If you build it, they will come. That is, as long as it’s what they want. And it’s well built. And perfect, and fun, and exciting, and…well, you get the picture. In an ideal world, every advocacy marketing program would drive millions in earned media value and double-digit growth.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. Successful programs don’t just happen magically.
It takes strategy, foresight, and a key understanding of your audience to build a successful advocacy marketing program. Luckily for you, we’ve assisted hundreds of brands with their advocacy marketing efforts. Not to toot our own horn but, it’s safe to say that we know a little about what it takes to build a solid foundational strategy for your advocacy marketing efforts.
Six Questions to Guide Your Advocacy Marketing Program Strategy
Here are six key questions that, once answered, can help you build the perfect advocacy marketing program for your audience.
1) Who Is an Ideal Advocate for Your Brand?
Hint: Don’t say “everyone”.
As a starting point, you need to develop a clear understanding of your advocates. Look at your repeat buyers, your tried-and-true fans, the people that are already seeking out and gobbling up your content.
Notice anything similar about them?
Do they share a common gender or age range? Do they all like (or dislike) certain hobbies or activities? As patterns emerge between specific groups of people, so does the personification of your ideal advocates. These are the individuals that are going to not only join, but actively participate in your advocacy marketing program – provided (and this is important) the program resonates with them.
2) What Content Is Important To Your Newly Identified Advocates?
Once you identify who you envision joining your program, you next need to determine what motivates those individuals. What do they care about? What is important to them? How can you provide your advocates with value? The answer to these questions will help you formulate your content strategy – specifically, the topics of the content pieces you’ll be sharing with and through your advocates.
Some common questions to ask about your newly identified advocates:
- Do they want discounts or coupons?
- Would they prefer or value exclusive content?
- What type of media do they prefer to consume (blog posts, articles, videos)?
- Would they get behind a user-generated content initiative?
3) Who Else is Wooing Your Advocate?
You already know you have the best advocacy marketing program on the block, but that doesn’t mean other brands aren’t trying to woo your Superfans into their marketing initiatives.
Take a look at your competitors. Do they already have an established advocacy marketing programs? If they don’t, what are other ways that they might be empowering, organizing, and leveraging their brand advocates?
Explore if your competitors are:
- Running user-generated content campaigns
- Building exclusive communities
- Partnering with influencers
4) What Incentives Would Encourage Your Advocates To Operate At Peak Performance?
If you have advocates regularly sharing your content, promoting your brand and in general making you look like a rockstar, reward that behavior and encourage those advocates to keep sharing! You’re not buying actions, you’re rewarding good behavior amongst your fans.
Not all incentives are created equal. Some audiences want swag, others prefer exclusive content; each audience is different and understanding what motivates your audience to share can be the difference between a zero month and a hero month.
5) How Are You Going to Optimize Your Campaign Over Time?
In other words, what is your listening strategy going to be to improve your advocacy marketing program? No initial strategy is going to succeed with a “set it and forget it” mentality. The strongest programs are forged in the heat of advocacy battle.
Set yourself up for long term success from the beginning by laying out how you are going to approach refining your program. Your advocates are going to be providing you feedback in several ways, but typically feedback will come in two forms:
This is content your advocates send to you by way of surveys, focus groups, or other dialoguing methods. The SocialToaster platform makes it easy for your program manager to solicit for this kind of feedback using our built-in survey functionality.
Actions always speak louder than words, and just because your advocates SAY they want something changed, doesn’t mean they actually want you to change the status quo. Non-verbal feedback is given in the form of engagement metrics. For example, if you have certain post topics that consistently generate a high level of clicks and shares, you’ve found the content type that your audience is interested in.
Likewise, the opposite is true: if certain topics are falling flat, your audience is clearly telling you that they don’t want to receive this type of content.
6) What Does Success Look Like For Your Advocacy Marketing Program?
Take the time to define what success looks like for your program. Each program defines success differently, but in general advocacy marketing success tends to be tied to the following KPIs:
- Earned Media Value
- Sharing Rates
- Total Audience Size
- Total Program Reach
- By understanding where you want to go, you can determine what it takes from a resource standpoint to get there.
For example, if you want 10,000 fans in your program in the first six months, you know that you’ll need to support an aggressive recruitment strategy (complete with some recruitment spending).
Likewise, if you have your eyes on a cool mil in EMV, then you know that you’ll need to maximize the sharing power of your advocates through frequent and consistent content sharing.
Don’t build an advocacy marketing program blind. Put yourself in the shoes of your advocates and craft a program that your advocates can’t wait to join.