As customer marketing and advocacy initiatives gain more attention and discussion across industries, you might be wondering – What’s next in customer advocacy?
To help us dig into the past, present, and future of customer marketing, we’re thrilled to welcome two very special guests to Episode 13 of The Advocacy Channel. Deena and Liz are the founders of Captivate Collective, an advocacy agency that works with large companies like Adobe, Sage, and Amplitude to build customer advocacy programs and strategies. Their goal is to help companies maximize success by capturing customers with relevant and remarkable experiences, and activating them with meaningful opportunities.
Tune in as Deena, Liz, and host Will Fraser share advice on how to get started with your own advocacy program, how to evolve your strategy after you’ve launched your first program, and what’s next in customer advocacy. Hint: It’s about unlocking advocacy for your entire customer base!
Check out the full episode below, or keep reading for our favorite pieces of advice from the episode.
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What does a mature customer advocacy program look like?
(Listen from 11:00)
Customer advocacy programs are known to take time to get up and running and reach their potential. Deena and Liz watched as customer marketing has evolved and can differentiate programs that are at a high level of maturity.
When they look at program maturity, they use this set of criteria:
- Experience for the advocate (ie. how customers participate)
- Program execution (ie. technology, resources, budget)
- Business impact of the program (ie. desired outcomes of the program)
Beyond this model, Deena and Liz feel that where many programs can improve in terms of their maturity is by becoming more integrated into the business by way of data flow. In practice, this could mean integrating the advocacy program with your product itself, as well as with your tools like Marketo, Salesforce, or Hubspot to get a complete picture of the customer and use this data to improve their experience in the program.
“Businesses are siloed and data is all over the place. As programs mature, there is a healthy focus now on customer experience, and you can improve this when you use the linking of data to your advantage.” (15:45)
You want customers to feel like they are being treated as the same person whether they are having a support interaction, using your product, or engaging in your advocacy program. Creating a seamless jump between these areas means that information about the customer is used to influence every part of their journey.
Liz gives this example: “As a customer, when I have a support interaction and I happen to be someone who has done an amazing amount of advocacy for your program, I want that to be somehow acknowledged in my support interaction, instead of it being two completely siloed different experiences.” (17:50)
While this isn’t necessarily a simple thing to achieve, it’s a sign that an advocacy program has received plenty of buy-in from other levels and departments of the organization and is on the path to maximum success.
“Businesses are siloed and data is all over the place. As programs mature, there is a healthy focus now on customer experience, and you can improve this when you use the linking of data to your advantage.”
How can someone get buy-in from other departments to improve an advocacy program’s customer experience?
(Listen from 18:40)
How do you get buy-in from other departments in your company so you can share data and improve the customer experience within your advocacy program? Whether this means getting integration with Salesforce or truly making the program a part of your product, it can be difficult to get that priority and resources from multiple teams.
Deena and Liz explain that it all comes down to being aligned with the outcomes of your business. “Instead of trying to get in the queue for an integration because you have some random program with a random tool, if you’re not aligned to the top level of the business then it makes sense that you’ll need to wait and have other projects take priority over yours.” (19:16)
While there are many outcomes and metrics you could choose to track with your advocacy program, it’s critical to know what’s important to your organization and then decide what the outcomes should be. The vision of what you’re trying to do is key to getting support for your advocacy program.
“If it isn’t a story that can align with the key initiatives of the organization at that time, then that story is lost. It’s much better to make sure that your program is strategic because you are then strategically using that program to help grow the business. If you can show that you’re helping to grow the business through the ways that are important to leadership, then that’s how you get your buy-in and skip to the front of the line.” (20:40)
Bottom line: It pays off to build advocacy internally as well as with your customers.
How can someone elevate their customer advocacy strategy?
(Listen from 29:50)
While it’s natural to think of advocacy programs as a way to engage your happiest, most enthusiastic customers, there’s an extra element that can significantly elevate your efforts.
Deena and Liz refer to it as “Advocacy 2.0” – the deliberate effort to engage all users, including those who don’t see any additional engagement required aside from using your product in the way it was designed. These are not necessarily unhappy customers, but rather those who simply have no interest in joining an advocacy program. This doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to do acts of advocacy along their journey, but they need to be presented with the opportunity and not asked to navigate somewhere else.
Instead of trying to pull people over to your advocacy program where they perform actions and get rewarded, you can think of it as engaging your customers where they’re at while they use the product. It’s all about building processes into the customer journey that capitalize on these opportune moments.
“This is where the practice of customer advocacy is very immature still. Companies have advocacy siloed over in one place, but, as an example, no one wants to work with the support team on how to operationalize picking up a piece of advocacy after a really great support engagement.” (32:20)
But integrating advocacy into the entire customer journey is not a simple task. Deena and Liz suggest starting small and picking three moments in the customer journey, and trying to build processes that result in measurable activity, nurture, or outcomes for advocacy.
As our guests put it, customer advocacy is a strategic business practice, not a tool.
“customer advocacy is a strategic business practice, not a tool.”
What emerging trends are you seeing in customer advocacy?
(Listen from 40:00)
Having fully immersed themselves in the customer advocacy space, we wanted to see what Deena and Liz thought about the future of customer advocacy.
One particular initiative they are seeing big organizations start to lean into is the idea of “executive advocacy.” This is different from something like a customer advisory board. Rather, it’s taking the best practices of customer advocacy and applying them to an audience of executives who may not have always been the most enthusiastic about customer advocacy as a business strategy.
While programs focused on an executive audience may look different from gamified activities or the points and gift cards you award to the average consumer, executives are people too! They can also be interested, motivated, and activated if treated in the right way.
“It’s about understanding who the customer is at a really deep level and getting beyond superficial information that is already in the CRM or on their LinkedIn profile to really understand their wants, needs, and desires. It means motivating and nurturing them through different value-add activities, and activating them when the time is right.” (42:15)
Listen to the full episode for even more expert advice on leveling up your customer advocacy initiatives. Special thanks to Deena and Liz for being on the show!
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