According to ICAEW
Is your business making the most of its employees and customers to spread positive word-of-mouth? ICAEW’s Business Advice Service (BAS) offers some advice on adopting advocate marketing to make a bigger business impact.
Clive Lewis, ICAEW head of enterprise, explains: “At a time when small businesses need all the tools they can to be successful, advocate marketing offers a way to work with your employees and customers to retain customers, acquire new customers and drive sales.”
ICAEW top tips include:
The new word-of-mouth
Research shows that word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. Social media has had a transformational effect on word-of-mouth meaning businesses can raise their profile and reach new customers. Smart businesses are now looking at ways to improve their relationship with their employees and customers who are able to share brand messages on social media.
Identify your advocates
You may already have an idea of your ‘go-to’ list of most engaged employees or passionate customers to begin your advocate marketing programme, but there are a variety of ways to identify new advocates. Monitoring social media for positive mentions is one way (and there are tools to help you track this) and reviewing your CRM database is another way (you can break up your customers into segments such as ‘biggest spenders’ or ‘most loyal’). Another way to encourage positive advocacy is to use any user-generated content (UGC) as part of your content and social strategy, which advocates appreciate and encourages reciprocal behaviour.
Give your advocates something of value
ICAEW BAS’s advocate platform ‘Smarter Business Network’ is a programme of over 500 advocates where users can gain access to free, insightful business content every day. When advocates join the programme they are able to connect their social channels meaning that they can pick the stories they like every day and share them quickly and easily on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. For advocates it builds their profile as thought leaders, while for ICAEW BAS it raises brand awareness as each piece of content carries the ICAEW_BAS handle.
None of this activity will mean much to your CEO or board if it can’t be measured. ICAEW BAS for example adopted an advocate platform, which allows it to manage advocates, track behaviour, measure activity and report it back to the wider team. Using platforms such as these will help track endorsements such as RTs, shares, clicks etc. As well as a huge increase in brand awareness, data capture and reaching a new audience, our hard conversion of requests to work with ICAEW chartered accountants has improved significantly.
Clive adds: “Advocate marketing can work extremely well for businesses where employees are happy and they receive good feedback from customers. Who better to get the word out than your colleagues – the people who know your products and services inside out? And who better to spread positive news than your best customers or ‘fans’? These are both sets of people who are already speaking about you in good terms, but you can help them to say more.”