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Advocate marketing vs. influencer marketing for your brand strategy

23.05.2017
Advocate marketing vs. influencer marketing for your brand strategy
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Every business is made to sell goods or services to customers. Every business is aimed at satisfying customers’ needs to gain customer loyalty. Every business is interested in affecting, convincing, encouraging, engaging and converting more customers. So, there is no business, and no profit, without customers. Previously, we have offered you 5 steps to better communication with customers, because a company’s attention to its clients is treasured the same, or even more, than the high quality of products itself. Timely responses with recommendations or explanations influence the purchase decisions. So, today we continue explaining the value of customers and communication, but focus on communication between influencer agents, brand advocates and potential consumers. This can help enhance your brand reputation and increase sales.

Who do customers trust?

Nielsen conducted a global trust in advertising survey in different years and reported the percentage of respondents who completely or somewhat trust various forms of advertising. In all years, regions of the world and age groups, the first place was taken by “recommendations from people I know.” The second and third places went to “branded websites” and “consumer opinions posted online”, with only a minor difference between them.

The conclusion is that you may thoroughly design your ad message and show it on TV, on radio, in magazines, in newspapers, before movies, on e-mails, as online banners and so on and it will work, but people are more inclined to trust other consumers’ words rather than yours. So, if you want to inspire confidence in your products, resort to the credibility and experience of the people who your target audience knows well.

What are Advocate & Influencer marketing strategies about?

Natural word of mouth seems to be the most ancient way of sharing information and free advertising. This phenomenon appeared even before the notion “WOM (word-of-mouth) marketing” emerged. People have always liked to share their opinions and give advice. People used to frequently recommend things to their friends, relatives and acquaintances just because they cared about them and wished them well, not because of personal profit. That’s why these recommendation from disinterested, close people create such a high level of trust. This old truth worked, works and will continue to work. However, modern marketers have learned how to control this, and new marketing terms appeared.

Advocate marketing is focused on those customers who are already loyal. They are encouraged and incentivized to express and share their love of the company and products. Brand advocacy can be presented in a form of customer testimonials, references, product reviews and so on.

Influencer marketing is focused on influencers who are not necessarily current consumers. They can be celebrities, opinion leaders, trendsetters, critics, experts in a specific niche market, etc. Companies ask them for collaboration to get the access to their dedicated audience, for example, subscribers on Youtube or followers on Instagram. Brand influencers usually use creative approach to generate their content, which promotes specific brands.

Both marketing strategies go hand-in-hand with content marketing and social media marketing. The differences are that brand influencers are paid for their contribution and brand advocates are commonly volunteers, but could be rewarded somehow.

How to motivate your customers to advocate for you?

Firstly, complete a list of customers who can be helpful. To do this, you can pull data from your customer relationship management system. Prioritize those consumers who’ve expressed their positive feedback about your brand in the past. Also, you can do surveys or monitor social networks to find more current clients who are outside of your existing database. There are many free social media monitoring tools you can rely on to search for your happy customers’ posts and to be aware of what users actually think about your business over the internet.

Secondly, appeal to these customers via e-mail, social media messaging etc. and ask them to complete an act of brand advocacy for you. Received customer testimonials and reviews you can include in social media posts, ads, e-mail distribution, events and even on your product packages. However, don’t annoy customers by regularly asking the same people all the time to do things for you, otherwise you risk losing their loyalty. Beware of “advocate fatigue.”

Thirdly, show your appreciation for their efforts by sending them a sincere thank-you note, a gift card, a discount card or something else cool.

Keeping in constant contact with your audience is vital. Receiving negative feedback is obviously unpleasant, but try to respond to negative comments and testimonials anyway. Apologize, try to explain the situation, provide them with next steps and, of course, try to improve the customer experience for next time. Listen to your audience attentively, hear them out and show care to turn disappointed customers into happy ones, and even into brand advocates in the future.

How to encourage influencers to work for you?

94% of marketers found influencer marketing to be efficient in 2016, so their budgets are planned to double in 2017. If you want to use influencer marketing strategy for your business too, finding right influencers is a key first step. Look for people who are authoritative, powerful and persuasive, and who are used to presenting their content (blogposts, wall posts, videoblog, live streamings etc.) in a beautiful way that interests their vast audience, your potential clients. Brand influencers most often influence through different social media platforms, so look for them there. You may use social media monitoring tools and services or type search queries directly within the social media search boxes. Facebook and Instagram are cited as twice as significant as other social channels for influencer marketing programs. So, check them first.

When searching sector influencers, search users who are engaged in your niche market, who are knowledgeable in your sector and creative, or who speak and write a lot about the same products or services you offer and about your competitors and colleagues.

When searching brand influencers, search people who speak and write about your brand and your products, or share your content.

After finding the right influencers, contact them and try to make a deal. Let them feel like special, significant and valued partners, which they really are. Treat them right and encourage creation of any type of content. Agree on a time period and requirements for the content. Remember about #spon and #ad hashtags. Agree on a form of payment — sum of money, free giveaway, discount, or some kind of moral incentive like help in sharing and promoting the influencer’s social activity in return.

We hope this information was helpful for you, and you will use it to improve your brand recognition and brand awareness and to enlarge your audience.

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