A CMO’s observations of the 2016 SiriusDecisions Summit: The personalization craze vs. the real thing

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

How referral software bridges the chasm of B2B technology adoption

Escape the Neverland of the technology adoption life cycle with referral software

There are many stories and movies that document and romanticize the idea of never growing up (Peter Pan and Pippi Longstocking). And it’s not hard to see why. Childhood and adolescences is a time full of opportunity, innovation, and creativity without the responsibility or social expectation of having everything figured out. This is very similar to the technology adoption life cycle during the innovators and early adopters stages, from Geoffrey A. Moore’s book, Crossing the Chasm. The type of creative and experimental license and development that takes place during these stages of the technology adoption life cycle is only accepted at this time because of the psychological characteristics that categorize innovators and early adopters.

  • Innovators – Innovators are forgiving. They know your technology will have its challenges and maybe some issues but they embrace it because they want to be cutting edge.
  • Early adopters – Early adopters can see the potential of your technology before it has presented proven or widespread results. However, their belief in your product includes the expectation that everything is working properly.

Both innovators and early adopters are characterized by their lack of focus on a technology’s proven results as opposed to its ability to have great future results and put them ahead of the curve.

But while those adopters are necessary to amass in the early evolution of your technology’s development, no business wants their growth to halt at the early adopters stage of technology adoption. After all, even Wendy from J.M. Barrie’s classic, Peter Pan, is ready to grow up and leave Neverland eventually. Just as every startup will inevitably attempt to get their technology adoption to grow and cross the chasm to reach the early majority. Unfortunately, unlike Peter Pan, fairy dust and happy thoughts will not fly you over the chasm like it flew the Darlings home (although it would be great if it did).

When trying to cross the chasm to grow your customer acquisition you have to understand the psychological characteristics that are inherent in the early majority to know the cause of the chasm between the early adopters and the early majority. These characteristics include:

  • Pragmatism
  • A desire for proven results
  • The craving for referrals and reviews from trusted sources
  • Evidence of program support

By understanding the characteristics that cause the chasm you can then start to figure out how to construct a bridge between your early adopter and the early majority.  Otherwise, like many other startups or new technologies, you might get stuck in the Neverland of technology adoption with little chance for growth.

So what will help you construct that bridge?

The early majority aren’t looking for your assurances on how reliable and cutting edge you are, they need to hear that from sources outside your business that have experienced the benefits and challenges of your technology. This means that your business isn’t the one who can physically layout the bricks to build the bridge, your customers and partners are.

But as you know, to be disruptive you need to have control, automation, and the ability to scale in all your processes and initiatives, including advocacy. Automated referral programs provide those features.

How to give Advocates the materials and motivation to build your bridge

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While you may not be able to directly bridge the gap between early adopters and the early majority, you do have the opportunity to increase the referral reach and activity of your current customers and partners by giving them the tools that optimize the process. And lucky for you, innovators and the early adopters are inherently enthusiastic and optimistic about your technology which makes them prime candidates to refer.

Automated referral software turns that simple enthusiasm into action by providing you with the opportunity to incentivize and empower referrals through a consistently branded channel of communication that motivates your innovators and early adopters to make a warm introduction to your potential early majority adopters. Through this channel, Advocates can extend the trust and respect of their previously established relationships to encompass your brand and create a bridge of communication over the chasm to the early majority for high valued interactions.

In fact, the automated referral software bridge is so effective at crossing the chasm that studies have proven that referral leads convert 4x more than marketing leads, (emarketer).

So if you’re in the process of staring down into the chasm that separates your current customer and the next stage of your technology adoption, ask yourself this question.

Do I have the right tools to bridge the chasm?

If you don’t know the answer to that a referral program might be the exactly what you’re looking for. After all, no one wants to be stuck in technology adoption Neverland forever. Calculate how automated referral software can bridge the gap and improve your ROI now!

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How widgets limit your referral program’s functionality

Are referral widgets just a vanity application?

Referral widgets have become a widely adopted approach for businesses so you may be considering whether this is the best path to launching your referral program. But unless you’re an ecommerce company concerned with only tracking a single transaction and not interested in generating repeat referrals, widgets fail when applied to referral programs.

In fact, when widgets are applied to most B2B referral programs they become more of a vanity application than anything else. Like vanity metrics, widgets’ trending popularity in the technology sphere might make you think that adopting the widget strategy will improve engagement since it has no barrier to refer. But for B2Bs, widgets fail to prompt and capture repeat referral action and data which is essential to a successful referral program. While a widget makes it easy for customers to make a referral, it only does this by dramatically reducing the amount of valuable information you acquire.

A full referral program however, captures customer and partner information in order to build a mutually beneficial relationship and increase the value of referrals, generate and close a higher number of referrals, and obtain repeat referrals from the same costumer.

Check out these 7 questions to help you decide if a widget is really what you want or will just act as a vanity application.

7 Questions to ask when considering a referral widget

  1. Will a widget inhibit referral program data collection?

 

Yes. With a widget, there is no referral program registration. Program registration provides deeper understanding of your advocates and repeat referrals. The information you collect at the time of referral using a widget is usually the bare minimum necessary to track and fulfill a reward. Typically this is just an email address. The gathered information is more concerned with delivery of the gift card than creating a relationship with your advocates.

 

  1. How does qualifying leads change with a referral widget compared to a full referral program?

 

With a widget no advocate profile is created, which means that you cannot see top advocates (other than email addresses). Additionally, there is not enough information to pass into Salesforce to match up with a contact. Therefore, no advocate data exists in Salesforce. That also means no Advocate name listed on the referral lead so you can’t contact them to prequalify the lead.

 

  1. But wait, can’t we just collect the name and create a profile each time a customer or partner use the widget?

 

Sure, but then you are forcing them to register each time and they might change their contact information so you have no way to ensure that their data will be combined properly. Furthermore, this would eliminate the fundamental advantage of the widget that it is a simple process. Once you add registration, you might as well not use the widget.

 

  1. Hold up, if it is an SSO system, can’t the widget talk to that system and get the info?

 

This is possible, but only with so much dev effort that it eliminates the value of the widget being easy to drop in. One company I talked to about this strategy attempted to do this and had to develop an entire page solely focused on supporting their new widget. It took so much dev time and effort that they never were able to implement the widget on any other page.

 

  1. Does adopting a widget based strategy introduce any security concerns?

 

Yes. Another issue with widgets is that they open up your website to the potential of getting hacked. More specifically, your website is at the mercy of the security processes and standards of the company developing the widget you are adopting. To avoid this issue marketers should make sure the widget goes through a comprehensive internal security review to avoid introducing any security risks to their web properties.

 

  1. But widgets at least are always available and visible to a website visitor right?

 

No. Another limitation of widgets is that they don’t always work when a web visitor has ad blocking turned on. About 20% of web users today utilize ad blocker technology, which means 20% of your visitors won’t be able to refer.

 

  1. So how do widgets keep customers or partners engaged in the referral program?

 

They don’t. Another issue with the widget is that you can’t accumulate rewards. Since the widget tracks the single referral and not the advocate, you can’t use reward structures such as monthly commission checks. This also discourages repeat referrals.

At Amplifinity, our platform is designed using a relationship focused sales approach, which means that providing you the best data while creating a good experience for the customer and partners who are referring you is our top priority. And with the option of single sign-on (SSO) we lower the barrier of entry into the referral program to make customer and partner referrals seamless. Learn what features will increase your referral program ROI by checking out our features page and requesting a demo today!

 

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Questions? Email me at JSwenson@amplifinity.com

Originally appeared in Customer Think

I had 5 awesome C-level sales meetings in one week. Here’s the secret to how I got them.

It was a great week. I had 5 quality C-level meetings with potential new customers and partners for Amplifinity in the short week before a holiday. The opportunity to meet with current and prospective customers is my favorite part about being a CEO.  As I reflected back on the week and what made it a success, a common thread emerged, REFERRAL – Everyone I met with was introduced to me by someone who knew me and my company and wanted to help. Interestingly, while they were all referrals, each one emanated from a different type of relationship.  My objective with this blog post is to help you think about the foundation of relationships you have in your network and how they can be leveraged to help you generate new business opportunities.

1. A current customer referred me to a new prospect: 

I was having a conversation with an executive at one of my largest accounts. She mentioned how pleased she was with our solution. After thanking her for the feedback,  I used the opening to ask her if she knew anyone who would benefit from our product. Note that the “ask” came as a natural part of the conversation. It wasn’t forced and was not perceived as bothersome. In my experience I’ve found this request actually improves my relationship with a customer. If they respect what you’ve done for them, they want to see you succeed, and by giving you an introduction to someone else, they are now invested in your success. By the way, don’t be surprised if they follow-up with you to see how it went. And better yet, follow up and let them know how the meeting went. They will appreciate it–and they may even provide you with another referral (double bonus!)

2. A current customer referred me to a new opportunity within their own company:

According to Nielsen, 92% of respondents trusted referrals from people they knew. If you are working with enterprise level customers or prospects there are often many potential new prospects inside that same customer waiting to hear your value proposition. Think of these as “buying centers”–separate groups within a company that represent a new sales opportunity for you or one of your peers. Large companies are siloed, so the chances of cross-selling or upselling are high because different departments have different needs to be met. If you are referred to a new prospect from someone within their same company, your odds of getting a meeting are very high and you have a built in reference.

3. A board member referred me to an executive at another company:

In my role as CEO, I’m fortunate to work with a terrific board of directors. Each is a high profile business leader in their own right and is very connected.  Even if you don’t report to a board, executives within your company can provide the same conduit to meet other decision makers in different companies. I find this works best if I can be specific and have a company in mind where I know they may have a relationship.

4. A current prospect referred me to another prospect:

I admit this doesn’t happen often, but it recently did for me. I didn’t even ask. I was offering a prospect some helpful advice unrelated to my company business (I essentially referred her to someone who could help) and unprompted, the prospect sent me an email later that said he knew of someone that could really use our solution. Awesome. I think most of us are naturally wired to help others. Help others succeed, and you’ll often get rewarded in return.

5. A current partner referred me to another new prospect:

Growing our partner network has been key to our success at Amplifinity. Successful SaaS companies invest in becoming connecting to partners within their ecosystem in order to extend their overall value proposition. At Amplifinity, being a member of the Salesforce ecosystem has added tremendous value to our business. We are now part of a large and ever growing community of hundreds of other SaaS companies that share common interests and goals.  That very same ecosystem is also a naturally interconnected network that can help you find new business or potentially use your product or service.

I encourage you to make that leap to adopt  referrals as a business strategy. If you do, you’ll quickly see that systematizing it with a referral automation platform can be a very powerful channel for organic growth for your business.

If you’d had success using referrals in your business, send me an email with your story. I’d love to repost it here on the Amplifinity blog so that others can benefit.

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Care to further the discussion? Tweet me @Larryangeli

 

Salesforce AppExchange celebrates 10 years of inspiring businesses’ innovation

Amplifinity Connector continues to empower Salesforce clients

January 14th contains an abundance of important events including birthdays, deaths, cultural and historical events. But today we celebrate a birthday that’s purely representative of innovation, collaboration, and specialization – the 10th birthday of the Salesforce AppExchange.

Birthdays, and especially a business’s birthday is a celebratory occasion because it demonstrates the ability to adapt to changing ecosystems and markets. But Salesforce’s AppExchange has not only managed to succeed with their own products and services, it also has enabled other businesses to extend their reach by challenging them to innovate easy product and service options that empower integration with Salesforce through the AppExchange. And as the AppExchange launches into the double digits we take a closer look at the innovation it has inspired.

The value of the Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce clients

One such innovation that offers easy application through a sophisticated managed app is the Amplifinity Connector. The Amplifinity Connector is the premier managed referral app that easily incorporates the sensational power of Amplifinity referral software into Salesforce. This simple solution aligns marketing and sales for optimal efficiency by leveraging customer and partner relationships and maximizes the value of Salesforce.

Felecia Flack of Northern Michigan University declares enthusiastically that, “The combination of Amplifinity and Salesforce enables our constituents to easily SHARE the word about our great university. We’re excited about the connections we’re making with prospective students because of this partnership.”

The success of the AppExchange has allowed Amplifinity to provide Salesforce clients a unique and unparalleled combination of Salesforce Cloud and advanced referral automation software that:

  • Increases sales productivity to optimize revenue growth
  • Enhances lead follow through from sales
  • Provides superior data to improve the use of Salesforce
  • Offers more advanced tracking to attribute marketing ROI
  • Improves marketing program results by creating a consistent channel for lead generation that is easy for marketing to maintain

This exceptional value has been a key instigator in the adoption of the Amplifinity Connector by Salesforce clients. But the AppExchange hasn’t only added value to Amplifinity referral software, but inspired continual innovation and product development (specifics coming soon).

The fact is, the Salesforce AppExchange does not only inspire innovation, but challenges businesses to keep developing advanced technology in a simple deliverable package. This train of thought goes beyond lending itself to the AppExchange but to large scale technological creation. So let’s raise a glass, eat a piece of cake, and develop a new disruptive technology to celebrate 10 years of the Salesforce AppExchange.

Women in Tech
10 Women in Tech toasting Salesforce with local, Michigan beverages on the AppExchange’s 10th Birthday!

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Questions? Email me at JEdmondson@amplifinity.com

 

What referral features spark your salespeople’s selling power? Part 3

Referral Features that give your sales team superstar status

Let me guess. You’ve been trying to ramp up your selling power? Naturally, you’ve already checked out the advocacy sphere and have decided that referrals are for you. Well, I have to say, you’re one smart cookie. However, while you now have discovered  what advocates and prospects want from your referral program and the features you need to fulfill those wants in  part 1 and part 2, you may not yet have considered what your salespeople want from your referral program to optimize their nurturing efforts.

But there’s no need to fret. At a recent tradeshow, Sarah the salesperson and I had a frank discussion and she let me in on what salespeople really want from a referral program.

“We want to be able to have our CRM integrate easily to quickly see referral leads and follow up with them,” said Sarah.

Of course, empowering your sales team to nurture referral and advocate opportunities is a top priority when trying ensure your referral programs success. After all, your referral program won’t just succeed on its own, it requires sales enablement to have the ability to nurture referrals into profitable customers and advocates into repeat referrers.

With the important part sales plays in your referral program, 5 sales referral desires were identified and 5 features were developed to spark you salespeople’s selling power.

5 sales referral desires fulfilled to turn referrals into customers

  1. Easily see and prioritize referral leads – Sales teams need to be able to attribute high-quality leads in Salesforce or other CRMs to a specific referral program in order to nurture and build their advocacy base.

 

A feature that fulfills this want: Salesforce Easy Integration

 

  1. Own your customer’s referrals – As the saying goes, rules are meant to be broken, and lead assignment rules are no exception. Salespeople want more lead, especially from relationships they’ve already established. Give your salespeople the power to break you lead assignment rules and watch you referrals flourish.

 

A feature that fulfills this want: Lead ownership

 

  1. Empower sales to recruit advocates – The more advocates sales can recruit, the more successful a referral program has the potential to be. Your salespeople want a referral program that enables their recruitment of advocates and facilitation of advocates through the referral process, including registering an advocate and following up on a verbal referral.

 

A referral feature that fulfills this want: Advocate Recruitment Tools

 

  1. Visible referral data – The full visibility of a referral’s data essential to nurture and guide the advocates to encourage continued referral action.

 

A feature that fulfills this want: Advocate Activity Dashboard

 

  1. Motivation – Salespeople always want to do their best. But sometimes your sales team needs a visual motivator to keep pushing the boundaries of success for your referral program. Leader boards that assign scores to a salesperson owned advocate activity taps into the competitive nature of your sales team to push them to reach their full potential.

 

A feature that fulfills this want: Advocate Scoring

 

By adding these 5 empowering sales enablement features to your referral program, you don’t only give your salespeople’s the ability to make their job easier, but deliver increased numbers of profitable referral customers and nurture advocates to keep referring.

With the addition of the salespeople’s user experience, 75% of the referral experience is covered, resulting in a drastic increase in your referral program’s performance. However, if even one user is left out of your referral program your referral results will be lacking.

In the final part of this 4 part blog, the wants and needs of the last user experience, the marketer, will be delved into and explored, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, discover how powerful obtaining all the right referral features can be by checking out these amazing referral statistics.

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