The biggest champions of a brand are their customers and getting customers to be the advocates of a company’s products or services is critical for the success of any B2B demand generation strategy. Customer advocacy lies at the heart of digital demand generation strategy and companies leveraging it correctly will gain an edge over their competitors. Each customer looking for a solution in the market is on a learning curve and they can learn so much more from others than what businesses communicate in the form of marketing collaterals.
Customer marketing or customer advocacy has taken off in the last year and it's been growing rapidly. Below are three key areas of customer marketing:
How do you get your current customers to engage in a community?
How to take an adaptive approach to customer advocacy which directly relates to a company’s marketing efforts and goes beyond references and customer stories?
And finally, how do you build a strong community within your customer base, users, and influencers?
Companies must look beyond the templatized stories of problem and solution statements and capture sound bites, and video snippets, or invite the best customers to webinars for integrating them into overarching content marketing.
A customer advocacy program encourages company’s existing happy customers to interact with other potential customers by reviewing and recommending their products or services within their peer networks. If a business can get its customers to describe their positive experiences with the brand, then such brand endorsements will be far more powerful than any other first-party endorsement.
An existing customer’s trust is more influential for prospects than any other marketing collateral. This is more so evident in the B2B industry where it is extremely difficult to differentiate one vendor from the other. An endorsement by a customer can go a long way in establishing trust, authority, and distinction in the market.
Furthermore, advocacy marketing is a two-way street. The reason why any customer would be advocating a brand is that they are seeing the true value in it. The relationship must be mutually beneficial and should reap rewards for both the parties. Customer advocacy marketing can provide extra exposure, engagement, and coverage for both the vendors and customers when executed skilfully.
There are multiple benefits that a B2B business can reap by integrating advocacy marketing into its digital demand generation efforts. While some benefits accrue immediately like brand engagement, some of the benefits have a longer gestation period. There is a ripple effect when a customer becomes a brand champion which leads to increased trust, awareness, and loyalty. Let’s explore some of the key benefits in detail:
Third-party validation is key when building customer trust. In the digital age, prospects are more aware of their potential vendors and the solutions they are looking for. They are bombarded with self-serving content. Every business is vying for the same set of customer pie. Hence enabling and converting the existing customers to advocates is critical to capture prospects’ attention and get them to invest their trust in the business.
Customer success leads to retention. Once a business determines the key drivers for its customer advocacy, it should pay close attention to what those customers are saying. Also, they must work to actively improve the experiences of their existing customers and make necessary changes if there is room for improvement. Brands can reach out to their advocates regularly to reinforce brand messaging.
Going beyond customer retention to activate customer acquisition. Using the foundation of a customer advocacy strategy, B2B businesses can create an organized, scalable program that attracts net new customers. The second step of an advocacy program is to initiate referral marketing that rewards brand champions when their touchpoints result in a new win. Prospects are looking for third-party validation before trying out something new and what better way to engage them than through a brand advocate.
The right customer advocates can help enterprises engage and nurture new customers at every step of their sales journey, resulting in improved brand reputation and business growth.