The dreaded New Year’s sales slump. Whether you’re a B2B or consumer-focused brand, most businesses have experienced it. People spend, spend, spend during Q4 (whether it’s for holiday gift giving or last-minute tax-reduction investments), leaving them overextended, tired, and broke when Q1 hits. You don’t have to let this little bump in the road ruin your 2019 outlook though. Here to save the day is advocacy marketing, helping you drive Q1 sales and power through post-holiday slump into a new year of revenue growth and increased profitability.
We’re updating this post for 2023 with additional tips, tricks, and best practices. So, keep reading below to learn how advocacy marketing can elevate your sales and jumpstart your 2023 revenue-driving efforts.
What’s Different About Advocacy Marketing?
You’re probably wondering, “What’s so great about advocacy marketing? What are the other marketing tactics missing?”
For one, advocacy marketing is different than your standard social media marketing. In an advocacy marketing program, your biggest fans are sharing your content to their personal social channels. This allows you to work around Facebook’s organic reach (killing) algorithm and increase visibility on your content without constantly boosting and promoting posts.
Social customers are paying customers. Customers that come to your brand from a social media site are four-times as likely to spend more than customers that convert through other mediums. If that doesn’t impress you then this might: brands achieve a 129% customer conversion rate when that first visit from a new customer comes from a social channel.
So how does advocacy marketing have such a powerful effect on consumers?
It’s not only about the marketing program with all the right colors, wording or imagery. It’s about utilizing the most important marketable factor you can have between you and your consumers: trust. 92% of people trust a product or service if the recommendation came from someone they know. Building trust is what makes advocacy marketing such a powerful tool.
What is an Advocate?
So, who are your advocates? Or, more importantly, what is an advocate?
Your advocates are your biggest fans! They’re the people who love to talk about you, share content about you, and create content on your behalf. These individuals feel a genuine connection to your brand and they want to share that connection with an average of 400 of their closest friends and family online. You might even be an advocate yourself and you didn’t even realize it. Any time you engage with a brand online, you’re effectively advocating for them.
So how can you use fan advocacy to your advantage to drive Q1 sales and avoid a slump in 2019?
5 Ways To Use Your Advocates To Drive Q1 Sales
1) Get Your Advocates Involved in Generating Content
You’ve probably spent your best efforts and last dollars creating incredible holiday marketing materials. Now that Q1 is here, the wells have run dry and you’re scrambling for some new ideas for effective mid-January campaigns.
Don’t freak out! With an advocacy marketing program you can tap into the content-creating might of your biggest fans!
93% of consumers say that user-generated content (UGC) is helpful in the purchasing decision process – which is important during a time when people are hesitant to spend money. What makes UGC so successful? It’s the fact that there’s so much transparency in the content. Most people don’t believe what brands and big companies say, but they do believe their friends, families, and favorite bloggers.
Pro Tip: Managing everything that comes along with user-generated content can take some serious people-power. Ditch the spreadsheets and opt for a third-party platform (like SocialToaster) precisely designed to make this task as simple as possible. SocialToaster is an award-winning platform that helps big and small brands alike manage their advocacy marketing programs so marketers can focus on creating engaging content, contests, and UGC opportunities.
2) Review Your Past Content Mix
A little self-reflection never hurt anyone. Use this downtime to review your past year’s content mix. What were your strengths? Weaknesses? What opportunities did you capitalize on or miss out on this year? What content should you create more of?
Google Analytics can tell you a lot, as can Facebook Insights, but no reflection period is complete without hearing some first-hand feedback from your fan base. Review your comments, shares, and likes to see what hit and what missed. If you’re utilizing an advocacy marketing program, you can use polls to ask your advocates what they content they enjoyed and what content they want to see more of in the new year. Use these insights to create content that not only resonates with your current fanbase but also speaks to future customers. Thankfully, the SocialToaster platform has built-in polling functionality to make it easy to poll and tally your advocates.
3) Don’t Let Great Content Die on the Shelf
Just because you published something last year doesn’t mean it doesn’t have worth this or next year! Comb through what you published this year for “evergreen” content, or content pieces that worked well this year and plan to re-share it 8-16 months from now.
Use your advocates to share (or re-share) evergreen content pieces with their social network, reminding them what value your evergreen content has. At the same time, consider allocating 5-10% of your Q1 marketing budget to sponsoring high-worth social content posts.
4) Empower Your Audience with Knowledge
Everyone loves to learn something new. You know, in case you’re ever on Jeopardy and need a random fact to win.
Did you know that the average quarterly customer churn rate for subscription services of physical goods is 10.6% and for digital service subscriptions is 8.2%? Many brands and consumers use the new year as an opportunity to take stock of their current bills and cancel services that no longer provide them value.
The most efficient way to reduce churn rate is to ensure your customers understand your product or service and find value in their subscription. Your fans are likely excited by news about your company, as well as industry news and hot new developments. Empower and support your customers by creating content that better educates them.
Then, share that content with your advocates and ask them to help spread that educational content to potential new customers within their social networks. This double-whammy of content consumption not only keeps your current customers educated, but it also helps to show off your community and customer support skills to potential customers.
5) Host an Event
But market it as a sale. Not every event needs to have a venue, caterer, and entertainment. For example, every year Victoria’s Secret hosts an event called “The Semi-Annual Sale Event”. There are no caterers. There are no DJs. There’s not even a singular place the event is happening – it happens across all store locations in the form of discounted product and freebie giveaways.
Events can be powerful revenue drivers. 98% of people are more likely to buy a product after attending an event activation? That’s because events offer individuals the opportunity to form an in-person connection with your brand, product or service. Use the downtime in people’s Q1 schedules to your advantage by hosting a fun event to bring them to your brick-and-mortar store or online. Then use your advocates to help promote the event to their friends and family.
6) Let Your Advocates Promote Deals
January is typically a down month for sales, but there are still plenty of deals to be had in the new year!
But how do you get people interested? Especially when most of them have spent all their holiday money on gifts and indulgences. Well, why not ask your advocates for help?
It’s likely that many of your advocates already love to share posts about sales or promotions on social media, which helps build trust with other consumers. But if you incentivize it just a little more by offering an exclusive discount code ONLY for your advocates – they may be even more motivated to spread the word and promote for you!
7) Drive Q1 Sales by Giving Back with Product Donations
Another great way to use your advocates to promote your brand in the new Q1 is to ask them to donate products to communities in need instead of using the product themselves (to keep up with their healthy New Year’s resolutions).
Some brands have started making it easy for their advocates to donate products or gift cards, which is a great opportunity to build trust with the general public (particularly during a time when people are looking for ways to give back). By encouraging your advocates to spread the word – you can get your products into the hands of those who may not be able to buy them on their own.
If you’re an eco-friendly brand, ask your advocates to donate any non-perishables that they have collected throughout the year. If you’re a bookstore, consider having them drop off any used books that they don’t need – and if you’re in another industry this could mean anything from clothing donations, toy drives, or even donations to a local charity of your choice.
8) Build Up Your Review Library to Drive Q1 Sales
A larger review library can do wonders for driving Q1 sales! Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you’re picking the right advocates for your brand before you .
To do this, you should start by simply asking some of your most loyal customers if they’d be interested in being involved with your marketing efforts. You can also find potential advocates through promotions or other contests that you hold on social media or on your website.
Once you’ve got a few advocates lined up, it’s time to start working with them! One exciting way to engage your advocates is to offer them incentives for leaving positive reviews — whether it’s free merchandise or discounts on their next purchase, these rewards can help incentivize advocacy and increase the number of positive reviews for your brand – just be sure any given incentives align with platform policies.
No matter what you decide to do, working with advocates can be a great way to get more positive reviews for your company. And, when done correctly, this strategy can help improve your brand’s reputation and get you more web traffic without breaking the bank!
Start Q1 Off with The Right Team
If you’re still worried about how you’re going to make Q1 a success, we’ve got you covered. SocialToaster can help you manage a successful advocacy marketing program that can help drive Q1 sales and engagement goals. Email or give us a call us at 855.62.TOAST today. We’ll get you set up with a free demo of the SocialToaster platform so you can start capitalizing on your most passionate customers before the holidays settle in.