Five Ways to Turn Enthusiastic Customers into Marketers
Rob Fuggetta 270007HKCR firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  marketers brand_advocates socbiz rob_fuggetta influencer zuberance_answers seo zuberance customers advocates
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Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance and author, “Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into Marketers” (John H. Wiley & Sons, Inc.)
Your company has a powerful yet under-utilized marketing weapon: its highly-satisfied customers (AKA “Brand Advocates”).
Advocates are far more trusted and influential than any other source including ads, study after study has shown. Twice as many people (84 percent) trust “recommendations from people I know” vs. online banner ads (42 percent ), according to Nielsen’s annual Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages study. Word of mouth is the leading purchase influencer for nearly all consumer and business products and services.
Many companies invest heavily in wooing influencers like bloggers and experts. But studies show that companies should instead focus on the true influencers: customer Advocates. For example, 77 percent of consumer electronics buyers say they pay more attention to consumer reviews than experts’ reviews before purchasing CE products, according to a study by the PR firm Weber Shandwick.
Mobilizing Brand Advocates
An “Advocate marketing” program is a programmatic effort to engage and mobilize Advocates to spread positive word of mouth and help boost sales. Some of the benefits of Advocate marketing are:
Five Ways to Unleash Advocates
Here are five ways you can turn your highly-satisfied customers into marketers now:
1. Get Advocates to rate and review products and services. Intuit has generated thousands of positive reviews for its products on shopping sites, review sites and social channels by engaging Advocates. This is enabling Intuit to increase or maintain ratings and rankings on third-party sites plus reach millions of buyers with positive, trusted messages that drive sales. Intuit is also leveraging these reviews on its website and on landing pages to drive engagement and revenues.
2. Make it easy for Advocates to create stories about their experiences. NetApp invited customers to create stories about their experiences with the storage and data management company. David Brendlinger, a NetApp customer, created a headline for his story that even the most skilled copywriter would have admired: “I would pay for NetApp even if EMC was free.” Advocate-generated content like this is more credible and influential than brand-created content, including slick customer testimonials produced by brands. Most consumers (54 percent) say they do not trust pieces labeled "sponsored content" on online news websites, according to a recent report from Contently.
3. Leverage Advocates to generate leads. Parallels, a provider of desktop virtualization software, is turning Advocates into lead generators. When Advocates share their reviews and stories, Parallels inserts an offer along with the content. In the example below, Parallels generated a whopping 30 percent conversion rate, about 50X higher than standard conversion rates.
4. Make it easy for Advocates to answer prospects’ questions. One of the most innovative and compelling ways to leverage Advocates is by getting them to answer prospects’ questions. This is like a super-charged customer reference program. HomeAway, a vacation rental marketplace, used Zuberance’s patent-pending Zuberance Answers® application to enable HomeAway prospects to ask Advocates questions about their experiences using HomeAway’s online services. On average, each question got five answers. A stunning 16 percent of vacation home owners used the HomeAway service after getting answers from Advocates.
5. Leverage Advocates to help launch new products and services. TiVo, the creator of the DVR category, has enlisted Advocates to help spread the word about the new TiVo Roamio DVR. Advocates have created and published thousands of positive product reviews, referred tens of thousands of friends to TiVo, and answered prospects’ questions about Roamio. That’s a “whole lotta love” for Roamio.
For more information, contact Rob Fuggetta at email@example.com.