B2B Account Marketing (Part 2): Advocacy – The Buyer’s Journey 21

A new eMarketer report shows B2B’s best and worst habits for retention and advocacy strategies in account marketing. Today’s episode is Part 2 of 2 where we breakdown and discuss the numbers.

The Advocacy Stage

The Advocacy stage of The Buyer’s Journey focuses on your former and current clients/customers advocating for your brand. This advocacy can come in many forms. These forms include reviews on Amazon and Google and word-of-mouth between friends and families. Positive comments on social media can also be particularly effective. The Advocacy stage also encapsulates influencer marketing. While an influencers do receive compensation for positive comments from your brand, it’s still positive advocacy.

Advocacy can also include negative comments. As we mentioned in our Consideration episode, bad reviews are fantastic opportunities to make a situation right. While you can’t solve every problem, even just acknowledgement of an issue can be enough to strengthen brand strength. It’s okay to have a few scars.

Loyalty Programs

Jillian Ryan on eMarketer has an excellent 33 page read on B2B customer growth marketing. Today we’re focusing on the advocacy stage. One strategy for both retention and advocacy that Ryan explains is loyalty programs. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Jennifer Stanley, partner at global consulting management firm McKinsey & Company, generally sees three different types of loyalty programs implemented at B2B companies with more traditional buying mechanisms—particularly those in manufacturing, industrial chemicals and machines, and travel and hospitality.

  • Earn and Burn: A public-facing tier system (different from the aforementioned internal rubric for customer value metrics and segmenting) that lets customers buy their way into higher customer categories, such as “gold” or “elite” status in order to get rewards, like discounts or points to be used toward a free product related to a business purchase.
  • Features and Benefits: Programs that offer customer accounts access to special treatment or experiences, usually after hitting a predetermined spend threshold. For example, once passing a certain dollar amount, companies can unlock benefits like free shipping, tickets to industry events or access to special training certificate programs.
  • Surprise and Delight: With these programs, B2B companies don’t publicly reveal how rewards or gifts are bestowed to customers, but internally, there is a plan and budget in place to deliver on these surprises to customers who aren’t expecting it. The loyalty drivers of this strategy are similar to Earn and Burn and Features and Benefits. The main difference is the surprise factor.

The team thought the idea of loyalty programs felt a bit odd for B2B. Of course, it makes sense for the company types listed above, they normally involve repeat shipments and buying of product. But from a traditional B2B perspective, Len mentioned that in lieu of a loyalty program offering a discount felt more straightforward. A direct discount would be less hoops to jump through. However, the team did acknowledge that it’s possible there’s a loyalty plan structure that could work for companies in services unlike those listed above, we just don’t know what that might look like.

Study Time

Finally, Ryan touches on the importance of more direct advocacy strategies such as case studies. According to the report, “more so than any other content type, customer case studies were used by 79% of US B2B marketing and sales professionals to research purchasing decisions, according to Q1 2018 research from DGR.” Helping move along 80% of the traffic to your site with a case study? Sounds pretty good to me. In fact, if you’d like to see some case study examples, why not check out ours.

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