Amplifinity harnesses the power of referrals to boost customer engagement and revenue

Originally published on Loyalty 360

The age of relying solely on mass mediated channels to reach an audience of prospective clients and customers is over. The fact is that people do not trust traditional advertising or formulaic sales pitches as much as they trust each other. The rise of digital connectivity and the advent of social channels is increasingly allowing people, and brands, to turn to personal networks of friends, family members and professional associates to make decisions on what products to buy or what technology platforms to integrate.

For marketers, this should not be a cause for alarm. In fact, it presents a tremendous opportunity to use referrals to win brand loyalty and increase customer engagement. In some circles this is known as advocacy marketing, and it leverages social assets to engage potential customers overtime, and to nurture relationships established through the power of true brand advocates.

These relationships are vital because referrals from a trusted source have been proven to increase both the satisfaction levels and the lifetime value of customers. Furthermore, referrals can also cut through all the marketing “noise” that interferes with so many other marketing channels. Overall, the benefits of referrals are hard to dispute. But the problem for most brands is in knowing just how to access, integrate and leverage referrals to understand customers and build better relationships with them.

However, Amplifinity can help organizations facilitate this conversation.

As an enterprise class software platform that uses the best of current technology to meet the needs of its clients and their customers, Amplifinity recognizes the importance of referrals in building advocate relationships. At its core, Amplifinity turns customer and employee advocacy into revenue. It believes that the best business comes directly from customers who inform an organization about other people or companies that need its products or services.

By leveraging the very nature of our socially connected marketing landscape, Amplifinity has been able to create a reliable channel for customer acquisition and engagement by scaling referrals digitally. The accuracy of this platform is also impressive, and Amplifinity claims that no referrals are ever missed through its ability to track and manage referrals. To date, Northern Michigan University, ADT Security Systems, and Outdoor Living Brands count themselves among Amplifinity’s list of clientele.

Recently, Loyalty360 was able to speak with Trisha Winter, Amplifinity CMO, who spoke more in depth about the platform and about the state of customer engagement marketing in general.

Can you start by giving us a high level overview of your customer engagement philosophy?  

Winter: Amplifinity believes every company should be customer obsessed, not only building loyalty to translate to repeat purchase, but new business through referrals. We believe you need to be consistently engaged with customers and highly transparent in interactions by building trust and customer delight through interactions with your business and a solid referral program can be a key part of that engagement strategy.

And when compared to other technology providers, what is unique about Amplifinity?  

Winter: In the past year, there has been a big uptick in brands that are realizing the value of leveraging their customers’ advocates and looking for ways to operationalize that advocacy. What makes Amplifinity unique is our focus on integrating referral programs with direct sales and field staff. We enable verbal recruitment of advocates and verbal referrals to easily be entered into the system by the field and be brought into the fully trackable and fully digital experience. This greatly increases the program success and makes referrals a part of daily operations for the field without adding hassle to marketing.

How does it work? Can you give us a brief overview of Amplifinity in general?  

Winter: Our platform provides brands the ability to acquire new customers through their existing customer base, employees or partner network. These brand advocates use the platform to promote the brand’s product or service to their existing network through integrations with social media platforms and an email automation and management system within the platform. Amplifinity makes referral program registration and login simple and secure by allowing brand advocates to connect using their brand credentials with Single Sign On and automates the management of participant communication preferences through built-in CAN-SPAM and CASL support.

As brand advocates refer the brand’s product or service and the receiving member of the advocate’s network (prospect) accepts the referral, the platform connects the two participants within the system by attaching a unique code. This unique code is attached to all activity of both participants in the future and allows the referral automation system to close the tracking loop and attribute success once a purchase has been made. Amplifinity’s platform allows the brand to monitor the status of all referral activity and automates the reward process once a successful referral has been reached. Through APIs and other integrations, Amplifinity allows brands to connect the activity within the referral automation system into their CRMs, Marketing Automation platform, and other system of records.

We also see a lot brands struggling to create alignment and a true dialogue with their audience. How do you think brands can accomplish this and how can they leverage your technology to do so?  

Winter: We now live in a world of inbound acquisition. The best inbound lead that can be generated is from customer, employee or partner referrals; referrals from people who know and can speak highly of your brand. Data shows referrals are the highest quality leads. In fact, the average conversion from referral lead to purchase on the Amplifinity platform is 34%.

We also see brands challenged with regards to data. What do you see as the challenges brands face with data, analytics and creating insight today?  

Winter: Marketing’s biggest challenge is showing ROI for its spend, budgets have increased over the years and now marketers are being pushed to show results. Amplifinity’s platform can directly show new business from referrals. You get direct ROI, and it is a clear monetization of efforts on building customer loyalty.

And finally, overall, how do you see the state of marketing today?  

Winter: Marketing budgets soared as efforts skewed to digital. There is intense pressure to now show ROI for that marketing spend. At the same time, new technologies are coming out and it’s a race to stay on top of latest and greatest. With competing pressures and priorities, it’s easy to get swept away in new tech that doesn’t give results, or drive top line growth and it is difficult to show direct ROI for marketing activities.

Dreamforce 2015 – it was all about Personalization

Sitting here on the plane going home from Dreamforce, it is the first opportunity I’ve had to really think about the conference. More specifically, what message I can take back for my organization and for where the market is going. Despite my extreme lack of sleep, it is clear to me that everything boils down to one word: Personalization.

As Mark Benihoff said in his keynote, “We are all here to fill the gap between our companies and our customers.” And personalization is the way to do it.

As a marketer, I get that the more custom and personalized I can get with communications, the better they do. But Dreamforce made me think about how personalization touches every aspect of business. (And of course, Salesforce has solutions for each one.) I can almost hear you ask, “But how can I personalize my marketing even more than I already am?”

Personalized Marketing – There are lots of phenomenal capabilities available today for companies to take in the incredible amounts of data available on prospective customers and serve up information that is specific to what they want. Mathew Sweezey, Author, Marketing Futurist and Salesforce Evangelist, commented that “The average number of pages a visitor to your website sees is 1.5. Don’t you think you should make those 1.5 pages count?” But personalization in the marketing realm goes way beyond web and email.  The way you acquire leads in the digital age needs to be personal as well. It’s clear that many companies are looking toward advocacy and referral marketing to help fill that gap.

Personalized Analytics – After years of complaints, Salesforce is releasing its new UI/UX called Lightning. It looks great and has great functionality, but the key is that they heard their customers say they want to customize views. Don’t limit me to 2 columns, I might need 14 columns! And they are delivering. I think all companies need to think about what level of customization they can deliver to their customers. It really does make people happier with the experience. We all want what we want, the more flexible you can make your product, the better.

Personalized Sales – It’s clear that Salesforce sees the lines between Marketing and Sales as blurry at best. The Engage functionality coming out of Pardot clearly sees Marketing investing in tools to help sales prospect in a more personal way. Do generic marketing blasts even work anymore? It’s all about getting an email from an individual with a message as catered to them as possible. Doing that at scale is of course where Pardot and Salesforce comes in. It is clear that the faster that sales and marketing leaders get over their differences and begin practicing the art of smarketing, the more successful they will be.

Personalized Community – The Community keynote at Dreamforce was awesome. What Salesforce has done with this product is incredible and I’m sure it is the fastest growth area of their business. It looks so easy to spin up communities for customers, employees and partners with incredible functionality.  And of course, communities are the embodiment of personalization. You can provide a way to allow your customers to hear from other customers on your products/services and even make purchases from within the community. I predict this will be a powerful add on for companies to seriously pursue and I’m sure much more functionality will be added over the coming year.

Personalized Service – Lots of sessions were focused on Customer Success and the idea that they own the customer journey. This means that they need to understand it and find ways to influence it and make it consistent across silos of engagement. Salesforce has always been a great tool for this as it integrates across departments. The real innovation comes with some of the AppExchange partners doing advocacy and referral marketing with a sales referral program. With those as add-ons you can get an actual ROI from your customer journey while making customers feel more engaged with your brand. It’s no wonder that companies are aligning around this function and are hungry for improvement.  Who doesn’t want happy customers and revenue growth to boot?

In the age of digital, it is clear that companies need to be looking in every area of the business for ways to enable 1 to 1 interactions and provide an experience that makes each person feel that your brand understands them. Each engagement is an opportunity. An opportunity for delight. An opportunity to generate a high quality lead. An opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive. Make each engagement count with personalization! Now time to get some much-needed sleep!


A CMO’s Dreamforce 2015 session hotlist

I Dream of Dreamforce.

Dreamforce 2015 is almost here, and if you’re like me I’m sure you’re also in frenzy as you try to get your schedule in order to be a part of the most fascinating sessions Dreamforce has to offer. I took a deep dive into the sessions and picked out 12 that I will definitely be attending. If you are interested in improving demand generation and learning about the  latest and greatest processes and technology then this list is for you. More specifically, this list is based off what I and many others in the business world consider the biggest challenges facing a company today:

  • Finding the right people
  • Sending them the right message
  • Nurturing them into happy customers

Did one of your Dreamforce Favorites make my Top 12?

1. Predictive Intelligence 101: Personalize Content for Customers Journey

Tuesday, September 15, 8:30 – 10:30

Linda Erickson


I’m starting out Dreamforce early and with a session that establishes the paradigm shift that is effecting all business’s marketing and sales tactics – the switch from business to customer control over the buying process. Linda Erickson is a knowledgeable member of the Salesforce team and will address the need to incorporate personalization into marketing and sales efforts in order to counteract this shift.  This session establishes a solid foundation on how marketing and business overall must change tactics to continue to capture leads. I’m looking forward to seeing her views on the issues and how she suggests businesses change their strategy.

Unfortunately, I won’t have time to stay around and chat because I’ll have sprint to my second session of the day.

2. Innovation Recruiting Strategies: Advocacy Marketing and Mass Personalization

Tuesday, September 15, 10:30 – 10:50

Steve Neiheisel

VP of Enrollment Management and Student Services

Northern Michigan University

Trisha Winter (That’s me)



This session joined my top 12 not because I’m one of the speakers but because of Steve Neiheisel. Steve Neiheisel is on the cutting edge of higher education recruitment strategies and comprehends the need for changing tactics that reflect the changing and challenging recruitment environment of higher education. Steve understands that advocates, social media, and personalization in marketing are needed to succeed more than ever before. Even if I wasn’t a speaker I’d turnout just to hear about Northern Michigan University’s innovative new recruiting programs. Having knowledge of the content I can definitely say that their approach is applicable to companies as well.

3.  4 Steps to Turn Your Customer Feedback Into Action

Tuesday, September 15, 2:00 – 2:40

Brent Chudoba


Many marketers and sales teams have become obsessed with customers, and more specifically customer feedback. What first caught my attention about this session was its claim of taking feedback and translating it to action. While customer feedback is always appreciated, you can never take all customer feedback and implement it otherwise you would be changing your product 10 times a day. This session intrigues me and I look forward to hearing Brent’s advice.

The one aspect of this session I regret is its timing. Number four on my hotlist appears at the same time as this session and after much research no time travel device, cloning process, or pleading with Dreamforce to change the time will work. But I refuse to take either off my list.

4. Advanced Tips for Lead Nurturing: Resurrect your Dormant Leads

Tuesday, September 15, 2:00 – 2:40

Matthew Sweezey


I’m hoping for some good ideas from this session. Every business wants a way to heat up leads that have gone cold, but the whole practice of nurture seems to be changing both with new technology and just a change in prospect behavior. There are a multitude of schools of thought on how best to nurture a lead.  And recently, lead nurturing has gone through excessive changes that have spurred marketers and sales to address leads with personalization at the forefront.  I plan on absorbing Matthew’s session like a sponge.

5. Gartner Predicts: Three Trends in B2B Sales Enablement and Performance

Wednesday, September 16, 9:00 – 9:40

Ann Chen


 Ted Travis

Director of Research


Gartner is a renowned research firm and I’m interested to see their projected key trends. Many new trends that work toward enabling and improving the performance of sales are always advantageous to discuss with your team to see if they can be applied to improving your business. I’m hoping that Gartner will further emphasize the importance of personalization for sales and marketing’s digital future.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to pull myself away early to get to my next session.

6. Big Deals and High Heels: Why Women Are Naturals at Selling  

Wednesday, September 16, 9:30 – 10:10

Joanne Black


No More Cold Calling

Barry Trailer

Managing Partner

CSO Insights

This session combines two things I’m passionate about – Joanne Black and empowering women. While throughout history women have been primarily nurturers, we have come into our own in the 21st century. But current marketing and sales strategies need nurturers to build relationships and incorporate a personalized approach to feed a business’s success. And who better to do that but women? I bet many of you remember the old saying men are from Mars and woman are from Venus. That saying has much to do with the fact that men and women communicating differently. I’m delighted to see how Joanne explores the need to incorporate women’s distinct communication into the business world.

7. Forrester: Transform Your Customer Service For The Age Of The Customer 

Wednesday, September 16, 11:00 – 11:40

Ian Jacobs

Senior Analyst


This session is another one that focuses on customer obsession based off the paradigm shift that has the customers controlling the buying process over the business. No longer do we tell the customer what to buy, but the customer tells us and it is our job to listen through different channels in order to fulfill their needs. I’m enthusiastic to see how Forrester recommends we measure a successful business to customer interaction and see if it can be applied to our current business practices.

8. How Smart Brands Use Digital Marketing to Acquire, Engage, & Retain Customers

Wednesday, September 16, 12:00 – 12:40

Joel Book


Joel’s session acknowledges the necessity of personalizing, automating, and engaging customer relationships. With these strategies and resources we can focus on sending the right message to the right person at the right time in order to find and retain leads. I agree wholeheartedly with Joel and I’m eager to view a few of his many examples of a success digital marketing strategy.

9. Women’s Leadership Summit: A View from the Top, CEOs Panel

Thursday, September 17, 9:00 – 10:00

Leah Busque

Founder & CEO

Tas Rabbit

Katrina Lake

Founder & CEO


Women empowerment in the workforce is always a topic I’m pleased to see come up at large conferences. Not long ago women were largely confined to a handful of industries and today it is still highly challenging for women to rise to a top role in companies. I’m elated that these women were able to accomplish it. I eagerly look forward to hearing their unique and inspiring stories.

But just like Tuesday morning I’ll have to wear my running shoes to get to the next session on time. It’s worth it though.

10. Disruptive Growth & Customer Experience Excellence in Communications

Thursday, September 17, 10:00 – 10:40

Andrew Baer


Albert Calcagno



I have to admit that I’m a bit of a cynic when I hear marketing terms like “disruptive growth”, but the fact that this is a case study has my attention. Hopefully, this seminar will give me a deeper understand of the disruptive growth achieved by Fastweb and the tools and strategies that are being implemented to replicate their success.

11. Women’s Leadership Summit: Building the STEM Pipeline 

Thursday, September 17, 12:30 – 1:30

Mary Moloney



Lyndsey Scott

Actress, Model, App Developer

This session is one that I’m extremely passionate about. Unlike many marketers, my undergraduate degree was not in the communication or marketing field, instead I graduated with a degree in Engineering. STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics tries to bridge the gender gap between girls and fields that are primarily dominated and perceived as male. I now have two daughters of my own and instill in them the knowledge that they can be anything as long as they work at it. STEM programs are great to inspire young women to reach beyond gender and become successful leaders of tomorrow. I believe that this session is worth everyone’s time.

12. The What, Why And How of Customer Obsession

Thursday, September 17, 3:30-4:30

Julie Ask

Vice President, Principal Analyst

Forest Research

George Colony


This third session on customer obsession further demonstrates how the shift in customer business relationships are shaking up the business world. I’m looking forward to seeing how Forrester believes that this seismic shift has and will change our business models.

Here finishes my hotlist for Dreamforce 2015. Ping me on Twitter @TrishaWinter if you’ve found a great session I should add to my list. If you are a marketer with similar interests to this list, let’s arrange to meet. I look forward to seeing everyone there!

What is advocacy marketing?

7 characteristics of engineers that great marketers should have

Originally published in

I often get double-takes when I reveal to other CMOs that I was a biomedical engineer in my previous life. After almost a decade as an engineer, I grew restless. I went back to school to earn my MBA and discovered there was a lot more to marketing than what influencers had told me.  I reinvented my career and worked my way through almost every part of marketing: product management, product marketing, campaign management, social strategy, branding and communications and now am a CMO at a growing SaaS company.

It’s been a long time since I was a practicing engineer so they get over the shock quickly. But I surprise them even more when I let them know that I am still an engineer in many ways.

Ten years ago my two careers may not have meshed as well as they do today. What’s changed? Back then, marketing was more an art.  Today, it is predominantly science. The experts who make the biggest impact for their organizations are the ones who may not be formally trained as an engineer like me, but who possess and use key skills that are needed by both engineers and marketers.

Here are the 7 characteristics of engineers that make for amazing marketers

1. Engineers love to problem solve!

That’s why we became engineers!  We wanted to solve problems!  Build products that do amazing things!  We are passionate about that and it is the #1 skill set I look for when hiring a marketer.  There are no cut and dry job descriptions anymore in marketing.  Marketers need to be able to find a problem or area for improvement and go find a way to make it better.

2. Engineers have been taught the right approach to problem solving.

Engineering education is about learning an approach to solving a problem and the tools needed.  In actual practice, you then go back to the process, the guiding materials and come up with a solution to the problem. We’re not taught memorization, but rather method.  That is because there isn’t always a “right” answer in engineering. This is exactly how marketing needs to approach problems.  There is no one right way to do things.  There are infinite possibilities so it takes a person who can approach a new problem with a method to work through it and have the confidence to see where it takes you without knowing your final destination.

3. Engineers love data!

As an engineer I once worked on a data set in Excel for 3 weeks.  I was relentless in my pursuit of finding answers.  This skill has served me well in what is now likely the most data-driven career path available.  Data scientists work in marketing, how crazy is that? If you are good at math, statistics and are a killer “Googler” because you understand Boolean logic, then marketing is definitely for you.

4. Engineers are bi-lingual.

This one is for all of the companies out there with complex products.  You have high-tech talent in your product and sales organizations. Engineers turned marketer speak the language of business and tech.  Your engineering degree will not only get you instant respect with product and sales, it will allow you to turn marketing into terms they understand – making you a key player in marketing alignment with product and sales.

5. Engineers love trying out new technology!

Did you know there are almost 1,900 marketing technology vendors who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what marketing can do? Scott Brinker’s Chief Marketing Technologist Blog shows all of these vendors in a marketing technology landscape chart that is positively overwhelming! Marketing has the daunting (but fun) task of vetting these technologies and how they will work for our organization.  There is no end in sight to marketing being exposed to new tech!

6. Engineers are pragmatic.

This isn’t the Mad Men era of marketing.  The sexiest, coolest idea is not always the best.  Engineers are fundamentally pragmatic about decision making.  We look at things from all angles.  We make pros/cons lists, we mitigate our risks, we create exit plans.  These are all phenomenal skills for today’s marketer to have.  Because there are still CEOs out there that get swept away by a “cool idea”, we need marketers who can take those cool ideas, break them down and make them high performing!

7. Engineers like building things.

So much of marketing’s digital transformation is about building new processes and integrating technology to build a model that works for your organization. There is a never-ending project list for great marketers to make amazing things happen with technology.  I’ve seen ridiculous amounts of innovation in my career and can’t wait to see what new technology or process will come about next!

I’m not saying every engineer should make the transition to marketing.  Do what you are passionate about. But here are key takeaways for readers:

  • For marketers today, think about these skills and if you don’t have them, think about ways to develop them. If your company has online training, take a course in problem solving or decision making.  I guarantee it will help your career.
  • For marketing leaders looking at job candidates, make sure you consider these skills and characteristics in hiring. Someone with these skills can demonstrably help drive change and growth.
  • And certainly, if you are an engineer and are thinking about a career change, I definitely recommend taking a look at marketing!

Forrester Forum for Marketing Leaders: Customer obsessed marketing

I was honored to spend a few days in NYC at the Forrester Forum for Marketing Leaders.  The Forum’s theme, Connect, Engage, Deliver, explored the role of today’s marketers, and what they need to do in order to be successful in our changing marketing landscape.  The singular focus could be summarized quite succinctly: customer obsessed marketing is the key to winning. Understanding your customers and engaging them throughout the customer journey is critical to being successful.

Brands need to hyperadapt

James McQuivey, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst, explained why customer obsession is so important; we are now in the era of hyperadoption. It no longer takes years for late adopters to get on board because the costs and risks to buying that next new thing are very low.  That means that there are no fears standing in the way of late adopters.  We accept that one day we’ll own a smart watch.  On the flip side, with hyperadoption comes hyperabandonment.

This has the potential to result  in a frightening future for marketing where there is less connectedness to a brand.

TAKEAWAY: Forrester advises that in order to win, marketers need to continually add value for our customers, and engage them in meaningful ways.  Adding features to your products should be done in small bits and done as often as possible.

Pivot: Become obsessed with your customer

The session I found most valuable during the conference was called “Make the Pivot to Customer-Obsessed Marketing – At Scale” from VP and Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo. She stated, “It is our job as marketers to engineer the path for customers and engage them throughout that path.” The reality she shared with us is that:

  • 74% of the research of a B2B buying process happens online
  • <3% of buyers report that their first contact with a vendor was cold (email or call)
  • >10 channels influence buyers at each stage of the journey
  • 73% of marketers say their budget is fragmenting across channels

Outbound is no longer working. So what can we do about it? Wizdo recommended that marketers find a scalable approach to become buyer-centric and customer obsessed. Instead of a go-to-market strategy, we need a go-to-customer strategy.  To do this, she outlined 4 buyer archetypes that anyone can use to create a go-to-customer strategy and stay in tight alignment with sales.  The 4 buyers and the way that you would typically engage with them are listed here.

Four buyer archetypes for go-to-customer strategy

  • Procurer: Wants product benefits and differentiators.  Reach with: vendor website, social networks, online chat, partner website.
  • Transformer: Wants business challenge, trends, thought leadership. Reach with: Sales rep (in person), conferences peers, analysts, consultants.
  • Improver: Wants planning tools, models, budget implications. Reach with: vendor website, Communities, inside sales, vendor SME.
  • Reactor: Wants business solution, success stories, research data. Reach with: sales rep, analysts, consultants.

Forrester buyer archetypes

TAKEAWAY: Going to market has shifted and marketers need to “go-to-customer”.

Data is dough for today’s marketer

Underpinning customer obsession is, of course, data.  From the sessions to the tradeshow floor, everyone was focused on data as the driving force.  Google’s Director of Data & Management Platforms, Steve Yap, said on stage that he believes that “data is marketing’s currency”.  We are collecting and making sense of the data that drives marketing, but can also drive the business forward.  Where we are weak in our data collection is understanding the full lifecycle of the customer and how they engage.

TAKEAWAY: Demographics are just a small part of what marketers need to know about their customers.

Focus further than the funnel

In a session from Analyst Tina Moffet called “From Click Metrics to Customer Value Metrics: How Attribution Measurement will Evolve”, Moffet discussed the marketing performance measurement paradox.  While we have tools to measure parts of the customer journey, we need to be able to measure all customer interaction.  Forrester cautioned marketers that we can no longer focus just on the funnel.  The customer journey starts there with Discovery, Exploration and Buy.  But the customer journey continues with product Use, Ask (or support) and Advocacy. And hopefully the cycle continues with additional purchase.

  • Only 26% of marketers use attribution models to understand customer behaviors
  • 32% of CI pros plan to adopt customer journey analytics

Forrester customer journey

Moffet left us with the very true, (but exhausting) thought that you are never done building your customer journey measurement because the customer’s needs are always changing.

The most interesting concept from the conference that popped up in almost every presentation was the idea of customer advocacy.  Interesting, because while analysts discussed it as an important phase of the customer lifecycle, there wasn’t a single session about how to approach it.  In Wizdo’s session she stated that in the discover phase of the buying process, 21% of buyers engage with peers.  This was the highest influencer in the process.

In my individual discussions with analysts, they told me that they believe marketers are looking for pragmatic ways to increase customer engagement while leveraging them for advocacy and that referral marketing is a simple way to get started. Simple because referrals directly effect company revenue.  As marketers respond to the advice from Forrester to become more customer obsessed, it will be interesting to see what projects get tackled first on what will likely be a long road toward truly understanding and engaging on a meaningful level with our customers.

For now, I need to go figure out our buyer archetypes, build out the customer journey with clear ways to encourage engagement and advocacy, and figure out how to measure it all.

TAKEAWAY: Next time you want to throw in the towel, remember that becoming customer-obsessed is a marketer’s journey too; not just a destination.

Continue the conversation with Trisha on Twitter @TrishaWinter

What is brand advocacy?