Framework of Advocacy Marketing
Whether you work direct-to-consumer, with a retail partner or as a brand marketer, your goal is to drive sales.
Of course you want to ensure your customers have a good experience, that you’re creating brand loyalists and building a positive reputation along the way, but most importantly, you want to impact your bottom line. That’s where advocacy marketing comes in. Advocacy marketing is harnessing the voices of your brand’s fans and leveraging them to increase sales. Also known as word-of-mouth marketing, advocacy marketing is using happy customers to promote your business — and sell more.
Trusted recommendations drive conversions, raise average order value and lower returns."
Is this type of marketing worth your time and effort? Here are the facts:
- 92% of individuals trust word-of-mouth recommendations
- 82% of consumers proactively seek out referrals before making a purchasing decision
- A 12% increase in advocacy represents a 200% increase in revenue growth
- Advocacy marketing drives $6 trillion of annual consumer spending
Trusted recommendations drive conversions, raise average order value and lower returns. With that in mind, it’s important for brands to partner with advocates who have the most impact. To help you do just that, we’ve put together your Complete Guide to Advocacy Marketing.
1. Gather your most trusted advocates
A well-rounded advocacy marketing strategy leverages advocates in every step of the sales funnel.
The two most important things to consider when looking for your army of advocates are the strength and reach of their influence. When an advocate makes a product recommendation, the strength of that recommendation depends on their experience, knowledge and the amount of trust the consumer has in the recommender. As experts in their industry, their authentic, personalized buying advice is powerful — and likely to be followed.
If the main goal is to drive sales…then you want your advocates to have conversations where purchases are being considered.”
As for reach, where are these conversations happening? If the main goal is to drive sales — and it is — then you want your advocates to have conversations where purchases are being considered. These exchanges are most valuable when they’re had where consumers are actively seeking advice on what to buy, whether it’s at a retail store, in the field or online.
We’ve identified four different types of influential advocates who have the strength and reach to make recommendations that matter:
Knowledgeable friends & family
People often reach out to their loved ones for advice on what to buy. And while their reach is typically low, the strength of their recommendations is extremely high. In fact, 85% of consumers take buying advice from friends and family.
Professionals with deep expertise in their industry, such as certified crossfit trainers, members of ski patrol and professional chefs. Their knowledge and experience make their recommendations strong but their reach varies.
Retail sales associates
Sales associates at big box retailers, specialty shops and everything in between. While their expertise is often robust, trust in their recommendations can be muted by their role in sales. However, they have a high impact at the point of purchase and are most likely to drive the sale.
Bloggers, celebrities and social influencers with large online followings have very high reach, but their recommendations are typically less trusted because of lack of expertise or the questionable motive behind the recommendation. While they can drive sales, their greatest impact is increasing awareness.
As you can see below, each type of advocate has a distinct point of impact in the buying journey — but all four types are necessary for a strong advocacy marketing ecosystem. The best brands engage a healthy mix of online influencers, industry professionals, retail sales associates and knowledgeable friends and family as a comprehensive approach to advocacy marketing.
“…a crucial part of advocacy marketing is strengthening advocates’ influence by providing them with the knowledge and experiences they need to ascend to the higher tier…”
Not only are there different types of advocates, there are also different tiers of advocacy.
Each tier is categorized by the strength and reach of the advocates’ recommendations. As both increase, so too does their influential power. For example, a 20-year sales veteran would be classified in a higher tier than a brand-new sales associate who is just getting into the retail game. The veteran knows more, understands customer service and has more experience with the brands and products on the sales floor. But the new sales associate can get to that point too. In fact, a crucial part of advocacy marketing is strengthening advocates’ influence by providing them with the knowledge and experiences they need to ascend to the higher tier where their recommendations can have greater impact. It’s important for brands to identify and engage with every type and tier of advocate to ensure their message is circulated in more settings, with more potential buyers, across more channels.
2. Strengthen their recommendations
The foundation of advocacy marketing is authenticity.
In order for your advocates to give authentic, credible endorsements of your products, they have to know, understand and believe in your brand. When product recommendations are personal and authentic, they’re more powerful.
Product seeding and training are the most significant ways you can improve and increase your advocates’ recommendations.
But the buck shouldn’t stop there. These are your advocates, they’re your unpaid sales force who endorse your brand because they want to. Give them exclusive access. Provide a sneak peek to an upcoming product line, a deep dive into the latest innovations, a behind-the-scenes pass to your new facility. Reward their passion and expertise with experiences that makes them fall in love with your brand. Commit to the relationship and you will reap the rewards.
3. Put their recommendations to work
The third step to a healthy advocacy marketing strategy is ensuring these expert recommendations reach as many consumers as possible.
While some buying conversations take place at the dinner table or on the sales floor, an increasing amount of product recommendations are shared online. With the ability to be seen by millions of consumers with the click of a button, digital recommendations have infinite potential for reach.
Digital recommendations have infinite potential for reach.”
While one of the limitations that marketers used to face with traditional word-of-mouth marketing was the difficulty of measuring those buying conversations, a digital recommendation changes that. Now marketers can measure the effectiveness of online recommendations and optimize the content where necessary, repurposing it on their own social, advertising and e-commerce channels, where they are proven to improve conversions. And through product review syndication networks, this trustworthy product feedback can be broadcast across the web, impacting even more potential buyers.
Kat Hagood is a credentialed expert and a verified product user on the ExpertVoice platform
Not only do these recommendations drive sales, they also help brands make better products. Through syndication and sharing, brands’ access to knowledgeable, authentic product reviews, recommendations and user-generated content created by industry experts provides important insights that can improve future product lines.
4. Partner with the world’s largest advocacy marketing platform
As word-of-mouth marketing continues to grow in popularity, many brands are already implementing a few of these strategies.
Social media teams partner with influencers. Sports marketers join forces with professional athletes. Loyalty programs reward passionate friends and family. Retail channels educate sales associates. While these programs are often effective, they’re pieces of a larger puzzle.
The best way to ensure you have a successful, scalable advocacy marketing strategy that increases brand affinity and drives sales is to partner with a company that knows how to gather your most trusted advocates, strengthen their recommendations and put them to work.
As the world’s largest advocacy marketing company, ExpertVoice does just that. Since 2004 we’ve partnered with some of the world’s biggest brands — Purina, New Balance, Columbia, Vega and more — to create and execute trusted advocacy marketing campaigns that drive sales. Learn more about ExpertVoice and how our rapidly growing community of brands and experts are improving sales performance by visiting www.ExpertVoice.com.
Gather your most trusted recommenders:
ExpertVoice has built a community of more than 1,000,000 credentialed experts
Improve and increase their product recommendations:
We initiate more than 250,000 brand-to-expert engagements every week
Put those recommendations to work:
We aggregate UGC and written reviews that you can use anywhere your consumers buy