5 Expert Tips for Engaging Brand Advocates

February 4, 2013 by

In advance of tomorrow's virtual Crash Course on brand advocate marketing, I interviewed course instructor, Rob Fuggetta, and asked him to share his best advice for activating and engaging brand advocates. Here's what he had to say:

1. What is a brand advocate?

A Brand Advocate is a highly-satisfied customer or other person who recommends a company, brand, or product without pay or incentives.

Many people confuse Brand Advocates with Influencers like bloggers. The big difference between Advocates and Influencers is loyalty. Your Advocates will promote, support, and defend you for years. Bloggers, on the other hand, are loyal only to themselves.

2. Why should marketers engage with brand advocates?

Advocates are your company’s best marketers and salespeople. Here are three reasons why:

First, Advocates are highly trusted and influential. Ninety-two percent of people trust Word of Mouth. You may ignore or skip through ads. But when a friend or peer recommends a restaurant, hotel, car, fitness club, software, or just about anything, you’re very likely to buy.

Second, you can reach lots of prospects through your social media-powered Advocates. A company with 10,000 Advocates can reach about 6 million prospects, we estimate. And keep in mind: these are trusted impressions because they come from Advocates.

Third, there are lots of Advocates! One in four online adults in the US are Brand Advocates, says Synovate. And our research shows that about 50% of customers are potential Advocates. If you have 100,00 customers or end users, you may have 50,000 potential Advocates. That’s a massive virtual marketing force!

3. How can marketers identify brand advocates? 

A simple way to identify Advocates is to ask the “Ultimate Question” for customer loyalty: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend us?” Customers who say 9 or 10 are considered Advocates. We recommend asking this question everywhere. One of our customers has created an army of 250,000 Advocates!

4. What is a common pitfall of Brand Advocate marketing?

The number one pitfall is paying or providing incentives to Advocates. Advocates recommend brands and products because they’ve had a great experience and want to help others, studies show. Giving people money or swag for recommendations is lame and doesn’t work. I’ve recommended the movie Lincoln to about 10 of my friends because it was fantastic. Steven Spielberg didn’t pay me for this. True advocacy can’t be manufactured or paid for. It can only be earned. 

5. What kinds of results have your clients achieved with brand advocate marketing?

One client got a whopping 56% conversion rate on Black Friday when Advocates shared a promotional offer with their friends. A hotel client jumped 50 rungs on the TripAdvisor rankings ladder. And another client doubled their ratings and sales on Amazon.com by mobilizing Advocates. On average, our customers are getting a 25X ROI from advocacy programs, as measured by media and sales value.

One client of ours said it best: “Word of Mouth is the number one way we get leads. Why not invest in what’s working?”

Do you want to build and activate an army of advocates that will sell your product or service for you?

 Join us Tuesday, February 5 at 12pm ET for the "Brand Influencers Crash Course" with Rob Fuggetta. Rob is the world’s leading expert on brand advocacy, and the author of the hot-selling book: “Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force” (Wiley, 2012). He's also the founder/CEO of Zuberance, a social marketing company that manages and powers ongoing Brand Advocate programs for B2C and B2B companies. 

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