Elaine Margrethe Alcantara
Have you ever found yourself looking for a new appliance and started seeking recommendations from friends and family members? The power of endorsing and word-of-mouth is immense, and brands nowadays know how to benefit from them.
Advocate marketing is all about satisfying customers, giving them a high-quality experience with your product or service, and building a great relationship with them. It’s not as simple as simply starting a referral program, it’s about letting your patrons freely express their satisfaction with your brand.
Compared to all other forms of marketing strategies, advocate marketing is arguably one of the most influential. A survey conducted by Nielsen in 2021 found that across 400,000 respondents, a huge majority of respondents trust recommendations from people they know. In the same study, another 77% said that they are most likely to purchase a product or service if it was recommended by someone they know.
Clearly, when done correctly, advocate marketing can pay dividends and give a good return on investment (ROI).
Let’s take a deeper dive into the world of advocate marketing and talk about the best examples of successful campaigns from brilliant brands.
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What is Advocate Marketing
Word of mouth is invaluable. Since the beginning of time, it’s been around influencing purchases and brand loyalty. It’s part of human nature to trust someone we already know. Their referrals give potential customers more confidence to avail of a certain product or service.
Advocate marketing or otherwise known as advocacy marketing takes advantage of the word-of-mouth phenomenon. It is a strategy that primarily focuses on encouraging your previous customers to advocate and support your business online or in person. It leans more towards earning the support of ordinary people, not just influencers with massive followings.
Customers can generate buzz around the product in various ways, but the rise of social media platforms has seen a huge increase in advocates raving on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Those posts then garner plenty of engagement from the friends and followers of the customer advocate, no wonder businesses aim to successfully pull off advocate marketing strategies.
According to SocialToaster, browsers tend to give twice more attention to posts that have recommendations from their friends. Those posts can come in handy for potential customers who are proactively looking for referrals before making a purchase decision.
What Makes a Good Advocate Marketing Campaign
Executing an effective advocacy marketing campaign is the dream of every business owner and marketer. It goes beyond collecting testimonials and publishing them on a website.
For an advocate marketing campaign to be successful, brands must accomplish the following:
- Produce a great product or service
- Provide a unique and personal brand experience
- Introduce incentives and even promos
- Prioritize customer experience and satisfaction
- Build brand awareness and take care of customer loyalty
- Proactively look for brand advocates, not just influencers
- Empower your customers and encourage them to show their support
All of those may seem like a lot of work and planning, but it’s standard for an advocate marketing campaign’s success.
Examples of Advocate Marketing
Planning and accomplishing an advocate marketing campaign sounds simple at first glance, but not every brand successfully pulls it off. Here are examples of advocacy marketing campaigns brilliantly executed by brands:
In 2013, Starbucks, a Seattle-based multinational coffee chain, launched its very own “Tweet-A-Coffee” campaign that encourages its patrons to spontaneously send gifts to others. For this program, the brand allowed its customers to sync their Starbucks accounts with their personal Twitter accounts. They can then simply tweet @tweetacoffeee and tag the other Twitter user they want to gift, that person will then receive a digital gift card worth $5.
To redeem their free $5 gift card, customers can either print it, show it on their mobile phones, or load it onto their Starbucks mobile apps. Many articles were written about the campaign then, and it remains an example of how to take advantage of the latest technology and combine it with an excellent advocate program.
The Tweet-A-Coffee campaign was successful, it generates around $180,000 in sales during its brief run and attracted many new customers.
Source: Starbucks Stories & News
Since the program required customers to link their Starbucks accounts with their Twitter accounts, the company was able to gain crucial data on their customers. That information allowed them to better understand many customers, gaining invaluable knowledge they can use to optimize their future strategies and campaigns.
Apple, a renowned technology company, organized its “Shot on iPhone” challenge, advocating for its users to post their best iPhone-taken photographs on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.
The campaign piqued the interest of many users, not just photographers but also ordinary people without photography experience. After several weeks, the photos were evaluated by a panel of judges upon submission, and a select few were showcased by the company on its website, in retail stores, and even on billboards. The finalists hailed from different countries around the world — China, Thailand, India, Spain, Italy, Hungary, and the United States.
Shot on iPhone finalist, photo taken by Prajwal Chougule Photographer, @prajwal.photos
Many marketers consider the campaign as brilliant as it allowed the company to showcase the quality of its products and was able to gain millions of customer engagement. To this day, many people can still see user-generated content (UGC) by accessing the hashtag #ShotOniPhone on the aforementioned platforms.
Additional Reading: ‘How User-Generated Content Helps Businesses Thrive’
Electric automobile maker, Tesla combined its brand advocacy marketing strategy with a referral marketing strategy and launched its referral packages to attract new customers. Not only did their plan help spread positive brand awareness about their company, but it also boosted the confidence of their existing customers.
Tesla car owners gladly shared their experience with the brand, and if they were able to refer 10 new customers, they were then eligible to purchase its esteemed Model X SUV, exclusive only to them.
Over the years, the referral program has seen a few tweaks here and there but in the beginning, customers and the people they referred were able to get a $1,000 discount for new purchases.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Airbnb had one of the best advocate marketing programs, earning the top spot in YouGov BrandIndex’s advocate rankings in 2016. Depending on their country, users can invite a friend to sign up to the platform and receive $20 as travel credit while the new user will also get $40 in travel credit.
As expected, the program garnered attention from many customers and helped the brand gain a loyal following. Since they will also get a $20 credit, the company ensures they get repeat bookings from those customers.
In 2017, the company’s growth team explained that the success of their growth can be attributed to their constant efforts to boost awareness and optimize conversion. Their referral program has helped the San Francisco-based company generate millions in sales.
Another brand that fuses referral programs with advocate marketing is Uber, a ride-hailing technology giant. Back in its launch in 2009, the company ran a Refer-a-Friend program for a limited time where customers can share a referral code and a new referee must complete their first trip using that code. The $10 reward will automatically be added as credit to the referrer’s account.
Uber’s advocate marketing campaign helped it gain traction during its initial launch stages, enabling it to grow faster than its competitors then. After that, the ride-hailing company increased the stake for its customers, offering $20 and $30 credits to its dual-sided referral program.
In addition to its customer-facing advocate marketing strategy, the company also launched an enticing referral program for its drivers. The campaign offered rewards as high as $1,500 to their drivers who referred new Uber drivers, and those new drivers will also receive $500. They also took advantage of their competition, providing massive bonuses for Uber drivers that referred new drivers that previously drove for its rival, Lyft.
The strategy worked, helping Uber further improve its customer relationships and driver loyalty while spreading positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
Achieve 650% Better ROI with Advocate Marketing
According to SocialToaster, Word-of-Mouth or advocacy marketing efforts gets 54% better results. Compared to other forms of marketing, advocate marketing averages 650% ROI for every dollar spent, making it one of the most alluring campaigns for every marketer.
Remember, your business doesn’t need to spend millions of dollars for referral programs to execute an impactful advocate marketing campaign. Combining referral programs with advocate marketing strategies isn’t the only way to ensure its effectiveness, just look at companies like Apple — they relied on the quality of their cameras and UGC.
At the end of the day, you need to be confident with your product or service and give the best customer journey to improve the odds of your advocate marketing campaign’s success.
Provide your customers with an experience that they will never forget. Work with the best digital marketing companies on Visual Objects today.