Golf brand TaylorMade saw an increase in its online conversion rates after it began working with brand advocates.
“Customers who engaged with an advocate have a conversion rate almost 3.5 times higher than the overall site average,” said John Gonsalves, vice president of direct to consumer for TaylorMade. “What’s more is that the order value of these customers is approximately 50% higher than the site average.”
TaylorMade harnessed the power of brand advocates through working with Needle, a customer engagement platform.
According to a new study by Needle, 93% of advocates feel they were more effective in satisfying customer needs than sales associates, pointing to a critical need for ecommerce companies to engage them and leverage their influence. However, one in four marketers has not mobilized their brand loyalists to reach new customers.
“The advocate-to-consumer model seemed like a natural fit for TaylorMade, because as golfers we are typically an incredibly passionate group that enjoys telling others about their new gear,” said Gonsalves.
Gonsalves said the passion and excitement for the brand clearly comes through when advocates interact with its customers.
“We quickly learned that the people that are genuinely passionate about your brand are probably the most positive influencers you can find,” said Gonsalves. “The feedback we have heard from customers have been very positive.”
Needle reported that 83% of advocates share personal anecdotes to provide value and build trust with customers, and almost two thirds of advocates use the products they vouch for on a daily basis.
Nearly 60% of customers are peeved by the lack of detail provided about a product or service they looked to purchase, and 55% of advocates hear questions related to size, style, or product details, the report found. Also, more than 90% of advocates report that shoppers are willing to share their email addresses after their interaction.
Part of TaylorMade’s success was because there was very little leg work involved in the in-house implementation of advocate-to-consumer. Another success factor in the advocate-to-consumer strategy was its ability to clearly define the value of the program in three key categories: the amount of chats offered vs. conversations initiated, conversation rates during those chats and the overall change in site revenue.
Gonsalves said prior to working with Needle, TaylorMade distributed its products almost exclusively through third-party retailers and local golf professionals.
“As online sales increased, we started looking for a better way to help our customers find the right equipment that fit their needs,” said Gonsalves. “With a traditional wholesale model, these customers could test equipment before making a purchase to confirm they were choosing exactly what they needed to succeed on the course.”
He said shopping online can remove some of the hands-on customer experience, which prompted the search for a better way to utilize online chats to help customers better understand the products they were researching.
Using brand advocate interactions helps TaylorMade identify ways to better serve our online customers. The brand noticed that there was a knowledge gap between what it thought customers knew about its products and what they actually did.
“For example, customers looking for a new driver were overloaded by the range of options served to them, prompting a lot of similar questions to our advocates,” said Gonsalves. “To solve this, we simplified the offerings to help move them down the funnel.”
Gonsalves said TaylorMade used the advocate model to improve the effectiveness of offline channels, which is more difficult to measure.
“We offer a wide variety of products, and we learned that our customers are doing a lot of research before making a buying decision,” he said. “This often translates to customers doing their due diligence online before going to a local pro shop to demo the equipment.”