B2B firms should focusing on driving advocacy via their existing customers earlier in the marketing process, according to research from Yesler that shows 77 per cent of tech buyers are privately recommending vendors to their peers.
The Seattle-based marketing firm released the results of its survey of more than 400 CIOs and similar decision-makers as part of a report called The 5A Framework for the Technology Customer Lifecycle. While the majority of advocacy activity happens “organically” through customer conversations at events, over the phone or direct messages on social media, the study noted that 40 per cent of tech buyers also participate in case studies and similar programs.
Yesler suggested that B2B marketers should not only assess their performance based on lead generation or similar metrics but the likelihood of a customer becoming an advocate. These influencers will prove far more effective than most traditional demand generation tactics, the authors said.
“If you’re not thinking about how the overall customer experience impacts your future marketing, and if you’re not already planning your content based on what a future advocate will engage or share, you’re missing one of the most essential and effective components of any B2B technology marketing strategy,” the report says, “and with it, the chance to grow your customer base, not just by acquiring new customers, but by fostering a relationship to convert customers into advocates.”
Some of the survey respondents’ feedback on what drives advocacy, such as the responsiveness and frequency of after-sale engagements from vendors, was not surprising. However nearly three quarters, or 73 per cent, said they are more likely to advocate for a vendor when that vendor is aware of other people advocating for a particular product.
The same 73 per cent also said vendors who can show data-driven return on investment (ROI) are more likely to be recommended to their peers.
While case studies, testimonials and positive mentions on social media have always been valuable to vendors, the Yesler report suggested those tend to come from advocates who have been influenced by staff they manage or competitive intelligence research. Those who advocate privately, on the other hand, tend to be more directly informed about their organization’s challenge and will be able to sign off an on purchase.
Beyond the survey, Yesler also interviewed tech buyers and quoted them anonymously in the report. A CTO identified only as “David,” for instance, said, “I do go to conferences, take part in some webinars—things like that—just to try to keep up with some of the new stuff coming out. The idea being: I may not need it today, but I may learn a little about something great.”
Once they gained traction in terms of advocacy, Yesler said the other “As” in its framework included Awareness, Assessment, Adoption and Attrition.