Why Customer Marketing & Advocacy Programs Struggle to Scale Effectively

This article was written by Mikhael Gustin – Go here to find him on Campus or on LinkedIn

“We’ve got this whole customer marketing & advocacy thing figured out” said very few Customer Marketing & Advocacy practitioners, ever. If you know them, I want to learn their ways.

Customer Marketing & Advocacy (or what we like to call CMA/CM&A) is an incredibly nuanced discipline, that is everchanging. And when it comes to any single program, it takes the form of a chameleon that changes and adapts to the needs of its environment (i.e. business goals, audience(s) the product targets, customer motivations, etc.).

When it comes to technology to support these practitioners, many of them spend their days in and out of spreadsheets, manually updating & tracking program activities, or if they’re lucky have a tool to partially help them with aspects of their customer marketing & advocacy duties, or in other cases, several tools loosely integrated to support those activities. Talk about a lack of flexibility to scale…

But the worst part? Today’s lack of solutions for CM&A professionals to choose from is a major contributor to a major business problem hiding in plain sight – advocacy leak. Every enthusiastic customer that a company neglects to effectively engage is a customer that could be involved in quality growth efforts such as referrals, testimonials, beta tests, customer reference calls, and SO much more.

This article discusses 4 of the top reasons I hear daily as to why CM&A professionals struggle to get to where they want to be (disclaimer: there are many more), ways to solve major CMA pain to scale effectively, and the impact of each solution.

4 CMA Pain Points

Making participation tough on the customer

Many customer advocacy methods are of a reactive nature. Reach out to what seems to be a happy customer when you need something from them, and hopefully, they will participate. Rinse & Repeat. You may find yourself asking: “Who do I reach out to”, “when might they be available to participate?”, “how/where should I be reaching them?”… list goes on. Recruiting new and activating existing advocates from the right level for the right opportunities in a unified manner can be challenging and isn’t fun when you’re unable to provide what the business needs.

Customer Advocate data lives in no single destination

Where can I find information about our current customer advocates? Perhaps it lives nowhere, somewhere, or in too many disparate places, but the result is all too common: your customer suffers because they get tapped on too much or without the context needed to make it a pleasant customer experience. On the other hand, your business is missing out on (hopefully) such a great army of customer advocates. Imagine life before CRM… I’d rather not.

The business is unable to easily leverage all these great advocates

Unfortunately for many companies, much of their hard work around advocacy goes to waste due to an inability to make their advocates (and associated activities & content) easily accessible to the business.

Little to no ability to measure impact and report metrics

You’re doing your best work, but what do the numbers have to say? You and I both know more investment in your program starts with proof that it’s actually influencing the bottom line & tangible business goals. Without it, your budget may stay stagnant and your ability to scale will suffer as well.

Why Business should care about a slowly scaling CMA program

If you’re like many other B2B Technology organizations, your existing customers hold the keys to the majority of your revenue. Within these accounts, your advocates (or those spreading positive buzz about your brand/services) have a tendency to be working behind the scenes (or with someone like your Customer Marketing Manager) to help support you with renewals, upsells, customer reference calls, referrals, testimonials, etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice to programmatically have more customers staying around, expanding their business with you, helping bring in more customers, and making your services look absolutely irresistible?

It’s absolutely possible… and starts with a well-oiled customer marketing & advocacy practice… but it won’t be easy.

Just think of it this way, CM&A could be your competitive edge in a highly commoditized space. If you don’t turn that customer into an advocate, your competitor could take the cake and eat it too, for years to come.

4 Ways to turn those CMA struggles to strategic scaling levers

It doesn’t matter the shape, size, or style of your advocacy program. Solve the four issues above, and there’s sure to be an acceleration of your program and its effect on things you care most about (i.e. new business, retention, customer content, etc.).

Making it easy for enthusiastic customers to opt into acts of advocacy, wherever & whenever convenient for them.

A high-touch, manual approach does have merit and absolutely should be worked into the mix, but can make it tough on your team, tough on your results, and sometimes tough on your customers depending on how they interact with your brand. Think about ways to automate touches to customers where & how you feel they may enjoy interacting with you; email, community, dedicated portal, chat, academy page, etc.

Base – Customer Led Growth empowers you to proactively grow your advocacy pool, and the activities associated, while always understanding your advocate’s preferences with your program by reaching them with personalized communications via the channels they prefer with advanced segmentation & targetting.

Single Source of Truth, for all!

Make it easy on your team and ensure everyone is on the same page with one single place for all data to live across all programs that tie into customer advocacy. Your customer should be the origination point for data, not each team interacting with the customer. Reduce friction & time to complete requests.

Base becomes the single system of record and middle layer for all your advocacy-related data (i.e. CRM, Community, Academy, Advocacy activity & consent), for all your stakeholders to easily access. For example – a specific request comes in from the business (i.e. an advocate who has used product A, in Geo B, with a VP-level title) for a certain opportunity. Run a report for the best options available to easily fulfill.

Integrate workflows where the business lives… the CRM.

Just as important as advocacy is, making advocacy available is just as important. Just like reaching your advocates where they are, with the right context, at the right time, is so important, the same goes with the business.

Base knows the importance of making all this advocacy data & amazing advocates themselves available to the business hence our strong integration to CRM’s such as Salesforce and Hubspot. Access & request customer references, customer content, or help your CMA team out by nominating new advocates directly from your CRM of choice or our web-based app (your choice).

Dashboards, Reports, and Analytics, Oh MY.

Track & share the metrics that are most important to yourself personally, the greater CMA team, and different departments & executives who benefit from the results of your program.

Base gives you access to out-of-the-box dashboards, reports, and analytics accessible through our web-based app and through the SFDC integration. Imagine effortlessly being able to present program growth, advocate engagement, revenue influence from content & references to deals, etc.

By deploying the four solutions above, companies can finally methodically tap into one of their most valuable assets at hand, their happy customers, as sources of revenue growth & brand recognition. More referrals. More upsells. More renewals. More customer references for new deals. More customer stories… More sounds nice.

Times might be tough, but don’t let that stunt the impact a fast-growing CMA program can have on your business.

Sounds too good to be true? DM me and we can work together to find ways for automation to help you scale that program faster than you can say the word ‘Base‘.