The Advocacy Channel Ep. 2: Top Strategies for Building Customer Advocacy with Guest Rebecca Kapler
With rapidly changing customer expectations and outdated, oversaturated marketing channels, advocacy and customer marketing are more important than ever before.
This is why we invited Rebecca Kapler to join us as a special guest on the show. Rebecca is the Marketing Manager at Jobber - an award-winning business management software for small home service businesses - and has been paving the way with customer advocacy and community initiatives.
In this episode, host Will chats with Rebecca to discuss her top tips and insights on how to better build customer advocacy in your organization and create a team across all departments that is committed to customer success and building a strong community.
Learn how Rebecca leverages referral programs, personalized experiences, and automation to build strong community and advocacy through customer marketing.
Listen to the full podcast episode below, or keep reading to learn our favorite take-aways from the episode that will help elevate your customer advocacy strategy.
Prefer to listen on the go? The Advocacy Channel is available anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Tips for Building Customer Advocacy
Communicate with your customers!
When it comes to building customer advocacy and creating a referral-worthy product or service, it’s important to understand the needs of your customers so you can better engage them with relevant and desirable products and offerings.
While it’s tempting to make assumptions about your audience, no one knows your customers better than your customers! Rebecca highlights the importance of taking the time to actively communicate with your customers to eliminate the guesswork and be confident that your selected initiatives will make a difference. Even a quick 15 minute call with 3 or 5 of your customers can go a long way.
In the beginning, we were doing a lot of these advocacy programs for the first time. So with our referral program, for example, we had all of these unknowns - unknowns around data and unknowns around the how in terms of building the perfect solutions and understanding what our customer habits are.
Because we really had so many unknowns, we just went to our customers and set up interviews and surveys and that sort of thing, which helped us get over those unknowns.
I want to emphasize what you said there about asking the customer. There’s a number of people that I think are hesitant or intimidated, but customers have the answers about what customers are thinking because, well, they're the customer. And it's amazing to me how often that's not done.
Yes, 100%. That's a tactic I swear by, and I bring into all of my projects. As a marketer, you always have assumptions. So make sure you're checking those assumptions, verifying them, and thinking about the who, what, when, where, how, and why. And sometimes you just need to talk to five customers - call them up for 15 minutes, and get those questions answered. If you have more time, then great! You can fill out more comprehensive formal surveys, but sometimes it's just emailing three or five customers and asking them for some time, and it's really amazing how successful messaging has been received when it's messaging that's inspired by that research. Every time, project after project, it never fails.
Leverage your connections
While conversations around customer advocacy and customer marketing are quickly gaining traction, they are still relatively new topics in the marketing world. This means you may not find the step-by-step handbook on customer advocacy with years of data and proven research to back it up.
Rebecca notes the importance of reaching out to connections - both inside and outside your company - to gain different perspectives and ideas to help you.
Customer advocacy and customer marketing are still pretty new things, and they’re always changing and evolving with new tactics being discovered. Utilizing your industry connections is one thing that’s been a big help for me over the last few years. For example, I’m part of a customer marketer’s Slack channel.
I think oftentimes, advocacy can be a bit of a siloed role, and it's more spread out over multiple tactics and channels. And I think just knowing you're not alone, leveraging those connections, asking vendors and people across your team can really help to get different perspectives inside and outside of your organization.
It's interesting, because, as you were mentioning, the customer marketing and advocacy, marketing roles in many organizations are either completely siloed, or being run off the side of somebody's desk. And there isn't necessarily a team of 15 that you can bat ideas around with and go to the VP and the director and all those things - you're kind of just going it alone or doing it as part of your other marketing duties. So that's a great suggestion to try to build those connections. Sounds like a great strategy there.
Scale when you can
While there is certainly a time and place for personalized, non-scalable interactions with customers, Rebecca reminds us that too much manual work will prevent you from scaling effectively.
In the beginning, I think there was probably too much focus on the manual side of things like referral asks and review asks. Looking back, I would look at automating as much as you can, because it's going to save you time and it's going to be a better experience for your customers and your internal partners, like your sales and CS teams.
At the beginning, we focused on those really personalized interactions that can go a long way, which they can, but ultimately those things don't scale. So always be looking at where you can scale the most. That being said, I'm a big believer that a certain percentage of your job as a customer advocacy marketer should be non-scalable - it should be heavily personalized. That’s really great for relationship building and getting those firsthand insights. So, firm believer in a big mix of automated and manual, but automate as much as you can.
Rebecca adds that something you should make sure you keep personalized and manual is your 1:1 phone calls and interactions, because these are valuable opportunities for building relationships and promoting your referral programs and asking for reviews. These things take more time because you need to coordinate across multiple departments, but Rebecca found that referral and review asks from the success team seemed to be some of the most high-converting review asks - manual but successful!
Advice for 2022
With the new year less than two months (!) away, it’s time to start thinking about marketing strategy for 2022. We asked Rebecca what insights she has to help with planning for the new year and making it a successful one for both your brand and your customers.
She shared two valuable tips:
- Don’t underestimate the power of customer advocacy
- Customer advocacy is something everyone in your organization can play a role in
Tip 1: We talked a bit about it before, but it’s important to not underestimate the power of customer advocacy, and all the different results that can come from it. So one thing we got to eventually was identifying our advocates, or just people who have referred us, and then people who had similar behavior to those people, and also the non-advocates. We looked at data like their LTV, the ASP, their referral rate, their risk of churn and things like that, and were able to clearly paint a picture and understand our users much more, and get valuable feedback and insights from them.
Tip 2: And that leads me to my second point which is that customer advocacy is something everybody in your organization can (and should) play a role in. Your sales team, they're offering a referral-worthy experience by welcoming your referred customers. They can give them that white glove treatment, and your customer success team is also giving them that referral-worthy experience and can promote your program. Your product team is making a referral-worthy product, and your marketing team is selling that product. And the more people that buy into the potential of advocacy and how they can get involved, the more success you will see as a company.
Want to know more? To hear even more insights from Rebecca, check out the full episode anywhere you listen to podcasts. Special thanks to Rebecca Kapler for being on the show!
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