Customer advocacy, also known as word of mouth marketing, is one of, if not the, the most powerful marketing tools available to brands today. Why? Because consumers trust third-party reviews, recommendations, and recommendations far more than “cold” marketing or advertising messages.
In reality, research suggests a 12% increase in advocacy (done well) can represent up to 200% increase in revenue. Customer advocates are also 50 percent more likely to influence a purchase decision and Twice more likely to generate sales than paid advertising. Meanwhile 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to buy after reading a reliable review.
This is why one of the most critical elements of the B2B marketing mix is having establish a robust and scalable customer advocacy program. Getting your customers to explain how they use your product to solve their problem in a clear and authentic way is key to marketing and selling your B2B solution.
Client advocacy too often ends up in the “too difficult basket”
Despite the benefits of customer storytelling, 80% of companies do not leverage advocates in their inbound marketing and 58% of companies don’t even know who the brand advocates are.
So why is this the case? In our experience, we have too often seen companies put customer advocacy in the “too difficult basket”. Approaching customers and getting their buy-in becomes manual intensive, producing content in-house becomes laborious and time-consuming. Then, amplifying content on the right paid and organic channels turns into a logistical nightmare.
So just running an ad seems so much “easier” in comparison. You configure it, automate it, boom. But what happens when you opt out of these ads? Your marketing stops.
Meanwhile, the cost of digital advertising is rises 5 times faster than inflation, even though 30% of all internet users are now using ad blockers, and among Millennials and Gen Xers, there is a steady increase in advertising blindness.
However, customer stories, when done right, are the “gifts that keep on giving.” They stay on your site, PR, social and marketing channels, on your sales slides, and on partner sites, for months or even years to come.
This is why they are called marketing “assets”. You get a sustained return on investment from them over time. And that’s why we’re so passionate about driving, scaling, and amplifying customer advocacy content and marketing strategies at AZK Media.
Like the famous RockstarCX James Dodkins says, “find those organic stories, the stories customers are sharing themselves online, not the ones they’ve been ‘coerced’ into telling. If you’re going to put systems in place to find these authentic stories, then make a big deal of it, share it!
How to Streamline and Scale Client Advocacy
First, your C-Suite must understand and value the business and commercial benefits of storytelling and customer advocacy. This should be cemented from above and flow down.
Then, employ a dedicated internal customer advocacy manager who is experienced and able to orchestrate a scalable and sustainable program that can be integrated with demand generation and inbound marketing, and aligned with sales strategy.
Third, invest in a seasoned media and marketing partner which includes strategic customer advocacy marketing. A specialist partner can help streamline internal strategy, scale internal efforts, and produce the right streams of content, such as webinars, events, videos, use cases, sales slides, and media campaigns . These can then be integrated into a holistic inbound campaign aligned with sales KPIs.
The future is customer-centric
There are lots of evidence to show that consumers trust ads less and want more personalized experiences. By putting the customer at the center of your marketing efforts, you show how much you value the customer experience. At the same time, your champion customers get additional marketing and media exposure, which helps them gain an experience beyond the product or service you provide them. It all starts with a change of mentality. Are you ready?