Brand Advocacy Worth Five Times More Than Adverts?
Two new pieces of research have highlighted why businesses should be investing in brand advocacy as a means for driving sales. Tim Hoang reports.
A new study conducted by Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading global public relations firms, and Paul Marsden a leading researcher in brand advocacy and word of mouth marketing shows the increasing importance of brand advocacy in persuading consumers to purchase goods. The European Advocacy Study examined the effect brand advocacy - the act of consumers promoting the product to their peers - on influencing brand choice.
The main findings can be found below:
Acquiring Brand Loyalists with Advocacy
On average, it was consistently found that around one-third of brand users were acquired through brand advocacy. The cost of the product bore no relevance with brand advocacy equally as important when purchasing high priced goods as it was for lower priced goods.
Converting Browsers to Purchasers
The research revealed that brand advocacy is also highly effective at converting sales with 50 per cent of advocacy activities resulting in a purchase. This should be a wake call for marketing directors to invest in building a relationship with this group.
Creating ‘Active’ Advocates or Closing the Advocacy Gap
Existing customers of brands are already advocates of the brand, with four in 10 classifying themselves as so. However, it was also revealed that only two in 10 considered themselves ‘active’ advocates, suggesting that there is potential to convert more sales through influencing this set of people.
Surprising and Delighting Customers Fuels Brand Growth
One of the main methods in increasing brand advocacy among consumers is to both surprise and delight their customers. Research indicated that 70 per cent of consumers became brand advocates because of this.
According to Weber Shandwick, organisations should be investing heavily in this form of marketing. "Across Europe, consumers are on average five times more likely to be prompted to purchase a particular brand as a result of Brand Advocacy than they are by advertising," said Richard Moss, EVP European Brand Programmes at Weber Shandwick. "Many brands would likely benefit from allocating a proportion of their current advertising spends to initiatives directly designed to stimulate advocacy."
This is also supported by the Bazaarvoice survey, which revealed that organisations should not fear communicating with this group. The research conducted by the Keller Fay Group a marketing research and consulting company dedicated to word of mouth marketing showed that the vast majority of online reviewers (and therefore potential brand advocates) are overwhelmingly motivated by ‘goodwill and positive sentiment’.
It was also found that 90 per cent of respondents said they wrote reviews to help others make better buying decisions and more that 70 percent seek to help companies improve products.
Both sets of research highlight how in an increasingly online world, organisations should look to target those who can influence purchase decisions. While this has always been the case to some extent, the rise in the use of the Internet has meant that the key influencers have now changed from the traditional mass media, one-to-many, to groups that communicate to a more segmented smaller groups of people. Companies that can identify and build relationships with these individuals will be the most successful over the coming years.
The full paper from the Weber Shandwick/Paul Marsden study can be downloaded from Marsden’s site here (PDF).