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Customer engagement · 

7 minutes

Cormac O'SullivanPiggy

Unlock the Power of Employee & Customer Advocacy Marketing

Enter the realm of advocacy marketing, an effective strategy that brands are harnessing to grow their reach, build brand awareness, and foster deeper customer relationships. But what exactly is advocacy marketing, and how can your business leverage it effectively?

What is Advocacy Marketing?

Advocacy marketing is a form of marketing where companies tap into their loyal customers or employees – those who are genuinely enthusiastic about their products or services – to spread positive word-of-mouth about the brand. This is often done organically, though some businesses also incentivize advocates with rewards like discounts, free products, or gift cards.

The Efficacy of Advocacy Marketing: The Statistics

Let's dig deeper into the numbers that showcase the profound impact of advocacy marketing:

  • Consumer Trust: A Nielsen study found that an astounding 92% of consumers trust recommendations from individuals they know over any other form of advertising. This means that your brand advocates can significantly influence their networks in favor of your brand.

  • Influence on Purchasing Decisions: According to a McKinsey report, word-of-mouth influences 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions. Advocacy marketing amplifies this powerful form of word-of-mouth.

  • Customer Lifetime Value: Advocacy marketing builds customer loyalty, and loyal customers are of more value to businesses. A study from Bain & Company shows that loyal customers have a 16% higher lifetime value compared to non-loyal customers.

Examples of Advocacy Marketing

Advocacy marketing can take various forms and can be seen in action in several successful campaigns. Here are a few examples:

Starbucks' #WhiteCupContest

Starbucks launched the #WhiteCupContest encouraging customers to decorate their Starbucks cup and share pictures on social media. The contest winner's design became a limited edition Starbucks cup. This encouraged customer participation and generated user-generated content that boosted brand visibility and engagement.

Lululemon's Ambassador Program

Lululemon's Ambassador Program identifies and partners with individuals in the community who embody their lifestyle and values. These ambassadors then share their experiences with Lululemon products on social media, essentially becoming brand advocates and spreading the brand's message organically.

Adobe's Creative Cloud Advocates

Adobe leverages influencers and content creators in its Creative Cloud Advocates program. These advocates create Adobe-branded content that demonstrates the capabilities of Adobe products, further enhancing the brand's credibility and reach.

Tesla's Referral Program

Tesla's Referral Program incentivizes existing customers to refer friends and family to purchase a Tesla. The advocates and their referrals both receive benefits, fostering a sense of community and loyalty while simultaneously boosting sales.

Coca-Cola's Share a Coke Campaign

Coca-Cola's Share a Coke campaign invited customers to find bottles with names that held a personal connection. This resulted in massive social media sharing as customers shared their personalized Coke bottles online, further promoting the brand.

Advocacy Marketing in the Buyer Funnel

Advocacy marketing plays a critical role throughout the buyer funnel. At the awareness stage, potential customers are likely to trust recommendations from brand advocates. As they move down the funnel, advocacy marketing can help in consideration and decision stages. It offers real-world experiences and testimonials that make customers feel trust and confidence in the brand.

Finally, at the post-purchase stage, successful advocacy marketing can transform satisfied customers into advocates, setting up the start of a new cycle.

Let's examine how advocacy marketing can influence potential customers at different stages of the buyer funnel:

Awareness Stage

Advocacy marketing introduces your brand to potential customers through word-of-mouth, which is considered more credible than traditional advertising. When existing customers advocate for your brand in their personal and social circles, they create awareness among individuals who might not have heard about your brand otherwise.

Consideration Stage

At this stage, potential customers are evaluating their options. Advocacy marketing can make your brand stand out in this crowded marketplace. When potential customers see others having positive experiences with your brand, they are more likely to consider your brand over competitors.

Decision Stage

This is the final phase where the prospect decides whether or not to make a purchase. Advocacy marketing can heavily influence this decision. Because customers trust personal recommendations over other forms of advertising, having strong brand advocates can significantly increase your conversion rates.

Strategies to Boost Advocacy Marketing

Implementing an effective advocacy marketing strategy involves more than just hoping that satisfied customers will spread the word about your brand. Here are some actionable strategies you can use to stimulate advocacy marketing:

1. Identify Potential Advocates

Not all customers will advocate for your brand. You need to identify those who are most likely to become your brand advocates. Use surveys to gauge customer satisfaction, analyze online reviews to spot enthusiastic customers, and pay attention to those actively engaging with your brand on social media.

2. Encourage User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool for advocacy marketing. UGC, like reviews, social media posts, or videos, is authentic and highly valued by customers. Encourage customers to share their experiences with your brand on their social platforms.

This not only generates more content about your brand but also spreads positive word-of-mouth. Make sure to showcase this UGC prominently, as GoPro showcases their brand experience with their user-submitted videos.

3. Incentivize Advocacy

While the best advocacy comes from genuine love for the brand, incentives can encourage more customers to participate in advocacy. Consider creating a rewards program that offers benefits like discounts, early access to products, or gift cards for referrals.

4. Leverage Social Media

With its vast user base and real-time engagement, social media is perfect for advocacy marketing. Create hashtags specific to your brand, run contests to encourage customers to share your content, and regularly showcase customer testimonials to increase your reach.

5. Create an Advocacy Program

Building a structured advocacy program gives clear direction to your advocacy efforts. Define clear objectives, assign roles for advocates, and have tracking mechanisms to measure the impact of advocacy. Programs like Microsoft's MVP program serve as great examples.

The relationship between customer experience and customer advocacy is profound and symbiotic. In essence, exceptional customer experiences foster advocacy, and advocates, in turn, enhance the overall customer experience.

How Customer Experience Fosters Advocacy

Providing an exceptional customer experience is one of the most effective ways to cultivate customer advocacy. When a customer has a positive interaction with your brand, they are more likely to recommend you to others. A study by American Express found that customers who have a great experience are 3 times more likely to recommend a brand than those who had a poor experience.

Every touchpoint, from the first interaction to post-purchase support, shapes the customer experience. Ensuring seamless and personalized experiences across these touchpoints can transform an ordinary customer into an ardent advocate.

How Advocacy Enhances Customer Experience

Customer advocates are invaluable assets to improving customer experience. They provide honest feedback, which can highlight areas for improvement in your product or service, marketing strategies, customer support, etc. This feedback can then be used to enhance the customer journey, making it more enjoyable and satisfying for both current and potential customers.

Moreover, advocates often offer peer-to-peer help, extending the reach of your customer support team. They answer questions, give advice, and share their experiences, improving the experience for others in the customer community.

In essence, customer advocacy and customer experience are two sides of the same coin, each feeding into and strengthening the other. By focusing on providing excellent customer experiences, you can create more advocates for your brand. And by leveraging these advocates, you can further enhance your customer experience, creating a virtuous cycle of growth and loyalty.

Employee Advocacy Marketing

Employees can be powerful advocates for your employer brand. They have intimate knowledge of your products or services and, if satisfied with their workplace, can offer authentic, compelling testimonials. Here are some ways to boost your employee advocacy marketing and develop employee advocates:

1. Foster a Positive Work Environment

The first step to successful employee advocacy is ensuring that your employees genuinely love working for your company. Prioritize a positive work environment, fair treatment, and opportunities for growth and development. Not only will this boost employee engagement and productivity, the environment itself will act as an employee advocacy tool.

2. Implement an Employee Advocacy Program

An official program, much like a customer advocacy program, can help structure your efforts. Consider implementing an employee advocacy platform that simplifies sharing and rewards employees for their efforts.

3. Train Employees on Social Media Best Practices

If you're encouraging employees to share about your brand on social networks, ensure they know how to do it effectively and appropriately. Provide training on best practices, and set clear guidelines on what is acceptable to share. Social selling is a real thing!

4. Encourage Employee-Generated Content

Employees can generate unique, insightful content about your brand. Encourage them to share their experiences, ideas, and projects, as long as it aligns with your company's message and brand image.

5. Acknowledge and Reward Employee Advocacy

Show your appreciation for employees who act as advocates. Public recognition or small rewards can go a long way in incentivizing continued advocacy.


Advocacy marketing, both from customers and employees, can be a game-changer for businesses. It capitalizes on the power of word-of-mouth, generating trust, authenticity, and substantial ROI. With a strategic approach, any brand can harness this powerful marketing strategy to amplify its reach, boost its reputation, and build stronger relationships with its customers and employees.

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