They made it personal but how are you supposed to?

What I observed at the 2016 SiriusDecisions Summit is that everyone, in every category of marketing is trying to achieve personalization. From all of the emphasis from vendors and presenters on the customer experience, Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Customer Advocacy, it was clear that personalization is seen as the way to get better demand creation. This was such a strong message that even data and predictive analytics vendors were glomming on by saying they do ABM.

What this says to me is that whether you are a Customer Marketer, a Demand Gen Marketer, a Digital Marketer or a Content Marketer, you are trying to find ways to connect at a more personal level with your target buyers and your customers.

The disappointing part of the conference for me is that while everyone was talking about personalization. Very few presentations (and even fewer vendors) actually covered how to make personalization happen.

But there was one presentation that blew me away

The one presentation that began to approach this in a demonstrable way was called “Customer Advocacy: Its Impact on Demand Creation”. This was a collaborative presentation between the Account Based Marketing/Advocacy group and the Demand Creation group. Research Directors Lisa Nakano and Jen Horton went to a variety of clients and interviewed people that are undertaking advocacy programs and more importantly measuring them. They looked at marketing programs where customers are having influence over personalized 1-to-1 interactions with target buyers. From that, they specifically looked to the data to see if this is truly driving high quality demand creation.

What I liked about this presentation is that they truly addressed all levels of advocacy – from general collateral and reviews of customers, to direct referral leads and even through to customer references used by marketing and sales. What they discovered were some great correlations to demand and revenue. Here are the notable advocacy program examples that yielded indirect influence or even a direct impact on closed business.

Bomgar uses advocacy to drive awareness

Advocacy program: Bomgar runs an advocacy program run on Influitive focusing on using gamification to get customers to post in social media and provide reviews and case study content.

Results: Significant increases in social followers, mentions and posts. They doubled case study content and got 400 suggested leads.

Action Item: While none of this was carried through to a revenue analysis, any Brand or Communications Marketer should take note and work with Customer Marketing to start an awareness-level advocacy program.


Citrix tracks the impact of references

Advocacy program: The customer advocacy program at Citrix has a robust customer reference system and tracks how references used in marketing content and by sales influences deals won.

Results: They showed a clear correlation from 3 years of data showing that the number of references used correlated to pipeline and revenue.

Action Item: Customer Marketers who run reference programs are often seen as librarians and not adding significant value. It might be time to start running some analysis of your own so that you can show value and get buy-in to expand beyond references to other forms of advocacy.


ADP drives demand creation with referrals

Advocacy program: ADP runs four referral programs using the Amplifinity platform. Their largest program is for customers and they run three partner referral programs as well. ADP uses referral programs to achieve personalized 1-to-1 recommendation of their products which drives high quality leads into their system.

Results: The presentation stated that their referral programs are their #1 source of new demand creation. They see a much higher conversion to purchase with referral leads. Additionally, they’ve found that customers that came from referrals are much less likely to churn.

Action item: Digital and Demand Gen Marketers need to stop and re-read the first sentence of results. A company with annual revenue at $11B stated that referral programs are their top source of demand creation. Whoa! If you’re not already doing referrals, seems like it’s time to get started.

Referral programs are becoming integral to demand creation

It is worth mentioning that ADP isn’t the only company mentioned at the SiriusDecisions Summit that has implemented referrals as a key part of their demand creation mix. TSYS Merchant Systems was featured in a Case Study called “Constructing a Referral Channel for Organic Growth”. In it they shared their advice on how they designed and launched their program.

During the presentation they said that their investment in referral software paid for itself in the first 6 weeks. Additionally, while normal marketing-generated leads convert to purchase 1% of the time, they stated that the leads from their referral program were converting to purchase at a rate of 80%. That is astounding!

Bottom line: Advocacy is a proven personalized channel for generating revenue

It is clear that the Bomgar and Citrix examples show what we’ve all felt in our gut – that investing in Customer Advocacy just makes sense.

From the ADP and TSYS examples, it is obvious that referral programs are a direct way to establish at scale the 1-to-1 personal interaction between customers and your target buyers. And more importantly, that it results in the highest quality and highest converting demand creation.

The bad news is that according to SiriusDecision’s 2015 Customer Advocacy study only 23% of b-to-b marketers focus on advocacy for early stage demand creation. With results like those shown from ADP and TSYS I predict that many more b-to-b companies will focus on this in the coming year.

Find out if you are one of those companies by taking the quiz, “Are referrals a fit?

cta referral quiz

Questions? Tweet me @TrishaWinter