A brand advocate is a person, or customer who talks favorably about a brand or product, and then passes on positive word-of-mouth (WOM) messages to other people.
According to Forrester, Zuberance and an infographic from Jay Baer (below), the influence of brand advocates accounts for billions of dollars in purchases for everything from cars to computers, hotel rooms, movies, enterprise software, and more. Brand advocates are:
5X more valuable than average customers
Spend at least 2X as much as average customers
Spend 3X as much as average customers over their lifetime of their relationship with a company or brand
Reach 150 people in social media every time they advocate for a product or service
92% of consumers trust brand advocates
Do brand advocates generate return on investment for brands? Here are 10 case studies that prove the ROI of brand advocates.
AMERICAN EXPRESS: To promote small business credit cards, American Express created a social media community for small business owners to share, learn and grow. They also created a holiday, Small Business Saturday. The community has 2,700,000+ Likes, 195,000 Tweets and American Express saw a +23% increase in transactions to small business merchants.
CARS.COM: encouraged rating, reviews and sharing (versus no ratings, reviews and sharing) and it showed that pages that had ratings and reviews had a 16% higher rate of conversion and a 100% higher rate of traffic through to dealer’s sites.
DUANE READE: A drugstore chain with 250 location in New York and New Jersey, used a VIP Blogger Team generating content via their own social platforms, DR-QR code landing page, blogs, and Google+, in addition to traditional PR tactics. The utilization of celebrity bloggers from daytime shows and one-hour Twitter parties created over 20 million impressions. From over 2000 pieces of original content, there was a 28% lift in year-over-year sales and a 5x ROI.
FOLICA: A well-known retailer of health and beauty products, noticed they had many referrals to their website, but had no way of tracking and identifying these referrals. By engaging their customers and encouraging them to share the secrets of great hair, customers were able to share via Facebook, Twitter, email and personalized urls. After 30 days of running the new Social Referral Program, 6,000 brand advocates were identified. The average number of shares per advocate was four. 21,000 shares had been generated via Facebook, Twitter and email and a 16% conversion rate was driven by the program.
J. HILBURN: A retail brand which was receiving many referrals from existing satisfied customers. By offering customers $50 for each friend referred and encouraging the advocates to share the offer using social media, brand advocates were identified and rewarded. Any referred customer who spent over $100 received a $50 discount on their purchase. After 45 days of running the new program, 1,000 customers had made referrals. Averaging 12 shares per advocate, the referral program produced 10,000 social shares via Facebook, Twitter and email. The bottom line result was 600 transactions which created over $250,000 in sales.
ROKU: specializes in streaming entertainment devices for television. With 1,000,000+ units already sold, they tapped their existing and large user database into a source of acquisition. Sales increased 30% and the number of monthly referrals is now around 10,000 per month.
SENDGRID, a cloud-based e-mail provider, contained a simple offer for existing customers which could be shared socially. The offer was made to existing customers to share referral links. This meant that when any of their referred friends became new paying customers of SendGrid, they would receive $20 cash and the referred customer would also receive a 25% discount on their first three months. SendGrid achieved a 111% ROI after six months of running thel program and a 353% ROI projected for the first year of the program.
STARBUCKS: Since 2008, MyStarbuckIdea.com has been advocate-driven idea tank where Starbucks drinkers submit ideas for new products and coffee concoctions. It has worked as a hub for all Starbucks customers to share all their ideas, suggestion and even their frustration. “We used to launch a new product and it cost millions of dollars. Now, when we launch a new product, we already have millions of fans,” say Chris Bruzzo, Vice President Brand, Content and Online at Starbucks.
SUBWAY: Sponsored the “Slim Down Challenge,” a live speaking event consisting of some of America’s hottest speakers and celebrities. Its mission was to travel from city to city across America delivering powerhouse information that challenged your mind, heart, and waistline. They used social technologies and promotion apps to raise awareness of the Slim Down Challenge and recruit speakers. The strategy included a social competition. This was part of a full marketing strategy for the campaign. They found that 71% of site traffic that went to the registration page, came directly from Facebook.
WALMART: Has 34,000.000+ fans, more than any other brand on any social platform. They also have more than 385,000 followers. They post 6 to 7 times per day. They engage with fans, regularly. Last year, on Black Friday, Walmart received 62,000 posts from consumers, a rate of 42 per minute. The engagement with consumers who spread the work is getting a “marketing equivalent” of 10X return-on-investment (ROI) compared to other advertising spends according to CMO, Stephen Quinn.
These case studies cover brands big and small, B2C and B2B and show brand advocates can be found for any business if you look for them. Do they convince you of the ROI of brand advocates?
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It involves technology and software to organize, automate and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service and technical support.
CRM has been with us since 1986 when ACT!, the #1 best-selling contact and customer manager, introduced the business world to contact management software, essentially a digital rolodex. Today, CRM involves the use cloud-based and SaaS CRM solutions to lower costs; the integration of marketing channels like digital social media and mobile devices to increase leads and conversion; and “Big Data” to make smarter business decision from analytics.
How is it working? Here are 11 convincing case studies to prove the ROI of CRM.
ALLINA HEALTH: Used CRM to manage its data warehouse. It’s identified benefits that include reduced patient length of stay, reduced admissions, and improved health outcomes in stroke, depression, and angioplasty treatments. Within 2 years, the CRM initiative had an ROI of +152% and generated $1,052,828 each year.
BEST BUY: Proactively monitored the social channels for customers in need of either customer service support or technical assistance. They created a CRM community to offer a place where Best Buy’s advocates including Blueshirts, Geek Squad Agents, and the community teams used lTwitter as their customer service channel. There are now roughly 600,000 customers visiting the community and posting 20,000 messages (over 77,000 messages and counting). The community has published over 22 million pages of content. Best Buy estimates that online community engagements provide a benefit of over $5,000,000 to the organization.
BUSTED TEES: Sought to bring back recent customers and convert casual browsers, but they also wanted to re-engage with customers who hadn’t made a purchase, been to the website, or opened an email in a significant period of time. They use CRM Retargeting to serve display ads to people with nothing but an email or mailing address. It increased average order value to $40 and generated an ROI of +390%.
CANADA POST: One of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced postal companies, has $5.9 billion) in annual revenue. It uses CRM as a cornerstone of its business transformation, particularly with regards to electronic shipping tools for commercial customers; internet sales and service tools for customer self-service and easier access to services; and contact centers to give customer service agents integrated information for customer transactions. CRM saved $16.25 million in revenue leakage.
CISCO: Established a social media listening center. It listens to more than 5000 social mentions a day on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. Cisco has been able to control outside agency fees, avoid other customer and partner interaction costs, increase team productivity, and identify new sales opportunities. The social media listening center has had an ROI of +281% in 5 months to generates an annual benefits of $1,596,292.
GET SATISFACTION: A leading online customer community platform that companies use or customer support, idea submission, marketing and sales questions, and capturing positive feedback, focused traffic driving strategies on search, social media, blogging, and buildling a content community. The CRM strategy achieved an ROI of +104% in month one, +168% in month two and +248% in month three.
KIXEYE: An online gaming portal, used CRM to increase customer acquisition through its growing volume of Facebook ads. It’s enabled Kixeye to decrease annual advertising costs by 15%, extent the acquisition life cycle of games by 6 months and increased user productivity by 7.5 percent.
MAGOOSH GRE: offers online courses for GMAT, GRE and SAT courses including video explanations, subject lessons, and practice tests. Magoosh ran a test and found that people who had been retargeted converted at a significantly higher rate than the control group. A CRM retargeting campaign generating 1,123 conversions for an ROI of +486.
QOSINA: A medical and cosmetic components distributor, sells products to medical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, skincare and spa companies. It used Microsoft CRM to effectively track its customer and prospect interaction, and to provide management oversight for accountability of sales opportunities and salon industries. It generated ROI of +172% within 2 years.
TYROIT: is Europe’s largest manufacturer of bonded grinding, cutting-off, sawing, and drilling tools, generating $416 million in annual revenue from more than 70,000 unique products produced in 19 plants for 60 countries. Tyroit used CRM integrate products and solutions to reduce the number of contact points and transaction costs. It increased bottom line costs by +25% and produced an ROI of +183% within 2 years.
ZENDESK: is a web-based customer support software company with a robust ticket management system and a strong customer community. They offer products from starting from a free trial to three paid tiers. They used retargeting to improve lead generation and saw conversion increase by +1317%.
As a full service digital marketing agency focused on proven relationship marketing principles and ROI, we want to make sure there’s a case study that relevant to your biggest business challenge.
21 case studies is hopefully enough to find one that’s similar to your business. Overall, they all prove ROI is much, more likely to happen to those who have a plan, post regularly and persevere.
Does it make a difference? See for yourself. Here are 10 more company case studies that prove the ROI of LinkedIn.
ATHENA HEALTH: To highlight its position as a leading provider of cloud-based services for medical groups, Athena Health produced thought leadership materials, such as white papers, blog posts and videos that advise executives on best practices. LinkedIn’s custom content ad unit allowed them to deliver multiple streams of content in a single ad. Athena Health saw a 61% rise in click-to-conversions.
AXWAY: Is a software service that manages, runs, secures, and monitors all your business interactions – emails, files, messages, services, events, and processes. Although Google Adwords was successful at generating leads for Axway, competition for top keywords was fierce and drove up conversion costs. Axway used LinkedIn Ads specifically targeting the job titles, industries and job functions. They tested over 30 ads with custom landing pages. The LinkedIn campaigns generated +25% conversion rate with the lowest cost per conversion ever achieved.
BRITANNIA PHARMACEUTICALS: Is a developer and marketer of products in the area of Parkinson’s disease. They focused on using Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google Adwords and, because of its vast international reach and keyword targeting, they also used LinkedIn Ads Displays to precisely target HCP’s. 55% of the corporate website’s traffic now comes fromLinkedIn. It achieves an average conversion rate of 21%.
EKA: is a global agriculture company. They relocated a sales director to their Australia office with no knowledge of the country. He used LinkedIn to build relationship with 150 “C” level executives in Australia. This built a sales pipeline that generated revenues of $2,000,000 in 3 weeks. Here’s the story.
FOILED CUPCAKES: Owner Mari Luangrath built her cupcake business, based in Chicago, to +600% above forecast by building relationships on Facebook and Twitter. As her audience evolved to corporate accounts, her attention went more to LinkedIn. The Foiled Cupcakes team used the Search Function on LinkedIn to target companies in Chicago within the geography of her delivery service. Foiled Cupcakes continues to outperform forecast and corporate account are accounting for a greater percentage of sales.
HSBC GLOBAL CONNECTIONS: Created a community in partnership with LinkedIn called Business Without Borders. The goal was to encourage participation among members about doing business in different country. It was also to raise targeted awareness for working with HSBC when doing business globally. Although HSBC would not release specific results, it is widely acknowledged as a content marketing success story. Here’s what HSBC did.
JMF INTERNATIONAL TRADE GROUP: Is a business consultancy and contract manufacturer run by James Filbird. What Jim did is something any of us could do to grow a business but most of us don’t. He: 1) kept his profile up-to-date, 2) joined 50 LinkedIn Groups, 3) scoured Group Digests, 4) engaged in discussions, 5) connected, 6) moved the conversation offline, mostly through Skype and 7) re-evaluated his groups and contacts, regularly. He attributes the company he built to $5,000,000 in revenue largely to LinkedIn.
ONLYMARKETINGJOBS.COM: Is a UK recruiting firm. They created a private group, UK Marketing Lounge, where they post jobs. The group was founded on the principles of: 1) Exclusivity – only certain types of LinkedIn members could join, 2) Content – the recruitment firm regularly adds content, 3) Moderation – absolutely no spam is allowed, 4) Weekly email – added by the firm and 4) Tenacity – the first 10,000 members occurred much more slowly than what followed. Now, there are almost 50,000 members. Revenues through job posting in the group have increased the company’s revenues, significantly.
SUSAN BORST: Is an accomplished ad exec. Her background was working with major ad agency, on major brand in traditional media channels (e.g. TV and Print). During a period of transition, she worked in new media channel (e.g. digital, social media). She kept her LinkedIn profile up-to-date. The keywords caught the attention of a recruiter. Today, Susan is Director of Industry Initiatives, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). With the help of LinkedIn, Susan successfully reinvented herself which is very hard to do.
VOLKSWAGEN (INDIA): Launched a Company Page on LinkedIn and opened it up to the public to begin posting reviews and comments. As engagement increased, they created a series of Recommendation Ads, which showcased some of the brand’s recommendations from their page to other LinkedIn users that fit their targeted demographic. The goal was to receive 500 recommendations from current and prospective buyers. In less than a month, they received 2,700 recommendations, over 2,300 new fans asking for more information about the models available and nearly 1,000,000 viral updates about Volkswagen models.
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Does this create a marketplace for doing business that generates revenue with measurable results? See for yourself. Here are 11 company case studies that prove the ROI of LinkedIn.
DOCUSIGN: the global standard for eSignitures, bought LinkedIn’s little-known sponsored InMail in bulk to target by geographic area, company size and job title for a 6-month lead-generation campaign. Sales rose +45% from 550 participants before the LinkedIn effort to more than 800 after.
EUREX: One of the leading derivative exchanges, wanted to drive broader connections, build relationship and create engagement. They updated their LinkedIn company page, posted relevant updates and use targeted LinkedIn display ads. Company page Followers grew from 500 to 13,000+ in 3 months; 81% of Followers engage exclusively on LinkedIn; LinkedIn Followers are 42% more likely to engage with EUREX and 43% more likely to recommend to a friend.
GOSHIDO: a software solution that makes is easier for people around the world to work together and collaborated, used LinkedIn to find seed capital for its own creation. This was done by identifying and leveraging connections who could be potential investors. Approximately $150,000 was raised.
HEWLETT PACKARD: is the first company to hit 1,000,000 Followers for a Company Page. They also set up a specific Discussion Group to attract small businesses that has 5,500+ members; 75% who actively engage in discussions and who are 2X more likely to recommend HP. Since a video tell more than 1,000 words, here’s the story.
NEAL SCHAFFER: a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically (and fellow MBA Faculty Member at Rutgers CMD), used Success Stories from LinkedIn. One day Neal saw a comment of one of his LinkedIn Groups, “Prove to me the ROI of social media.” He saw the person lived in the same county and he was connected to his brother on LinkedIn. He offered to meet the person for coffee. The connection led to two referrals that turned into clients within weeks.
POSTCARD MANIA: Joined LinkedIn groups for the various types of small businesses the company targets, and judiciously contributed to discussions and questions about marketing. The company uses relevant content like “8 Ways to Grow Your Local Business for FREE!” Each of the eight ways was a “snippet” with links to get more information, each of which collected the person’s contact information. Postcard Mania has generated 600 leads and $72,000, just from LinkedIn.
PENMAN PUBLIC RELATIONS: used LinkedIn to research a client’s planned launch of a high-end gaming system from their client, Hardcore Computer .Penman found that connecting with potential product users individually through LinkedIn offered more straightforward feedback and less “groupthink” than focus groups often deliver. They got more traffic to their website and more research responses (100′s more) at a fraction of the cost of focus group research.
PJA: An advertising and marketing agency in Boston, invested an hour a day targeting searches for such keywords as “VP of marketing,” specific ZIP codes and company names, to identify key contacts to call, InMail, email, or forward the agency’s portfolio. They tracked who looked at the company’s LinkedIn profile. They participated in discussions catering to CMO’s. It led to inquiries, agency pitches, and new accounts, including Guidewire and Chase.
SAMSUNG MOBILE: tries to attract upscale influencers who seek out the latest, leading-edge technologies in mobile devices. They post status updates on their LinkedIn Company Page and launch previews that leads to and API powered microsite with news about one of their latest mobile devices. They are able to target 20,000,000 LinkedIn members across 7 countries through their page, updates and mircosite; 33% says they are more likely to purchase from Samsung Mobile after following them on LinkedIn.
VIRAL SOLUTIONS: An automated relationship marketing company, has company partners actively participating in relevant LinkedIn Groups. They discovered that 50.7% of top sellers belonged to 30+ groups compared to only 11.5% of their counterparts. As a result, 58% of the company revenue now comes from LinkedIn Groups with an average deal size of $7500.
WILD APRICOT: Offers membership management and website development software for non-profits and associations. In 2010, Wild Apricot created a LinkedIn Company Page in mid-2010, They took advantage of the Company Pages recommendation feature, which allows members to post product and service reviews. They tested the recommendations on their website. They tested: 1) a recent user survey, 2) a link to an online software directory and 3) a link to the LinkedIn product reviews, along with LinkedIn’s logo. Showcasing LinkedIn recommendations on our home page raised conversions by 15%.
90% of the data in the history of the world has been created in the last 2 years (source: IBM).
It’s given rise to an industry, Big Data, and a significant portion of it comes from social media chatter.
Does it make sense for brands to listen to social media data? What kind of insights are revealed? Does it result in better decision making?
Here are 8 case studies that show the predictive power of social media listening.
CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS: In the 2010 California governor’s race between candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, a study from Activate Direct social listening proved the ratio of positive to negative social sentiment to be very much in line with the ratio of favorable to unfavorable ratings shown by traditional polling and on-going focus group. But social media listening identified potential crises earlier, faster and for less research money.
DELL: Uses social media chatter for cross-departmental team collaboration. Over 90,000 employee quickly and easily collaborate and listen in 11 languages in places like the company’s Listening Command Center. What has they found> In the US, Twitter chatter has a positive impact on their reputation and gained positive coverage in Mashable and Fast Company; in Germany, social media chatter among employees helps monitor the success of internal conferences; in China, blogposts have a direct effect on coverage with Sina, RenRen, microblogs and forums.
HEDGE FUND MANAGERS: “Analyzing social media conversations can provide insights, ‘like X-Ray vision’, about a company’s performance in between their quarterly financial reports.” That’s the point of view of the McAlister Study and how hedge fund managers now listen to social media chatter when their research showed a direct positive correlation between sales and chatter; a 5% rise of positive chatter led to a 5% rise in sales.
MORTON’S: You may have heard about social media consultant, Peter Shankman, who had the good luck when tweeting a shout out about how a Morton’s steak would be just the right ending to his flight arriving in Newark. The consultant with 150,000+ Twitter followers was greeted at the airport by a man in a tuxedo sent by Morton’s to deliver a complete steak dinner. Social media listening enabled Morton’s to pick out advocate from the crowd and create influence at a low cost. It probably didn’t hurt Shankman’s influencer rating and visibility either.
NIELSEN: The gold standard for assessing the performance of TV programming, has started collecting social media chatter for TV rating. The Nielsen company said that one in three people using Twitter in June of 2012 sent messages at some point about the content of television shows, an increase of 27% from only five months earlier. Nielsen also estimated that 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners used their devices while watching television.
QUENTIN TARANTINO: His violent Nazi revenge fantasy Inglorious Basterds pulled in more than $37 million domestically in its opening weekend. A good portion is thanks in part to Twitter. After a $14 million opening on Friday, the film picked up steam over the weekend as the positive tweets kept rolling in. Research service, Trendrr, showed the number of tweets about the movie climbed steady through most of Saturday before tapering off early Sunday correlating directly with movie receipts.
TOYOTA: At the beginning of 2012, the company faced very negative press due to revelation of recalls and announcing them late to the public. Toyota launched a large “transparency” and “apology” campaign using social media outreach. The company had four official Facebook pages, which saw a 10% fan base growth between late January and early March. USA president and chief operating officer, Jim Lentz, also participated in regular Twitter Chats. Toyota experienced a 41% increase in March 2010 sales, compared to March of last year. The company can’t prove a link between social media outreach and the sales boost, especially considering the unprecedented sales incentives and discounted leasing deals and mainstream media appearances by executives on such outlets as NBC, ABC, and NPR. But it certainly didn’t hurt Toyota to be transparent through social media and was a very smart part of a successful integrated campaign.
UNISYS: A 100+ year old company, Unisys understandably has had some obstacles to overcome when adapting social media to their corporate culture. With several top executives leading by example, departments began to openly share communication using internal social media applications. But success stories within the company show huge innovative payoffs aided tremendously by the open sharing of information available through well-constructed social media platforms and corporate adaptations.
To be transparent, not all brands are benefiting from social media listening. Coca-Cola reports it has yet to see any sales lift from social media buzz, even though the brand has 61,000,000+ fans on Facebook but the company continues to listen.
In the music industry, Tom Silverman reports: “My new take is online media is the propagation channel through which attention waves travel. Bieber and Kutcher have huge attention waves so they travel far and fast. Speed of propagation is greater on YouTube than any other social platform due to the sticky video content. Media is not necessarily neutral. Great images and videos drive engagement faster than words for example. But we keep learning from real life stories. His New Music Seminar is this week in NYC.
Do his case studies prove the predictive power of social media listening? Do you need help finding insights in the chatter for your brand?