What is Customer Advocacy Marketing & Why It's Important for your B2B Small Business
Peer-to-peer referrals are among the most powerful purchase drivers because loyal customers are willing to refer products and services to friends and family members. This type of marketing is called customer advocacy, and it is often used to promote brands that sell clothing, food, household goods, health care, entertainment, travel, technology, and financial services.
The Power of Word-of-Mouth?
I previously wrote about the power of social proof in digital marketing. This goes hand-in-hand with the background of social proof given by Sprout Social, "Social proof is a term coined in 1984 by author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence. This phenomenon is also called informational social influence, and essentially it's the idea that people copy the actions of others in an attempt to emulate the behavior in certain situations."
So, while customer advocacy isn't copying the actions of others, it is using your experience to advocate for a product or service - which drives the customer journey in the same way social proof does.
For B2B companies, word-of-mouth is a driving force for doing business. According to Signpost, "82% of small businesses claim referrals as their main source of new business."
How to Encourage Customer Advocacy?
Step 1, Create happy customers. Provide high-quality customer service in every aspect of your small business. When people like your product or service and trust you as a provider, they are likelier to recommend your products and services to others. Eventually, you'll land upon some great customer advocates and then achieve the ultimate marketing prize - brand evangelists.
Brand evangelists are the people that go out of their way to tell people about their favorite products or service. My husband he's a brand evangelist for a particular brand of socks. He advises any and everyone how great these socks are. He gives them away as gifts. He won't shut up about these socks; yes, I am sure he's posted on social media about them.
That sock company hit the jackpot because of his enthusiasm and customer advocacy.
Other ways to encourage advocacy? Ask for customer feedback from your loyal customers, get their input on the customer experience, and examine any takeaways you can gather from the information to gain valuable insight. Use this information to build better customer relationships, encourage engagement, and foster positive customer interactions. Building long-term relationships with current customers foster an environment of potential advocates who might reach out to potential customers.
What is Advocacy Marketing?
Customer advocacy programs are marketing strategies companies use to encourage advocacy of its product or service. These can exist as referral programs, user-generated content contests, rewards programs, and more. These programs can be simple to complex, inexpensive to high cost. Nevertheless, according to Forbes, it's worth it, "They studied several different brands and found that Word of Mouth increased marketing effectiveness up to 54%."
There's no doubt advocacy and referrals drive purchase decisions for potential buyers. The key to getting there - be excellent and provide consistent customer satisfaction. How can you use customer advocacy to build relationships with your customers?