Seven experts’ tried-and-true tips for building customer advocacy


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Happy customers will often become powerful advocates. (Photo courtesy

When building any type of customer or user community, it’s important to figure out ways to not only attract new members, but inspire existing members to become more vocal advocates of your brand and products.

In my role at G2 Crowd, I see firsthand how many business technology companies – everything from social media management software to HR platforms to e-signature tools – use our platform to rally their customers and supporters in hopes of attracting new ones.

For many brands that have mature advocacy programs, however, we’re only one channel of a much larger strategy.

For this roundup, I interviewed seven customer and community experts to learn more about some of their most effective, must-try tactics that build both online and offline advocacy. Here are some of the tidbits they shared that you can apply to your own business – perhaps even today!


Jim Larrison, co-founder of Dynamic Signal:

“I always advise companies to look at the assets they have that are of value – and not necessarily things they pay for – and often those become the most valuable platforms for advocacy. Companies need to think about how to make their advocates look the best in situations where they have opportunities to amplify [themselves]. The thing you can’t change is that no one trusts the CEO. The thing you can change is that [your advocates are trusted].”

Ekaterina Walter, author of WSJ bestseller “Think Like Zuck” and “The Power of Visual Storytelling,” and Global Evangelist at Sprinklr:

“One of the most important things you can do regularly is connect with your advocates face-to-face, let them know that they are a part of a real community. Living in the digital age, it is easy to forget the importance of physical connection. There is nothing like the connection that happens when you sit down with the person, shake their hand, look them in the eye.”

Saul Colt, Chief Evangelist at Xero:

“I overinvest my own time in getting to know the people/customers I want to work with…I want to treat them well and make real connections, but also I want them to be themselves and speak from their heart when they are given the chance to represent Xero…[In addition,] not each person gets the same ask. When you know your customers and know their strengths you also know who would be right for a referral and who can be introduced to a media person. If you can’t answer that question…you are taking a chance with every ask.”

Tim Falls, VP of Community at Keen IO:

“SendGrid Ambassadors increase the community team’s reach and efficiency through varied contributions: they attend hackathons and other developer events as official SendGrid reps – alongside or in place of our full-time team members – with the intention of mentoring fellow developers and optimizing their experience at the event. They also provide technical support to devs and customers on Twitter, Stack Overflow, and other online developer forums, contribute to open source projects – API libraries, sample applications, hacks to improve team workflows, and more.

Additionally, the Ambassador program is a great training ground for potential future team members; more than one SG Ambassador eventually became a full-time team member.”

Dinesh Raju, Co-founder, CEO at ReferralCandy:

“I ask two things:

First, I ask advocates to act as a reference for new customers. This helps existing customers connect with peers in the industry…and it helps us build a community of customers.

Secondly, I ask if they would [want to be] featured in interviews and case studies which we showcase on the ReferralCandy blog and product website. This is great for our customers since they get exposure and [an SEO boost] from our links to their site. We also get to showcase how [we add] value to their brand.”

Erika Murdock Balbuena, Community Engagement Manager at Twilio:

“Your highest volume users and those that are vocal, positively or negatively, should be engaged with your team in some way. Beta testing is a great first step to solicit feedback from them. If you’re already doing that, the next step would be to create an advisory board or a customer advocacy board. [Having] some sort of group in place [with] a formal structure for feedback is useful. You benefit from their product feedback and they benefit by gaining greater insight into your product roadmap and being a part of the conversation. It also doesn’t hurt to throw some extra goodies their way like discounts, especially branded swag.”

Nicole Miller, Community Champion at Buffer:

“Lately we’ve sent out Tweets asking for customers who might be able to jump on a call to do some [new] customer development and research, and we’ve had a great response to that! It’s so awesome to have community members willing to give their time to chat with us about the product and their needs.”

Daniel Honigman
Daniel B. Honigman is the Marketing Manager at G2 Crowd, a business software review platform with more than 18,000 reviews. He cut his teeth as a journalist, and has been an award-winning marketer in both agency- and client-side roles. Follow him on Twitter at @danielhonigman.


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