Customer Advocacy: Transforming B2B Customers into Brand Evangelists
Capitalizing on customers who already use and love your product or service makes sense. This audience is easier to up-sell, can advocate on your behalf, and lead to more organic referrals. But, with so many businesses building B2B Customer Advocacy Programs, marketers must be smart about leveraging these individuals in a way that sells and engages.
What is a B2B Customer Advocacy Program
Marketers understand that brand advocates make a difference. Yet, too few businesses today are taking full advantage of these emotionally connected customers to drive sales, referrals, social awareness, and brand engagement.
The brand advocate is a loyal customer, an individual who can provide valuable customer insights, refer others, and help you in marketing by providing authentic user generated content.
As Forrester puts it, advocate marketing “enhances the entire customer life cycle” by:
- Encouraging buyers to share best practices and help each other thrive
- Rewarding loyal buyers by enhancing their reputations
- Turning customer success into new business opportunities
Your customers are more credible to a buyer than you are. That makes them your most powerful salesforce.” — Bill Lee, founder, Center for Customer Engagement
Strengthen your customer advocacy program efforts with these simple strategies.
Bolster Company Buy-in
You can’t boost a customer advocacy program without backing up the implicit promise to customers that you will provide quality products and customer service. Bridge siloed departments so that every team is working together to make customer experience seamlessly efficient and effective.
From the C-suite down to the front lines of the company, your business should embrace a customer-centric perspective. Since advocacy depends on customer goodwill, it is everyone’s job to ensure the individual user has a positive experience at every step of the way. Review business processes to streamline customer experience. This will give advocates something to praise you for and evangelize about on social media and in discussions with their own coworkers, friends and family.
Invite Advocate Action
Technology today makes it easier to manage data, measure interactions, and even predict customer behavior. Yet identifying customer advocates isn’t enough. You want them to act too. Thus, you need to encourage them to do things that help you reach your business objectives. These could include:
- Joining a customer advisory board
- Referring new leads/customers
- Providing testimonials and reviews
- Commenting on your company’s blog
- Promoting a company event via social media or word of mouth
- Answering other user’s questions in a support forum
Make Action Easy
Develop ways your users can advocate simply. This could include making prevalent tools to encourage social sharing of your content marketing. Or identifying those who are often helpful in user forums and giving them a more established role teaching others how to better use your product.
Many programs today offer rewards or points, even discounts, but these may not foster emotional connection. What can you offer as a benefit for brand advocacy that is exclusive and also provides value? Don’t focus only on what your business gains from a great customer testimonial or success story. Instead, identify ways to promote that success while fostering professional relationships. Both company and customer, for instance, can benefit from speaking together at industry events, hosting webinars, and co-publishing white papers.
Ultimately, the brand advocate doesn’t need to be rewarded so much as recognized. Cultivate loyalty in creative ways. Be attentive and appreciative, but most of all keep providing a product, solution or service that best meets their business needs.
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