Struggling to Turn Customers Into Advocates? Here’s 5 Reasons Why:

Your customers want to help you, they just don't know how.
Andrew Parker
15 Dec

Your customers want to help you, they just don't know how. Or maybe, the prospect of doing so isn't compelling enough.

Building a successful customer marketing program is simple. But there's a big difference between "simple" and "easy."

If you're trying to incorporate customer advocacy into your sales activities and marketing collateral but you aren't seeing the results you want, maybe it's time to revisit your approach.

Where should you start looking, though?

From what we've seen, these are the four main problems getting in the way of a successful advocacy program:

1. Messy, inconsiderate processes

If you agreed to help your friend move into their new apartment for a few hours, but then found out that they expected you to spend the majority of your day packing and moving boxes, would you be happy?

Probably not.

Would you be a repeat volunteer?

Under very few circumstances.

Your participants need a consistent, guided experience. Vouching for you requires an ongoing time investment, so it's unfair to make them hunt for relevant content or struggle with clunky submission processes.

From the customer's standpoint, every touchpoint should have zero friction.

  • A clearly defined role for them
  • Fast onboarding 
  • A centralized platform for all their activities and content
  • Scheduling and task management flexibility 
  • Automated notifications
  • Clear communication from your end
  • An easy process for contacting you directly

If your program is missing any of these elements, you'll never implement customer advocacy at scale.

2. Limited pool of advocates

Calling on the same customers again and again is a recipe for high burnout. If you ask the same people for too many favors, they'll go from feeling flattered to feeling exploited.

Not only that, but your "one-size-fits-all" approach won't capture the full spectrum of your customer base.

When building your customer advocacy program, start by segmenting your customers based on their use cases, satisfaction levels, and potential willingness to advocate for you (i.e., through NPS surveys). 

Don't limit yourself to execs, either. Identify your top customers and reach out to a diversity of individuals from each company you work with.

3. Zero gratification for customers involved

Pulling the best advocates for your program is really just the start of the battle. Each participant has motivations behind getting involved in your program:

  • Intrinsic motivators — for example, their name, company, and testimonial showing up on your landing page could reinforce their personal brand (this is especially important if your customer is in sales or marketing).
  • Extrinsic motivators like a percentage of contract value for a referral or a cool gift every time they complete a task

To make their experience fulfilling, you have to gamify the experience by giving tangible rewards proportional to their participation (a small cash reward for a review, for example) on an ongoing basis. But you also have to pinpoint what makes them tick. 

What do they value besides money? Do they want some kind of PR for openly endorsing your brand? Or does helping others simply make them feel good?

4. Minimal emphasis on your customers' impact

When someone tells you they appreciate something you do for them, how does that make you feel?

Valued. Recognized. Connected?

I bet.

It's the same with customer advocacy (or any social behavior, for that matter).

Good news is, positive reinforcement is quite simple. A little bit really does go a long way. And there's nothing worse you can do than say nothing.

Something like:

"Jessica, thanks again for taking the time to refer {Candidate Name}. It’s customers like you who make our team's day-to-day work worthwhile. We'll keep you posted on their status! 😄"

It's worth mentioning you should always ask your advocates' preferences before shouting them out. Some will appreciate public recognition, while others prefer an enthusiastic Slack message.

5. Advocate-prospect misalignment

Sometimes, creating strong advocates isn't the issue at all. It could be a problem with how your team uses their social proof to generate leads and close deals.

It's customers' experiences and feedback that ultimately sway purchase decisions. So the content your prospects see needs to resonate with them on a personal level. It can't just be a random list of quotes from customers.

To maximize the impact of all your advocates' efforts (thereby increasing their engagement in your program), you have to match their advocacy with the right positioning and audience targets.

Based on CRM data and use cases, Deeto's Smart Matching tools show sales reps which customers and content would resonate with their prospects, so every advocate-prospect connection is meaningful and impactful. See it for yourself.