Who can speak about your brand better than your customer?
Customer advocacy provides organizations with the ideal platform to leverage the most loyal and passionate customers and turn them into vocal brand advocates. An IDC report, How To Achieve Customer Advocacy Program Success in 2017, has found that customer advocacy programs have grown 570 percent year over year among B2B vendors. In B2B tech, these programs provide organizations with a vast competitive edge.
In fact, it can be a secret marketing weapon. By harnessing these brand advocates, organizations can actively involve them in the marketing and sales process to drive business growth and prove bottom-line results throughout the customer journey. As such, customer advocacy programs are crucial for long-term success. Connected customers of your brand can directly influence purchasing decisions of prospects.
Let’s explore some of the key benefits of customer advocacy programs.
1. Third-Party Validation is Essential When Building Customer Trust
Customers are consistently more wary of brands overall. In fact, 42 percent of Americans find brands and companies less truthful today than 20 years ago, according to a survey by McCann’s Truth Central unit. To survive in this increasingly competitive world where everyone is vying for the customer’s attention, third-party validation is key.
B2B tech companies need to allow current customers – which are typically other B2B or even B2C brands – to actively promote the brand and its products through a customer advocacy program. People trust people so when customers issue press releases about their work with your company or agree to participate in a case study, these are collateral pieces that should be promoted across the board. This type of content can drive new customer inquiries and bolster overall reputation.
Want more on integrated marketing for B2B tech brands? Read, ‘Defining Your B2B Tech Integrated Communications Strategy’.
Last year, only 10 percent of B2B vendors surveyed had a customer advocacy program in place, according to the IDC research. This year, “The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy” report found that has increased to 67 percent.
2. Customer Success and Advocacy Leads to Retention
Once brands determine who the key drivers in the customer advocacy program are, they should work to actively cultivate the relationship. Brands need to listen and pay close attention to what these advocates are saying and make necessary changes if there is room for improvement. Insights such as the need to improve customer service or ensure faster delivery can advance the overall user experience.
B2B tech companies should find at least one customer advocate in each target vertical for them as this helps to amplify the reach of the program. By rolling current customers into an advocacy program, brands have permission to reach out to them regularly and consistently reinforce brand messaging. When that touchpoint results in a new customer inquiry or win, advocates should also be rewarded for assisting your brand. Be sure to show appreciation for them whether it’s on social media by actively engaging with the brand or posting advocate-generated content that your followers may also find interesting.
3. Going Beyond Customer Retention to Trigger Customer Acquisition
With a customer advocacy platform, B2B tech companies can create an organized, scalable program that attracts new customers. Once a solid customer advocacy strategy is in place, it’s time to consider referral marketing. This encourages current customers to tell cohorts and partners about your company and the products or services it offers.
New customers are looking for third-party validation before trying a new product or service, so what better way to engage them than with a customer advocate? This ensures consistent drivers of new business and can significantly impact the marketing and sales funnels. Referred customers are less likely to leave your company so it’s a win-win.
The right customer advocates can help B2B tech companies engage new customers along the sales journey and with the right platform and strategy in place it can drive new leads, increase ROI and improve brand reputation.