Advocate Marketing

How marketers in 2024 are generating demand from high quality leads

What is advocate marketing?

Advocate marketing is a way to grow your business by getting your customers to sell for you. It's a way to generate demand from high quality leads.

There are some obvious and non-obvious facets of advocate marketing. I'll quickly run through the obvious ones since you are probably already familiar with them, so we can spend more time on the non-obvious ones and the approaches that are working in 2024.

Advocate marketing is usually the responsibility of a Demand Generation specialist, but it's also a key part of the marketing mix for Customer Experience and Sales teams. Everyone in the company, particularly those in customer-facing roles, should be aware of the advocate marketing strategy and how they can contribute.

Why Advocate Marketing is so Effective

The reason advocate marketing (sometimes called word-of-mouth marketing or referral marketing) works is because people trust their peers more than they trust a brand or a salesperson. This is especially true in B2B where the stakes are higher and the sales cycle is longer. B2B marketing is constantly playing catch-up with B2C marketing, and advocate marketing is no different.

The return on investment (ROI) of advocate marketing is high because it's a low cost way to generate leads that are highly qualified. Prospects on G2 and Capterra are already looking for a solution to their problem, and that's why leads from those sites are - for modern B2B SaaS salespeople - the Glengarry leads. The investment required to generate leads from advocate marketing is low because you are leveraging your existing customers to generate leads for you. By simply adding a modal to your application or sending an email to your customers - typically extremely cheap to achieve relative to other marketing channels - you can kick the advocate marketing channel into action.

The ROI doesn't stop at generating the leads however. Usually leads that come through G2 or Capterra are signficantly more efficient to close than leads from other channels. The sales cycle is shorter because the prospect is already aware of their problem and they are actively looking for a solution. Prospects that find your product through G2 are considerably more likely to convert, since their peers have already done the hard work of selling your product for you. You should be measuring leads from channels like G2 and Capterra through your CRM and marketing analytics tools - if you are already doing this, you'll likely see that the sales cycle for leads from advocate channels is low relative to other channels.

I also recommend checking out this article for more details on the history of Salesforce - the first SaaS. The methods they used to grow their cloud offering - which was revolutionary at the time - are still relevant today for new SaaS businesses. The approaches and technologies have advanced and matured but you can still apply their principles in 2024.

These are the obvious reasons why advocate marketing is so effective. The non-obvious reasons are more interesting.

Advocate Marketing Communications in B2B

The communications you use to generate reviews and referrals are critical to the success of your advocate marketing strategy. The recommendations and referrals your customers give are going to be thoughtful and honest, and so should your messages to them. Messages to your users should be personalised, relevant, and timely.

Two examples of advocate marketing communications

Example 1:

Note: This is an average example - this approach will get a low CTR is unlikely to convert a user to an advocate.

Hi {{name}},
I hope you are enjoying {{product}}.
We are working hard to make it even better.
If you have a moment, we'd love to hear your thoughts on {{product}}.
Your feedback will help us improve {{product}} for you and other users.
Leave a review

You've probably seen this email a hundred times. It's inoffensive, but unconvincing, impersonal, and honestly just boring. How can you expect a user to take the time to review your product when you can't even take the time to write a compelling message? This is what B2B marketers typically get wrong and where B2C marketers, despite having 100x more users on average, are getting it right.

Example 2:

This one is a little better - it's personalised and it's relevant.

{{name}}, thanks for chatting with me earlier.

I know it's {{early morning|lunch|late now}} in {{city}}, but since we were already speaking I wanted to ask for a quick favour.

We're trying to get more reviews on G2. We get most of our new users from there, and I was wondering if you could help us out?

It would be great if you could leave a review for us on G2. I ran through the process myself earlier and it took a few minutes.

Link to the review form

Again, thanks for your support and the chat earlier. I really appreciate your support.


OK now we're getting somewhere. This message is personalised, relevant, and timely. Of course, it's not perfect, and it won't work for everyone.

The user will likely need a couple of follow up messages to get them to review.

Larger marketing organisations have teams working on advocate marketing communications, and they are constantly testing and optimising their messages.

To increase CTR you would need to constantly optimise the message. For best results, AB test your messages, and make sure your results are statistically significant - but this is sometimes impossible to do at a small scale.

We also recommend sending messages from the person the user knows best, whether that's their account rep or their customer success manager - or just the CEO. And as with everything you should test, iterate, and optimize on the results.

There are a few other things you can do to increase CTR and conversion rate, but we'll leave that for another article.

Omnichannel advocate messaging

Emailing users can be effective when done right, but it's not the only way you can communicate with your users. In-app messaging, via social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc), via WhatsApp / SMS, via mail to their office address (if they are not remote working),

Eventually these efforts can lead to a closer customer relationship. You can ask people to join your Slack community, or to join your beta program, or to join your customer advisory board.

The closer the relationship, the more likely they are to advocate for you. This helps with customer retention, and it also helps with demand generation. A user who is an advocate for you is more likely to recommend you to their peers, and they are more likely to give you a positive review on G2 when you ask them.

Example: Learning from developer advocates

Developer Avocados Advocates are a great example of how to do advocate marketing right. They are a great example because they are usually a small team (sometimes just one person at a large organisation) with a small budget, and they are able to generate a lot of demand from software developers from their advocate marketing efforts.

They are also a great example because they are usually very technical and not marketers, so they are not using any of the traditional marketing channels. They're on Twitter, at conferences, and because they're often ex-developers they are on non-traditional channels where their users and prospects are, such as Discord, GitHub, StackOverflow, Reddit, and Hacker News.

The best developer advocates are adding value for users all the time and developing a brand for themselves and their company. For instance, developing new tools or libraries that their prospects will appreciate, commenting on events in the industry, and generally being helpful and answering questions - even if they are not directly related to their product.

Developer advocates are also great at getting people to advocate for them in non-traditional ways. Because the interactions are personal, users feel like they are vouching for a person, not necessarily a product or business.

Advocate Marketing in 2024

Although it doesn't feel this way in 2024, B2B marketing is still much easier than B2C marketing.

Consider starting a new cosmetics brand: you will have huge competition immediately, in every market (geographic, demographic, etc), and you will have to spend a lot of money to get your brand in front of people. Even then, your product will be replicated and sold at a lower price by a competitor. B2C marketers have to constantly think different to get their brand in front of people, and they have to constantly iterate and optimise their marketing efforts.

In many ways B2B marketing is still in the 90s - there is less competition for almost every software tool relative to B2C, differentiation is easier to achieve than many consumer products, and the channels are still relatively immature. The channels are also much more targeted - you can target a specific industry, company size, or job title, and you can target them on the channels they use. Consider G2: on G2's marketing platform (requires a paid subscription) you can see the company of the person who is looking at your company profile, and you can target them with a message that is relevant to them. This is effectively impossible for B2C marketers running retail stores.

Likewise, just getting the highest rating on G2 for your segment is enough to drive many thousands of highly qualified leads to your website. If you're in the top 5 for your segment in the G2 Grid or Gartner Quadrant - usually achievable with a 4.5 star rating and several hundred reviews (though there are other factors involved) - you will get a lot of leads.

There are other channels that are still relatively immature and underutilised by B2B marketers. For those, you'll have to wait for another article or schedule a call with us - we're happy to talk.

Advocate Marketing Tools

There are a few tools that are essential for advocate marketing. You'll need a CRM, a marketing automation tool, and a tool to manage your advocate marketing campaigns. You'll also need a tool to manage your reviews on G2 and Capterra, and you'll need a tool to manage your advocate marketing campaigns.

In 2024, most teams are looking for ways to consolidate toolsets and reduce spending, so I've listed some of the tools that are popular with advocate marketers and can do more than one thing.

Top 6 recommended tools for advocate marketing:

  1. ChartMogul CRM - a CRM with a focus on analytics and measuring progress. We use internally at RateHighly.
  2. RateHighly - we stand by what we are selling because we know it works: it will get you more G2 reviews, which will generate demand with a high ROI
  3. G2 Marketing Solutions - the first party tool to manage your G2 profile and campaigns.
  4. Referral Factory - a referral marketing tool.
  5. Delighted - a tool to measure customer satisfaction and NPS.
  6. Intercom - a consolidated sales and customer success tool.

Get started

RateHighly offers a 14 day free trial of our Growth plan to new users, and a forever free Starter plan, which will immediately start to grow your profile on G2.