As a business, having customers that actively advocate for your brand can be incredibly valuable. Not only do they help to promote your products and services, but they can also act as a trusted source of information and feedback for potential customers.
However, in order for your customer advocacy efforts to be truly effective, it's important to not only generate impact-based outcomes, but also to measure them - and showcase the holistic value engaged customers bring to the business.
Relationship-Obtained Investment: The ROI of Customer Advocacy
While it’s tempting to rush towards generating business outcomes, customer advocacy methodology requires a more nuanced approach to getting there. The key is to focus on providing value to your customers first and foremost. This can include a long list of tried-and-true customer-centric plays such as offering exclusive opportunities, providing personalized content and support, or offering access to educational resources that lead to your customers deriving more value from their investments in your products and services. Customers who gain measurable benefits from your solution are inherently ‘stickier’. When you have a strategic focus on making your customers feel successful, heard and appreciated, you'll be more likely to foster a sense of loyalty and advocacy.
For those who need to hear this: customer advocacy is a long play. It takes time to understand your customers’ wants, needs and professional desires in a meaningful way. It takes time to build trusted relationships, and doing this at scale walks a fine line between formulaic and authentic. No one wants to feel groomed. By regularly engaging through email, social media, or other channels, and actively soliciting feedback and suggestions, you are telling your customers their opinions and successes matter. Be conversational. Be friendly. In short: be less corporate. Why? Because consumers have a choice. Customer advocacy reinforces that choice - through well-done, ongoing discovery and relationship nurturing activities. Position the advocacy function as a conduit that invites customers to step inside the business and experience it from a different perspective. In doing so, they'll be more likely to feel invested in your brand and to speak highly of it to others.
From Outcomes to Business Impact
There are outcomes for advocates, and outcomes for the business. Both are equally important. Once you’ve got your plays in place to deliver on your advocate’s needs, it’s time to shift towards executing strategies to deliver business outcomes. And, importantly, to measure and report the effectiveness of your efforts. This will allow you to understand what's working and what's not, and make adjustments as needed.
At Captivate, we approach Customer Advocacy with the same level of strategy and bottom-line accountability as any other business initiative. Just because it’s heavy on soft skills doesn’t mean it’s light on measurable impact. How you define that impact for your business requires internal research, relationships and alignment.
There are a number of ways to measure the outcomes of your customer advocacy efforts within the marketing, sales, product and customer success departments, including:
All too often, however, we see businesses focused on quantifying advocate activity rather than calculating and measuring real business impact. The number of case studies created. The number of reviews, references or referrals generated. These are fine starter metrics, but in 2023, your executive needs more to support your function.
Metrics that can be tied to acquisition, retention, growth, and business efficiency will move the needle for you internally. Instead of the number of case studies created or references used, measure the opportunity value where those case studies or references have been used by the sales organization, then analyze the win/loss ratio of deals where case studies or references are used versus not. Explore deal velocity when an advocate is involved in the deal versus not. Look at churn rates or advocate versus non-advocate accounts.
By regularly tracking and analyzing business impact metrics, you'll be able to gain a better understanding of the true value of your customer advocacy efforts, and be in a position to make data-driven decisions to improve your strategy - and, ideally, increase your budget. It takes money to make money. Even in customer advocacy.
Getting Good with Measuring the Value of Advocacy
In today's competitive market, having customers who actively advocate for your brand is more important than ever. By focusing on business impact metrics and regularly reporting the effectiveness of your efforts, you will ensure the customer advocacy function is viewed by the powers that be as a must-have strategic growth driver that deserves a seat at the table. It’s up to you to determine how to best position the fruits of customer engagement.
To learn more about the business impact of customer advocacy and how to discover and define the most meaningful metrics for your business, attend the upcoming virtual CAP Certification course in July. This three-part certification course will equip you with innovative and practical ideas to set your work apart from standard approaches to customer engagement in a rapidly evolving profession. CAP certifications give customer marketing & advocacy professionals an edge, with best practices and ideas for next gen advocacy programs. Learn more.