and drink it often. You may have liked the beer brand on Facebook or follow it on Twitter. 

Advocates, on the other hand, go way beyond buying your products or liking you on social.  

Advocates pro-actively encourage their friends and others to try and buy the products they love. In the case of the beer brand, Advocates will buy the beer for their friends and tell them: "Dude, you gotta try this!"

In short, Advocates are like salespeople and marketers for your brands and products. Fans, not so much.

2. Advocates are your most loyal customers.

Fans love you when you're winning. But when you hit a losing streak, fans will often desert you. (Look at all those empty seats at San Francisco 49ers' home games.)

Advocates, by comparison, will support and defend you, protecting your cherished reputation even when you're down.

I saw this at Apple, where I worked for several years as a marketing communications consultant. When Apple was sputtering many years ago, its Advocates stood by its side.

Remember that old Tammy Wynette song? Well, you could change the name of the tune for Advocates to "Stand by your brand."

3. Advocates don't just cheer, they get into the game with you.

Advocates are your most engaged customers.

They get in the game with you by giving you ideas and feedback; suggesting new products and services; and joining online communities of fellow Advocates.

And they're the first to participate in online and offline events.

Rubio's, a San Diego-based casual restaurant famous for its Baja fish tacos, holds an annual beach clean-up called "Coast Fest." Rubio's Advocates are the first to show up at the beachfront for Coast Fest with plastic bags and twist ties in hand.

 

One last big difference: Advocates create and share content like positive reviews, stories, videos, and more at a 2X to 10X higher rate than fans, our real-world results show.

Identify Your Advocates

Get started by identifying your Advocates by name and contact info. Then put these super-charged recommenders to work for you!

Are you Leveraging Advocates at the "Zero Moment of Truth"?

You've probably heard of the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT.)

Google introduced ZMOT a few years back to describe a revolution in the way consumers search for information online and make purchase decisions.

As Google and others point out, the ZMOT includes prospects viewing consumer ratings and reviews plus other user-generated content like stories, testimonials, videos, and more.

Here's a quick video about ZMOT: 

How Advocates Help You Win at ZMOT

Your Advocates can help you positively influence ZMOT. Here are three ways to do this:

  1. Get Advocates' reviews onto shopping sites. Enabling Advocates to create and publish reviews on shopping and eCommerce sites is like putting a spokesperson for your brand at the check-out stand. Ninety percent of people say consumer online reviews influence their purchase decisions (source: Dimensional Research). And 92 percent of people won't buy a product with fewer than four (our of five) stars (source: BrightLocal)

  2. Connect prospects with Advocates. Our new Zuberance Answers(R) solution gives prospects opportunities to ask Advocates questions at the ZMOT. Prospects get answers from authentic, enthusiastic product owners plus brand offers. Zuberance Answers is like a reference program on steroids.

  3. Make it easy for Advocates to share your content and offers. Advocates are the most effective re-targeting approach ever. Give Advocates your content and offers. They know which friends are shopping for a hotel in San Diego; a Japanese restaurant in San Francisco; or for a new car. 

You can win at ZMOT. Get your Advocates into the moment.

Here's a link to Google's free ZMOT e-book:
Winning the Zero Moment of Truth eBook (2011) 

    Top Ten Ways to Reward Brand Advocates

    Top10sNIPIT

    Paying for advocacy isn't a smart move. Not only does it cheapen the message, it's unethical, it can get a company in the FTC's crosshairs, and it's just plain lame. It's like saying, "Since our product isn't worth talking about genuinely, how about I give you 10 bucks to write a review?"1

    View larger

    Examples of Rewarding Advocates

    1. Sneak peeks. Consumer Electronics manufacturers can give Advocates a sneak peek of a new DVR or what the new software version will include.
    2. Exclusive offers. Don't give Advocates the same offers you give to all customers. Give them unique offers that show you recognize them as your true VIPs. Hotels can give Advocates a weekend package accessible only to the Advocate and their friends.
    3. Ask for opinions. Apparel companies thinking about a new line can give Advocates the opportunity to voice their opinions about the line before others.
    4. Give contributions to nonprofit causes. One of the best ways to reward Brand Advocates is to make cash and/or in-kind contributions to deserving nonprofit organizations on behalf of your Advocates. This approach motivates advocates. boosts your corporate image and reputation, and serves a useful social purpose.
    5. Acknowledge advocates. Let them know their recommendations matter. You can show Advocates which of their friends they've recommended that are now customers and Advocates themselves.
    6. Advocate-only events. Restaurants can hold a special in-person event for Advocates to get an exclusive preview of new menu items and meet the executive chef.
    7. Give early access. Retailers can open a store one hour early. Let your Advocates be beta testers.
    8. Give access to company leaders. Starbucks Melody had an opportunity to meet Starbucks' founder, Howard Schultz. Even if you don't have a rockstar CEO, giving Advocates the opportunity to have direct dialogue with senior leaders of your company can make them feel special.
    9. Provide VIP levels of service. Hotels can provide Advocates with a town car or limo while they stay at the property or a personal VIP guide. Software providers can offer advocates a special help disk for VIP customers only.
    10. Honor your advocates. Highlight your Advocates with an "Advocate of the Week" program. This is a great way to encourage Advocacy without paying for it.

    There are not 10, straight-forward, systematic ways to reward Brand Advocates. The bottom line is to make Advocates know that they are and feel appreciated. After all, they're your volunteer sales and marketing force that you'll never have to pay.

    1Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force (Wiley; ISBN: 978-1-1183-3603-8; July 2012; Hardcover & E-book)

    How to Get More Positive Online Reviews For Businesses With a Conscience

    How often do you check online reviews before dining out or booking a hotel room?  If your answer is never, you’re probably 75 or older and think, “yelp!” is a sound a dog makes in anguish. As for the rest of us, we know that reviews are critical in influencing purchase decisions. So critical that a man even started a business around writing favorable book reviews called GettingBookReviews.com and charged $99 a pop. If you’ve ever thought about paying for inauthentic endorsements like this, you better pump the breaks because third party review sites are now making it as obvious as Snooki’s spray tan that you’ve invested in fake reviews. Yelp recently created consumer alerts for business pages that remain for 90 days when they sniff out phony reviews. The alert reads the following: "We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business. We weren't fooled, but wanted you to know because buying reviews not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules."

    Similarly, TripAdvisor says they have “zero tolerance for fake reviews.” If they believe that a hotel review is contrived, they will remove the review, ensure that the property is penalized in the site’s rankings, and possibly even post a message alerting millions of travelers on what they’ve found.

    Considering the clout online reviews hold in purchase behavior, it’s no surprise that some business owners feel compelled to invest in sham reviews:

    • A one-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5% to 9% increase in revenue (source: Michael Luca, Harvard Business School).
    • 70% of global consumers trust online reviews, an increase of 15 percent in four years (source: Nielsen).
    • 80% of consumers change their mind after reading a single bad review (source: Cone Communications).
    • One negative review can cost you 30 customers (source: Convergys).
    • 7 in 10 who read reviews share them with friends, family & colleagues thus amplifying their impact (Deloitte & Touche).

    But here’s the bottom line: A few “positive” reviews won’t stop customers from continuing to complain about your crappy service or overcooked food. Instead of taking the easy (and sleazy) way out, listen to the concerns your customers are voicing and improve your business. Social media and third party review sites have put the power in the hands of the consumer. Forever. If companies don’t become customer-focused, customer-centric, customer-obsessed, they risk tarnishing their brand reputation and ultimately, losing their business.

    How to Improve Online Ratings The Honest Way

    The problem that many business owners face is that reviews on third party review sites might not legitimately reflect the satisfaction of their customers. Many know they have happy diners or guests; but as the saying goes, “Haters gonna hate.” Pissed off customers are sometimes more inclined to write a damaging review while the satisfied customers will recommend the restaurant or hotel at a cocktail party instead of putting their praise online.

    Here’s the solution: Find those customers who are enthusiastic about your brand, product, or service (AKA your authentic Brand Advocates), and make it drop dead easy for them to write raving reviews.

    1. Ask your customers via email, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, website, or elsewhere: “On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our brand to your friends?” Those who answer 9 or 10 are your Advocates.
    2. Give Advocates online tools to rate and review your product or property and direct them to the relevant third party review site where they can publish their glowing review.
    3. By identifying your Advocates, you’re creating a virtual marketing force that you can leverage for much more than just reviews. They’ll gladly share offers or other announcements like a new location opening, a new chef, or a remodel of your hotel with their social networks. They’ll create and share personal stories about how they rekindled their love at your resort or made a new friend with one of the gregarious employees who waited on them.

    Whatever you do, don’t pay for reviews or recommendations of any sort. There is no longer room for businesses that don’t understand the importance of authenticity and transparency in the era of social media. Instead, tap into the enthusiasm of your highly satisfied customers and empower them to spread positive and/or fight negative word of mouth for you.

    -Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

    Whitepaper: How to Super-Charge Content Marketing via Brand Advocates

    Click here to download the whitepaper now.

    Everyone agrees that content is vital to marketing. But "feeding the content beast" is expensive and time consuming. According to a recent study from Curata, the top three challenges of content marketing are:

    1. Creating original content 2. Having time to create content 3. Finding high-quality content

    Well, here's the good news: You have a secret content marketing weapon that will help you overcome all three of these obstacles. That weapon is your highly-satisfied customers, AKA your “Brand Advocates.”

    Your Advocates will gladly create compelling content such as:

    • Highly positive reviews
    • Glowing testimonials
    • Answers to prospects' questions
    • Positive tweets, posts, and comments
    • Videos, photos, and other multimedia content

    Advocate-generated content provides powerful benefits to your company and brand:

    • Amplify positive Word of Mouth and/or combat negative Word of Mouth
    • Increase online ratings on third party review sites such as Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.
    • Improve search engine rankings by putting fresh, relevant content on your site
    • Increase lead conversion rates and sales (User-generated content boosts lead conversion rates by up to 125%, according to Marketing Sherpa)
    • Boost engagement across social channels

    And since Advocates are your most passionate and enthusiastic customers, you don't have to motivate them with perks, coupons, or cash. So what's the secret to getting Advocates to create compelling content for your brand? Download the whitepaper now to find out.

    You'll learn how to:

    • Find your Brand Advocates
    • Turn Advocates into content creating machines to support marketing initiatives
    • Leverage the authentic and compelling content your Advocates create
    • Track advocacy results and optimize

    Download now: How to Super-Charge Content Marketing via Brand Advocates

    [WEBINAR] How to Super-Charge Content Marketing via Brand Advocates

    Watch the recording by clicking the orange “Play” button in the player below. You have a secret content marketing weapon: Brand Advocates. As your most loyal, engaged, and enthusiastic customers, they’ll gladly create positive reviews, glowing testimonials, and more. Unlike your high paid agency or in-house copywriter, you don’t have to pay them thousands or hundreds of thousands or dollars to create compelling content. Simply make it easy for Advocates and they will happily create fantastic and authentic content.

    Key Takeaways:

    • The top three content marketing challenges are creating original content, having time to create content, and creating high quality content. By turning Advocates into content creators, marketers can overcome all three of these obstacles.
    • Brand Advocates are highly satisfied customers who recommend a brand or product without pay or incentives. They recommend because they've had good experiences with a product or service and they want to help others.
    • Advocates will create various types of content including reviews, testimonials (stories), answers to prospects' questions, positive tweets and posts, plus multimedia content such as pictures and videos.
    • Compared to brand content, Advocate content is more trusted and credible, more influential, and less expensive.
    • Advocate content sells products by boosting conversion rates, increasing time on websites and average order size, and influencing purchase decisions of prospective customers.
    • A critical part of a content marketing strategy that involves Brand Advocates is to leverage the content they create smartly. Brands should post Advocate-generated content on their websites, put it in the consumer purchase path, on social channels, on third party review sites, and more.

    Expert Speaker: Rob Fuggetta (@robfuggetta), Founder/CEO, Zuberance and author of Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force (Wiley, 2012)

    Rob Fuggetta is the world’s leading expert on brand advocacy. Fuggetta is the author of the ground-breaking new book, “Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force.” Published by John H. Wiley & Sons, Inc., a major business publisher, Brand Advocates shows how companies are leveraging Brand Advocates to build their brands and businesses – and how you can too! Fuggetta is the Founder & CEO of Zuberance, a social media marketing company that powers Brand Advocate programs for top consumer and business brands. Prior to founding Zuberance in 2008, Fuggetta was the Chief Marketing Officer at Genuity, a Verizon spin-out. He also was formerly a partner at Regis McKenna, Inc., the legendary high tech marketing and communications firm in Palo Alto, where he co-led the global Apple account.

    Content Marketing + Brand Advocates = Black Friday Success

    No one wants coal in their stocking from their CEO. That's why marketers spend vast time, money, and effort making Black Friday a great success. Approaching the holidays, brands typically pump up advertising, push promotions, discount products, etc. But if you want to hear a more innovative and cost-effective way to boost Black Friday sales, check out this sweet success story that leverages content marketing and brand advocacy.

    After releasing a new version of their product, a software company wanted to get their customers to upgrade. Knowing that their customers are more effective salespeople, they got their Brand Advocates to create stories about the benefits of upgrading. These stories were sent to customers who hadn't yet upgraded, coupled with an exclusive promotional offer. The result? A whopping 68% sales conversion rate – about 50X higher than traditional online marketing conversion rates. (I'll wait for you to pick your jaw up off the floor....)

    Here's the icing on the cake: The software company didn’t give Advocates any type of reward, perk, or incentive for creating stories. They simply made it easy for Advocates to create stories and then leveraged the content smartly. (You don’t need to pay or provide incentives to real Advocates. Their “reward” is helping others, studies prove.)

    Don't wait until Black Friday rolls around next year to utilize this strategy. Start finding and activating your Brand Advocates today.

    To learn more, register for our upcoming webinar "How to Super-Charge Content Marketing via Brand Advocates."

    -Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance