What is Customer Advocacy Marketing?

July 16, 2018
13 min
Avery Schrader
Founder & CEO of Modash.io
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Nielsen studies show that 90% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers (advocacy marketing) more than any other form of recommendation. Modash loves influencer marketing campaigns.

We believe that everyone is an influencer - including your customers. That is the core of advocacy marketing. 

What is advocacy marketing?

Advocacy marketing is the process of encouraging your users to share their experiences using your product. You solve the customer’s problem and channel their excitement and eagerness to share as a way to fuel your own marketing strategies. 

Some traditional examples of advocacy marketing are testimonials, ratings, and case studies.

Advocacy marketing is really all about getting your existing customers to speak about your product or service. For marketers, enabling users to spread positive information about our products is important. 

that’s why we yearn for glowing Facebook reviews, product testimonials to feature on our websites, and photos of our most impressive clients to show off to the world.

Marketing our products and services in this way validates us, builds trust, and shows that we really deliver on our promises.

How can I make it easier for my customers to become advocates?

You’re probably already taking some steps to help your users spread the word about your company. You create content you think is sharable, you enable Facebook page ratings, and you hope as hard as you can that word of mouth starts building momentum. 

But what more can you do? Here are a few of our favourite ways to jumpstart your advocacy marketing.

Remember to ask for advocacy

When you have an existing happy customer, they’re eager to help spread the word. However, it’s not always clear how to help them to do that.

One way is to just ask. Start by figuring out exactly who out there is excited enough about your product to share some kind words.

Send a few personalized emails to your best customers asking if they would be willing to provide a testimonial or share their story as a case study about how you’ve helped them. You can then use this content in many ways, from including it in an e-book to expanding it into a full-length case study or other lead magnet.

Make advocacy fun

How well do you know your customer? You might know what they like to buy, their career field, and even their age. But do you know how to make them laugh?

Getting your customer engaged and making their work just a little bit more fun can go a long way. Consider working to learn about your customers’ hobbies, sports, and other interests. Once you know this, you can sprinkle it throughout your content and even your product. This will help your customer connect with it and share it with others who are similar to them.

Enable advocate advertising

Enabling advocate advertising within your product, content, social media funnels, and any other materials are your best opportunity to rack up shares, testimonials, and recommendations. Integrating functions to share how successful your user has been using your software, providing opportunities to be featured in content, or encouraging user engagement in contests that show off your product are just a few ways to open the door of advocacy to your users.

Examples of great advocacy marketing

Shopify: content is king.

Sometimes encouraging advocacy just comes down to creating a level of value that people would feel guilty keeping to themselves. Shopify knows exactly how to do that.


Shopify understands its users and their problems very well. They leverage that knowledge to write articles that provide great solutions for their target audience. Many brands create content, but Shopify makes content that has “helpful” written all over it. Shopify also knows that by helping their shop owners succeed, more people will visit their site. So in their blog, they push first and foremost to educate and inform their customers.

This article by Desirae Odjick for example, highlighting the importance of and finding Instagram influencers that suit your brand and collaborating with them, teaches customers how to drive traffic to their Shopify stores. Customers then share this article in Shopify communities, on blogs, and in Facebook groups for e-commerce entrepreneurs, driving the Shopify brand throughout the e-commerce world.

How to emulate them:

Understand your customer well and create content they feel teaches them something meaningful. Solve a problem that they and their friends have, so they can feel like they’ve helped. But that’s not all. You have to invite your readers to share. In a Shopify blog post you can often find three to seven invitations to tweet a quote, share the article, or send it via email. 

Hacking personality and bringing value

CEOs are too busy to waste their time interacting with tens of thousands of customers every single day, right? Josh Fechter thinks otherwise.

BAMF (Badass Marketers and Founders) is a growth hacking agency out of LA. Through the power of the individual, BAMF’s CEO Josh Fechter has accumulated millions of views through his LinkedIn “broetry”, a terse, easy-to-read writing style that publishers like Forbes say has changed LinkedIn forever. By sharing powerful and relatable stories with his professional network on LinkedIn and creating incredible guides and e-books, Josh Fechter has grown a community of over 20,000 marketers on Facebook.

Most of these marketers knew about Josh before they ever heard of BAMF. By stamping his name on all the incredible content he makes, he has come to personify the entire BAMF brand.

How to emulate him:

A brand narrative is key to advocacy. Building one is no easy feat and should not be taken lightly. But BAMF has done it by attaching a human being to their brand. Become a relatable personality and not just a logo with a product.  BAMF also encourages their employees to engage similarly to Josh. Employees can then benefit from one another’s reach, and suddenly the company employs an army of influencers.

Why advocacy marketing works

Why social proof works:

Take the case of BAMF leveraging their brand to build advocates that share their content over and over again. This has allowed them to build a huge community of marketers and founders from all over the world. That is a prime example of social proof.

There are three main reasons why social proof drives consumer decision making:

Advocacy marketing and the Multiple Source Effect

This effect occurs because people are more likely to trust information that is delivered to them from multiple sources. For instance, one study showed that people who hear five positive book reviews from five unique voices favor the book more than those who were presented five reviews from the same voice.

It’s a simple process - the more people indicate that they trust your brand, the more people will think of your brand as trustworthy. To illustrate this, think about visiting a Facebook page for the first time. Most people are more likely to like a page that has a thousand likes versus one that has only ten. That’s because we value the opinion of others we believe are similar to us, even if we don’t know exactly who they are.

Advocacy marketing and the uncertainty factor

Uncertainty is why darkness, unfamiliar sounds in our homes, and strangers sometimes frighten us. The hippocampus and amygdala parts of the brain team up to warn us that things we don’t fully understand can be dangerous.

Advocacy marketing solves this. When evaluating a product, consumers who’ve had mixed experiences with it are more likely to seek out the opinions of others. If it’s clear that other people using the product love it, we’re likely to give it chance.

So before making a purchasing decision, users seek the input and advice of others. If I see not only three trustworthy people’s amazing testimonials but also 10,000 Facebook likes, I feel at ease. I know that someone else is certain about this product, so I should be too.

Customer advocacy marketing drives our desire to be similar

We tend to do things that the people around us do. It’s  a pretty safe way to navigate the world. People adopt the behaviours of others when given the green light to do so, especially when those people are our peers.

Think about laugh tracks. Have you ever caught yourself laughing at a show that wasn’t really that funny, just because you heard the audience laughing and went along with it? Audiences laugh longer and harder when presented with others who are laughing at the same joke. This is the same reason wait-staff will seed the tip jar before their shifts begin - customers tip more when people before them have tipped too.

How to measure your customer advocacy marketing ROI

Measuring the ROI of your advocacy marketing takes some time. If you’re eager to understand the numbers your advocacy marketing attempts are contributing, try some of the following:

  1. A/B test marketing materials with and without social proof such as testimonials. 
  2. Track conversions from advocacy-focused technology.
  3. Track direct referrals by understanding where your customers come from.
  4. Use social listening tools to find posts mentioning you and track their popularity.

The future of customer advocacy marketing

Modash is pushing to leverage our technology so you can turn your customers into influencers. By helping you find popular social media creators that already love your product, we introduce the next level of advocacy. These people are ready and eager to support your brands. Now it’s possible to find and activate them easily alongside the influencer campaigns you’re managing with Modash.

With the rise of banner blindness and the phenomenon of children calling pre-roll videos “skip ads,” it’s clear that marketing has to become more about a conversation and less about an interruption. Leveraging a combination of influencers and advocates is an effective way to manage the surge of ad-blocking software and ad-avoidance. To help you figure out whether influencer campaign are right for you, check out this infographic.

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