3 growth hacks for the cost of a lunch

Sometimes growth can come from your own optimization efforts. Change your paid search terms and you might squeeze out a few hundred more leads. This is commendable and hopefully every marketer is looking hard at the performance of their various campaigns and programs and working to improve them.

However, in my experience, significant growth comes from a new idea, a new method or a new partnership within the organization. Honing in on the last comment, I just want to remind everyone of the power of cross-functional collaboration. I think most people get that sales and marketing need to work together. There is even a buzz term for this ­smarketing. But here are three internal partnerships that you may not have thought much about that can truly provide growth for your company.

 1. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Customer Success

Customer Success organizations are starting to get pressure to manage P&L. What this means, is that they are starting to be measured on their ability to bring in revenue for the company. Why? Well, companies are realizing that Customer Success is in a much better position than Sales to get new or recurring revenue from existing customers. Customer Success is talking to the customers on a regular basis and can feel out when a cross or up sell opportunity pops up. Even more than that, studies have shown that customers are more willing to make a referral when they are happy. Customer Success is there when the customer completes implementation and when they just pulled a super hero move solving their problem. These are great times to ask for a referral into new business unit or a new company.

The partnership: Demand Gen and Customer Success can work together for a win-win here. Customer Success has the link to the customer. Demand Gen has the expertise on how to operationalize a referral program at scale. Working together, there is a big opportunity to grow revenue and satisfy objectives in both camps.

 2. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Customer Marketing

Like Customer Success, Customer Marketing has an inroad to existing customers. They might interact with them for references, at user events or by managing a user community. These are all great opportunities for Customer Marketing to facilitate some extra demand generation. You just need to give them the tools to capitalize on it. The story of this collaboration is illustrated beautifully in this SlideShare presentation: Digital Marketing and Customer Marketing just did something amazing.

The partnership: Demand Gen can work with Customer Marketing to create a customer referral program. Customer Marketing can integrate the promotion of the program into user events, reference calls and in any online communities. Customer Marketing will look good by generating revenue from customers and Demand Gen will be bringing the highest quality leads into the pipe.

 3. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Channel Sales

In most companies, the channel group is so siloed from marketing that they’ve no idea what each other is doing. When you stop and think about the fact that both are doing Demand Gen, just using different channels, it seems there would be a lot to share. And that is exactly the benefit of these two groups getting together, to share best practices and see where there are mutual opportunities.

The partnership: The channel group controls partner relationships, including referral partners. If you ask how those referral partners are doing, the answer is usually, they should be producing more. Demand Gen can help with that. By taking expertise in running programs, a referral program can be created to harvest high quality leads from referral partners at scale. Channel Sales gets tracking to direct ROI and Demand Gen gets more high quality leads.

Reach out and schedule a few lunch dates with your colleagues in these departments today. Your growth hack is just an order of Pad Thai away!

SaaS referral automation

Amplifinity Announces Major Enhancements of World’s Leading Referral Automation Platform

Amplifinity, the referral experts, announced they increased the power of their market leading referral tracking platform to further drive sales enablement and demand generation with robust platform capabilities.

Ann Arbor, Mich., November 4, 2015 – Amplifinity today announced that its latest release of its SaaS referral automation platform further improves its customer’s ability to drive high-quality lead generation and ignite revenue growth. Amplifinity turns customer, partner and employee advocates into an “always on” channel for leads and new acquisition. Data from Amplifinity’s platform has shown customers using the platform see an average 34% conversion rate from referral to purchase.

The latest platform enhancements bring sales teams more functionality to recruit advocates, add verbal referrals and follow up quickly on these high-quality leads. As the front line of most organizations Salespeople are often in the best position to engage advocates and ask for referrals.

“With Sales participation, every aspect of referral marketing is accelerated and amplified,” said Larry Angeli, CEO of Amplifinity. “With this release we’ve fully brought the Sales team into the advocacy ecosystem and enabled a new frontier for lead generation.”

Enhancements for Sales Enablement

Amplifinity recently announced a Salesforce approved managed App to increase sales involvement and success with referral marketing. This platform release adds enhancements to Amplifinity Control Room to help sales teams be more engaged in referral success.

  • Recruiter Tools: This release includes powerful new capabilities for customer facing employees to recruit advocates and enter verbal referrals. Recruiter Tools functionality allows sales and field staff to reach out to advocates and invite them to provide referrals. With Amplifinity, these referrals can be entered into the system for easy tracking and attribution. This increases program results and eliminates manual management of this important channel.
  • Referral Lead Assignment Rules: Best in class enterprises have learned that allowing salespeople to benefit from referral leads that fall beyond their territory restrictions improves program performance and Salesperson participation. Amplifinity’s solution now provides a flexible lead assignment feature permitting leads to be assigned  by product, territory or round-robin. Beta customers using this feature have seen a significant increase in customer engagement and satisfaction scores.
  • Sales Nurturing: The new platform increases sales follow-through and advocate engagement by sending automated, personalized emails to sales for new referral leads, dormant referral leads, and successful referrals. These emails help ensure that sales is following up with these high quality leads as well as engaging with advocates to thank them when a referral makes a purchase.
  • Sales Reporting: Sales leaders can increase the success of their referral programs with reporting and dashboards that highlight the efforts of sales teams by region/product and with leaderboards for individual reps. These can be used to motivate the referral performance of customer or partner sales teams.
  • Organization Hierarchy: This new feature manages the platform’s ability to support multiple levels of permissions within an organization. The Hierarchy feature provides administrators with the tools to manage several layers of the sales/partner relationship simultaneously. This gives sales leaders the power to view/manage the referral activity of their branches/regions/segments of the business and to edit and reassign advocates and referrals as needed.

 

Features to Drive Improved Demand Generation

Marketers want strong optimization tools and ways to encourage program participation without the hassle of operational management. The latest enhancements of the Amplifinity platform include features that marketers can use to make their referral programs even more successful.

  • Reward Choice: Reward Choice is an exciting new feature that allows marketers to offer a selection of reward options like gift cards, training, and charitable contributions. Advocates can then select the reward that best fits them or their current needs. Every advocate has different motivations and this feature will help drive increased participation from advocates.
  • Touchpoint Reporting This addition to the reporting capabilities of the platform allows the brand to report on the performance of their promotional touchpoints in the Referral, Participant Activity, and Advocate reports. By adding Touchpoint data to the reporting capabilities of the platform, marketers have yet another piece of data focused on fully understanding the behavior of participants in the referral program to optimize program promotion and extend that learning to other marketing activities.
  • Program Multi-Design: The platform now supports the ability to have multiple designs per program. Program Multi-Design will allow marketers to create a more personalized design based on the type of advocate they are marketing the program to. In addition, it will allow marketers to extend specific design campaigns currently running on their sites and make a seamless transition into their referral campaigns. Running sweepstakes or special promotions has never been easier.
  • Tax Management Enhancement: Tax compliance is an important component in many B2B referral programs where rewards amounts can rise to a level where tax information is required. Amplifinity now provides the ability to prompt an advocate/partner to complete a W-9 tax form. W-9s are required by law for any ‘independent contractor’ that earns $600 or more through company programs such as referral programs.

“We believe that advocacy addresses two important C-suite objectives revenue growth and accelerated buying cycles,” said Larry Angeli, Amplifinity CEO. “Engaging and enabling your best customers to help bring new customers to you simply makes sense. And since these prospects are referred from people that they trust, they come into the buying cycle informed and inclined to buy from you.”

Learn more about how aligning marketing and sales will drive organic growth. Harness the power of referrals at scale and generate new business from customer, employee, or even partner referrals, from the new Demand Gen Report, Blueprint for Investing in Referral Marketing.

 

About Amplifinity

Amplifinity’s referral amplification software turns customer, employee and partner advocacy into revenue. Our platform provides complete referral tracking and management with 100% accuracy so none are missed. Enterprises like ADP and DIRECTV trust Amplifinity to enable high-quality acquisition while providing an engaging, fully-branded experience for their advocates. www.Amplifinity.com

Top 10 common conundrums solved by a successful customer referral program

How to Navigate Israel with Successful Customer Referral Programs

You have to admit, even with all the space the internet has to offer it’s begun to feel slightly crowded. Business are SHOUTING from every direction, pushing past you in an effort to block you out but you’re still expected to deliver an increased numbers of quality leads.

What is your plan to get heard through the squall of squawking businesses? Our marketing team created an infographic that documents the top 10 most common problems for businesses solved by successful customer referral programs.

Not long ago I had the opportunity to experience the customer’s side of a basic successful customer referral and found it very fulfilling.

Recently, I was in Israel exploring the small town of Tsvat. In Tsvat there is this one narrow street which plays host to an artist market. While walking through the artist market people are jumping out of their shops, talking about their merchandise and desperately directing you toward their business. But if you show the slightest bit of interest in their product three more sellers show up beside you to direct you toward their shops with similar products. The process actually seemed to parallel very well with Pay-Per-Click (PPC).

At that point I wasn’t sure how to tell the difference between the right product and the product that would fall apart 30 minutes after buying it. Luckily, I had access to an advocate on my trip. She knew the sellers and was able to steer me away from the cheap, overpriced products and toward exactly what I was looking for. The referral process broke through the noise of the sellers and made me hone in on a particular business without doubt or second thoughts. Now imagine what successful customer referral programs could do for a business.

While the most successful customer referral programs are much more advanced and automated, this basic exchange of information, prompted by trust, establishes the foundation for successful customer referral programs. It’s time to ask yourself, can one of your businesses struggles be solved with innovation automated referral software?

 

10-problems-solved-by-referral-automation (1)

Why sales isn’t off the hook for generating referral leads

Originally published on Salesforce.com

Salespeople aren’t the only ones who understand the value of referrals. Marketers get it, too, and they’re ready to help sales teams generate more referrals and follow up on the great leads. Equally important, marketing has the tools to streamline the sales process so that every single client becomes part of your team’s referral network.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Referral automation software delivers what marketing promises: qualified leads. It saves salespeople time and connects them with referred prospects—the only type of sales leads with a 50-percent close rate. Referral automation also helps sales teams nurture existing clients, deepen client relationships, and gain even more referral introductions and qualified leads. What sales exec wouldn’t love that?

But this doesn’t mean that your sales team can just sit back and wait for leads to pour in. For referral automation to help salespeople meet the exact prospects they want to meet, marketing needs to know what those “ideal customers” look like.

 

Help Marketing Help You

Great marketers already understand your target audience. The problem is that everyone in your target market is not your ideal customer. Before marketing can generate qualified referral leads, they need to know how your team defines “qualified.”

Yet, while most formal lead-generation efforts are now owned and managed by marketing, only 51.3 percent of companies have created a formal definition of a “qualified lead.” That’s according to CSO Insights’ “2014 Lead Management & Social Engagement Study.” It’s no wonder 61.7 percent of salespeople say the quality of marketing leads “needs improvement.” They’re not giving their marketing teams enough information to be effective.

The goal: Sales and marketing working together to build qualified pipelines. How? It starts with a joint commitment to build a referral program with the right software and the right integration with your CRM—not just for lead flow, but also to engage sales in the referral process. For example, when a customer provides a referral, the rep gets an email reminder to thank the referral source and to learn about the new referral. Salespeople also receive notifications when referral leads close. Then they can thank their sources and ask for even more referrals. No more dropping the ball on follow-up or “forgetting” to say thank you.

 This is great news for sales, but sales isn’t off the hook for generating referral leads! Sales still needs to play a critical role in the referral program, or your team may not get the “qualified leads” they were expecting. Once referral automation is up and running, the process becomes much easier than reps could ever have imagined. But salespeople must help with the heavy lifting up front by clarifying exactly the kind of customer they want to meet. Then marketing can use that criteria to generate great leads via automation, as well as with traditional marketing approaches.

 

Define Your Ideal Customer

When salespeople know exactly who they want to meet—and communicate that profile to marketing and to their referral sources—they get qualified leads, reach decision-makers, get in early, and close every deal well more than 50 percent of the time.

Your ideal customers are out there. But unless your sales team can articulate the profile of your ideal customer to the marketers running the referral program, your advocates are just taking shots in the dark.

The key is specificity, which seems counter-intuitive. Sales pros often think that if they don’t mention everyone they serve, they’ll miss out on introductions. But the opposite is true. The more specific the description, the easier it is for both sales reps and their marketing counterparts to understand your ideal customer. Plus, referral sources will know how to make the right introductions.

People want to make the best introduction possible, and you can choose your clients. But you get what you ask for, so ensure your sales team asks for exactly what they want.

As you and your team begin to create the profile of your ideal customer, review these categories:

 

  • Industry: In what industries is your expertise? Where do you have a track record? In what vertical do you want to expand?
  • Geography: Where is your ideal customer located?
  • Company Size: What size company is the best fit for your offerings?
  • Business Unit or Function: What group of people within the company are your ideal prospects (e.g., CEOs, CIOs, COOs, HR employees, sales or marketing teams)?
  • Type of Person: What are the personality traits of your ideal customer?
  • Situation/Need: What specific business challenges do you address? What are people complaining about? What problems can your team solve?

When you’re this precise about your ideal customer, no one will be confused about the best leads for you. Your team will elicit remarkable referrals and receive introductions to the clients they want to serve.

Bottom line: Referral automation software is essential to manage a referral program at scale, but make sure it is delivering the right clients—those who produce revenue and profits, and refer you to others just like themselves.

SaaS referral automation

 

Why your referral marketing recipe needs to include CAN SPAM

How well does your referral program walk the CAN SPAM line?

Let’s be honest, most people detest spam in both the digital and the supposedly food based form. That’s why it was inevitable that the Federal Trade Commission passed the CAN SPAM Act in 2003. And while the allegedly edible spam might be scary, the CAN SPAM Act is not something that you should shrink from. In fact, knowing the ins and outs of the CAN SPAM Act is an essential part of creating a successful referral program.

After all, consumers get assaulted by an only growing number of unsolicited emails daily. But do you know how to differentiate your referral program recruitment emails from spam?

By keeping your emails compliant with the CAN SPAM Act you can easily differentiate your referral program emails from spam. Here are six basic guidelines created by the CAN SPAM Act to stick by.

  1. Don’t use untrue or misleading subject lines and headers.
  2. Identify the message as an ad.
  3. Tell the receiver where you’re located.
  4. Offer an opt out link in a visible format for future emails.
  5. Promptly respect opt out requests and complete them within 10 business days.
  6. Watch carefully what 3rd parties are doing on your behalf because you are liable.

But to create a successful referral program you need to go beyond the basics. Remember, if you comply too much with the CAN SPAM Act you will end up limiting your referral marketing program’s success, but if you don’t comply enough, spam will end up becoming your referral email’s future.

Discover how to walk the CAN SPAM line and ensure your referral programs success with the infographic Why CAN SPAM is key to for referral marketing:

Can_Spam_Infographic (1)

 

 

 

Become disruptively SaaS-y by developing customer referral programs

Challenges that face SaaS companies

By golly, you’ve got it! You’ve created a great SaaS product. But does that mean you’re set up to be disruptively SaaS-y? Not by a long shot.

Software as a Service (SaaS) has caused a great deal of hullabaloo in the past years which has led to some innovative businesses, but also some stiff competition with the marketing technology landscape pointing  to around 2,000 SaaS vendors to compete with and distinguish yourself from. This is double the number of vendors in 2014 and is only projected to continue to rise.

Besides SaaS having reduced onboarding time, low entry costs, and the ability to integrate and scale the technology, the motivation behind the rush toward SaaS are the inspirational success stories of businesses like Uber and Dropbox.

The success of these two SaaS business were based off their ability to bypass the three main challenges SaaS businesses face after launch:

  • Customer Acquisition
  • High Churn Rates
  • Continued Customer Growth

But how were they able to do this you ask? By capitalizing on their customer’s experience, or in other words, by using the power of customer referrals.

Uber’s referral program

To begin with, Uber has a great service that at the time of its launch only had the potential to be a disruptive force. But consumers and businesses alike can be wary of new products. This is why Uber acquired their first customers through sponsorship of events by providing free rides to attendees with the intention of capitalizing on the happy customer’s experience.

After that, a great deal of Uber’s success came by word of mouth from satisfied customers.  With this as the driving force of Uber, they were able to:

  • Obtain high customer acquisitions by capitalizing on the trust of already formed relationships
  • Avoid high churn rates by obtaining quality customers from referrals
  • Spread the word and grow their business quickly and inexpensively

Uber understood that the success of a service or product to not primarily dependent on its superiority, but the amount of market shares you can amass the fastest. Word of mouth referrals allowed Uber to win the race against other SaaS vendors and put their competition in a difficult position to succeed.

Of course, this was even before SaaS companies had the option of developing customer referral programs like Amplifinity.

Now imagine if Uber had referral marketing automation software that allowed them to have optimized their referral process when starting out. With studies now showing that:

  • 83% of happy customers are ready to refer but only 29% actually do

Uber would have had even greater startup results than only using word of mouth. Currently, they have developed their own in-house referral program.

5 referral marketing automation features that will improve on Uber’s Results

Uber is an amazing success story. But word of mouth referrals has its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Low cost
  • Increase credibility

Cons:

  • Lack of control
  • Extremely difficult to evaluate results

However, Gartner points out that developing customer referral programs that are automated still grants you decreased lead cost but with a, “High volume of excellent low cost leads.” In fact, Amplifinity’s SaaS customers have seen an average conversion of referrals leads to purchase of 37%.

Below are 5 exciting features that highlight the benefits of developing SaaS customer referral programs with automation compared to word of mouth marketing.

  • Automated rewards – Automated reward fulfillment combined with the options of reward choice, and tiered and multi-stage automated reward distribution, allows for easy reward obtainment and seamless advocate nurturing. This increases engagement during a long sales process.
  • Full program transparency – Provide your advocates with their own account that tracks a referral’s progress to completion and allows advocates to have full transparency to keep them up to date and engaged in the process.
  • Attribution If you can’t attribute every referral to an advocate you’ll have leaks in your sales pipeline and unhappy customers. Attribution software allows every referral to be attributed to an advocate to incentivize the advocate and continue to engage them in the referral process for a greater customer lifetime value.
  • Empowerment tools – By offering advocates the opportunity to share referrals with their contacts through engagement options such as, personal URLs, social media, email, and offline you can allow customers to easily advocate for your business in a way that works for them.
  • Sales enablement Sales enablement tools ensure that your sales team is highly productive and successful by allowing them to quickly qualify a lead, engage advocates, track an advocate’s progress, and recruit advocates.

Learn more about how developing customer referral programs can help you become disruptively SaaS-y, and before you know it you’ll be looking at your referral automation program’s ROI and hear yourself saying, “Oh no it didn’t.”

SaaS referral automation

 

Questions? Email me at JEdmondson@amplifinity.com