In this interview, Lisa Edwards, Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, shares her tips to take your marketing strategy to the next level with employee advocacy.
Producing high-quality and engaging content is not an easy task but reaching out to the target audience is even more challenging for marketers: 50% of content created by marketing teams goes unseen today. In addition to content overload, marketing professionals are facing another challenge: distrust in corporate messaging and ads. According to HubSpot, 4 out of 5 people have already left a webpage because of a pop-up or autoplaying video ad. Overall, 73% of people dislike pop-up ads.
So, how to stand out from the crowd and engage with customers in this context of content overload and distrust in brands?
You may not know it yet but you already have your best marketing assets: your employees. Indeed, brand messages shared by employees earn 561% more reach than the same messages shared through the company’s social media accounts.
Not only do your employees increase your brand awareness and reach, they also generate trust: 92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above ads. Lisa Edwards, Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, shares her thoughts on employee advocacy and her best practices for engaging employees to become brand ambassadors:
Hi Lisa, you're a Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, can you tell us a bit more about your background, what's your story?
Sure! I grew up and lived in Connecticut until I attended Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts where I majored in Marketing and Studio Art. Right after college I did a year of post-graduate service at a non-profit organization that delivers fresh food and gently used furniture to people in need completely free of charge. It was a formative year for me that emphasized the importance of social justice and community building in my life. From there I went on to work in marketing at an environmental consulting firm in Cambridge, MA.
After a couple of years there I was eager for a new challenge, and that’s when I landed my job here at HubSpot. I’ve been here for almost a year and a half now. I love my job as a product marketer — each day is a new challenge. I am humbled to work at a company whose products not only help companies grow, but help them grow better. To me, working for a company that echoes my personal values is paramount.
What's your definition of employee advocacy?
Employee advocacy is when you get your entire company energized by the products that your company is launching — even if their role at your company has nothing to do with the product development process itself.
If you’re doing employee advocacy right, a random sampling of employees across different job functions will all be aware of major product launches and many will be willing to do some small, personal actions to share their excitement with their own networks in a genuine, fun, and human way.
While trust towards ads and corporate messages is decreasing, employees can help brands to build trust, can you tell us more about this approach?
You’re completely right. Ads, blog content, press releases — these are all table stakes in a successful large-scale product launch these days. While an important part of the process, there’s more than the standard playbook that can be done to promote what your company is up to.
"Hearing from customers and people you know personally and already trust will help give your company’s launches the extra force needed to stand out in a sea of marketing content".
HubSpot’s CEO Brian Halligan talked about the crisis in trust during his INBOUND keynote in 2018. Did you know that we trust baristas more than marketers? Word of mouth is the new king in marketing, and that’s why the personal touch from employee advocacy can be so important.
Another challenge faced by marketers is finding the right ways to reach their target audience. Can you tell us how employees can increase their company's social reach?
All companies have their own standard marketing channels. These channels will obviously be different depending on their target markets, but a general rule of thumb is to meet your customers and prospects where they are.
By engaging employees in your company’s social outreach, you’re now adding a second dimension to this age-old standard: you meet your customers and prospects where they are, through the friends or family they already engage with and trust.
What are your top tips to better engage employees in the company's content marketing strategy?
It needs to be frictionless. If you tell your employees you want them to help but give them hurdles — they won’t jump.
You need to remove as much friction as possible from the process and make it feel easy, natural, and genuine for your employees to engage their personal networks with your brand.
"You can’t “force” your employees to all “retweet” or “like” launch content, but you can find creative and personal ways to engage them in the launch process".
An important thing to note here — for employee advocacy to work, it must be genuine. (For more tips and tricks on how to achieve genuine and frictionless employee advocacy campaign, see our upcoming webinar!).
How do you see employee advocacy evolving in the next upcoming years?
It’s surprising how few companies leverage employee advocacy today. As the technology around this method gets more advanced we’ll see an increase in companies with well-structured employee advocacy programs that are consistently used to promote their brand and products.
There aren’t a lot of companies who have nailed this yet, especially in the SaaS space. That means there is a massive opportunity to set your brand apart from others in the market. Get ahead of the curve and start involving your employees with your product launches today. But most importantly, have fun with it!
About Lisa: Lisa M. Edwards is a Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot. Besides marketing, she is also passionate about art and can often be found hiking, traveling, or wandering around the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum!
Are you interested in learning more on how to increase your brand awareness and build an authentic marketing strategy with employee advocacy? Lisa will co-host with Bruno Bin, Head of Marketing at Smarp, the webinar “How to Maximize Marketing Impact with Employee Advocacy” on Wednesday, March 20th at 3 PM GMT. Together, they’ll share actionable tips to integrate employee advocacy into your marketing strategy. You can register already now!