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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

Zuberance Powers 30 Million Brand Advocate Recommendations & Prospect Responses

We've hit a major milestone! Today we announced that we've now powered a total of 30 million Brand Advocate recommendations and prospect responses by Advocates' friends and colleagues, driving billions of dollars in measurable sales and media value for brands.

 

Advocate Recommendations

Via the award-winning Zuberance Advocacy Platform, Brand Advocates have created hundreds of thousands of:

  • Positive reviews on shopping sites, review sites
  • Facebook posts, Tweets about their favorite brands and products
  • Favorable testimonials
  • Answers to prospects’ questions

In addition, Advocates have shared hundreds of thousands of promotional offers and brand content with their social networks, reaching millions of prospects with trusted, relevant recommendations.

Prospect Responses

Recommendations by Zuberance-powered Advocates have generated millions of responses from prospects. A response from a prospect includes any of the following actions by someone in the Advocate’s network such as:

  • Clicks-through to read Advocates’ reviews or testimonials
  • Downloads a white paper, registers for a webinar, or joins a customer or loyalty club
  • Redeems a promotional offers like a 14-day pass to a fitness club
  • Purchases the recommended product or service

Zuberance’s powerful analytics tracks Advocates recommendations and prospect responses (plus sales and media value delivered to brands) via promotion codes, impression tags, and other metrics.

Tapping into Advocates’ Social Graph

“Zuberance is tapping into the social graph of brand’s Advocates to deliver recommendations, referrals, and revenues for brands,” said Rob Fuggetta, founder and CEO of Zuberance. “By doing this, Zuberance is enabling companies to get measurable value from social media. We’re turning likes into leads and social media into sales,” said Fuggetta.

Thank you to all of our customers, board members, advisers, and of course Brand Advocates for sharing your enthusiasm for companies that rock!

Read the full press release here.

Mapping the Dynamic Customer Journey to Seafood Heaven

Altimeter's Jeremiah Owyang recently blogged about the complicated path that consumers now take to reach a purchase decision which he calls the “Dynamic Customer Journey.” He describes this phenomenon as a “…disruptive theme as consumers being able to use many sources, devices, and mediums at any given time, giving them more options and choices. The result? Consumers are enabled to have a unique path each time, making it harder to predict. This means the experience becomes increasingly fragmented for the brand, as they struggle to reach consumers across all these choices of sources, mediums, and channels.” Let me explain how our CEO, Rob Fuggetta, and I decided where to get dinner on a business trip to Chicago and you’ll see what I mean.

On our way from the airport to the hotel, Rob said he was in the mood for some good seafood, specifically oysters, so I whipped out my iPhone to do some research. I googled "Best Oysters Chicago" and clicked on a list of restaurants on Yelp which I looked over briefly based on the their star ratings. Once we checked into Hotel Palomar, we consulted the concierge who narrowed it down to three different restaurants for us. Then we headed to the hotel bar where we had a drink and ran these suggestions by the bartender who enthusiastically recommended we go to GT Fish and Oyster. (He also made sure to mention the "aggressively douchey" bars we should avoid. Thanks, man!)

We looked up GT Fish and Oyster’s menu on my phone, decided we’d found the winner, and we were off to a delicious meal. Once we arrived, I checked in on Foursquare and read through tips that other diners had left. One said “Dynamite fish tacos!” so of course I had to try them. We had some amazing oysters and fish tacos, accompanied with great service. We left full and happy and even got some free hot sauce made by the restaurant!

So looking back on our Dynamic Customer Journey, we had consulted:

1)    Google

2)    Yelp

3)    Hotel Concierge

4)    Hotel Bartender

5)    Restaurant’s website

6)    Foursquare

And this decision was just where to eat dinner! Think of how complicated the customer journey can be for high ticket items like TV's, cars, or computer software purchases.

What this means for brands:

Brands should map out each and every route of the potential customer journey and not only be present at all these touch points, but take it a step further by energizing your best customers (AKA Brand Advocates) to share their opinions where prospects are lurking. Brand Advocates’ recommendations are authentic, trusted, and highly influential in the era of the empowered consumer.

Consumers Don't Trust Brands, They Trust Their Friends

Dear Brands,

Consumers don’t trust you.

Sincerely,

The truth.

OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but a new study by Nielsen found that consumers are indeed losing faith in paid media and looking to their friends for brand recommendations more than ever before.

  • 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media (recommendations from friends and family) above all other forms of advertising, an increase of 18% since 2007.
  • 70% trust online consumer reviews, an increase of 15%.
  • Less than half of consumers trust TV, magazine, and newspaper ads, which is a 25% decline from previous studies.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

With the rise of social media and third party review sites, everyone has a voice these days. Even my Grandma told me she wrote a Yelp review of her local Hometown Buffet (she gave it 5/5 stars of course). It is now crucial that brands get their Advocates to venture out on the social web and recommend on their behalf.

Check out these success stories of companies empowering their Advocates:

To learn more about leveraging your trusted and influential Brand Advocates, download “Turning Fans and Followers into Brand Advocates.”

How St. David's HealthCare Energized Advocates to Share Their Stories

Word of Mouth recommendations are extremely influential when it comes to Healthcare. People turn to peers, patients, and others who have had similar experiences and procedures to seek information as a trustworthy source. In this video, Social Media Specialist, Reed Smith, discusses how St. David's HealthCare is identifying patient Advocates and connecting with them to share their St David's story.

Some key highlights from the St. David's HealthCare Advocacy Program:

  • 74% of patients identified as St David's HealthCare Advocates.
  • For every testimonial created, each Advocate is sharing it to their social networks twice.
  • There is an average of .78 clicks through to each testimonial shared on an Advocate's social network (Facebook, Twitter, and email.)

What's Next?

St David's HealthCare plans to leverage Advocate testimonial content using iframes on each individual hospital location website.

To learn more about the power of Word of Mouth, download the whitepaper, "Top 5 Reasons Why Brands Should Focus on Earned Media."

This Week in Social: Location-Based Ads on Foursquare? 70% of Brands Ignore Twitter Complaints

Are Location-Based Ads on Foursquare's Radar? - Adweek A new option from Foursquare would, with a user's permission, automatically report the user's location near a designated spot or let the user know when friends are nearby. Foursquare Radar would relieve users of the need to call up the application and check in when they arrive at a destination. It could also provide a "geo-fencing" solution for businesses to reach out to potential customers in the area.

70% of Companies Ignore Customer Complaints on Twitter - Convince & Convert

Despite increasing numbers of customers using Twitter to publicly complain about brands, the vast majority of companies respond in the exact same way….with the quiet of contempt. New research from Maritz and Evolve24 of 1,298 Twitter complainants found that only 29% of those tweet gripes were replied to by the companies in question.

New Study: Consumers Go Online to Verify Product Recommendations - ZuberRants

A recent study by Cone Communications found that many consumers go online to seek additional information about products they’re considering purchasing as well as to verify recommendations they’ve received from their peers. This study truly highlights why it’s important that brands continuously drive their most enthusiastic customers to where prospects are seeking online product information.

LinkedIn's New Features- a Lot Like Facebook & Twitter with More Opportunities for Marketers - Social Media Today

Thanks to the recent updates, admins of company profiles on LinkedIn can post real, honest-to-goodness status updates and actually include a link! This is very exciting for now all updates you make to your company status will appear on your follower's LinkedIn home page. Your followers will have the option to Like, Share or Comment on your status update and in turn this "engagement" will also be seen by all of your followers' respective networks, providing your company, your brand with a whole new and expanded audience.

Google+ Traffic Falls 60% From Post-Launch Highs - Mashable

Traffic to Google+ spiked 1,200% in the first few days following its public launch Sept. 20, but has since plummeted by 60%, according to a report from a data analytics company.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

Extreme Brand Advocate Story: MINI Advocate’s MAXImum Advocacy #Energize

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book, “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Loyal Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines,” by Rob Fuggetta, Founder & CEO, Zuberance.

George Hamma is an owner of a BMW MINI. But there’s nothing small about his passion for his beloved car.

Hamma, a youthful-looking 65, enthusiastically recommends MINI to hundreds of his friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers.

The Sunnyvale, CA resident is an active member of the Northern California chapter of the MINI owner’s club. He also shares his passion for MINI on his Facebook page, Twitter @ghamma, and on his personal website, where Hamma – an avid photographer – posts photos of MINI owners’ rallies.

Hamma is an active participant at NorthAmericanMotoring.com, a site where MINI owners meet to talk about their cars and motoring (about 16,500 members). Hamma has engaged in hundreds of conversations with current and (possibly) future MINI owners.

That’s George in the photo standing proudly next to his MINI, a 2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4, which he named “Fenton” in honor of a local ice cream parlor where his favorite flavor is also black and tan like his MINI.

MINI’s Super Salesperson

As a direct result of his advocacy, six friends have bought MINI’s. At about $35,000 per MINI, Hamma has generated about $200,000 in revenues for BMW, making Hamma one of MINI’s best – and certainly one of its most cost-effective  – sales people.

MINI hasn’t given Hamma anything – not even a MINI t-shirt or key chain – in exchange for his advocacy. “I recommend MINI because it’s fun to drive. It’s a great product,” says Hamma. “Every time I drive my MINI, I get a big smile on my face,” he adds.

Hamma says he’s such an effective Advocate of MINI that his local MINI dealership has suggested he join their sales team.

“My local MINI dealership wants me to come in and sell MINIs for them,” laughs Hamma. “Hmmm...wonder how much that pays?” he chuckles.

Singing MINI’s Praises

A while back, Hamma enthusiastically recommended MINI to a fellow member of a professional chorus.

“I’m not kidding. The very next week she shows up at chorus practice in her new MINI. Same model as mine,” Hamma says.

Mad about Motoring

Hamma is a car enthusiast who drove BMW cars in the 1960s and 70s on the rally circuit. He occasionally takes lunch breaks from his job as a senior product tester at a Silicon Valley tech company by driving his MINI “quickly around twisty little roads” near the company.

“The other day I went over there and thrashed it pretty good. I came back to the office with a big smile on my face,” he says.

MAXImum Word of Mouth

MINI is one of those passion brands with millions of Advocates and enthusiasts like Hamma. MINI stokes this passion with the MINI Owner’s Lounge, a private, online community for MINI owners; MINI owner rallies and special events; online reviews and more. Plus, MINI gets plenty of organic positive Word of Mouth from user-created online communities, forums, events, and more.

MINI Hazard

One of the few drawbacks of owning a MINI, Hamma says, is that it has caused him to have a sore right shoulder.

“Every now and then, my wife will remind me if I’m driving a little too fast,” chuckles Hamma.

An occasional sore shoulder is a small price to pay for the fun of driving his black and tan MINI, says Hamma. “I tell all my friends and colleagues: If you want to have fun driving, go get yourself a MINI. You will not regret it,” he says.

Read more: “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Loyal Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines”

Read more: Extreme Brand Advocate Stories

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

How Blurb Cut Customer Acquisition Costs in Half

Eileen Gittins, Founder & CEO of Blurb, a print-on-demand publishing service, discusses the tremendous impact that working with Zuberance has had on Blurb's marketing efforts.

Here are some key highlights that Blurb has seen within the first 90 days through leveraging the Zuberance Advocate Platform:

  • Blurb was able to cut customer acquisition costs in half compared to other marketing channels.
  • 42% of Blurb Advocates that were identified shared offers on Facebook, Twitter, and Email.
  • On average, one outbound share by Blurb Advocates generated one inbound click.
  • Each energized Advocate (Advocates that shared offers) brought in 1.6 new customers.
  • Redemptions of offers shared by Advocates had a 2X shopping cart total above average.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

10 Definitions of a "Brand Advocate"

Brand Advocacy is increasingly becoming a hot topic of marketing conversations, though people have slightly different definitions of a "Brand Advocate." Here at Zuberance, we live and breathe brand advocacy. I say the term, "Brand Advocate" probably about 46 times a day, and hear it from other Zuberance members even more than that. Our official definition is as follows:

"A Brand Advocate is a highly-satisfied customer or other* who recommends their favorite brands and products without being paid to do so." -Zuberance

*You do not necessarily have to be a customer of a company or brand to advocate it. I recently recommended Hotel Adagio, a Joie de Vivre hotel in San Francisco, to a colleague. I had been there recently, loved the decor, and the location is right downtown, but had never personally stayed overnight. Turned out, my colleague had a wonderful experience there and told me he was looking forward to staying at Hotel Adagio again.

We recently conducted a Twitter Poll with our followers asking them, How do you define the term "Brand Advocate?" Take a look at some of the definitions:

“As someone that's a 'fan' of a brand & takes a sense of ownership in seeing it succeed by evangelizing it to others” –Mack Collier, Social Media Consultant, Author of MackCollier.com

“A volunteer marketer. A customer that proactively uses their time and their social capital to promote a company or cause.” –Jay Baer, Social Media Strategist, Author of Convince & Convert

“I would say a brand advocate is willing to speak positive about a brand without much or any direct incentive.” –Sarah Essary, Edelman Digital, Author of Consuming PR

“A brand advocate identifies with & supports your brand in her everyday interactions by dint of goodwill & natural affinity.” –JD Lasica, Social Media Strategist, Co-author of SocialMedia.biz

“Brand advocate: A person who not only buys from the brand but will act to protect, promote and help it.” –Augie Ray, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research Inc, Co-author of the Forrester Blog

“A BA is someone who needs no incentive to tell others great things about you, and welcomes you making it easier for them to do so” –David Berkowitz, Senior Director at 360i, Author of Inside the Marketer's Studio

“Brand Advocate = A person who is willing to recommend a product/service to a friend without compensation.” –Travis Murdock, Edelman Digital, Author of Blog Love

“Believes in the goodness of a company, tells others about the goodness of a company, and is loyal to a company in good times and bad times.” –John Moore, Author of Brand Autopsy

“A person who loves your brand/product and tells others about it w/o incentives or recognition” –Michael Brito, Edelman Digital, Author of Social Media Blog

What is your definition of a "Brand Advocate?" Post your comments below!