Going through the painstaking process of identifying and onboarding your brand advocates means absolutely nothing if you can’t measure the impact those advocates have on your bottom line.
Imagine spending time and money on various campaigns only to find that they are barely contributing to your overall marketing goals? Worse yet, imagine finding yourself avoiding certain types of campaigns, only to find out that those exact campaigns are the ones that your brand is benefiting the most from.
A scary thought, right?
In a business setting, there’s nothing worse than running in circles. At the end of the day, everything you do is a little more than an exercise in futility unless you can’t show some results.
To get those results, you have to track every action an advocate takes online that’s linked to your advocacy program. Those metrics are then used to figure out what works and what doesn’t and help you direct your advocacy efforts toward campaigns that have the highest ROI.
In the context of advocacy marketing, those metrics also allow you to keep tabs on your advocates - the amount of time they spend bolstering your brand’s image online, campaigns they participate in, are they contributing or detracting, their shares/likes/retweets/referrals, and so on.
This information will be important when the time comes to reward their efforts.
But, I’m putting the cart before the horse. Before any rewarding (and, indeed, managing) can be done, we first have to gather some data. As Dr. Deming said: ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’.
Tracking and Analyzing Your Advocacy Marketing Campaigns
One of the key considerations for choosing an advocacy platform is how well it does reporting. Does it offer an overview of advocates and their actions? How about campaigns - is it easy to track views and interactions to figure out which ones are getting the most traction?
A good advocacy platform should be easy to use, intuitive, and offer a no-nonsense insight into the most important metrics. At the very least, you should be greeted with a dashboard showing the following information:
- Active campaigns and the number of views for each one
- Number of advocates which took an action (overall or for a specific campaign)
- Approximation of ROI for those actions
For example, Ambassify makes it easy to track everything that goes on on the platform itself. This includes active and past campaigns (views and interactions) and the number of advocates, including important data for each of them (campaigns they’ve interacted with in the past, current campaigns they are participating in, ROI for their actions, and so on).
After setting up your campaigns and assigning goals to them (including KPI’s which you will use to measure their effectiveness), the reporting tool gathers information from outside sources to provide you with a clear picture of how each of them is performing (Ambassify uses Zapier to easily integrate other marketing tools).
Imagine that the goal of one of your campaigns is to drive traffic to your recent blog post. You give your advocates a link (easily trackable using UTM codes) and ask them to share it with friends, via email, or on social media platforms. Once you log into your advocacy platform you should easily see exactly how many post visits you got from that particular campaign.
No matter how tedious or boring this all might seem to you, the way you track and collect your data can make or break your advocacy marketing efforts.
In the end, you will use that data to make informed decisions on the direction of your advocacy marketing.
After a couple of campaigns you will know that, for example, you should segment your Facebook and Twitter campaigns and target a younger demographic because younger people tend to be more active on social media platforms.
Or that you should target your review-collecting campaigns toward a different subset of your advocates because they are willing to spend a bit more time writing longer reviews.
These micro decisions will help you optimize your efforts, which will lead to increased ROI. That should be your number one goal with these analyses - finding that sweet spot where, at minimum cost, your advocates are having the biggest overall impact on your campaigns.
4 Ways To Reward Brand Advocacy (With Examples)
Wouldn’t it be great if all you needed to do was ask advocates to complete an action and watch them elbow each other to do it?
Of course it would. Unfortunately, that’s not how it generally works.
Most advocates will need a bit of an incentive to participate in your campaigns for any extended period of time. With so many other things going on in their lives, people tend to forget activities that don’t bring them a certain amount of fulfillment or, at least, entertainment.
Rewarding brand advocacy might be trickier than you think. In this case, motivators that will encourage people to participate fall into four different categories:
Let’s break them down and look at some examples for each one.
- Paying Your Advocates
Money is not on the top of this list because I feel it generates the best results. In fact, I think that it’s the weakest of motivators so I want to briefly mention it and move on.
Paying your advocates to perform certain actions is a cop out - an easy way of doing things that will eventually stop functioning. It’s not just money that falls into this category, it’s everything that easily translates into it - discounts, free samples, free access to service features, and so on. Monetary compensation is a short term fix that creates long term problems. It’s like saying: ‘Well, my product/service is really not that good, here’s $10 - go and write a nice review about it’. Ultimately, this cheapens your brand so I wholeheartedly recommend avoiding doing it.
That said, there’s one way you can monetarily compensate your advocates that might resonate with them (without making them addicted to freebies). You can sponsor a charity of their choice when a personal/community advocacy goal has been achieved. That way they will feel a sense of accomplishment, you will be bolstering your brand’s image, and the society as a whole will benefit.
- Give Advocates Exclusive Access
Non-tangible rewards work much better and granting advocates access to the inner workings of your company falls squarely into that category.
You can start with something small - giving them access to certain features or products ahead of roll-out time, or making sure they can reach the support desk without too long of a wait.
For example, Starbucks arranged a meeting between their CEO, Howard Schultz, and one of their star advocates. Needless to say, that was a much-coveted prize. You don’t have to go that far but perhaps you could arrange a meeting between your star advocates and your development/sales/marketing team, depending on what applies. Another good idea is to give advocates access to any conferences, meetups, or congresses you’re organizing in order to nurture good relationships between them and your employees.
- Recognize Their Hard Work
We’ve all worked for a boss that sometimes seemed not to appreciate the effort we’ve put into completing a task. Don’t make the same mistake - show your advocates that you’re keeping a close eye on what they’re doing and that you’re grateful for it. You can promote the most active ones into ‘senior advocates’, or send them branded lapel pins, stickers, and so on (low in value but customized).
A step up from that is holding an advocate-only event. For example, a gaming company could invite advocates to the first play-through of their latest development and a restaurant could host a dinner with samplings of their new menu.
Keep in mind that advocates come from all walks of life. Some of them are your customers but others are suppliers, business partners, or employees, and they might appreciate public recognition. Shine a spotlight on them occasionally (especially if they are content creators or influencers) and publish their work on your blog. They get the recognition (and a link) and you get free content - a win-win!
- Solicit Advocate Involvement
Involvement is a strong motivator - once your advocates see that they have a purpose that goes beyond simply completing monthly campaigns, they will become more invested. In a sense, they will take ownership of the program and will feel a certain pride in the fact that they are now an important cog in the machine.
For example, if you’re organizing an advocate-only event, make advocates members of the organization team - their ideas on the choice of venue, food, activities, and so on can be helpful.
On a smaller scale, you can do what forums and discussion boards have been doing for years - advance members so they gain status in the community. If you have an internal messaging board where advocates come together, make sure to encourage veterans to help newbies find their footing - advice, do’s and don’ts and so on. This will take some load off the employees managing the community, while at the same time giving a sense of purpose to senior advocates.
Happy Brand Advocates Are Motivated Brand Advocates
As with everything else in life - when you’re happy and feel appreciated, you’re willing to go that extra step.
Brand advocates are no different and that’s why it’s important to reward their actions. Not with money or discounts but with a sense of accomplishment, valued participation, and community.
The reward types I mentioned work best when combined so switch things up a bit occasionally because different people react to different motivators. Also, don’t make your campaigns and participation feel like too much work - investing a bit of effort is ok but if people feel like they’ve worked an eight-hour shift after interacting with you, they will expect to get paid for it (and so would you).
The ball is in your court now. Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve ever made a mistake of paying your advocates in cash or free samples? How did that play out - was it really a mistake or did it work long term?