How do you turn your customers into fans and advocates? The simple answer: It takes focus.
What is Customer Advocacy?
Customer advocacy is a specialized form of customer service in which companies focus on what is best for the customer. It is a change in a company’s culture that is supported by customer-focused customer service and marketing techniques. Wikipedia
Customer advocacy is one of the best ways to become a trust-worthy business to new customers. Let’s say you are in the market for wireless speakers. Who has the bigger influence? The speaker companies selling the system or your friends who are using it in their home? Happy customers are more than willing to advocate on behalf of a company that they love–just look at about anyone who owns the Sonos wireless speaker system. I have a friend who talks about his Sonos system like it is one of his kids.
84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process off with a referral. Influitive
The One-Two Customer Advocacy Punch
It’s not just about the product. Pleasant experiences with a company will make a customer want to tell everyone about that experience. For example, say you walk into a clothing store and a salesperson is immediately there waiting to help (No, not one of the annoying ones). If you find this salesperson to be particularly helpful and pleasant, you will be more likely to share this experience with friends. Proper customer service combined with excellent product is a great one-two punch for gaining advocates for your business.
Your best customers are also your best sales people. They hold the key to growth through referral marketing. Influtive
So, what else can customer advocacy do for your business?
1.) Accelerate Sales. Referrals from satisfied customers can help speed up the buying process.
2.) Product Reviews. Your business can engage your advocates even more by having them review products.
3.) Buzz. Happy customers=Positive social media buzz.
Online Communities: Where the Advocates Hang Out
I may be dating myself but I do remember the old school, AOL communities where people got together to talk about the things that mattered to them. For example, car entusiasts could go to the car forum and talk about their favorite car. Car manufacturers would also comment to provide their perspective but they never controlled the experience.
Fast forward to 2015 and leading brands have learned to harness the passion of their customers through their own branded communities. The old school forums still exist but the most enthused consumers communicate through the community setup by the brand.
Today, we learn how software giant Marketo established its advocacy program and developed its own online community of brand enthusiasts.
Q&A Highlights with Liz Courter of Marketo
This week, we sit down with Liz Courter, Senior Community Manager at Marketo and learn how Marketo has taken its community efforts to the next level.
- The Marketo Summit. “This is really exciting for all of us Marketo employees, especially in Marketing. This is the time of year where we not only get to meet our customers face-to-face but also show the appreciation we have for them.”
- Courter’s Role at the Summit. “Along with the customer programs and online communities, one of my roles is to make sure Marketo Champions have a wonderful experience. So we highlight the Champions as part of the advanced Champions series sessions that are open to everyone. Those have been hugely successful. Also, the community lounge.”
- Behind the Scenes Snafus. “Things have gone pretty seamlessly, besides the lights going out on Arianna (Huffington), that was a very obvious snafu.” Side note, the lights went out/dimmed for a few seconds right around the time Huffington spoke about getting more rest.
- Concerns Before Show. “One of the things we were concerned about a little bit was, because we had Hilary Clinton last year, a lot of people came just for that. She was a huge draw and our numbers shot up. We were a little concerned about the key notes, not that we didn’t have awesome speakers, but we were concerned about that draw…It turned out alright. Everything went great, and they were so dynamic and so charismatic.”
- If a Company Wants to Start Up a Community, What are Three Things You Can Tell Them to Get Their Company Up and Going? “To put it into three things would be very challenging. It’s been a process that’s taken us about a little less than a year or so.”
- First: Know Your Goals. “The first one is being organized and knowing what your goals are for the community. There are lots of different types. Do you want a support driven community? interactive? discussion platform? or a customer driven community like ours? We chose the last option”
- Second: Get Executive Buy-In. “The second thing after you organize those goals is you have to get executive buy-in. You’re going to need to make sure the executive team is on board.”
- Third: Find the Right Partner. “You need to find someone who is going to be a good partner. The wow factor is important, but you need to find someone who you’re going to be able to work with for several years.” Marketo chose Jive.
- After Partner is Chosen. “Once you choose the partner, it’s down and dirty. We chose a platform six months ago, and we’re finally launching the platform in a couple weeks. It’s a long process but after you choose that partner, it’s really getting the resources.”
- The Importance of Examples. “A great tip that I can provide is from our executive team. They wanted to see examples when we choose to do something or choose to go a certain way in terms of design or user experience. They wanted some examples that have worked for other people that are similar.”