The average firm is expected to allocate 45 percent of their marketing budget to online marketing by 2020. However, you don’t have to allocate a high budget to online marketing to meet your marketing objectives.
Facebook advertising costs have been rising steadily for years. Facebook’s First Quarter 2018 Results show that the average revenue per ad increased by 39% while the number of ad impressions served increased only by 8% in Q1.
The cost per click for branded keywords on Google Ads, meanwhile, remains volatile, having risen to the tune of 23% over the course of Q4 2018, as minimum first page bids for non-branded keywords rose by 23% compared to the previous year.
These numbers tell a clear story: advertising is becoming a more expensive investment. Investing in paid ads is still strategic, especially when you know that your marketing campaigns convert. But it’s not your only option for expanding your social media reach.
As it gets more and more expensive to run ad campaigns, you can invest in other marketing tactics instead. Employee advocacy, for example, can allow you to reach just as many leads at a much lower cost.
Here’s why you should look into employee advocacy to increase your marketing and sales ROI:
Employee Advocacy Is the Key to Recovering Organic Reach
As social media sites such as Facebook are updating their algorithms to increase users’ opportunity to interact with their peers, brands are struggling to increase their organic reach on these sites. But it’s still possible to increase reach and capture leads simply by posting as a team on social media.
The secret lies in your employees, who are already active on social media. Smarp has found that the average employee has 420 friends on Facebook, 400 connections on LinkedIn, and 360 followers on Twitter. That’s over 1,000 total contacts per team member who could see what they share about your business!
Think of the estimated earned media value of reaching 1,000 people per employee and compare that to the cost per lead of your last sponsored post. With employee advocacy, you can reach your target audience even faster than you could with paid ads!
Building Brand Reputation and Trust
Not only can you reach as many targeted prospects with employee advocacy as opposed to paid ads, but you also build brand trust in a more effective way.
According to recent Clutch data, online and social are the least trustworthy advertising mediums. So, while paid ads do let you reach your target audience, you’re not exactly starting off your relationship on the best foot. And when people are wary of their first impression with you, such as a paid ad with inherent skepticism, it takes more work to earn their trust.
However, employee advocacy has many elements of word-of-mouth marketing built into it. Word-of-mouth leverages the relationships between people who already know each other, and the existing trust between them: 92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other advertising.
When that Facebook or Twitter connection learns of your campaign or offer through one of your team members’ posts, they’ll immediately trust it more than something they would discover through a targeted ad campaign.
Leads Enter Further Down the Sales Funnel
Finally, because of the lack of awareness often found in the audience of a paid advertising campaign and the lack of trust that audience will have in your brand, advertising campaigns have a longer path to conversion than other types of marketing.
Marketing to audiences through channels they don’t trust requires a lot of education and persuasion throughout your sales funnel. There are a lot of questions to answer, trust factors to build, and objections to overcome.
However, with employee advocacy, the trust and reputation factors work in your company’s favor. That means leads start out further down into the sales funnel and you can convert them faster. In fact, one recent social selling trends report found that social sellers gain 57% higher return on investment than those using traditional sales tactics.
This is where you really see the relationships built through employee advocacy pay off. Because you’re reaching prospects through a more trustworthy channel, the sales process becomes vastly different.
Leverage Your Employees’ Networks
Your employees are already connected to potential customers online, the same ones you could be targeting through paid advertising campaigns. Instead of spending your marketing budget in more expensive ad campaigns, start allocating resources to employee advocacy efforts in order to reach your target audience and create new sales opportunities.