The advocacy funnel is a topic related to referral marketing, a strategy designed to get a company's customers to recommend its products or services so that they become promoters or brand ambassadors. This is a new trend in digital marketing, carried out in social networks and e-commerce companies.
what is an ambassador?
A brand ambassador is any person who understands and actively engages with a brand. A person who, from a small account on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter, can be a good and effective ambassador for the company. He or she represents the organisation's image to the target audience. He or she embodies the company's identity, shares its values and is responsible for attracting potential customers, usually by sharing experiences with the company's products and/or services.
The positive impact of the brand ambassador's behaviour often increases the company's presence, which in turn increases sales. It also improves its positioning, gives it greater authority and transparency. A humanised brand begins to take shape, as brand ambassadors humanise the brand by becoming the face of the organisation, bringing the brand closer to consumers and allowing them to connect on a deeper emotional level.
A well-known brand ambassador or someone with a large following can help your organisation reach more potential customers, amplifying the company's impact and engagement on social media. Associating brands with familiar faces increases the appeal of advertising campaigns by generating brand memories in consumers' minds. It provides a memorable experience, which will serve to strengthen your brand. Recommendations from well-known or respected people increase consumer trust in the brand and its credibility, generating greater loyalty and familiarity with the products.
how is it different from an influencer?
When we talk about an influencer, we are referring to people with a large following that we can recruit or hire at any given time to help us promote our campaigns. If someone has more than 1000 followers on a social media platform, they are an influencer. They have the ability to influence people's decisions based on what their audience says about them. That's the essence of being an influencer. It's about your audience and the impact you have on them.
Unlike the brand ambassador, the influencer is not hired to represent a brand. The ambassador is part of the company's corporate image, positively generating increased brand awareness and sales. Ambassadors can work with influencers or non-influencers on a long-term basis in online or offline marketing campaigns.
One element to consider - for your future marketing campaigns - is smaller influencers or ambassadors who are gaining popularity with brands, as they feel more authentic to the audience than larger influencers. So they are worth considering in campaigns.
Advocacy marketing is fully linked to the work of the ambassador, as their task is to carry out recommendations. However, we cannot forget about the importance of the marketing funnel. The funnel is a customer-centric marketing approach that illustrates the stages of the customer journey from brand recognition to purchase.
what are the stages of the advocacy funnel?
- Awareness or growth: getting known - if customers or audiences don't know that your company or products exist, they can't buy. Companies need to promote themselves and build awareness before they can make sales. For this part of the process, it is very important to know which channels we need to have a presence on.
- Consideration: once customers understand the product, they will consider the offer. They will decide if your product is what they want or need, if the price is right and if they are ready to buy it. The ambassador also plays an important role at this stage, often converting undecided customers into active customers. After a period of consideration (which may vary depending on the product/service sold), the prospect becomes a customer in our third process.
- Testing, the sale is completed: after creating awareness and telling potential customers that they should buy from you, they finally take the step. The experience with your company begins.
- Qualification: customers will automatically decide how they feel about the product they just bought. If marketed intelligently, innovatively and effectively, your company can help shape the customer's buying response. If and only if your customers feel good about the product, they enter the fifth and final stage of the marketing funnel and become your company's ideal customer.
- Loyalty: The biggest ambition that businesses strive for is a high level of customer loyalty. One of the most important measures of success is to keep customers so happy that they not only buy from you (and buy again), but also refer more business from friends and family and become advocates of your product.
However, just because your customers have migrated through the funnel to become loyal customers does not mean they will stay there. Businesses must focus on building closer relationships with customers and creating a bond of familiarity with the most potential leads. Again, this is achieved with the advocacy marketing strategy and its star stowaway: the brand ambassador.
The most important task of the ambassador is to bring enough trust to their audience, so that customers feel familiar and loyal to the company. The only way to get this prospect, is to recruit ambassadors who share the same values as your company. People who demonstrate transparency and reliability because they are committed to you, who provide authoritative and valuable reviews.
The position of ambassadors allows them to target potential customers, an alternative to regular browsers, who do not always convert real customers. The advocacy funnel helps to visualise how leads gradually reach the top of the funnel. An optimised and effective marketing funnel will ensure that a higher percentage of prospects complete all stages of the funnel to make a purchase. By determining where the customer is currently in the funnel, you can use the right marketing strategy and increase your sales opportunities.
Advocacy marketing has its own rules, although ultimately it is much more relationship marketing. It requires a team of ambassadors to create meaningful and creative content to get the audience started down the funnel.