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Build Your Brand's Reputation with Advocacy Marketing

Advocacy marketing is vital for growing your brand’s loyalty and credibility. Learn more about advocacy marketing and how to get started here.

How do you build a company with longevity and market reach? Look at the bigger picture. Yes, creating great products and offering useful services is important, but what matters even more in the long run? Your brand. A well-established brand will outlive any one product, and it can also outlast economic fluctuations.

How do you build up your brand? Make customer satisfaction and establishing strong relationships with them a priority. Advocacy marketing focuses on nurturing your relationship with customers. By using the right strategy, new customers can quickly become happy, repeat purchasers and evolve into brand advocates.

Advocacy marketing is a highly effective method of growing your brand’s credibility. These advocates share their passion for your business and often emphasize your company’s trustworthiness. Best of all, they do this essentially for free.

Let's go over what you need to know about finding and working with brand advocates.

What is advocacy marketing?

Advocacy marketing is when loyal customers promote your brand for free. It’s sometimes called advocate marketing or customer advocacy and is similar to word-of-mouth marketing. This form of marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach consumers. People are far more likely to make a purchase based on a personal recommendation from those who support your brand.

This is different from ambassador or influencer marketing. You don’t put together a contract for both sides to sign. It’s also generally unpaid, unlike influencer marketing.

Some examples of advocacy advertising include:

  • User-generated content
  • Referral programs
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Mentions on social media

Loyal clients are inspired to endorse your business. They recommend products and share positive experiences with your brand. Customer advocates aren’t paid, but they can be gently incentivized. For example, companies may have referral programs or nudge customers to leave reviews.

Benefits of advocacy marketing

The internet is flooded with goods and services, and customers are skeptical of glowing online reviews posted by strangers. However, they still need to make purchases. Advocacy marketing can tip the balance. Advocates help you attract loyal customers, improve your products, and even save money.

Boost brand visibility

Advocate marketing helps you dramatically increase brand traffic on your website and boost your visibility across multiple social media platforms. You can also synergize advocacy with content marketing strategies. Your customer advocates can share social media content your brand publishes and vice versa.

Strengthen your reputation

In today’s competitive marketplace, fulfilling purchases is the bare minimum. Send the order out and your brand is forgettable. But offer a fun, personalized experience or demonstrate excellent customer service? Now you’ve made your brand memorable for the right reasons. Advocates help you build a reputation for outstanding products and customer service.

Increase customer loyalty

A good reputation helps you build brand loyalty. First-time customers sent your way by an advocate can become loyal and repeat purchasers. Along with regular business, loyal customers also tend to spend more. If they love one of your products or services, they’re more likely to come to you for the other things you offer.

Improve products and services

Advocates love to communicate. They’ll promote your brand to their friends and social media followers while leaving reviews and suggestions. Advocates can give you quality feedback that’s hard to get through any other means. They understand the needs of your target demographic and want your brand to succeed.

Advocates can:

  • Help you soft launch ad campaigns, allowing you to make adjustments before the big drop
  • Help you through the product development process
  • Suggest new areas of the market to explore and new features to add
  • Point out other populations that might be a great match for your services
2 men sit on a couch in an office, while one is holding a laptop happily discussing their marketing strategy.

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Save money on marketing

Marketing can be a money sink, especially for smaller companies just starting out. Many strategies operate at an initial loss and can only be mastered through trial and error. Customer advocacy marketing works differently.

It’s incentivized but not paid for and is often the most effective form of marketing. Your advocates can mobilize their social media following and increase the impact of your product launches. This improves sales and increases the chance that your advocacy marketing campaign is a success.

How to obtain brand advocates

Did you know that 88% of consumers trust personal recommendations over other forms of marketing? Advocates can build your brand and share your message with even skeptical customers. However, this isn’t influencer marketing. You can’t just hire advocates; you mold them through excellent customer experiences.

Offer high-quality products and services

‘Quality’ means 2 things here. You want to offer valuable services and well-designed products. However, you also want to meet the needs of your customer. It’s worth putting in the time to research, survey consumers, and make adjustments from the feedback received. This will initially cost you more but can help establish your brand as a go-to for a specific product.

Focus on customer satisfaction

Today’s marketplace focus is on cutting corners and increasing efficiency. This means that many customers often receive the bare minimum. Your company has an opportunity to really make a mark and build brand trust. Go beyond simply fulfilling the order and make sure the customer is truly satisfied. This builds your reputation as a brand that listens to purchasers and helps boost customer retention.

Provide excellent customer experiences

Customer satisfaction springs from good customer experiences. You can increase this by adopting a customer-first approach in your business. Reply promptly to any questions and concerns, train all employees on good customer service, and consider implementing generous return and exchange policies--the possibilities are endless. These types of efforts show that you stand by the quality of your brand. Customers also appreciate loyalty programs that provide extra perks or discounts.

Incentivize your audience

Passively incentivize your audience by making it easy for customers to advocate for you. Examples include:

  • Easy-to-find ‘share’ buttons on your website
  • Posting shareable images optimized for various platforms
  • Creating pre-written content advocates can share with minimal time and effort
  • Utilizing branded hashtags when you have a sale

More active incentives are:

  • Giveaways, trips, and other contests with social media engagement as an entry
  • Rewards programs that offer package upgrades for loyal customers
  • An early sneak peek at exciting new products or features

Create a brand advocacy program

You’ve laid the groundwork for building loyal customers who love your brand. Now you can try to incentivize them to become advocates. Many of the incentives above work for brand advocacy campaigns. Referral bonuses and affiliate marketing programs can be included here. These can motivate advocates to create more compelling posts and talk more often about your business.

Tips for optimizing your advocacy marketing strategies

Your marketing strategy should focus on establishing a pool of potential advocates. What helps you build your company’s reputation? Great products, excellent customer service, and open communication. This will attract advocates to help your brand grow.

Engage with customers using various channels

Engagement is key to success and acquiring future advocates. How do you boost engagement? More personalized offerings can help. Fun contests and giveaways also encourage people to engage with your company. Don’t forget to consider the convenience factor. How easy is it for customers to find your business on their favorite social media platforms? How many steps do they have to take to contact you?

Personalize customer interactions

Personal touch can really make your interactions shine. They also help you make more tailored recommendations for future products and services. Website cookies can recall a customer’s behavior on your page. Another strategy is segmenting your mailing list. This lets you target people by interest or demographic.

Identify the right people

Which of your happy customers will make the best advocates? They tend to be people with a reputation for honest and balanced opinions. They also often have similar interests and demographics as your target customers. As an example, say you offer 3D printing services. You could look for advocates who paint tabletop game miniatures.

Finally, who is sharing their opinions freely with frequent tweets or other messages? Audience engagement can mean more than the number of followers one has. Who’s expressing their message in a way people can’t help but respond to?

Evaluate key metrics

Respect. Trust. Reputation. These cornerstones of advocacy marketing may sound like vague, unmeasurable concepts. However, there are metrics you can use to see how your brand advocacy campaigns are doing, including:

  • Number of customer advocates
  • Number of actions taken by those advocates across all channels
  • Engagement metrics of how effectively advocates communicate about your brand
  • Number of referrals and recommendations
  • Increased web traffic coming in from social media
  • Website bounce rate from visitors
  • Conversion rates from referrals to customers
  • Incentive efficacy, such as rewards earned through your program

Leverage loyal customers to strengthen your brand

So why is advocacy marketing important? Individuals who advocate for your business can help take your brand to the next level and ensure it stands out from the competition. Plus, advocacy marketing can strengthen your company's reputation and grow the number of loyal customers you retain.

If you want to obtain brand advocates and improve your strategy, Mailchimp's assortment of marketing tools can support your efforts. Segment audience lists for tailored campaigns, analyze performance to identify opportunities, and so much more.

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