10 November 2022 1078 words, 5 min. read

Advocacy marketing: definition and examples

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
Advocacy marketing is about turning your customers into sales agents to spread positive messages about your brand. Thanks to a strategy based on four key points, this article reveals the workings of this marketing technique. How can you improve the […]

Advocacy marketing is about turning your customers into sales agents to spread positive messages about your brand. Thanks to a strategy based on four key points, this article reveals the workings of this marketing technique. How can you improve the customer experience and the targeting of your most dedicated customers? All the answers are below, with 3 examples of successful advocacy marketing campaigns.

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All about advocacy marketing in 30 seconds

  • This marketing technique is a godsend for brands: customers become sales agents
  • 80% of consumers get information online before buying a product
  • The secret of a good advocacy marketing strategy lies in four keywords: storytelling, service, customer satisfaction, and rewards
  • Thanks to this marketing method, Starbucks pocketed $180,000 with its referral campaign
  • Tesla stands out from the crowd: $1,000 rebates for all new purchases, provided that a friend or family member is sponsored
  • You also have to be selective: Apple only retained 77 photos to finalize its “Shot on iPhone” campaign out of a panel of several thousand consumers

Chapter 1

What is advocacy marketing?

As a preamble, let’s start by stating the obvious. Advocacy marketing brings in more leads and customers than advertising. Indeed, it’s easy to be skeptical of advertising when you see it every day. The first thing to know about this marketing technique is that it is a vector of a good e-reputation. The IFOP (French Institute of Public Opinion) recently showed that 4 out of 5 consumers get information on the Internet before making a purchase.

Today, 80% of consumers research online before purchasing a product.

But what exactly is advocacy marketing? Advocacy marketing is when a company uses its customers to generate virality. This technique is mainly based on digital platforms such as social networks. Indeed, the goal is to mention as many people as possible. The structures using this method seek to develop positive electronic word-of-mouth. The brands then seek to transform the good feedback of these customers into real advertising posters for the members of their community.

In short, what are the main advantages of this marketing method?

  • Its financial accessibility: most of the time, it is even free for the brands
  • The ratio of time invested to potential gains: much cheaper than advertising and with more palpable results than any other communication operation
  • Increased brand awareness: it goes without saying that advocacy marketing can improve your brand image online


Chapter 2

How do you implement an advocacy marketing strategy?

Every member of a business company must consider that the customer is king. Indeed, if he feels a good quality of service, he will be tempted to tell his acquaintances about it. This desire to share is part of spontaneous word-of-mouth.

Optimizing the customer experience

To encourage customers to talk about a brand, you need to have something original to say. First of all, this requires optimal service/product quality. Secondly, a good customer experience involves marketing efforts on different aspects, such as:

  • The creation of a unique storytelling
  • An impeccable service, both before, during, and after the purchase act

Target the potential brand ambassadors

Knowing your most loyal users is the ABC of advocacy marketing. There are several methods to identify the customers who feel most invested in your brand. Here are some examples:

  • Net Promoter Score: perform satisfaction surveys (when used properly)
  • Rewarding loyalty: implementing reward programs for the most loyal customers
  • User-generated content (UGC): for example, running contests in participatory marketing campaigns

Simplifying advocacy marketing

Satisfied customers fall into two categories. On the one hand, we find those who will spontaneously talk about the brand. On the other, people who still need to be convinced. The goal is to simplify online communication for your customers. Here are some ideas to achieve this:

  • Include sharing buttons on your website
  • Prepare ready-made content that customers can share on their social networks
  • Create a branded hashtag (see Starbucks’ example with #tweetacoffee)

Reward positive word-of-mouth

Finally, proper advocacy marketing also includes rewards for your “champions.” This includes both loyal customers and customer-driven leads. Here are some examples of what to do:

  • Offer a 20% discount on the next order if one or more friends are referred to the company
  • Send discount codes to encourage customers to reorder on the online platform

Chapter 3

Three examples of how to use advocacy marketing well

No more theoretical explanations; we present three recognized cases of good use of advocacy marketing. Three American companies have distinguished themselves in this field: Starbucks, Tesla, and Apple.

Starbucks: good use of social networks

First, let’s start with the case of Starbucks. The company ran a campaign called #tweetacoffee, featuring $5 gift cards to share with friends. Its principle is simple: tweet a photo of their coffee in exchange for this gift card. This initiative could have been more profitable ($180,000 collected at the end of the operation). But in truth, the real return on investment is the targeting of the “best” Starbucks customers.

logo starbucks marketing rebranding

Starbucks innovates in its communication through advocacy marketing

Tesla’s impressive discounts

Tesla has shifted into high gear with its advocacy marketing campaigns. Indeed, its discounts are incredible! We’re talking about $1,000 discounts for every new order: for the customer and the prospect they associate with the brand.

This referral program can continually surprise Tesla’s loyal customers. But it doesn’t stop there. Any customer recommending Tesla to 10 people becomes a priority for purchasing a Model X SUV. Rewards ranged from brand-new roadsters to tours of the SpaceX offices.

advocacy marketing tesla

Tesla, one of the companies that invested the most in advocacy marketing campaigns (source: Shutterstock)

Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” competition

Finally, let’s mention the example of Apple. Its worldwide “Shot on iPhone” campaign had the desired effect. Taken by thousands of users around the world, Apple was selective. It has retained only 77 shots to complete its marketing campaign. The principle is accessible to all: take a photo of yourself, with little editing, to show the power of Apple cameras.

Thus, the photos allow everyone to identify with his shots by appearing more natural. Once again, Apple is a pioneer in terms of marketing operations!

Apple showcases its smartphone technology for advocacy marketing


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