For SaaS companies, brand advocates can be an invaluable resource. With fierce competition often pushing costs higher for acquiring and keeping customers, brand advocates are an excellent way to help keep these costs more manageable.
Brand advocates are consumers who use your product, love it and are willing to tell others. Their greatest value is being a source that promotes your product that is usually perceived as much more reliable than direct marketing from your company. In fact, a survey by BzzAgent found that advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a reliable source compared to direct marketing.
Further, brand advocates have a reach well beyond just their friends. They are actually three times more likely to share brand information with someone they don’t know.Combine this with the fact that word-of-mouth referrals generate more than two times the sales of paid advertising and you have an excellent reason to make identifying and empowering brand advocates a priority.
Ensuring you have a fantastic product and strong support is the most critical part in acquiring brand advocates. You have no hope of getting long-term users, let alone brand advocates, without the right product fit and a team dedicated to customer success. Evidently, building a great SaaS product requires constantly listening to your target customers and ensuring customer success.
Slack is a great example of a company that listens carefully to its users. Despite no big marketing campaigns, the communication platform has experienced huge user growth and the company is now valued at over $1 billion after just two years. Users clearly love Slack, largely due to the company’s commitment to constant reiteration based entirely on user feedback. They’ve even got a Twitter Wall of Love, full of customer praise.
Your most loyal users are typically already so satisfied with your product they may be motivated to talk about your solution and promote your business on their own initiative. Their motivation may be because they want to be seen as at the forefront of the latest technology trends or they may take satisfaction in connecting people with certain needs with great products that satisfy those needs. Either way, their initiative serves as free advertising for you.
But for those that need an extra little push to be your advocate, nurturing a solid relationship with your users is the other key. This means reaching out to your customers regularly and providing them with more value than they’re expecting. As you build relationships, further activate your users by asking them to do something that will matter to them. For example, Act-On, a marketing automation software vendor, asked their regular users to choose the music playlist for an upcoming user conference — a unique and fun reward. By activating your users and building up the amount of value they feel they have gotten from you, the more receptive they will be to evangelize your product.
The actual medium of advocacy can be a combination of what the user chooses and what you can suggest based on what would be most effective for your specific business. Make it easy for your advocates to talk about you by producing content they can share through social media or make it easy for them to provide testimonials, referrals and content contributions (i.e. blog posts).
Although advocates like helping people and getting free stuff, they are deeply motivated by recognition. You need to treat your most loyal customers right to keep them coming back. Recognition, rather than financial rewards, is most commonly seen as the best thanks you can offer. These include things like premium access to your product or service, a pre-launch peek, an invite to a special event or even a personalized thank-you note. These tactics go a long way towards establishing a solid sense of loyalty.
Brand advocacy is one of the most effective and inexpensive marketing tools out there. Because it can help bridge the acquisition and retention challenge of SaaS companies, learning how to create and empower your potential brand advocates should be an essential part of your digital marketing strategy.