How Net Promoter Can Revolutionize Your Digital Marketing

by · March 5, 201319 comments

Net Promoter is a simple methodology of asking prospects or customers how likely they are to recommend you. It is one tiny question that can have a tremendous impact on your business success. It may seem frilly or like another stupid customer satisfaction survey, but it can be game changing for companies who use it strategically to help make better business decisions.

The Power of a Simple Question

The simplicity of Net Promoter is one of the reasons I find it so powerful. It takes less than a second to answer the question. Honestly, it’s so easy you’re almost a jerk if you don’t answer it for the company. Think about the ramifications this question could have on your digital marketing strategy? Do you think it could help you make better decisions? Do you think it will help you understand your customers better? Do you think it could change how you market to your customers? Here are some examples of how Net Promoter can transform your digital marketing approach.

How likely are YOU to recommend our company? Respond on a scale of 1 – 10, 1 = unlikely, 10 = very likely

Net Promoter Helps You Find Natural Promoters

Check out “Put Up or Shut Up: Beyond Social Influence” by Tamsen Webster here

Tamsen Webster presented an amazing framework for understanding influence at Explore last year. She looks at opportunities to categorize how people mention and recommend brands into four buckets based upon cost and level of effort. For the purpose of this post we are going to focus on two of those buckets; altruistic activators and advocates. These align with standard net promoter terminology, but I believe her language better illustrates the power each group holds.

Traditional Net Promoter Methodology
  • Respondents with a 9-10 are Promoters
  • Respondents with a 7-8 are Passives
  • Respondents with a 6 or below are Dectractors
Updated Net Promoter Terminology
  • Respondents with a 9-10 are Promoters/Altruistic Activators
  • Respondents with a 7-8 are Passives/Advocates
  • Respondents with a 6 or below are Dectractors

In Tamsen’s model, the most desired level of influencer is called an altruistic activator; in net promoter it is called a promoter. It’s brilliant, actually. Altruistic activators are your customers who scream from the roof tops about how much they love you. Any time someone mentions a service or product your company provides, they immediately tell them how much they love your company. Altruistic activators don’t need to be compensated; they are thrilled to help someone else find you and almost view it as one of their personal missions to share their story with people it can help. Altruistic activators are every company’s dream, but finding them can be a challenge. Social media has helped to identify them when online recommendations are made, but let’s face it; a lot of companies aren’t paying attention enough to make the connection.  But implementing Net Promoter methodology could provide a much easier path to finding and leveraging altruistic activators.

Give Altruistic Activators a Megaphone

Altruistic Activators / Promoters Could Be Your Most Powerful Asset Online

So you know who your altruistic activators are, now what? Think about some of the problem areas for your company online. Then think about how you can empower your altruistic activators to help change it.  Want to launch a new social media initiative? Why not give altruistic activators early access to break it to their friends first? Plagued by negative reviews from a few unhappy customers, but never seem to get the happy ones there? Why not ask your altruistic activators to post a review? Just think about how powerful this group could be in helping to move your company’s social media efforts forward.  This is a group where giving an unexpected gift or treat will go across the country in milliseconds!

Don’t Ignore Advocates

The majority of your customers are likely passive advocates

Focus on your advocates and determine how to turn them into Altruistic Activators. What can you do that will take it to the next level for them? While it’s important to focus on consistently exceeding expectations, the reality is that you will have a solid bunch of happy customers in this group. You should treat them as such and be satisfied if the majority of your customers are altruistic activators or advocates. If you are really knocking it out of the park, both groups combined is probably in the 90-95% range. This group makes up the bulk of your customer base and it’s your job to work hard to consistently exceed their expectations too. But if you are looking for a big bang in word of mouth online and offline, altruistic activators are good bets.

Pay Extra Special Attention to Detractors

Detractors range from internet trolls to customers who quietly go away and NEVER come back

Now that we’ve got all of the happy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about your detractors. There’s no way this group would recommend you. And there are subsets of the group who will actively tell people how much they hate you at every turn. You’ve come across some of these people online; we tend to call them internet trolls or flamers. This is where you find the toughest work. Your job is to turn them into raving fans. We all recognize there are some people you’ll never make happy but half of the battle is knowledge that someone isn’t happy. If you know when someone is unhappy you can take action to quickly escalate and resolve the issue. Then you are less likely to have a group of haters lurking in the ditches of the interwebs, just waiting for a chance to pounce. There should be active policies on how to handle and resolve issues for detractors that empowers the front line to act swiftly and make things right for customers.

The Economics of Net Promoter

Net Promoter: Old School? Or More Relevant than Ever?

Net Promoter isn’t something new, there has been significant research on the impact it has on a company’s bottom line. And trust me, it isn’t a joking matter. And there are some that would argue that Net Promoter is old hat. In fact, not too long ago a respected thought leader from a major advertising agency told me that Net Promoter had fallen out of favor and wasn’t being practiced anymore with their clients. Well, I think that’s just stupid. When did understanding customer satisfaction “fall out of favor” as a marketing tool? Call me old school, but I’ve never seen a bigger opportunity for a resurgence and validation of an old model than right now. Promoters can have a huge impact on the bottom line because they spend more and they refer new clients who spend more. Detractors cost the company more in customer service costs, spend less, don’t stay and they tell all their friends not to buy from you. The cost of not being able to identify your happy and unhappy customers is significant. And how about this, I believe Net Promoter represents a valid metric for measuring social media impact over time.

This is More than an Annual Survey

The Net Promoter Question Should Be Integrated into Every Possible Touchpoint

So here’s where the big difference comes in. Traditionally, Net Promoter was an annual survey that was sent to customers. Companies waited for the results and rejoiced when they did well because they were good for another year. This is where the biggest change needs to come with Net Promoter. This shouldn’t be a question that is only asked once. This is a question that should be asked with EVERY customer interaction. We should be tracking people’s scores at every touch point from every phone call to our email subscription form to every email a customer receives. I believe the question should be built into every email template so it is front and center in every communication. I believe it should be on every form a prospect or customer fills out. And I believe it should be asked on every customer service call. Digital marketing channels provide a tremendous platform for integrating the Net Promoter question.

Why? Because we should be tracking the lifetime Net Promoter scores for customers. We should have a feedback loop that immediately notifies us if a customer’s score changed drastically; good or bad. The only way we can truly leverage NPS to make better decisions is to get close to real-time feedback. Then we can really start to do something special. We can start to show we really care about our customers, one experience at a time. Imagine that…

How big of an impact would it have on your digital strategy if you could identify your altruistic activators/promoters? Would you communicate with your altruistic activators differently? Do you think Net Promoter is old hat or ready for a big comeback? Leave a comment and join the discussion!

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About Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://blog.socialmediahq.com/ Nick Robinson

    Love it Nichole! There’s so much you can do with that type of data collection, my head is spinning with ideas. One scenario – query all changes from advocate to detractor, and throw them into a queue for a customer service rep to make calls, send e-mails, send tweets (whatever the customer prefers). Same goes for advocate to altruistic activator.  

    • http://twitter.com/Nichole_Kelly Nichole Kelly

      That’s exactly what we’re working on Nick! :-) Building a notification mechanism so detractors get escalated quickly while also looking at how to make altruistic activators feel special. Thanks for diving into the discussion!

  • Rosemary

    What types of tools are usually used to track net promoter responses by customer (for example, if you want to track changes over time)? Any recommendations on how to integrate this into a CRM, or a CRM that already includes room for this data?

    • http://twitter.com/Nichole_Kelly Nichole Kelly

      Rosemary – Great question! SatMetrix looks like they are doing some interesting things and you can easily set up a net promoter field in Salesforce (http://www.clicktools.com/blog/net-promoter-calculations-in-salesforce/). But the challenge is measuring over time. It can’t be a field that gets over-written when the value changes. Salesforce has a solid API so we are doing some testing on building the question into the email template and then passing the data into the contact record. But we still have to figure out how to store old responses and will look at triggers to notify people when scores change a lot. We’re on the early stages of looking at this through a new lens. 

    • http://wmougayar.com/ William Mougayar

      Hi Rosemary,
      Integrating with a CRM is key because your advocates are your customers, prospects, partners, influencers, etc… They come in many flavors. I suggest to look at Influitive who lets you properly run an advocate marketing program and it integrates with Salesforce.com. (I work for Influitive)

    • Adam Ramshaw

      Rosemary, you can use an NPS specific tool like CustomerGauge (disclaimer: we resell this product in Australia) that can put data back into the Salesforce, or other, CRM.

  • http://wmougayar.com/ William Mougayar

    Hi Nichole,
    You make a lot of great points about the need to focus on the activity of these promoters. NPS on its own is passive.

    The “altruistic activators” are arguably your most valuable segment. Actually, they will defend you/your products in the marketplace against the detractors.

    There’s a new marketing competency for managing the whole spectrum of activities of your advocates, and we call it Advocate Marketing. There comes a point when you need to manage this like a program so you can see the continuum of activities and get a better handle on the ROI and results. A platform like Influitive (shameful plug) can help http://www.influitive.com

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  • Adam Ramshaw

    Nichole, great post — it always seems a shame to me the companies using NPS spend so lots of time and money collecting a new segmentation variable for their customers called “Propensity to Promote” but never use it for marketing. 

    I joke that if I sold them a service to augment their customer profile data with this information they’d pay a fortune for it but here they have it and never use it.I have some practical suggestions on how to leverage NPS data for marketing in this post:http://www.genroe.com/blog/how-to-use-customer-feedback-to-directly-drive-revenue/1498

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  • http://batman-news.com Monica Collier

    Nichole, thank you, this was exactly what I needed to get my brain into ideas mode! In my company we already perform strong closed loop actions in some of our touchpoints like Call Centre and Retail, and I’m now wanting to focus on the huge potential in our social media channels. This post have given me a great starting point to develop my ideas and concepts.