The way that we typically think about advocates is you have a bunch of different types of customers – you have your happy customers, your neutral customers, and your dissatisfied customers. They can all advocate. I'm going to share how best to engage with them.
In this article, I'll focus on:
- The modern approach to customer engagement
- Customer marketing vs. product marketing
- Our advocacy platform at Influitive
- How product marketing leverages advocates
- Making the rewards as unique as your customer
But first, a quick story
Before we get down to how you can use customer advocacy to boost your product marketing function, let me tell you a quick story.
We had a key customer who was in the middle of implementation and wanted to see some best-in-class work. We didn't want to just show any old demo; we wanted to go beyond our regular demo environment and show as many examples of customers as we possibly could, so we put out an ask to our advocate community via the software we use to communicate with customers.
We had a very tight deadline – the call was the next day. This request took me about two minutes to design and publish, and three hours later I had 32 logos say yes. Not only did they say, “Yes, you can use our logo,” but they were happy to let us demo their environments in real time. That was pretty cool.
The key takeaway for me is that an engaged advocate community allows you to rapidly recruit customers when you need them most, and that's awesome.
The modern approach to customer engagement
I'm going to talk a bit about our approach to customer engagement. It's not necessarily a 100% new approach, but it’s pretty novel in the post-sale world.
In most companies, customer marketing, customer experience, and customer success are all trying to talk to customers. Customer marketing is involved in lifecycle marketing and advocacy, customer experience is doing research and trying to get information on the product and the customer journey, and then customer success is all about getting people to adopt as quickly and successfully as possible.
All this requires engagement, right? Customers need to engage with you, your content, and your CSM. They need to lean in when you want them to – if they ignore you, how are they going to get better at using the software? We see engagement as the core goal of these different functions, and we approach engagement using a loop made up of these four steps:
- Targeting – Making sure that we're presenting content to the right people at the right time.
- Personalization – You can't give everybody the same message and positioning.
- Gamification – We use some sneaky psychological tricks to get people to engage at a higher rate and in a more habitual way.
- Recognition and rewards – I'll tell you a bit about what that looks like shortly.
So how does all this work? The first thing to understand is incentives. The best way to get our customers to engage with us is to present them with some sort of incentive.
Next, there are activities, which customers earn points, rewards, badges, and level progress for performing. We string these activities into journeys and present different people with different journeys, depending on where they are as a customer.
Someone who’s just gone through implementation will have a different journey from someone who’s been with us for five years. Each persona and group needs different content, and we cater to that as much as possible.
Now let’s get into how we do personalization. As an example, we have Alice – she's a data engineer, she works in engineering, and she uses a very specific product: Datakube Pro. But what else do we know about her?
Well, we know that she enjoys competition, she desires mastery, she seeks career advancement, and she loves to learn. These are things that we need to know when designing incentives for her.
Gamification is another core part of how we get our advocates involved. Marketers typically use gamification for engagement, adoption, and purchases, and game mechanics are a great way to propel these kinds of customer engagement.
You gave us a G2 review last month? That's a badge. You've given five reviews with G2? That's another badge. We’ve got levels and a leaderboard. Alice loves competition, so she's probably up somewhere near the top.
Finally, the points that customers earn on our engagement platform can be exchanged for rewards. Sometimes these are monetary rewards or gift cards; sometimes they’re experiences, books, or discounts. Whatever they like, you can offer it, so get creative.
So why is this important? Well, we're all driving towards purchase. That purchase gives you a customer, who hopefully becomes an enthusiast, then a loyal customer, and in the end, you get an evangelist for your product and your brand. And what does the evangelist do? Well, they lure more people into the funnel, creating a cycle.
You can fuel this cycle by adding an advocate – someone who will help move things through the sales cycle, crush objections, and convince people who are hard to convince to buy.
You can also add gamification, and you can use an advocate community, which is what we do. We drive customer engagement, we build community, and we try to enhance the customer experience as much as possible. This helps us deepen loyalty and boost advocacy.
Customer marketing vs. product marketing
I don't know about you, but I literally work alongside a customer marketer. We sit at adjacent desks. I talk to the customer marketer more than anyone else, other than maybe the director of product.
There are some things we partner on, like adoption, retention, expansion, and enablement.