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Building the Business Case for Customer Advocacy

Word of Mouth is Still The Most Powerful Form of Marketing

Whether you’re buying a car or million dollar enterprise solution, word of mouth influences purchase decisions. That’s why modern marketing programs are quickly realizing the value of creating customer advocates.

Conversation Marketing

EMC is one such example. I had the privilege to interview Todd Forsythe on my Social Business Engine show. Todd is Vice President of Conversation Marketing at EMC. In part one of a two part interview, Todd shares a behind the scenes look at how he built a customer advocacy program based on conversation marketing. The phrase says it all. It’s the tried and true adage that people buy from people and that people trust the opinion of other people, even from total strangers in a community of peers.

Five years ago, EMC set out to build a community of people that could benefit each other in many ways. The EMC Community Network, aka ECN, powered by Jive Software, enables people to seamlessly connect, find content and engage with each other, including EMC technical staff.

The Business Case

Building a community requires resources, both people and technology. In other words, it’s an investment that requires analysis to measure returns. Todd’s team measured at least two key metrics that support the business case for building a customer advocacy program through ECN.

1. Value of community members

In order to understand the incremental value of each member, EMC measures the impact of community members on revenue. Several metrics emerged as relevant in measuring the value of ECN members. Two such metrics are:

  1. Online event participation increased from hundreds per event to more than 10,000. Event outcomes are attributable to revenue so this growth metric is very meaningful.
  2. Purchases from ECN members are 250% greater than from non members.

These two metrics alone support a strong case for the value of ECN members.

2. Cost deflection with peer to peer engagement.

One of the natural by products of peer to peer engagement is a level of self service on technical matters that might otherwise have been handled by a traditional technical support staff. The reduced volume of tech support calls / tickets delivers a measurable cost savings, which likewise contributes to the business case for a customer advocacy program at EMC.

Catch part 1 of my interview with Todd Forsythe of EMC below. Download the full case study to learn more about the impressive results from EMC’s conversation marketing strategy.

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