The essence of a strong advocate marketing strategy is identifying who your advocates are, motivating them, and providing them with the tools to review, refer, contribute, and connect with you. The goal, ultimately, is make your customers feel like an integral part of your brand.

If just one advocate is madly in love with your brand, and enthusiastically promotes your brand on your behalf, imagine what an entire community of brand advocates can accomplish! We recently wrote a post outlining five reasons to advocate for advocate marketing. Today we’ll examine the different ways that four brands have already leveraged advocate marketing to drive sales.

Advocacy with pictures
The traditional way to implement a marketing campaign limits you to your own ecosystem, where your campaign gets exposed only to those people who already know you and visit your stores, website and social media channels. You’re missing the huge number of people who haven’t come across your brand yet but may have something in common or even be friends with your current customers. That’s exactly where advocate marketing comes in.

With the amount of unique images being shared on social media, it’s easier than ever to leverage them with solutions such as Visual Commerce. One customer of ours, a large home goods retailer, firmly believes that visual imagery drives inspiration. That’s why the company launched their advocacy campaign by building a foundation on Pinterest. They set their Pinterest page with 1,500 product images, then hosted a Pinterest challenge encouraging advocates and users to create pinboards with 15 to 20 of their products for a chance to win a gift card.

The result? Tons of referral traffic to their website, which converted at a rate ten times higher than standard traffic. Even better, these shoppers spent an average of 10% more, resulting in direct sales worth $500 million in collective revenue through all their sites.

Advocacy with referrals
Recommendations from friends always takes precedence over traditional advertising because people are more likely to trust their friends and acquaintances over promotional messages. This is what makes referrals one of the most effective advocate marketing tools.

A British company footwear brand wanted to grow their customer base across the UK, Europe, and the United States. They knew that shoppers who purchased their shoes love them, and they sought to leverage that. The company implemented referrals accompanied by Social Login which ensured that participating was easy through any of their sites spread across continents. They rewarded £30 to their customers for every new referral. To raise the stakes, made the rewards stackable, so customers continued to earn with every new referral.

This led to improved engagement from returning customers, and big uplift in participation from the first-timers. Referral revenue skyrocketed by more than 550% across all sites; referrers converted a rate of 31% while new customers (those who came to the site via referral) converted at 32%.

Advocacy with reviews
Ratings and reviews showcase your customers’ real-life experiences with your product. Reviews add a layer of trust and authenticity to your products and messaging that is hard to achieve by other means.

To leverage the power of customer advocacy, you must first have a strong pool of advocates. Another customer of ours, a sales performance analytics company, ensured this by educating their advocates about their products with their branded advocate marketing program. All advocates were taken through a series of educational challenges, engaging them in a fun way before asking to recommend their services.

Customers were in the perfect position to grasp the first-hand experience of the product along with a good rapport with the company, and posted reviews when asked to. The advocate marketing program was a success, with 300 new advocates in 90 days, 228 reviews on third party review sites, 139 referrals and 31 customer references.

Advocacy with advocates
Advocates love your brand and are usually willing to express it. When you ask advocates to do one thing, they’ll typically do much more, and when it comes to contributing to a project where they will be publicly acknowledged, they will put everything into it.

Case in point is an audio and web conferencing company, which ran a variety of challenges in its loyalty program, asking their advocates to participate, create, contribute and share content. Specifically, they asked their advocates to answer three questions about webinar best practices. They let their advocates be the subject matter experts, collated their responses and published them in an eBook.

This approach gave a huge boost to their marketing efforts, resulting in 760 new leads, three new closed deals and an extra $60,000 in pipeline revenue.

This is a great idea on a few levels: first, it leverages its most important asset (customers) as unbiased experts. Who better to give advice on how to use a product than the people who are already using it? Second, it gives customers a critical sense of being valued and heard by the brand, having “skin the game” when it comes to what is important to customers.