In a perfect world, all of your customers would be highly engaged with your brand, vocal supporters of your products, and consistently make repeat purchases. Sounds pretty nice, doesn't it?
Well, this may not be a perfect world, but you likely have at least a few customers who regularly exhibit this â€œidealâ€ buyer behavior. You may have even already identified these customers and started nurturing them with advocacy programs.
Successful businesses often build formal advocacy programs because they know that today's customers carry far more influence than anything your executives or sales team can convey. A recent study by McKinsey & Company found that word of mouth was the primary factor in up to 50% of all purchasing decisions, making customer advocacy a key differentiator in your company's ability to acquire new business.
Customer advocates also have the potential to bring in more business at less cost to you. A 2010 study from Goethe University discovered that customers acquired through referrals tended to have higher margins, less churn, and a higher customer lifetime value than customers attained through traditional advertising.
While they're helping you close new customers, remember that your customer advocates remain customers themselves. Their devotion to your brand means they're more likely to be repeat customers who consistently choose your products.
Customer advocates are clearly tremendously valuable. Unfortunately, identifying possible advocates is often tedious and ineffective, and managing your existing advocates as you attempt to cultivate new ones can be a challenge.
But what if we told you that your company could triple its customer advocates in as little as a week's time? With the help of your online customer community data and our five-step process, you can recruit new brand advocates and leverage them to grow your business.
Remember that perfect customer we mentioned before? Consider your biggest advocates - the ones that gets the closest to this perfect example - and create a profile of their behavior. Consider details like demographics, transaction history, and activity data from your online customer community. Use these qualities to build a profile that can act as a measuring stick for future customer advocates.
Now that you have a profile of your ideal customer advocate, it's time to determine whom among your current customers could be developed into a new and effective brand advocate.
Get as much information about your current customers as you can from transaction records, support conversations, and online community activity data. Compare these details to your ideal advocate profile, and identify a pool of customer advocate candidates. The strongest candidates will share the most characteristics and activities with your profile.
For instance, create a composite profile based on your three biggest customer advocates. Then, overlay that profile on your full customer database. You'll have a few dozen people who meet that behavioral and demographic profile that you can then recruit for your customer advocacy program.
Once you know who may have what it takes to be a new advocate, you need to determine their interest level and begin the process of recruiting them. You can do this by reaching out via e-mail or phone to educate them on how they can raise their profile and that of their company by sharing their story in the market.
Use customer activity data from your online community and transaction records to start recruiting prospects. These records show what your prospect is interested in, and you can then tailor your communication accordingly.
For example, if your prospect posts about product improvement in discussion forums, point out that customer advocates act as an advisory board for new products or features. This specially-chosen benefit will appeal to your customer's interests, making it more likely that they'll join your advocacy program.
Chances are, your potential advocates aren't going have opportunities to tell their story as soon as you talk to them. The means that after you've established mutual interest you need to continuously nurture the relationship for three reasons:
Using customer activity data to target your customers' interests and keep them engaged is an ongoing process. Continually add depth to your communication, and show them that your advocacy program adds value not just for the company, but for them as well. Reinforce how participating in the sales and marketing process makes them special and can help their career. Do your best to make your customer advocates feel needed and involved in the future of your advocacy strategy.
If you recruit and nurture your potential advocates effectively, then they'll take action when the opportunity to share their story is in front of them. You can help by providing them places where they can spread their knowledge, feel useful, and engage with the advocacy process.
Advocacy opportunities can be anywhere that customers interact such as live events, video interviews, testimonials, case studies, and presentations at conferences.
Increasingly, online customer communities are the central hub for all things advocacy. Whether answering questions on your online community discussion boards, reaching out to other customers who have been flagged for decreased engagement, or sharing their experiences at in-person conferences and events, help your customer advocates find the places where they can be the most beneficial.
With the help of customer activity data from your online community, you can take the guesswork out of recruiting customer advocates and spend your valuable time finding the people who truly feel passionate about your brand and products.
Remember that creating a detailed ideal advocate profile is the foundation for this process. It will help you know which of your current customers would be good candidates for your advocacy program.
From there, use customer activity data from your online community to learn about your potential advocates' interests and tailor your recruitment efforts around what each individual candidate enjoys. These specialized pitches will show customers how much you value them, making your recruitment, nurturing, and ongoing advocacy programs stronger.