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Part 4 in the Series: Visualize Your Advocacy Rate

Posted on June 30, 2022 , by Steve Bernstein
Part 4 in the Series: Visualize Your Advocacy Rate

Marketing Must Catch Up With the New Realities:
Leverage Marketing’s Win/Loss Framework to Accelerate Your Career

Part 4 in the Series: Visualize Your Advocacy Rate

The Right Metric Can Power The Right Outcomes

“I don’t need any more customer-advocates,” said no one ever.  In the old world Marketing would have to settle for a handful of case stories, references, and testimonials that quickly become worn-out. In this new world there’s the opportunity to create your advocate army.

So how are you measuring Advocacy Rate? And why isn’t this a C-level KPI?

We’ve covered a lot of ground as this is the fourth and final article in the series. Through the discussion of Net Revenue Retention (NRR), allocating resources to retention and expansion plays, and creating programmatic methods to hear your key customer-stakeholders, we’re now in a place to measure results.

The math is simple: We previously discussed the idea that there are almost always multiple stakeholders in any single account. 100 accounts should lead to ~600 contacts (pro tip:  ask your sales team how many people they tend to involve in sales cycles of various sizes to get actual “coverage” figures). Perhaps you send an NPS survey and you gain a 10% response rate, and out of those responses you find 20% of those are “promoters.”  That means out of 600 contacts you’ve identified 12 promoters. Ouch.

In this common example, your Advocacy Rate would be 2% (12/600).  Whoah… not a great number. But it is what it is. What could you do if you grew that rate to even just 10%? 

There are at least 2 possible motions to drive an improved Advocacy Rate:

  1. Improve the participation rate from your customers (here’s a good resource). This is low-hanging fruit. If you’re not achieving at least a 40% participation rate from your customers then something is wrong. This isn’t a “typical” marketing campaign with 5% open rates… this ‘feedback’ play tells your customers that your company will drive improvement for them directly, if they can help you with a quick identification of concerns and wins. Help me help you.  Who doesn’t want that? [Well, those that don’t care don’t care don’t want that, and that’s another signal entirely that we’ll need to cover in a separate article.]
  2. Improve the percentage of contacts that indicate they are highly likely to recommend you to their colleagues (if they were to be in a position to do so). Perhaps more challenging, but worth it: Imagine a prospect is at a conference lunch table. There are 2 people sitting with your prospect that have experience with your firm as a vendor. One of those 2 people is a promoter, one is a detractor. Who is this prospect more likely to listen to?

The Payoff

Account Teams would kill for insight like this. If the Account Team knew exactly who in an account are promoter-advocates and who are their detractors they would certainly leverage that information to drive the right plays in pursuit of their own NRR goals (retention + expansion).

Going further, good questionnaire design will pinpoint what works well for a given account and what needs to be addressed/improved. Account Teams are in an ideal position to capitalize on this information for the individual account, while your C-Suite would help prioritize the right “Prevention Priorities”, i.e. those improvement initiatives that should be optimally prioritized:

  • Are customers successfully exiting your onboarding experience?  Do end users find the product easy to use within the context of their job-to-be-done?  Do decision makers know where to recognize success/outcomes and perceive value? 
  • What is it worth to address these areas?  Would you be able to expand an account faster if the customer journey was smoother? Would Customer Acquisition Cost decline? Would Lifetime Value increase?  Would internal employee productivity improve from reduced rework, fewer course-corrections, or simpler templates?

And now that you have excellent information at the account-level, looking for recurring patterns within/across cohorts becomes easy. Rolling up data from like accounts will show you the ideal improvement opportunities, especially where you tie lifetime value to the concern. If your CEO understood that 5% of revenue is lost every year due to a particular process or product issue it’d be difficult to ignore.

Closing Summary:

  1. Company valuations are based on growth rates. The compounding impact of retention and expansion on growth, plus the increased profitability of farming over hunting, show that farming is the forgotten play. How are you helping your Account Teams increase NRR?
  2. Account Teams are tactical, by design. Marketing is programmatic, by design. Listening to customers addresses both, whether you think and execute at the account level or across a cohort. So engage your Account Teams just like you engage your new-Sales “hunting” teams. They want the leads to grow their commissions. This isn’t just expansion, but also for retention revenue.
  3. Don’t fake it. Make a commitment to your customers that you are listening. Then show them that you are. While the best way to turn a detractor into a promoter is by showing you are listening, the opposite is also true.  Your C-Suite might drive improvement opportunities for a cohort as account teams execute and improve at the account level with new services for best practices / consulting and training / education, expansion add-on modules that increase existing functionality, not to mention good-will through work-arounds and more.
  4. Engage your C-Suite: Show them the Advocacy Rate for your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) compared to other accounts… shouldn’t the ICP be well-engaged and healthy?  Do we have the right target markets, or is course-correction in order? What’s the strategic balance, i.e. What improvements will increase Advocacy Rate and is that a higher priority than developing more new features/capabilities?
  5. In B2B Marketing you must ACTIVATE your advocates. They love your company so much that they are willing to risk their reputation by advocating on your behalf. It’s YOUR job to put them to work. Make it easy and ask… they’ll provide more than references or testimonials: Their LinkedIn connections could be a wealth of referrals, as an example.