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I have some bad news for you: Market leaders are losing their dominant position to companies that have a digital business advantage. Right now, the "digital predators" are generating over 80% of their business digitally, and by 2020, that number will grow to 90%. Most companies, though, are producing 29% of their sales through digital means.

What's more, in 2014, Gartner estimated that 20% of all market leaders would lose their dominant position to a company founded after the year 2000 because of a lack of digital business advantage

In today's buying environment, the power of growth-focused companies lies in the concept of digital business advantage. Those companies use technology to gain a competitive edge. They use solutions to build personal relationships with customers and win their business.

Effective use of an employee advocacy platform is one of the best ways to get a leg up on the competition. Below, you'll find four ways that employee advocacy can help you stay at the forefront of digital transformation initiatiives.

Make Your Company Visible to Customers

One the largest issues that companies face is awareness. Sure, you can always spend more money on advertising to attract attention. But buyers have learned how to tune out ads, and the ones they see, they don't trust.

So, how do you get on your buyers' radars? Instead of buying attention, you earn it, and you do it through some of the most trusted people at your company: your employees.

Buyers are in control, and to educate themselves, they seek out helpful, authentic content that explains how they can overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.

And while they can find content on your branded channels, keep in mind that social media isn't just about what you share; it's also about who shares it. And peers and company employees are among the most credible spokespeople. Why wouldn't you want content in the hands of the most trustworthy people at your company?

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What's more, your employees are able to reach new audiences. Dell has found that 90% of an employee's social audience is new to the brand. Take a second to do the math. Let's say that you have 1,000 advocates, and together, they have 634,000 followers. Of those followers, 570,600 will be new to your brand. That's a lot of untapped potential.

 

Create a Well-Established Sales Machine

Many employee advocacy programs start with their sales teams. That's because sales reps are already trained on the company's messaging. Plus, there's a tight link between reps' actions and revenue.

Several studies have shown that sales reps who use social outperform their peers, which shouldn't come as a surprise. By building a strong presence, reps can attract buyers. They can engage and nurture them. They can maintain relationships with current customers. And they can expand their influence by connecting with more stakeholders at their existing accounts.

"The individual seller is a demand generation platform in and of themselves," says Julie Currie,Vice President, Lead Management & Marketing, IBM Digital Business Group. But to be effective, they need support and technological infrastructure. While sellers might be able to figure social out on their own, they'll be much more productive if they have an employee advocacy platform in place.

An employee advocacy platform will equip reps with:

  • The content they need to educate their buyers
  • Sample messaging they can tweak for their individual buyers
  • Insights about their accounts and industries, which will make their communications more tailored and more educated

The best part? Reps don't have to waste time, seeking out that information on their own. With an employee advocacy, that information comes to them, and it's located all in one place, whether that be online, on mobile, or on their CRM.
 

Focus on What Works

Reporting plays a big role in gaining a digital advantage over your competitors, particularly reporting that lets you hone in on what works.

Many employee advocacy platforms provide you with tactical metrics. They help you understand how many people clicked on a link, or how many people your advocates reached, or how many people retweeted a tweet.

To be sure, tactical metrics are especially important at the beginning of an employee advocacy program, when you're trying to establish best practices. If people aren't clicking on your advocates' links when you have 50 advocates, you might want to rethink your approach to social sharing before you enlist 100 advocates. Perhaps you need different content or snazzier headlines.

That said, while tactical metrics have value, they have their limits, as well. CMOs and other executives aren't interested in tactical measurements. (That's why some marketers refer to tactical metrics as "vanity metrics.") CMOs want more strategic metrics – ones that can be mapped onto the sales funnel and be assigned dollar values. 

Today's multi-touch, multi-channel world requires reporting that ties revenue back to all campaigns that influence a deal, and that includes your employee advocacy program. Unfortunately, revenue-related numbers happen to be the numbers that many employee advocacy vendors ignore. As a result, many program managers have trouble justifying their advocacy programs to their CMOs. Try not to let this happen to you.

 

Attract the Best Talent

The right talent can be a major advantage for enterprises, and employee advocacy can play a major role in attracting the best talent. How? You can construct a strong an employer brand and include your employees in it.

It's one to tell recruits what your company culture is like; it's another thing for potential hires to see your employees living your company's culture on social media.

Still not convinced? Check out these stats:

  • 76% of applicants viewed an employee’s LinkedIn profile 6 months prior to applying for a job at that company (LinkedIn).
  • 69% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (Glassdoor).
  • Employers with strong employment brands see a 43% decrease in cost per hire (LinkedIn).
  • Companies that not only have a strong consumer brand, but also a strong talent brand, registered a 36% gain in share price (LinkedIn).

Prepare for Digital Dominance

Buyers are looking for a differentiated customer experience, from first touch to purchase and beyond. That's where employee advocacy comes in. By leveraging an employee advocacy platform, enterprises can see a digital advantage by tapping into the credibility and authenticity of their employees.

If you'd like to learn more about employee advocacy, check out our ebook The Rise of the Employee Marketer.

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Posted by Mark Bajus

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