Amplifinity Introduces Streamlined Version of Referral Marketing Platform

Originally published on Demand Gen Report

Demand gen report Amplifinity

Referral marketing software provider Amplifinity has launched a streamlined version of its platform, called Amplifinity Base. The company says that the new product will help marketers launch referral programs more quickly — in seven days, to be exact.

As part of its seven-day launch program, Amplifinity pairs each customer with a Success Manager that provides education, training and best practices that help the company quickly incorporate referral marketing campaigns into their business initiatives.

“We saw the need for a streamlined, feature-rich referral platform for companies just getting started with referral marketing,” said Larry Angeli, CEO of Amplifinity. “Amplifinity Base Edition delivers on this need by providing customer with a fast and easy way to get to market. By having the ability to launch in just seven days, our customers can gain value and drive revenue growth from referral marketing faster.”

Features of Amplifinity Base include:

  • Responsive templates with default content: So they don’t have to start from scratch, marketers have access to a library of responsive templates prefilled with copy they can edit to make the program authentic to their brand.
  • Program design wizard: Marketers are guided through the entire process of selecting a template, adding creative elements and editing copy.
  • Updated dashboards: Easy access to real-time analytics on program and email performance means marketers can continue to optimize their campaigns.
  • Standard integrations: The platform is pre-configured to integrate with systems such as lead sharing and routing, email preference management, reward fulfillment and system of record reconciliation. It also integrates easily with Salesforce.

6 ways sales and marketing can align with customers and grow revenue

Originally published in Marketing Profs

Marketing leaders at B2B organizations communicate directly with their sales counterparts to review quantity and quality of inbound leads; to apprise one another of upcoming promotions and sales enablement initiatives and objectives and strategically determine the most effective ways for their teams to work together to benefit the organization as a whole. But often these meetings don’t include a topic that is possibly the most important of all: existing customers.

Why?

Sales teams are hardwired to focus on getting new logos into the pipeline and they want marketing to partner with them to make that happen. Marketers want that too. However, it is important to not lose sight of your existing customers; it is these logos that got you this far! Here are 7 ways in which aligning sales and marketing goals around current customers can be the difference between meeting quarter goals and hoping next quarter will be better

   1. Use Personas to segment your communication

Marketing invests in marketing automation or email marketing systems so that they can track their emails and ensure that they aren’t bombarding their database with too many emails.  That’s all great, but inevitably there is a time when marketing unknowingly blasts an account that sales has an active opportunity with. And it gets noticed because it is a communication that doesn’t fit the customer.  The customer is thinking, “Don’t they know me by now?”

Marketing and sales need to divide the customer base into personas and regularly discuss the buying behavior of each persona.  From there, a plan to communicate with valued information to each persona can be developed that keeps customer engagement high. Additionally, the email communication plan should be very transparent with sales so that they can flag to have their active opportunities removed from communications during the sales cycle if that makes sense.

   2. Ensure sales involvement with referrals

A great sales rep always asks a new customer if they know of anyone else who may be interested in your product. Most reps forget to ask or simply aren’t asking at the right time or in the right way.  On the flip side, sometimes marketers will start a referral program, but forget to engage sales.  Marketing and sales needs to be in tight alignment on this one.  If they are, it can be the best producing channel for leads and customer acquisition.

One of the keys here is that the referral software be integrated into the sales CRM system.  Sales needs to know if the lead came from a referral and who it came from so that they can call up that customer, thank them and get more info on the new lead.  The referral software should also have a way for sales to input new advocates and referrals into the system so that it is fully tracked and referrals are rewarded without causing operational burden for sales.

    3.  Be strategic in approaching cross-sell and up-sell

Your existing customers already know how you have helped them be awesome. Why not suggest ways you can help them be even more awesome and increase their profits by cross-selling or up-selling?

If you are selling into a large company, crossing over into another department can bring all the revenue of a brand new customer.  Usually this is left to sales to have a good enough relationship that their contact will refer them over to another department.  But what if marketing could help? Back to point #2, a referral program can be structured so that existing customers are offered incentives to refer others in their company and to help influence the buying process.

Up-sell gets more complicated because product management is in the mix.  They’ve created release notes for their next great product and it gets sent to all customers via an email blast.  Sigh.  Just a little discussion with sales and marketing could lead to a better understanding of the target customer.  Better yet, the beta customers can be tapped to provide quotes and a use case.

   4. Use the power of your social influence

Social media marketers are often an isolated group.  They are the front-end communication vehicle for the company, yet typically have limited interaction with anyone outside of marketing. And social media channels are often used to push out company news.

But remember; your customers are on the other end of your social conversations too!  Just like email, marketing and sales need to be in alignment with targeted messaging campaigns for social media – this can be at the campaign level, or it can even be at the account level where the social media team is giving “social love” to key contacts at customer accounts.

   5.  Get value from your user communities

Most user communities that exist today are a great resource for product tips and tricks.  Product management and customer support teams have dedicated resources that push content into the communities and respond to product issues.  Fantastic! But where is the effort to leverage that user community for cross sell, up-sell, referrals and advocacy?  Maybe you have a banner ad or two, but is that enough?  If you’re not sure, I’m guessing it’s probably not.

Sales and marketing needs to create goals for user communities so that specific effort can be placed on starting conversations that naturally encourage new product discussions (up-sell) or that get customers talking about what they like about a product (advocacy). Those kinds of conversations don’t organically occur (unless you’re lucky).

So, just like your social media channels, dedicate a marketer to work with sales, product management and customer support to ensure that you are leveraging your user community to its full potential.

  6.  Give ‘em some Love!

In my opinion, you can never give your customers the recognition they deserve, but it doesn’t hurt to try!  You exist because of them.  Their feedback makes you better!  Why not give them love in as many ways that you can.  In most companies, sales and field marketing is fairly well aligned on this.  They help provide company swag and customer events.  But my argument is that more can be done.

Once sales and marketing has discussed the types of customers that they want to attract, it makes sense to highlight the current customers that fit the mold.  And I’m not talking about case studies and press releases, but genuinely making these customers feel good about your brand.  This could be by giving them an award, giving them some love on social media or even inviting them to an exclusive event with executives.  If sales and marketing work together on programs like this, it can be rewarding for all involved!

Don’t wait for a miraculous organizational shift to align your sales and marketing teams; it probably won’t happen. Instead, find the mutual benefits of working collaboratively and communicating regularly. Just throw a few of these items into a calendar invite and re-introduce yourself to your sales or marketing teams.  Increasing revenue for your company is a team effort.

SaaS referral automation

 

Referral marketing yields results for B2B marketers

Originally published in Demand Gen Report

As B2B marketers seek alternatives to traditional demand generation efforts such as email marketing, many are launching referral marketing programs to bring new prospects into the pipeline and keep their existing customers in the fold. Referrals are also gaining prominence as customer experiences exert a greater influence on the B2B buying process.

According to SiriusDecisions’ research, 75% of CXOs’ research is done through personal interactions and viral communication networks, where people share their experiences with vendors. “Companies are finally recognizing how critical the customer experience is to the buying process,” said Megan Heuer, VP and Group Director for SiriusDecisions.

Formalized referral marketing programs are yielding tangible results for some marketers, including:

More referral leads in the pipeline: With an automated referral marketing process provided by Influitive, Blackbaud, a provider of software and services to philanthropic organizations, has seen its revenue from referred customers grow to a projected $500,000 in 2015, from $13,000 in 2013. “Rather than just simply asking satisfied customers to be a reference for us, it has evolved into a two-way street where the advocates are getting something in return, and that has inspired more referrals,” said Michael Beahm, Customer Advocate Marketing Manager at Blackbaud.

Higher quality leads: “Not only is the cost of acquisition lower for referred customers; customers that come to us through referrals are ‘stickier,’” said Mark B. Brier, Director of Upsell and Referral Marketing for RingCentral, a telecom services provider and Amplifinity user. “Because they were referred by a trusted advisor, friend, IT consultant or other source, we find that they are higher-quality leads that become long-term customers.”

A more structured process for advocates: “It is important to have a referral marketing system that enables advocates to share their experiences with your product on their own timeframe via the channels that are most important to them when communicating with their network,” said Jeff Palmer, Digital Marketing Manager of Jive, a cloud communications platform provider and Amplifinity user.

A formalized and automated process can help turn customers into advocates, observers noted. “The key is to continue to nurture the customer relationship with regular interaction,” said Truman Tang, Senior Customer and Advocate Marketing Manager for Influitive. “You’d be surprised how willing people are to help you if you ask, but they don’t just want to hear from you when you want something.”

Referral marketing technology can also provide B2B marketers with better insight into their strongest customers, observers noted. “A referral program becomes a great way to find out who your best supporters are,” said Lloyd Bloom, Solutions Consultant for Amplifinity. “Then your cream of the crop are the ones who make referrals that become successful,” he said. “Gathering that data about your customers becomes very insightful.”

Referrals Ramp Up Demand Gen Performance

Some industry observers note that the shift toward referral marketing has occurred because other demand generation tactics have waned.

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“Word of mouth and referrals now drive 73% of the B2B deals we encounter,” said R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO, Constellation Research, a research and advisory firm. “The big change is the realization that funnels are dead and that the buyer journey is multifaceted and transcends ubiquitous channels.”Referrals help to produce more “warm” leads for the sales team, according to Mary Shea, Principal Analyst with Forrester Research. “From the sellers’ perspective, cold calling is dead — so to speak. Many of the more traditional demand generation techniques have been exhausted, so these referral automation platforms enable sellers to engage with potential customers the way they want to engage.”

Nearly half (43%) of marketers who regularly use referral programs have used it to acquire 35% or more of their new customers, according to Gigaom Research’s Digital Marketers Survey. This is double the percentage of new customer acquisitions through email. Clearly, brands that invest in referral marketing can potentially gain a competitive advantage.

Inspiring Advocacy On Social Media

Social media plays an integral role as the channel for referrals. Since many B2B buyers consult product review sites such as G2 Crowd and Capterra, advocacy and referral marketing programs encourage advocates to get involved by posting about their customer experiences. “Getting our advocates active on these sites and social media in general has been a big bonus for us,” said Blackbaud’s Beahm.

Blackbaud has also actively worked with its customers to encourage referrals, Beahm noted. “Instead of just asking people to refer people in their network, we’re helping our customers identify potential advocates. We might notice that one of our customers is interacting with someone in his network. We might then ask that customer: ‘do you think that this person is a good fit for our product?’”

Beahm said the next phase is to have advocates get involved in online discussions about its upcoming event. “Advocacy marketing is a big game-changer for in-person events. We can start having them use the hashtag and tweeting prior to the event to generate buzz, and then there are a host of things we can get the advocates involved in at the event. You can’t just collect advocates like baseball cards. You have to keep them involved and excited about your brand.”