Brand advocacy is one of the most powerful marketing programs you can implement. Since Bain and Company identified that organizations with advanced brand advocacy scores grow 2.5 times faster than their competitors, businesses around the world have been scrambling to launch and develop strategies to promote customer advocacy.
Brand Advocacy Strategies you Should Adopt
The type of advocacy program you choose, and the brand advocacy strategies you adopt, will depend on many factors, including:
· the type and size of your business, its industry, and its culture
· the number of your customers and potential customers
· the length and frequency of the customer buying cycle
· the size of your budget and the amount of staff resources you can dedicate to the program
There are, however, a few strategies that should always be mainstays of your program, no matter your organization’s individual circumstances. Here are three for your consideration.
Tie your Advocacy Program to your Values
Your advocacy program should always, at its heart, both reflect and promote the values of your particular organization. Take a good look at your company’s published mission statement, vision statement, and core values. We can frequently overlook these in the rush of day-to-day operations, but they are essential when assessing your approach to advocacy.
By aligning your advocacy program with your company’s core principles, you not only ensure cohesive messaging—strengthening your brand image—but you also have an unwavering guide for the ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ of your program. This is useful not only at the conceptual stage of an advocacy program, but also as a continual reference point to keep you on track throughout.
For example, do you have environmental or sustainability concerns listed in your values? If so, how are these reflected in your advocacy program? If innovation is a core tenet of your organization, which novel concepts can you bring to advocacy activities or community engagement? If your company’s mission is to go global, which locations are you reaching with your advocacy or community content?
With a little brainstorming, you might be surprised at how your company’s values, mission and vision statements can spark great ideas to help you shape your advocacy program content.
“What isn’t Measured doesn’t Count”
This old adage applies as much to advocacy programs as to anything else. Since an advocacy program can have such a big impact on your bottom line, you will want to set up metrics to monitor its success. This enables you to be continually making improvements to your program, and to know which changes to make, when, and why.
Explicit metrics could include:
· the number of brand advocates in your program (as well as their locations, customer types, etc.)
· the uptake percentage (how many customers agree to become advocates)
· the time to onboard
· the advocate retention rates
· the program engagement and participation (e.g. number of likes, shares, and comments on digital content)
Implicit metrics could include:
· the number of new customers acquired
· the sales conversion rates
· the number of leads generated
· the amount of new revenue created
· the increase in Net Promoter Score
And of course, always be sure to measure the costs of your program, so you can determine not only its ROI, but also where best to focus your advocacy investments in the future. The more things you can measure, the deeper insights you will have.
For example, if you have a low uptake of your advocacy program, or a long time to onboard, you might need to improve your advocate recruitment process. If program participation drops, you may need to spice up the digital content, messaging, or spectrum of activities. If brand advocate retention is a problem, you may wish to revisit your rewards program. And so on.
Another way to measure the program’s success is to request feedback from your advocates on a regular basis. This exercise also serves to boost engagement, and can inspire innovative ideas from your community that you may not have thought of.
Gamify your Advocacy Program
All good advocacy programs contain relevant rewards for advocate participation, as this greatly increases engagement and retention. But rather than rewarding advocates on an occasional basis, and at the end of a sometimes-long process, aim to keep the entire advocacy experience fun and engaging at all times.
Gamification involves the use of game-like strategies and principles that stimulate constant positive behaviour, engagement, and competition. Games tap into many of the primal desires that make up the human experience—for example, the need for recognition, instant gratification, social status, and validation. We all have at least one happy memory of playing with friends in the park or on a board or video game. That’s because games activate the part of our brain responsible for the feel-good state—reducing stress, bringing happiness, and motivating us to constantly improve.
Examples of gamification in our digitalized worlds include those of social media giants such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, which have embedded gamification elements into their platforms such as number of followers, likes, and friends. These draw in users and make the networks more popular.
Incentivize your own community by offering your advocates points for completing major and even minor challenges. These could range from commenting on a blog post, taking a poll, or watching a tutorial, to submitting a video testimonial or making a customer referral, etc. The higher the effort involved, the more points awarded.
Points gained can then lead on to badges, titles, and other rewards—such as tangible goods, learning materials, discounts, or invites, according to your advocates’ wishes. A points-based system also enables you to create different leaderboards—which, while visible to all, should be segmented based on members with similar scores to encourage participation and competition.
Gamification not only creates a fun, dynamic, and rewarding environment, but also greatly increases the chances of your content sticking in people's minds. It is one of the best ways to boost engagement and get your advocates excited about your brand and its products and services.
There are many brand advocacy strategies you can adopt to make your advocacy program a success. However, if you stick to your values, measure as much as you can, and introduce gamification techniques into your program, you’ll be well on the way to creating a thriving community, and reaping the associated rewards, however your organization is set up.
Learn more about building an advocacy program to help further the impact of your brand with our complimentary ebook!