As marketers, we know it’s kind of a big deal when our customers start sharing positive things about our brand, whether on social networks, blogs, review sites or any other digital channels (not to mention all the conversations that happen offline). And when you’ve got a lot on your to-do list, it’s easy to step back and let your advocates simply get on with it.

The problem with this approach is that word-of-mouth has so much more potential to impact your marketing when you invest in it. Marketers who are intentional about encouraging advocacy among the right customers will find it much more effective than those who simply “let it happen”.
 

Investing in advocacy

Investing in word-of-mouth marketing, then, means identifying your best advocates and building stronger relationships with them, by rewarding their behavior and making them feel valued. It means spotting customers who have the potential to be worthwhile advocates and helping them make the leap to be an active promoter of your brand.

And it means investing less in advocates who aren’t actually creating that much value — not because you don’t care, but because, well, your marketing budget needs to stretch a long way. There’s no point overspending on customers who won’t make up for it with the revenue they ultimately bring in.

Fortunately, with the right tools, it won’t take too much time or effort to step up your approach to word-of-mouth marketing — it just needs a little thought and planning.
 

Taking an intentional approach

So what does it look like to take a more active approach to advocacy marketing? The first step is knowing who your best advocates are — and not just in a general, persona-based sense. Rather, you need to know which individual people in your database are talking about your brand, engaging in a valuable way, and purchasing regularly.

Your best advocates should be VIPs — people who are valuable, influential and passionate about your brand or product. Start by analyzing your customer data to pick out people who meet these criteria. You’ll have a better idea of who to target and the chance to pick out trends or defining characteristics.

And that feeds into the next step: developing a plan for how you’ll engage those people in a targeted way. How will you reward them for their positive influence? What offers, perks or incentives will encourage them to keep sharing? And (perhaps, most importantly) how will you manage these relationships at scale?

Personalization and recognition are important here. Make customers feel that their ongoing support is noticed and appreciated, and you’ll encourage them to keep sharing their positive experiences of your brand.

So what might this look like in practice? Take a look at the short video below to see an example…

The truth is, if you’ve got a good product, advocacy will happen whether you invest in it or not. But by engaging with your best advocates — even in small ways — you can extend your reach and derive much more value from those relationships.

Want an in-depth look at how to get more value from word-of-mouth marketing? Download the ebook, Harnessing the Power of Influence, to learn how to identify and nurture your best advocates.