Aussie startup taps into social advocacy for brands

Recomazing aims to help consumers share and search recommendations on services from their friends, while giving brands a new data-driven way of listening to and amplifying brand advocacy

At the launch of Recomazing in Sydney (from left): Virgin Mobile director of brand, Nicole Bardsley; International Council of Customer Service secretary general, Prof Brett Whitford; Recomazing founder, Marc Cowper; and Betty Boom director and social strategy, Kevin Lippy
At the launch of Recomazing in Sydney (from left): Virgin Mobile director of brand, Nicole Bardsley; International Council of Customer Service secretary general, Prof Brett Whitford; Recomazing founder, Marc Cowper; and Betty Boom director and social strategy, Kevin Lippy

A home-grown social site facilitating peer-to-peer recommendations between consumers while providing brands with data-driven insights into their customer advocates has officially launched in Australia.

Recomazing is designed to capitalise on the power of social influence and encourages users to create recommendations for services they approve of. These recommendations are linked and shareable via a user’s Facebook profile, while also being searchable by topic on the Recomazing site.

One the other side of the value chain, Recomazing’s founder, Marc Cowper, said the new company is providing a suite of previously untapped data insights to brands derived from the recommendations being generated. Early brand customers include Open Colleges Australia and Virgin Mobile.

Read more: Why Open Colleges is backing a new tool for amplifying brand advocacy

At the launch of the new offering in Sydney, Cowper said the intention was to provide an online site that helped consumers find recommendations in one place. As well as being able to see posts from their friends, consumers using the site can also search the community for a wider array of service recommendations by location and topic. They can also ask their friends directly for service recommendations via Facebook.

For brands, the site provides a data and customer acquisition stream, while “allowing businesses to be part of that important conversation”, Cowper said. Brands can set up a profile and call to action, asking their happy customers identified through customer satisfaction or Net Promoter Score surveys to contribute a recommendation via Recomazing.

The freemium site has devised a three-tiered pricing model. At an entry level, brands asking consumers to recommend them will be able to access the site for free, while at the top end, large businesses will be charged $15,000 for six months to gain the full suite of data and analytics insights on offer. This includes promotional tools and assets for the Recomazing site, such as signatures, ad assets and badges, as well as real-time insights on customers who are recommending their brand.

According to Cowper, insights include tracking advocate sentiment and comments and recommendations across the Recomazing site, an advocate’s social influence, profile, and purchase behavioural data, as well as alerts upon losing a social advocate.

“This will allow brands to attribute value to advocacy and meet their social ROI aspirations,” Cowper claimed.

During the launch, Cowper used newly commissioned research across 1000 Australian consumers to highlight the power of social recommendations compared to other methods of brand advertising. For example, while just 47 per cent of consumers trust online ads, 85 per cent will trust a friend or family member’s recommendations. This is also higher than those that trust online consumer review sites (70 per cent).

In addition, Cowper cited a 41 per cent increase in ad blocking software on the market in the last 12 months, cutting $22 billion in ad spend out of the market for advertisers.

The research also looked into online reputation management, and showed 52 per cent of consumers would ignore a negative online review about a business in favour of a friend’s positive recommendation.

Of course, the challenge will be getting consumers to actively post recommendations. Cowper said Recomazing had gone through various user groups and testing to make sure the process was easy for users.

“Part of the challenge for us is that people are lazy, and we need to make it simple for them to use,” he said, adding that the ability to log in using Facebook was one such step. The company also expects brands to be actively encouraging advocates to post recommendations.

According to Recomazing’s latest survey, the top reason why Australians recommend businesses is to help their friends and family make purchase decisions. But tied in second place are the need to feel valued, a sense of belonging and to strengthen friendships, and a desire to reward businesses for good customer service.

Speaking at the launch, Virgin Mobile director of brand, Nicole Bardsley, said Recomazing will open up untapped customer insights and help Virgin understand the specific attributes of its products and services that consumers call out in recommendations to their peers.

“As a brand that has a strong likelihood to recommend, it makes sense for us to leverage our market-leading experiences in our marketing and have a strong focus on advocacy,” she said. “Our social media strategy in the past has been about identifying fans of our brand and engaging with them.

“Recomazing is a great opportunity for us to capitalise on the strength as brand and turn advocates into a powerful marketing channel for us.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

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