What does an advocacy marketing platform cost?
What does an advocacy marketing platform cost?
We’ve all been a buyer at some point in our lives. And while it’s important for us to understand just how much better our lives will be as a result of using a product, oftentimes, it’s hard for us to concentrate on the conversation until we know what kind of ballpark we are playing in when it comes to cost. That rings especially true when you are talking about an investment in something new (like advocacy marketing), where there might not be a clean line item in your budget to provide a frame of reference or an understanding of how to measure the return on investment.
Elements of an advocacy marketing program
Let’s start by breaking down the elements of an advocacy marketing program. While you can approach brand advocacy in a variety of ways, the core elements of an advocacy program are always the same:
- Who do you want to advocate for your brand? What do the people your consumers trust for advice look like? What are their characteristics? Where do they live, work or play?
- How many of those people do you want to advocate for your brand? What would make a meaningful difference for your brand?
- How do you want to engage them? Is education enough to get them inspired? Do you want to incentivize them with free or discounted products? Ask for feedback and involve them in a conversation about your brand? Most importantly—should all your advocates be treated the same, or might your strategy be slightly different depending on their level of value to your brand?
- What will success look like? Naturally, every brand is looking to increase the number of full-price sales to consumers, but what key metrics do you want to influence along the way to make sure you are on track? Brand sentiment? Quality or quantity of reviews or user-generated content shared about your product? Number of retail doors with knowledgeable sales advocates? You'll have to dial in which channels are important for your brand to build trust with your consumers.
- What support might you need to make your program a success? Securing the right platform to manage your program is a great start—but the right partner for your program can help you with strategy, campaign development, technical integrations to make operations run smoothly and even provide promotional opportunities to accelerate results when you need it.
How to budget for your investment in the ExpertVoice Advocacy Platform
We try to keep it pretty simple at ExpertVoice. Your subscription to the platform includes unlimited seats with access to the Advocacy Platform (AP). The AP is your home base to manage, execute and measure your program. No matter the level of your investment, the core features of the Advocacy Platform include:
- Your own personalized and branded experience. Create and update your brand and community pages as often as you need to keep them fresh and relevant.
- Complete control and flexibility to manage your campaigns. Create and publish campaigns to your chosen audiences, add any applicable incentives and schedule your campaigns to launch on demand.
- Robust targeting capabilities. Whether you tap into the 1+million vetted and credentialed experts on the platform or take advantage of our credentialing team to bring your own audience, sophisticated targeting means you can reach trusted audiences with the right campaigns.
- Content review and management. Any user-generated content posted in the platform is already approved by the creator for your use on and off-platform, so you can like them, comment on them, favorite them and download them for use throughout your marketing strategy.
- Tools to build and manage unique communities. Create a place to gather your most important advocates, engage in conversations and provide them special access to your brand.
- Analytics and reporting to measure it all. Customize dashboards for individual users and set up subscription alerts to stay on top of your most important goals.
The Advocacy Platform subscription price is simply determined by the amount of engagement you generate and the level of targeting precision required to reach each unique audience for those engagements. Price adjustments are made for the type and size of audiences you target. Additional costs are incurred for:
- ExpertVoice Studios support to build and manage campaigns
- Managed services support
- Promotional media
- Unique integrations like TrueCommerce
- Sales to your target audiences
To put that into context, here are a few examples:
Example A: Brand X, a small but growing brand in the outdoor category, invests $8,000/year + sales commissions to build brand awareness in their category and drive word of mouth amongst a group of qualified industry experts. A simple advocacy program for them includes launching quarterly campaigns to share their brand story, sustainability initiatives and provide deep dives into their marquee products. To encourage education and experience with their brand and products, targeted experts who participate in campaigns and pass a quiz earn access to purchase products at 40% off. The brand uses the Advocacy Platform to measure adoption across its target markets and immediately begins to gather feedback and insights from expert posts and reviews.
Example B: Brand Y, a recognized brand in the nutrition and wellness space, invests $85,000/year + sales commissions to manage a more extensive program that builds advocacy across their retail and e-commerce channels while building word of mouth. Their campaigns engage ExpertVoice Studios to build rich educational experiences, survey their core audiences quarterly and support the upcoming launch of a new product. With a variety of retailers carrying different products, they offer unique lessons to key retailers and have built a community of sales associates that provide them firsthand feedback from their customers. They keep their e-commerce channels filled with a current supply of expert reviews from the Bazaarvoice integration and the ExpertVoice recommendation display. Annual optimization testing of the display helps them to measure impact and performance on their dot com.
Example C: Brand Z, a family of brands and leader in the animals and pet category, invests $450,000/year + sales commissions to create a robust program that builds advocacy for their multiple brands across every channel. Their campaigns engage ExpertVoice Studios to film custom videos, build rich educational experiences and help manage quarterly product sampling campaigns. They build unique experiences for bespoke audiences—specialty pet stores, veterinary clinics, farm and ranch stores, dog groomers and a larger audience of active pet owners. They’ve created several communities to gather insights, manage loyal customer groups and one dedicated just to product testing. The Advocacy Platform provides a single place for multiple teams across their company to understand program performance, gather authentic UGC for their next marketing campaign and engage directly with some of their most influential advocates.
Regardless of the scale of your advocacy program, it’s important to approach it as an investment vs. a one-time expense. The more you engage your audience, the more their advocacy grows and the more returns your program generates—more recommendations about your brand in more places, more authentic UGC you can leverage, more campaign assets you can reuse and an evergrowing pool of trusted people who are passionate about your brand.
Tips to budget for your advocacy investment
Chances are, you don’t have a line item in your budget for advocacy marketing. But you can use that to your advantage. The ROI of advocacy on your business units can be measured. Here are some departmental impacts to consider when negotiating for a budget to support an advocacy solution:
- Retail Sales: Third-party studies have proven that sales associates who engage on ExpertVoice sell 87% more than their peers. Evaluate the impact and efficacy of your training programs today to see if there might be efficiencies gained with the Advocacy Platform—which allows you to provide access to sales associates at any of your existing or target retailers.
- E-Commerce: The Advocacy Platform offers the Recommendation Display to deploy on your product pages, which has been proven to boost average revenue per session up to 40%. In addition, syndication partners allow you to share authentic, trusted product reviews in more places, and we all know there is tremendous value in increasing the quantity and quality of your product reviews. ExpertVoice offers optimization testing to ensure you get the most from your recommendation display.
- User-generated content: How much time and resources are your marketing and PR teams spending to find, source, vet and track permissions for user-generated content today? There is no end in sight to the customer demand of UGC, and the Advocacy Platform offers a solution to streamline that process. Not to mention that sourcing just a few good photos that offset the cost of your next big photo shoot would be worth the time savings alone.
- Market Research & Research and Development: How are you determining your next market opportunity or where your product should focus next? The Advocacy Platform provides analytics to see where influential users of your product are engaging—identifying new sell-in opportunities and new target demographics. With always-on access to survey campaigns, you can continuously gather insights from your industry tastemakers. Leverage the Community Manager (included with your subscription) to build focus groups for product testing and user feedback. Launch product sampling campaigns to gather insights and feedback before a product hits the shelves. Consider what you are spending today on focus groups and other go-to-market research activities.
- Customer Service & Customer Experience: Help your teams anticipate questions from customers when they have access to firsthand insights from knowledgeable and passionate product users in the Advocacy Platform. Leverage communities to help source answers and provide insights to common customer inquiries. Identify possible challenges with the user experience early in the product life cycle with dedicated sampling campaigns, surveys and other feedback loops.
Working across departments to identify a budget might feel ambitious at first. That’s when it’s important to remember you can start small and build along the way as you prove the impact of your program. With unlimited seats for people at your brand to access the Advocacy Platform, you can slowly start to pull in additional partners as you build your advocacy team.
A successful advocacy marketing program can be achieved in many ways. As you evaluate your options, consider how easily the program lets you scale and impact all the lines of business important to your brand. And, as with any investment, you get out of it what you put into it, so start with a plan that makes the most sense for your brand. At ExpertVoice, we’ll help you build an engagement strategy and identify the right advocacy investment that works for your brand so that you only pay for what you use.