Building Brand Advocacy Through Mobile Learning

March 2011 Newsletter

Mobile Strategy, Newsletter Comments (3)

Educational Marketing is a concept that has been around for more time as noted by this article on The basic concept of Educational Marketing can be explained as An educated customer is an engaged customer. An informed customer is more likely to understand and appreciate the value your product or service offers and therefore more likely to buy or recommend your product to others. This is known in marketing circles as “Brand Advocacy.” Writers and bloggers like WordofMoss,Seth Godin and many others have been writing about this concept for some time.

A majority of the time, brand advocacy takes place in one of two main ways. It’s an organic process, with customers becoming advocates because of the product being great resulting in them telling others about it. The second main way has arisen because of pervasive social media and sharing. Brand advocacy can also be seeded, with companies sending freebies, samples and other offers to influential bloggers and Twitter users. These influencers then share their feelings on the product (hopefully positive). Either way, there is no debate that brand advocacy is an effective way to turn more people on to your product and that it does matter in a modern marketing effort. These types of advocacy are considered authentic and real and therefore carry much more gravitas and weight than traditional commercials or ads. It  has longer term and more lasting effect than viral campaigns and costs virtually nothing compared to other more conventional marketing such as radio, print, and television. This marketing takes advantage of the social media concept, “Wisdom of Friends,” putting stock because people take their social network’s recommendations seriously and that it definitely influences and impacts their buying habits.

What does this all have to do with mobile learning you may ask? Well, what if you could harness the power of mobile learning to help create brand advocates amongst your existing customers? What if you could produce great content that empowered your customers, informed them and helped them see the value of your products even more than they already do? This content should inform and instruct users on how to make the most out of your products whether they are home improvement tools, a vacation package, or electronics. By giving users useful and fresh educational content, your mobile application (“there’s an app for that”) is more likely to be reused. In Josh Clark’s excellent book Tapworthy, it’s revealed that users download 10 apps per month on average, and most are not launched more than 20 times.  After 2 months only 1/3 apps are used at all. Gimmick apps are used only a handful of times. Consider this example: a virtual circular saw is cute, but will only be used 3-5 times, however an app with videos on how to actually use a circular saw may be used 2-3x times as many as that. Couple that content with social media sharing features and you may be helping to create your own little army of brand advocates.

In an article published in Learning Solutions Magazine, Float asked, “Who Owns Mobile in Your Organization?” Based on our observation of the marketplace and paying attention to what our contacts are telling us, more often than not, Sales and Marketing are very influential in getting mobile initiatives rolling in the enterprise. You can see this in a quick search of various mobile app stores; product catalogs and simple gimmick apps abound. Who funded these apps development? Well, it wasn’t IT, and if you’re reading this, it probably wasn’t your department either. Likely, it was marketing’s budget that paid for these experiments into mobile. This really needs to change going forward, especially if you want to build brand advocates and empower your customers to help you sell to their social network. Why? Well, who knows more about how to use your products than the learning department? Who knows how to pull together the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), content, resources, and talent to produce great content useful to people? You should point at yourself right about now.

So, what to do? One easy thing to do would be to look in your industry and see how educational content is being packaged to the consumer.  Hardware companies frequently have “Projects and Advice” sections on their sites, electronics resellers have question-and-answer sections on how to connect the devices they sell. Use this research to frame up easy ways to bring useful information to your customers. Then, after you have ideas, go talk to marketing. Perhaps there is a way to a partner and share your budgets and resources to produce something truly great and a game changer to boot. An application that truly sets your organization and its products or services apart; distinct and valuable. Often the content that the learning department is creating for owner manuals and sales training is not really that different from the brochures shipped to the customers or the videos on the site showing the features and benefits of the product.

There are basic things to consider in the content you provide. This is training, not a hard sell, so please remember that to build advocacy your content needs to:

·      Provide real, timely and actionable help information

·      Use the product as a user would don’t feature it as a “star”

·      Use the product safely, and just as you would want a consumer to use it

·      Subtly reinforce your product’s value proposition

We strongly recommend using high production value in the content’s production. This mobile app is more than likely going to have a potentially much larger audience than you may be used to targeting. A typical sales module may only have an audience of hundreds of employees that are accustomed to internal jargon, photography and video styles. Externally facing content needs to be more polished. You might hire talent and scouting for a shooting location rather than use B-Roll and talking heads as you may use in your other learning content.

In preparing to deliver this content, please remember to set yourself up for success. Plan for measurements and metrics. In-app analytics are a must, creating a landing page at your site for the app store traffic is a basic requirement, using simple e-commerce conversion tools like promo codes is a viable option and using a social media measurement platform like would be a smart thing to do. This will enable you to know who is sharing content out of your app, and who is buying based on the experience in the app. Remember, Satisfied customers tell 3, angry, 3000.

Your next step should be to consider how brand advocacy can work for your brand. Are companies in your vertical using it or experiencing the benefits of putting educational content in their customer’s smartphones? Talk to marketing. Are they using advocacy in their efforts? How are they building it? Could they enjoy your content and expertise on creating learning? You have the great opportunity of bringing a powerful audience to your company via a partnership between marketing and learning: fans.

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Chad Udell is the Managing Partner, strategy and new product development, at Float. There he leads his design and development teams to successful outcomes and award-winning work via a strong background in both disciplines and a singular focus on quality. He has worked with industry-leading Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to design and develop experiences for 20 years. Chad is recognized as an expert in mobile design and development, and he speaks regularly at national and international events and conferences on related topics. Chad is author of Learning Everywhere: How Mobile Content Strategies Are Transforming Training and co-editor and chapter author, with Gary Woodill, of Mastering Mobile Learning: Tips and Techniques for Success. His newest book, Shock of the New, co-authored with Gary Woodill was released in April of 2019.

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On March 3, 2011

3 Responses to Building Brand Advocacy Through Mobile Learning

  1. I agree regarding your points about the power of Advocacy, but had one contention on your comment about the need to incentivize Word of Mouth.

    It is not necessary to provide incentives to get Brand Advocates to recommend (even for brands in categories like telecom, software and financial services). Your highly-satisfied customers are already recommending your brand, and incentivizing them makes the interaction less authentic and real.

    We’ve found at Zuberance that the key to energizing Word of Mouth marketing at scale is to have a systematic approach to brand advocacy – a “Brand Advocate System” – that automates the process of identifying and mobilizing a company’s authentic Brand Advocates, generating a measurable 10X ROI.

    We wrote a blog post on the topic, and debated social media strategist Joe Jaffe on this very topic. You can read more here:

    • Chad Udell says:

      Crystal, thanks for the visit and the comment. In general I agree that “It is not necessary to provide incentive”… the fact is that it is happening. The most authentic and primary method should indeed be simply having a great product that makes people want to talk about it, but that may not always be possible, especially for certain cases. I did state that it is only one way to achieve that goal, not the ONLY way. I do know of several bloggers besides myself (my personal site gets a fair amount of traffic) who have been approached to help contribute to brand advocacy campaigns. It definitely can work when the right person is seeded.

      BTW… there appears to be some sort of a malware warning on some pages of your website recently when navigating in via Google search results. I enjoy reading your content, so I hope you can get that figured out soon.

      Please continue to visit our site to get more info on mobile learning strategy.


  2. Actually, we’ve found that about half of a brand’s customers are Brand Advocates, which is pretty surprising to a lot of folks. This is across all verticals. And, by Brand Advocates I mean the people who already proactively recommend your brand or product.

    For instance:
    • 69% of customers of a consumer electronics company are Brand Advocates (source:
    Zuberance company data)
    • 54% of customers of a security so%ware company are Brand Advocates (source:
    Zuberance company data)
    • 49% of customers of computer hardware manufacturers are Brand Advocates
    (source: Satmetrix)
    • In the off-maligned wireless industry, an average of 41% of customers of companies
    like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are “Promoters”; they’re highly likely to
    recommend the companies they do business with. (source: “Answering the Ultimate
    Question, How Net Promoter Can Transform Your Business,” R. Owen & L. Brooks,
    Ph. D.)

    I agree that influencer programs (reaching out to bloggers, media, etc.) are important too for gaining momentum and buzz.

    p.s. We got hacked last week, which was really frustrating – but the site is back up now. Sorry about that!

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