Word of Mouth

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

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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

[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.

Top 10 Beliefs of Brand Advocacy Visionaries

It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it. This is the mantra that leadership expert Simon Sinek has been spreading since 2009 when he released his book, “Start With Why.” Simon inspires business leaders to hire, sell to, and work with people who believe in what your business stands for, not what you sell. (If you haven’t watched his TedX talk yet, watch it now. It’s incredibly powerful.)

The concept of brand advocacy is heating up in social marketing arena. There are plenty of early adopters that have already implemented advocacy programs for their organizations. At Zuberance, brand advocacy is in our DNA. It's our religion. It's what we believe in. Here’s why we, and fellow marketing revolutionaries, believe in brand advocacy:

1. Creating and leveraging Advocates should be the #1 mission for every company. Marketing is no longer about impressions and clicks. It’s about building a movement around your brand and company, spearheaded by your Advocates. In short, advocacy is strategic.

2. People trust Advocates, not ads. Ninety-two percent of people trust Word of Mouth. Only 53% trust companies’ websites and 33% trust online ads, says Nielsen. What customers say about you is much more important and influential than what you say about yourself.

3. Advocates are different than fans and followers. Most people like or follow a brand to get discounts or freebies, studies show. Advocates recommend because they want to help others, not because they’re getting coupons, cash, or points. Advocates are your most engaged, enthusiastic, and loyal customers.

4. Advocates are a large segment of your customer base. On average about 50 percent of customers are potential Advocates, according to research by Zuberance and others. If your company has one million end users, you may have 500,000 potential Advocates, a large, highly influential, and under-leveraged marketing force.

5. Advocates are your most valuable customers. Advocates are even more valuable than loyal customers. Many frequent fliers don’t recommend the airlines they fly. Advocates, on the other hand, boost your sales, help you keep customers, and defend your cherished brand reputation.

6. Advocate marketing should be authentic. True advocacy cannot be paid for or manufactured. It can only be earned. In fact, studies show paying people for recommendations actually decreases the likelihood that prospects will buy.

7. Advocates are more influential than “Influencers.” Influencers (professional bloggers, media, industry analysts, celebrities) have large audiences. But only 22% of people trust bloggers compared to 92% for Word of Mouth, says Nielsen.  A positive blog post may cause a temporary spike in awareness or social chatter, but nothing is more influential, trusted, or lasting than authentic advocacy.

8. Advocate Marketing is more cost-effective than traditional marketing. Traditional online marketing programs generate less than 1% conversions. On average, Zuberance Advocate Marketing programs deliver 10% or higher conversion rates. A company could fund an ongoing Advocate Marketing program for an entire year for about the cost of two full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal.

9. Advocate Marketing should be an ongoing program. Advocate marketing isn’t a short-term promotion or campaign. Most marketers would never abandon efforts to build and cultivate relationships with influencers after a few weeks or months. The same should apply to Advocates.

10. Advocate Marketing is not only for “passion brands.” Advocate marketing programs are delivering compelling results in low-passion categories like anti-virus software, windshield repair services, file transfer and collaboration services, and more. Every company has Advocates. The key is making it easy for Advocates to recommend your company, brand, and products.

Are you a believer in the power of advocacy? If so, share your thoughts here.

Brand Advocates Are Customer Acquisition Machines: Each Will Bring You 3 New Customers

Fun fact: Customer acquisition is the top priority for B2B companies according to BtoB Magazine. Here's an even funner fact: Each energized Brand Advocate will bring a company three new customers. The best part? You don't have to pay them!

A new Zuberance report lays out the business case for advocacy and shows why energizing Brand Advocates is a highly effective and cost-efficient strategy for boosting customer acquisition.

First, what do we mean by an “energized Advocate?” This is a highly-satisfied customer that authentically recommends your brand, product, or service, whether it’s face-to-face, on social networks or third party review sites, via email, etc.

Advocates Deliver $567 Million for an Enterprise Software Company

In their book, Answering the Ultimate Question, How Net Promoter Can Transform Your Business, authors Richard Owen and Dr. Laura L. Brooks stated that, on average, each Advocate for an enterprise software company will bring in about one-half of a customer via referrals (the actual number was .54). The average customer spend within this industry is $1.05 million. In other words, 1,000 Advocates would bring in 540 new customers, generating a whopping $567 million for the company.

Each Advocate Brings You 3 New Customers

Using .54 as the base case for advocacy, we add 2.5 new customers. Why? There are four additional factors that were not accounted for in Owen and Brooks’ original estimate.

1. Advocates are highly effective “sales people.”

Living in the era of social media, we all know that people trust their peers more than advertising (92% vs 24% in fact, according to Nielsen). Plus, 89% of people say online reviews influence their purchase decisions, according to the eTailing Group. Parallels, a desktop virtualization software company, got a stunning 30% sales conversion rate – about 60X higher than traditional online conversion rates – when Advocates shared offers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and via email.

2. Advocates are frequent recommenders.

In many high-interest categories like restaurants, travel and tourism, and media and entertainment, Advocates refer many more than four prospects. (This was the assumption in the Owen and Brooks analysis.) For example, think about the incredible hotel you stayed at during your recent trip to New York and how many friends and colleagues you raved to afterwards. In fact, 28% of Brand Advocates recommend their favorite brands and products once weekly (source: Three Surprising Facts About Brand Advocates, Zuberance).

3. Advocates recommend in multiple ways.

In addition to referrals, Advocates drive sales by creating positive reviews and testimonials plus sharing promotional offers and content with their social networks. These activities drive not just social chatter, but sales.

4. Empowered by social media, Advocates reach thousands of prospects.

Since Owen and Brooks conducted their study in 2008, the adoption and use of social media has skyrocketed. Facebook’s Paul Adams states in his book, Grouped, that one Advocate recommendation reaches 10,000 people if it’s passed along only three times.

Depending on the size of your Advocate army and customer lifetime value, energizing your brand’s Advocates may boost several millions of dollars in sales. And since you don’t need to pay authentic advocates, the cost of acquiring customers via advocacy is dramatically less – about 50 percent less in many cases – compared to traditional marketing programs like paid media advertising. Now is the time to turn your Advocates into powerful and inexpensive customer acquisition machines.

Download "The Business Case for Advocacy" now to learn more.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

10 Social Media Stats That Will Spook You

We're in the era of the connected consumer. Every marketer understands this by now (and if they don't, their customer base will soon look like a ghost town). However, as we're running marketing programs day to day, it's easy to forget just how much consumers rely on each other for purchase advice and the importance of online brand reputation. Here are 10 facts that are sure to give you a frightening reminder!

  1. 80% of consumers change their mind after reading a single bad review (Cone Communications).
  2. 96% of Facebook fans never return to a brand page after “liking” it (Brandglue).
  3. Due to EdgeRank, only 16% of your fanbase see branded posts in their newsfeeds (ComScore).
  4. Only 1% of Facebook fans engage with brands (Ehrenberg-Bass).
  5. One negative review can cost you 30 customers (Convergys).
  6. The negative experiences of every 100 shoppers results in the loss of 32-36 shoppers due to customer defection and negative word of mouth (Verde Group).
  7. Almost half of shoppers have avoided a particular store in the past because of someone else's negative experience (Verde Group).
  8. Only 33% of Americans have ever followed a brand in social media (Edison Research).
  9. 67% of social network users say that they rarely pay attention to advertisements on social networking sites (Mintel).
  10. The average consumer today checks 10.4 information sources before buying (Bazaarvoice).

Yikes! Here's a fact that's far from scary: Each Brand Advocate will bring you 3 new customers. Download "The Business Case For Advocacy" to learn more.

Happy Halloween!

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

Brand Advocacy Gangnam Style

Advocates for “Gangnam Style” have turned a Korean pop single and its star Psy (pronounced sigh) into a global sensation.

Faster than you can say kimchi, Gangnam Style has shot to the top of the YouTube charts. It’s been viewed by over 337 million times on YouTube in only about eight weeks.

I knew Gangnam Style had tipped when I watched thousands of San Francisco Giants’ fans – including 60-year-old Giants broadcaster Jon Miller  – whipping the lasso at the Giants’ division-clinching win recently over the Padres.

How much do you want to bet that Bud or one of the big beer brands is working on a spot featuring Psy right now? Cue the horses.

So what does Gangnam Style have to with brand advocacy? Everything.

When Advocates find something they like – whether it’s a hilarious Korean rap video or an iPhone app for an accounting software company, they share it with their friends.

Outright, which provides accounting software for small businesses, recently engaged Advocates for the launch of its new iPhone app. Result? Outright’s iPhone app jumped to the Top 25 list on Apple's App Store. Outright got an astonishing 90 percent click-through rate among Advocates’ friends and a staggering 713% CTR on Twitter.

As the Outright example shows, you don’t need a hip, clever video or even a sexy brand to get your content and offers out there.

Find your Advocates and make it easy for them to share your content. That’s brand advocacy Gangnam style!

Here's the Gangnam style video for you to watch once again (warning: this WILL get stuck in your head!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0

Webinar Recording: Top 10 Things Advocates Will Do For Your Brand

Below is the recording from our latest social media webinar, "Top 10 Things Advocates Will Do For Your Brand" co-hosted by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

Expert Speakers:

1. Give you referral leads and help you sell products and services, serving as a virtual salesforce.

Anytime Fitness Advocates have shared 16,167 offers on Facebook, Twitter, and via email. Anytime Fitness is seeing a 20% conversion rate from Advocate offer shares (5X higher than average).

2. Write highly positive reviews of your products or services, boosting your online ratings.

Anytime Fitness Advocates have written over 7,250 glowing reviews and stories which are displayed on Anytime's Facebook page. Advocates have also published their reviews on Yelp which has increased positive reviews by 30% in the past five months.

3. Create glowing testimonials about their experiences with your company or products.

Outright Advocates have written 1,463 stories, some of which are showcased on Outright's website. Of the Advocates who shared their story, 53% chose to share on Facebook.

4. Answer propects' questions, overcoming buyers' objections and reducing shopping cart abandonment rates.

2,440 Advocates for the VoIP provider, Ooma, have opted in to answer prospects' questions. Each question is getting an average of 2.3 answers. Ooma is seeing a 50% click-through-rate among prospects who get questions answered by Advocates.

5. Share your content and offers with their social networks, driving referral leads, clicks, and sales.

Outright Advocates love to share educational content such as a video about their Tax Resource Center. 43% of people in Advocates' networks clicked through to watch the video.

6. Help you launch new products.

Outright energized their Advocates to help launch their new iPhone app. Advocate sharing drove the app to the Top 25 in the app store.

7. Create better ads than your high-priced ad agency and more compelling copy than your most skilled wordsmith.

One Anytime Fitness Advocate described the club as "the Cheers of fitness clubs." Another Advocate wrote, "This club provides the keys to your future success...guaranteed!"

8. Defend your cherished company and brand reputation from detractors.

Auto-windshield repair company, Safelite, boosted ratings on SuperPages.com from 2.35 to 4 stars by energizing their Advocates to write reviews. Advocates gave Safelite an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars!

9. Alert you to competitive threats and market opportunities.

Outright Advocates alert the company when people post incorrect information about their software on the web.

10. Give you profitable ideas and produce feedback.

Outright created a Facebook group exclusively for their Advocates to provide feedback such as input on a new tagline.

To learn more about the power of advocacy, download Chapter One of Rob Fuggetta's new book, "Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force."

How David is Beating Goliath in the Telecom Wars

VoIP provider Ooma doesn’t have Vonage or Xfinity’s $100 million+ marketing war chest. So Ooma is turning instead to its enthusiastic customers (AKA “Ooma Advocates”) to spread Word of Mouth and help sell more VoIP boxes.

Result: Ooma is cutting customer acquisition costs 54%!

Here are some other key stats from Ooma's advocacy program:

  • 27,194 Ooma Advocates identified (63% advocacy rating)
  • 3,713 Advocate reviews with an average 4.7 rating out of 5. 34% of Advocates that wrote reviews published them to Amazon.com, Sears.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Email
  • 8,354 offers shared on Facebook, Twitter and by EMail which has generated more than 6,305 inbound clicks
  • 2,442 Ooma Advocates have opted in to answer prospects’ questions. More than half of these Advocates have answered one or more questions asked by Ooma prospects.

Read more on TMCnet here

Check out Ooma's VP of Marketing, Jim Gustke, discussing the benefits of energizing their Advocates below (or click here to watch on YouTube):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iZHhUcb2SLo

New Zuberance Product: Employee Advocacy Solution

Exciting news! Today we launched a new solution that empowers employees to act as Brand Advocates (click here to read full press release). The employee advocacy solution enables companies to systematically identify enthusiastic employees (“Employee Advocates”) via customer engagement and social media listening tools and energize them to spread positive brand messaging via word of mouth and boost sales via Zuberance’s hosted advocacy applications. The solution also allows brands to track employee advocacy results and ROI in real-time.

Employees: A Powerful, Untapped Marketing Force

Employees are a powerful, untapped marketing force. Employee Advocates are employees who are willing to recommend their company and its products or services to others without the company paying or providing incentives for their recommendations. Employee Advocates are uniquely qualified to serve as Brand Advocates because they are highly credible, trusted sources for information about companies and their products or services.

Empowered by social media, Employee Advocates can collectively reach thousands to millions of people on the social web. Companies may have hundreds of thousands of potential Employee Advocates, depending on the size of the business. Large corporations such as Walmart (2.2 million employees), IBM (436,000 employees) and UPS (400,000 employees) may have massive “Employee Advocate armies.”

Measurable Benefits

Zuberance’s employee advocacy solution makes it easy for companies to unleash the power of their Employee Advocates to recommend their company as a place to work, helping firms attract qualified employees and lowering hiring costs. Employee Advocates can also evangelize the company’s products and services, helping spread positive messaging and generating referral leads and sales. They can also defend their companies from negative messaging and social media ambushes.

Target Companies

Zuberance’s new employee advocacy solution is ideal for mid-size to large companies across multiple industries and verticals including retail, technology, healthcare, automotive, transportation, travel and hospitality and more. There are more than more than 10,000 firms in the U.S. alone with more than 1,000 employees, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The employee advocacy solution is a perfect complement to Zuberance’s award-winning brand advocate solution, which leverages Customer Advocates as a marketing force.

Overview of Zuberance Advocacy Solution (both Brand Advocacy and Employee Advocacy)

Pricing & Availability

The Zuberance employee advocacy solution is available now! Click here to contact us for pricing and other details.