The Brand Funnel: Amplifying Marketing through Advocacy and Advocates
The brand funnel serves as a fundamental framework to map out the customer journey from initial awareness to loyal advocacy. Recently, this concept has evolved to incorporate dynamic elements like employee advocacy, brand advocacy, and brand ambassadors, and in this article, we’re going to take a look at how these contemporary concepts are reshaping the traditional brand funnel.
The brand funnel is a model that delineates the stages through which a customer interacts with a brand, typically encompassing awareness, interest, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. It's a strategic tool marketers use to tailor messages and campaigns at each stage, guiding the customer through a journey that culminates in not just a purchase but in loyal advocacy.
Integrating employee advocacy in the brand funnel
Employee advocacy refers to the promotion of a company by its employees, who share their positive work experiences and support for the brand's products or services. This form of organic promotion is particularly impactful in the initial stages of the brand funnel: awareness and interest.
When employees share authentic content about their workplace, it lends credibility and fosters trust among their personal networks, potentially reaching audiences that traditional marketing might not. In the awareness stage, employee-generated content can introduce new audiences to the brand in a relatable and trustworthy manner. As the customer progresses to the interest stage, stories and testimonials from employees can offer a deeper, more genuine insight into the brand, its values, and its offerings, nudging potential customers further down the funnel.
The role of brand advocacy and ambassadors in the brand funnel
Brand advocacy transcends regular customer loyalty, turning satisfied customers into active promoters of the brand. Incorporating brand advocates and ambassadors into the brand funnel strategy — especially in the consideration and conversion stages — can be a game-changer.
Brand advocates, often regular customers or employees who passionately support the brand, can influence others through word-of-mouth, reviews, and social media posts. Their genuine endorsements are persuasive and credible because they come from a place of honesty and commitment rather than self-promotion, leveraging the power of social proof to sway potential customers' opinions and decisions.
They can effectively address the larger audience (because their network is intrinsically larger and their reach is not impeded by LinkedIn’s algorithm) in the consideration stage with tailored messages, leveraging their influence and experience as thought leaders and experts in their roles to convert interest into actual sales. Their role is crucial in not only driving conversions but also in building long-term brand loyalty.
Crafting a cohesive strategy for your brand funnel
To effectively harness the power of employee and brand advocacy within the brand funnel, a coherent and well-planned strategy is essential. Thai includes:
- Alignment with brand values. Advocacy efforts must align with the core values and messaging of the brand to ensure consistency and authenticity across all stages of the brand funnel. It’s important that advocates are aligned with the brand values from the start but that they are also encouraged to be authentic and genuine online. The combination of both is the key to the success of any brand advocacy program and brand funnel strategy.
- Segmented and targeted communication. Tailoring the content and messaging for different audience segments at each stage of the brand funnel is crucial for maximum impact. Speaking to the right audience in the right way is very important for any business, and if you’re focusing on your brand funnel strategy, you have to nail this early on to start seeing notable results.
- Empowering advocates. Providing employees and brand ambassadors with the necessary tools, content, and motivation to advocate for the brand effectively. For example, giving them a centralized tool they can come back to for available and approved content as well as a formalized feedback loop, collaborative campaigns, etc.
- Monitoring and measuring impact. Regularly assess the impact of advocacy efforts on funnel progression and make data-driven adjustments to the strategy. Measuring attribution and ROI is crucial, and no advocacy program is complete without a tool that allows you to keep track of those and the impact advocacy is having on your brand’s funnel.
How social media influences your brand funnel
Social media and online platforms amplify advocacy efforts across the brand funnel. Encouraging employees and ambassadors to share their experiences and endorsements on these platforms can significantly expand the brand’s reach and influence.
Implementing an advocacy-integrated brand funnel strategy is not without its challenges: maintaining consistency, managing diverse voices, and measuring the direct impact on sales can be complex, especially when you’re dealing with people who have different backgrounds, expertise, levels of confidence and skills when it comes to social media, advocacy, being a voice for the brand, and sharing information and opinions publicly as a spokesperson of their workplace.
However, with a focused approach and continuous optimization, these challenges can be turned into opportunities for growth and engagement. As mentioned above, ambassadors can massively impact your brand funnel, and involving them in it, making them an integral part of it and thus investing in everything that they need — training program, for example — will benefit your business brand funnel now and in the long run.
It all represents a significant shift in the marketing landscape, but by leveraging these human elements, companies can transform their funnel into a more dynamic, authentic, and effective customer journey.