One of the classic questions I get is “how do I measure and show results from customer advocacy”?, some even add “and quick results” to the query 🚀. Although customer advocacy should be viewed as a growth strategy, it can be fine tuned to show results early on.
Customer Advocacy is a business initiative with real goals measurements and improvement paths. While each company should define specific key performance indicators (KPIs) and timeframes at get go, the focus of this article is on bottom-line measurements.
So, here’s how to show results, fast, and with $$$$ signs at the end 😊
Let’s begin with the jobs to be done – what do companies strive to achieve with customer advocacy? There may be various “jobs” here – customer loyalty, satisfaction, social amplification, brand awareness, engagement, customer feedback, user-based content, etc., and each may have KPIs as suggested above. But the real job to be done, the outcome, is business growth which equals sales growth. Personally, I believe advocacy is fundamental in sustainable growth, and the “job to be done” should be that. HubSpot founders outlined this vision amazingly well in their Inbound2018 keynotes on the importance of customer delight and growing better.
For many management teams, the simplified higher-logic of advocacy is revenue driven – that’s the key job to be done. In relation to customer advocacy, revenues are best embodied in the 3 R’s = referrals, references, reviews as well as upsell, churn reduction, and customer-social selling.
The 3 R’s and customer social selling are the easiest way to show quick results around, and the least capitalized. So let’s get practical on executing those tactics.
There are many forms of leveraging your customer-base / product users for revenue growth and lead generation, over 15 variations of social selling tactics. All have a clear tracking to show customers’ impact on lead conversion and deal closer. I picked out three customer-driven-sales examples that show results quickly and have straightforward measurements and ROI.
- Customer-led webinars
- Real-time reference
- Smart referrals
A. Customer-led Webinars
Webinars can generate tons of leads per session, in some cases way over 100, and have good overall engagement. When people register they become new lead, regardless of actual attendance. If they listen though – they turn into a high-score lead, which with the right follow-up can convert to a sales qualified lead (SQL). That’s why 73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders saywebinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads.
- First, ask your customers about webinar topics that resonate most to them as the pain your product solves or trending industry chatter that can be a great topic.
- Then identify and invite customer speakers to take part as webinar panelists/speakers.
- Go social, and have your customer community spread the word, after all this webinar is their baby 👶. Customer shared content has higher social reach and engagement.
- Get customers to register themselves and join the live discussion to facilitate a live industry meeting point.
Such webinars generate high registration and conversion rates. With customer advocacy, you can make customer-led webinars, and with advocacy automation, you can run them as a quarterly initiative without hassle. In any case, it’s a great method to show results within a 3-month time frame. Month 1: program launch. Month 2: build & launch the customer led webinar campaign. Month 3: run the webinar and show lead funnel and conversion.
B. Real-time References
Real-time references can dramatically increase prospect conversion in your website and have a direct impact on deal closer, faster! Up to 80% of professional purchasing agents use references before making any purchase from a new supplier, of them 67% ask for 2 or more references! As indicated by Barbara Thomas.
For SaaS companies, the right reference at the right time can literally close the deal. So how do you get those?
The first thing to understand is that references can come in many shapes & forms. The classic is a reference call, but you want to distribute those wisely to not overload your good customers. So, if you generate a variety of reference types – such as success stories, reviews, quotes by customers, and video stories – you can cater prospect requests for references with a structured and scalable manner. We have a methodology for what type of reference fits which stage in the buying-cycle.
Learn more about our best practice by clicking below
Secondly, you need to have a mechanism to acquire, update and share such references. There are several ways to do that, but 3 key recommendations would be to:
- Run it year-round (automation comes handy here) – you don’t want to start asking for references when a prospect is in buying /decision mode and it takes you 2 weeks to deliver, you’re jeopardizing the deal. Running requests year-round also creates a bigger reference database to work with.
- Give customers the ability to provide the type of reference they feel comfortable with, in the easiest way possible. Having an array of 200 references in all formats allows great flexibility whereas having 10 great on-call references makes the whole company fight for these limited resources every deal.
- And lastly – make it as real-time and frictionless as possible – don’t have every prospect overload the system. By making references accessible and sortable by industry, size, etc. – you enable prospects to advance in the buyer journey and can track them, to engage them when the time is right.
Here’s how our engine, the ReferenceBot®, works
We engage leads in our or your chatbot and provide real-time targeted lead capture while giving prospects access to references of their choice, up to the point where we make it the job of an SDR to qualify before providing a reference-call. It’s a process you can get up and running in a week!
C. Smart Referrals
Asking for referrals seems to be pretty straightforward. However good referrals are harder to generate and higher to convert. Therefore, investing thought in building a process is worthwhile. My recommendation is to build a structured ASK, clarify what’s in it for them (WIFM), and incentivize quality over quantity. Here are some best practices:
1. Structure the ask
- Let customers know how to create the referral. Ideally give them some choices of how to do it, such as social share and email.
- Let them know why it’s worthwhile for their network – what’s the benefit for their Colleagues, the potential customers they bring.
- Let them know what’s in it for them.
- Clarify the steps – quality over quantity – for example, every qualified lead is worth 4x versus a registered lead just 1x. Having an accumulated points mechanism is most efficient for this. To follow the above example – a registered lead is 50 points, a qualified one is worth 200, and at 500 points you reach a reward. Automation makes it effortless, but you could manage the math and rewards on excel (which can become painful😒).
Dropbox is a great example of a simple and top-notch referral program that was core to the company’s growth.
2. Make sure to update and acknowledge
A customer that gets notified that she/he brought in two new customers will feel confident to bring even more. A customer that’s notified she/he didn’t generate any might consider how to go about it differently next time or choose to opt-out, thus diluting operational overhead.
3. Don’t over do it
I recommend you ask for a referral up to once a quarter. Make it understood, as a policy, that you’re not overusing this ask. Ideally, time the ask to be trigger based – so different customers get the ask in different times based on their activity. Once a year you can run an all-class competition and gamify the effort.
A word about reward and acknowledgment. Most customers want to help if you’re a good vendor and the ask is reasonable –
Gartner found 96% of the customers would reference a vendor they like.
Having said that, you should acknowledge & reward their efforts. If you do so – you create a golden cycle and can keep asking within reason. If you don’t – your asks will be less and less receptive until they get generally ignored.
Acknowledgment means saying thank you, telling your community that Joe or Lisa contributed and you think they rock 🤘, and letting customers feel their effort is valued.
Rewards should be a token of appreciation, not the only/core driver, of any deed. A reward can be many things such as swag, a training discount, or a $5 Starbucks gift card for example – so their next coffee is on you!
Go to it and impact Q4
The best way to empower your team in Q4 is by creating such social selling actions, based on result driven customer advocacy! The Crowdvocate team would love to help and advise.
Our platform automates all the above and makes the process frictionless for customers, as well as hassle free for the vendor/you. Having said that, you can start with a policy doc, notification emails, and user activity & reward excel.