Why the Future of Influencer Marketing is Really Advocacy Marketing

The future of influencer marketing is advocacy marketing

In the past few years, influencer marketing has made quite a splash in the ever-changing marketing pond. It has quickly become a leading factor in the competitive marketing field, as it was valued at a record $16.4 billion in 2022. 

As this trend continues upward, about 1 in 4 marketers have turned to influencers to see if they are worth the hype. What’s become clear is that simply paying an influencer to promote a brand may not be the most effective approach. It might appear that way from the outside, but there’s much more to the story.

The concept of advocacy marketing has emerged as a more authentic and impactful alternative, though there’s much to be said about it as well. We will explore what each strategy has to offer, some drawbacks, and a few actionable insights you can take with you as you continue on your marketing journey. 😎

Let’s get right into it.👇

Finding Common Ground

As with any marketing campaign, the goals are generally one of two things: drive customer awareness or action. Influencer and advocacy marketing are no exception here. 

Of course, there are many different strategies and specific goals set for each new marketing campaign. With these two approaches though, we can pinpoint a few areas of overlap. Both approaches aim to:

  • Expand audience reach
  • Grow overall brand awareness
  • Positively impact sales
  • Improve customer engagement

Now that we know the commonalities, let’s dig a little deeper into the nuances that make up the two—starting with influencer marketing.

Influencer Marketing

When you think of influencer marketing, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? 🤔

An Instagram model with a million followers posting a snazzy picture using a company’s product? That’s what most people would think. But it’s only a small piece of the story. The truth is, an influencer can be almost anyone. It doesn’t have to be a celebrity or someone with millions of followers—especially in smaller B2B niches. 

The cool thing about influencers is each of them has their own targeted following. This means you can find influencers that align with your brand. Or maybe branch out to other audiences, just like any other advertising campaign. Though the difference is (generally speaking) that influencer marketing will be more cost-effective than traditional advertising—especially if you are trying to hit a specific target audience.

It's not all rainbows and unicorns, though. 🦄

Depending on how carefully you vet the influencer you choose to work with, results can vary greatly. Some influencers have an unengaged audience—some even have a ton of fake followers—meaning you could be paying a lot for shotty results. 

The good news is your ROI can easily be tracked by using affiliate links, so you know exactly how well (or poor) an influencer campaign performs for you. 

Advocacy Marketing

The main advantage of advocacy marketing is…

Peer-to-peer promotion is free. 

Once you set your customers in motion, the cycle continues without having to pay a monthly retainer. So just how powerful is this word-of-mouth marketing cycle? On average, advocacy marketing drives around $6 trillion in annual global spending. 

The cornerstone of any well-oiled advocacy campaign is getting your customers to share their stories, feedback, or testimonials with the public. Sure, some will spread your brand like wildfire, but others—well—leave something to be desired. You need to get in front of these people. At the very least offer them an opportunity to share their opinions about your brand. You might be surprised at how they respond. 😬

Now I’m not suggesting you poke them every day (looking at your 2008 Facebook), but dropping them a simple line to snag their feedback could greatly benefit your campaigns. 

The most powerful tool in marketing is happy customers letting their peers know. Yet, surveys show 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendationseven from strangers

With all of these incredible benefits, there are still a couple of drawbacks to be aware of. First, finding your customer heroes to share their stories with everyone can be quite difficult without the right tools. Second, depending on the size of your current advocacy pool, it can be a very slow-moving process. 🐌 

As annoying as these can be, you can reduce or even eliminate these challenges by leveraging a platform like UserEvidence, now empowered with the latest feature, Customer Advocates

👉 Discover a proactive and easy way to garner and identify volunteers willing to share their success stories—learn more about UserEvidence’s Customer Advocates.

Bridging the Gap

Even though advocacy marketing comes out head and shoulders above influencer marketing, there are ways to blend the two together if you are determined on going down the influencer marketing path. 

Before you begin the hunt for an influencer to partner with, first engage with your current advocates to see if you may have a few lurking in the shadows. Any potential influencers that are already aligned with your brand and love what you do will be more likely to run a successful campaign on your behalf. This will also appear more authentic, as the influencer will potentially stick with you after a successful campaign. 

By combining the reach an influencer has with the authentic passion of your current advocates, your brand can leverage this powerful marketing strategy to resonate with your audience. This will continue growing long-term loyalty if done correctly. ✅

By putting advocacy marketing first, you set yourself up for success—be it influencer marketing or other marketing strategies—when you build relationships with the people that do the advertising for you. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the future of influencer marketing starts with a solid foundation in advocacy marketing, it’s time to get to work. The process, while sometimes challenging and slow-moving, will all be worth it in the long run. And if you want to unlock your customer advocate success stories without the hassle, we have a little something that can help. 👇

Put UserEvidence to work for you. Schedule your demo today.

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