Advocacy , B2B Marketing , Customer Marketing , Customer-led Growth , Lifecycle Marketing

Customer Advocacy: When Will Marketers Discover Customers?

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The modern B2B marketing stack is overloaded with tools and metrics that promise to impact the funnel. Yet the marketing strategy proven again and again to be most impactful is often overlooked. Marketing teams have a tendency to focus on prospects and leads, while neglecting their existing customer marketing and customer advocacy. As an outcome, marketing activity, tools and budget are heavily focused on bringing in more leads, and how to acquire new customers. This race for MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) ignores the huge revenue opportunity of customer marketing strategy including customer-generated leads, upsells, churn reduction, and customer amplified branding. In other words, it’s easier and less costly to maintain an existing customer with good customer service and by building a strong customer relationship than it is to land a new customer. Even more important—a satisfied and engaged customer can be one of the most effective tools in securing new customers in the B2B world. 

Customer-centric marketing is critical

The impact of customer advocacy on buying decisions is dramatic, and in most cases, partially or entirely untapped. A recent study by Gartner found that 65% of the buying decision in B2B is impacted by word-of-mouth, through various types of customer advocacy. This means that things like press releases, website content, and webinars, which often use the majority of the marketing budget, impact only 35% of a prospect’s buying decision. Ironically, classic lead generation tools such as content marketing, SEO, paid ads, and even sales development reps (SDR’s) have less impact on the buying decision than customer references, online reviews, testimonials, case studies, referrals, and the overall customer advocacy.

That can be hard to believe, right? Well, check this out—HubSpot researched the sources of information its buyers rely on when making the purchase decision and found that on average the salesperson impact is only around 20% whereas customer referral is over 50%! Look at their chart. The data is loud and clear—if you aren’t using your customers as advocates effectively, your marketing plan is going to have an extremely limited impact.

Customer advocacy, not only cross-selling

Now, let’s consider the current customer communication practices common in most marketing plans and product marketing. Although digitized, many customer marketing practices are simply outdated. They are often a one-sided conversation, a way to let the customer know what’s going on with you, in your company, rather than taking an interest in how the customer is using or gaining value from your product or service. A classic customer marketing calendar may look something like this: in May we’ll have a customer event in the Bay area, in June we send them our quarterly newsletter, and in July we’ll run a customer-story campaign. Other customer marketing strategies focus solely on cross-selling, pushing new products without focusing on developing the customer relationship.

Notice the pattern? These activities are one-sided, standalone, and disconnected from any ongoing customer relationship framework. These tactics are overused and have ceased to be effective in engaging customers. The way I see it, they are old-school marketing.

Join the new world of customer marketing

The lack of a customer marketing focus by many marketers is a significant issue. When you pair it with the non-relational/non-interactive marketing for customers and consider the potential impact of customer advocacy, it becomes clear that customer marketing is broken and ripe for an update. 

It’s time to adopt a customer-centric approach across product and marketing teams that align with customer success. If you’re a marketer, it’s time to add a customer advocacy program to your marketing stack. If you’re a customer support leader or product manager, you can adopt a true ongoing bidirectional communication framework when marketing a product or service.

Book a Demo! See how Base automates customer marketing and advocacy.

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, especially with something new. That’s why we set out to create a customer relationship framework that keeps B2B customers interactively engaged with the brand in an ongoing digital relationship, throughout the customer journey. We wanted to couple customer relationship management with customer marketing to help companies turn their customers into customer advocates. We envisioned a platform that fosters customer delight and value (beyond the buzzwords) and leverages the voice of your customers for growth. 

So, we built Base – a SaaS platform that combines customer community and social media frameworks with advocacy and engagement automation and campaign targeting. We topped that with:

  • Engagement motivators
  • Action tracking and recognition 
  • Personalization and gamification 
  • Business triggers
  • Fun customer feedback loops

We’ve also taken an omnichannel approach, removing the friction of adopting new communication methods. With Base, it’s easy to initiate segmented discussions, create customer networking opportunities, get customer feedback with one click, generate reviews in third-party review sites, and help customers amplify your message on their social media networks. Even better, we made it easier to measure the impact of these powerful actions. 

Need a reference form for a mid-size financial customer in NY or the UK? No problem, we can get it to you with three clicks. Want a customer story, a quote, referrals, or a user-written blog? Base can help you nail these actions in a way that will keep your customers happy and drive the maximum value for your business. We also make it easy to support and engage customer advocates. And that translates into major business growth. 

Base is on a mission to reshape B2B customer marketing and engagement by providing a platform to seamlessly adapt a customer-centric mindset. It’s an end-to-end customer marketing platform based on interactions and experiences that nurture customer delight and strengthen brand advocacy. Because relationships matter, now more than ever. 

Your customers can be your strongest currency and fortify your brand. The choice is simple – old-school marketing or customer-driven growth. So, what’s stopping you from joining the revolution?!