Driving value through Customer Advocacy for your SaaS Business

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Your most satisfied customers won’t go around singing praises about you. It would be awesome if they did.

Wouldn’t it?

Yes, absolutely.

We are witnessing more and more buyer-controlled customer journeys. Buyers check for online reviews and peer recommendations before making a purchase. You can ensure such word-of-mouth publicity for your SaaS business even in these times of uncertainty. The idea is to create “customer advocates” for your brand.

Although Customer advocacy is not a cakewalk, it is one of the best ways to grow your business. A successful customer advocacy campaign turns loyal customers into your brand advocates. According to the research conducted by Harvard Business School, “a 12% increase in customer advocacy can bring 200% growth in revenue for companies.”

It makes absolute sense to invest in the advocacy program to generate revenue growth at a lower cost. Let’s try and understand a little more about customer advocacy.

What is a customer advocacy campaign? Why is it important?

The customer is your greatest asset. It’s the customer that has the power to fire your business. Hence, you should do everything that is required to make them satisfied. Consequently, they become your brand advocates. There are different names that are used interchangeably with customer advocacy campaigns. Account-based marketing, advocate marketing, etc. are some of them. The names might differ but the objectives do not.

A customer advocacy campaign is a process that is designed to turn your customers into brand advocates. This encourages your customers to recommend the product to other potential customers. You now know why it’s crucial for your business.

Who owns customer advocacy? Marketing or Customer Success (CS) department?

Customer advocacy programs, at their heart, are a marketing strategy. It’s because they’re good at converting leads into customers. The team is positioned to magnify messages from happy customers. since it engages in different communication channels.

However, I want to iterate here, that the CS department should co-own advocacy with marketing!

In your SaaS business, customer success managers (CSMs) are the people who are the closest to your customers. Usually, they are asked to focus on:

  • Onboarding process,
  • Monitoring Renewals,
  • Identifying Upsell opportunities,
  • Churn Management, and
  • team management

These are the 5 pillars of use cases in customer success. They’re rarely made to concentrate on the “advocacy” part. A SaaS company that is in the growth phase incentivizes CSMs on MRR, retention, etc. The same should be done based on customer advocacy as well!

The aim, of letting CS take ownership, is:-

  • To get more dollars from a single customer. It can be done through renewals, upsells, etc.
  • It is more effective to get from CS or the account management function than getting it from sales.
  • To Increase LTV
  • To reduce dollar acquisition cost.

Getting video testimonials, case studies, reviews (social proofs), referrals, etc. helps the marketing team to get more leads. People tend to check out the social proofs to know more about the business than coming on your website. More the number of advocates, the higher the number of leads for acquisition. A higher number of acquired customers means a large customer base for churning out advocates!

Yet the CS team does not get to do so because they’re busy onboarding and retaining, customers! Whereas they should be collaborating with the marketing team to upsell and expand customers. Using customer advocacy tools like Crowdvocate helps your CS team streamline the process.

How to build a customer advocacy campaign?

Since we’ve covered briefly customer advocacy’s importance, now is the time to understand how to launch a customer advocacy campaign. There are many dimensions that should be considered while building one.

Before the campaign

Develop a customer-centric attitude

A customer-first approach should begin from the top management. As the customer journey continues to be more customer-centric, SaaS companies- especially B2B, are making most of the customer advocacy programs. These progressive firms believe in developing a buyer-centric culture. The CEO of these companies are likely to be more aware of the leaky bucket dilemma, and thus, focus on customer satisfaction first.

Identifying customers advocates

It is obvious that you should maintain a good relationship with your customers all through their journey. Checking on them on the day of launching an advocacy campaign won’t work. Treat your customers as partners to your business by involving them in various processes as and when suitable. This ensures them to be happy with you and your brand.

Once this process is in place, identifying customer advocates won’t be tough. Some shy customers will be reluctant to promote your brand no matter how satisfied they are with your product. It’s true that you mustn’t micromanage potential customer advocates. Yet providing the right direction allows your advocates to streamline their excitement.

Know your campaign’s purpose

Before you start with the campaign, it’s better to reflect on your brand’s purpose. This helps the marketing team to define the objectives of the program, measures, and success criteria. Knowing exactly what, why, and how you want to build the campaign helps you to get better results. Though it’s not easy to articulate these dimensions, practicing this step will ensure a smooth implementation.

While Launching campaign

Create campaign

Brainstorm best-suited ideas for your advocacy campaign. Create a campaign that is customer-centric. It depends upon the nature of your business and product. This kind of campaign helps you to know your customer advocates better. Also, it brings potential customers closer to you.

Build a loyalty or a referral program

A customer who keeps coming back to your brand is a loyal customer. It’s easy to say but how do you find one among your customers? Use analytics. Quantitative analytics helps in identifying such customers. You can approach them directly or offer rewards or bonuses for promoting your brand. Many brands prefer to use these programs to identify their customer advocates.

Social Community helps

Building a community induces customer engagement. Like-minded people, who face similar issues, discuss and try finding solutions together. There are myriad ways to utilize your social media platforms to enhance engagement with your customers. Creating groups on Facebook can help your audience engage with peers. Building a feeling of ‘togetherness’ amongst customers, advocates, ‘fans’, promote:

  • A shared sense of belonging,
  • Shared goals, and
  • Shared responsibility.

Gather social proofs

It is important to get your case studies from a decision-maker always. NOT a user. For example, if a VP of CS says, “My CSMs were able to adopt the platform easily as it was intuitive.” that would be the best advocacy your brand will get. This social proof is vital to spread the message from your happy customers. This will encourage your advocates to recommend the product to potential customers.

Final thoughts

In today’s day and age, “hoping” that your customers will renew one day is unproductive! You need to work towards that goal from day one since the customer subscribes to your product. Customer advocacy helps you in this process.

Customer advocacy campaign that is not consistent and committed to its objectives dies! Ensure that these campaigns’ approach focuses on your advocates. Deliver an experience that makes them feel appreciated. Subsequently, they’ll be an advocate for your brand throughout their career.

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