There is a huge surge of activity when it comes to marketing these days. Apps, social media, emails, and what not! However, despite these digital newbies hogging up all the limelight, consumers tend to favour the good old word-of-mouth marketing, found studies. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey, 88 percent of those surveyed said that they make purchase decisions on the basis of recommendations from people they know and trust.
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Relationship marketing is making a comeback and how! Businesses are realising that unlike newer marketing techniques that deliver quick, yet short-lived results, relationship marketing works on building lasting customer relationships and increased loyalty. Sometimes, it happens that businesses overlook the biggest marketing asset they have at their disposal – their employees. According to Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer, 52 percent respondents said that they would trust a company’s employee even over its CEO or a government representative.
Using your employees to promote your brand and spread awareness about your product and services offerings is called employee advocacy. This is a tried and tested marketing strategy, proves a study by Hinge Marketing, in which companies that had a proper employee advocacy programme in place showed growth figures that were double that of the rest of the firms. So how does one create an employee advocacy programme that works and yields results? Here’s how:
One of the major factors in ensuring that a successful employee advocacy programme can be built for your brand is the transparency in your work culture. Find out if your employees trust you enough to endorse you. If you have disengaged employees, the aftermath of initiating an employee advocacy programme will naturally be irreparable. So conduct an evaluation of your culture before launching a fully-fledged programme.
Chart out what exactly you are looking to achieve from this programme and how you will be measuring this throughout the course of this strategy. Make specific goals directed towards specific targets. Each company’s goal would differ – a larger corporation would be aiming at keeping their customers engaged whereas a smaller, newer firm would be looking at hiring new talent or attracting new customers. Some brands use return on investment as an indicator to measure the result, others use newer indicators like Net Promoter Score.
Not all employees would be suited to be a part of such a programme. So collaborate with your HR team to find out who the most influential employees are. The next step is to train them. Make them understand what the goals of the programme are and help them pick up skills that will help them achieve these goals. Some tools that they could be trained in are Buffer, Hootsuite, Trap It and/or Social Chorus. Choose a tool that fits your business, but remember that it should offer both content syndication as well as monitoring services. Most employee advocacy programmes curate content to be disseminated by the employees. If you do not want to do so and allow your employees the freedom to post what they want, it would be good to make them aware of the dos and don’ts of the programme.
Offering monetary incentives to employee advocates is not a sustainable solution. So think of what your employees would gain out of this programme. Try to introduce non-monetary incentives like exclusive access to events or opportunities to address the media on behalf of your brand to keep them motivated enough to continue in the programme.
Does your business have an employee advocacy programme in place? What are your suggestions to create one that works? Let us know in the comments section below.