With the holiday season upon us, now is not the time to sit on your marketing laurels. You’ll need every edge you can get to best your (brand’s) opponents in (commerce) battle. There are a finite number of consumer dollars being spent during the holidays, and it’s on your brand to capture as many of those greenbacks as possible. Your secret weapon: brand advocacy. A brand advocacy program can help push your customers through every step of your marketing funnel, driving sales and ensuring your brand is crowned King of the North… err… Q4!
What Exactly is A Sales Funnel Anyway?
Before we arm our army of advocates, let’s channel our inner Sun Tzu and talk strategy. The idea of the sales funnel has been around for a while. Essentially, it’s a visualization of the basic process your leads take on their way to becoming a paying customer.
Historically, most marketers considered the path to be a linear journey from start to finish. But, as the average consumer has grown in sophistication over time, so too has the marketing funnel. We now have funnels that resemble everything from pretzels to hourglasses.
Regardless of the shape of your funnel, everyone agrees on a few common phases they all share:
- Awareness Phase – Make people aware your brand exists.
- Consideration Phase – Potential customers looking for a solution to their problem need to feel comfortable with your brand as a potential solution.
- Purchase Phase – That sweet moment when your customer claims your product or service for themselves.
- Aftercare Phase – The steps your brand takes to continue the customer journey after they have purchased from you.
How Brand Advocacy Impacts Every Step of Your Sales Funnel
1) Building Customer Awareness
If there’s one thing all marketers can agree on, awareness is paramount to a successfully executed marketing strategy. As we’ve said before, no one is going to buy your product if they don’t know your product exists. If you have an Ecommerce store that gets zero traffic, you will have zero sales.
Awareness comes from visibility. The more that people see your brand, the more aware of your brand they become. With advocacy marketing, this means you can build awareness by having your advocates share your content to their social feeds.
Remember, currently most brands enjoy an organic reach of 1-2% on Facebook – marginal at best. Your advocates on the other hand, have a far greater organic reach, allowing their posts (of your content) to reach more people than your brand published posts. Quit boosting posts and start letting your advocates carry the bulk of the social sharing.
2) Build Trust During the Consideration Phase
On top of building awareness of your brand, your advocates also play a key role in building consumer trust.
Trust is one of the most important (and often overlooked) parts of the buyer’s journey. To pull the trigger, the consumer needs to feel some degree of confidence in your brand’s ability to solve their problem. The more expensive the purchase, the more trust is needed.
Advocacy marketing is a near-magic bullet when it comes to building consumer trust. Fun fact, consumers trust recommendations made by peers more than any other brand communication (including paid advertising and editorial pieces). 24% of consumers trust online ads, whereas an outstanding 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations.
When your advocates share your content, they also pass along their personal endorsement. They’re vouching that your content is valuable. Once a consumer feels your content is trustworthy, by extension your brand is trustworthy.
3) Closing the Sale
Think advocacy marketing is only about getting eyes on your content? Think again! Advocacy marketing is all about getting the sale.
Conversion rates for paid media benchmark at around 1% – 2%. Compare that to conversion rates from earned media (including advocacy marketing), that have an average conversion rate of 5% or higher. Even more important to your bottom line, recommendations from a trusted friend or family are 50x more likely to trigger a purchase when compared to other sources. 67% of consumers surveyed say they are likely to purchase from a brand that they see on their social feeds.
At SocialToaster, we believe those higher conversion rates are tied to the higher level of trust that comes with advocacy marketing. The more trust you’re able to build, the shorter the consideration phase, the more likely you make the sale.
4) Continue Building Your Customer Relationship
A customer is worth far more than the single sale you earn from them. For brands that understand the true value of a customer, the opportunities are endless. Think about how much it costs to get that first-time buyer. If you had to do that level of work for every sale, it’d be almost impossible to stay constantly in the black!
Advocacy marketing can help extend the lifetime value of your customer by:
- Targeting your customers with cross-sell or upsell offers and opportunities
- Building loyalty by sharing content that ensures your customer is getting the most they can out of your product
- Turn your customers into brand advocates themselves to help spread their new love of your brand with their fans and family (helping you grow your footprint)
Pro Tip: For Ecommerce stores, send an automated email to customers after they purchase that asks them to complete a survey on how much they love the product (CAN-SPAM compliant of course). For advocates that respond positively, send a follow-up email that pushes them into your advocacy marketing program.
Take Charge Of Advocate Sales With SocialToaster
Whatever the shape of your marketing funnel, whether it be pretzel, hourglass, or morning star, an advocacy program can help guide your customers from awareness to purchase and beyond. Take charge of your advocates, and use them to lead you to a glorious sales victory.