A Look Inside Our Most Ambitious B2B Marketing Campaigns Of 2016

January is the perfect time to review the past year’s ups and downs—both personally and professionally—to see how you can do better.

To start 2017 off strong, we’re reviewing some of Influitive’s biggest B2B marketing campaigns from 2016 to see what went well and what we could improve on. (If you’re curious about previous years, check out our 2014 and 2015 recaps.)

Below are summaries of some of Influitive’s most interesting and ambitious B2B marketing campaigns from this past year—including the results we did (or didn’t) achieve, and some valuable lessons learned.

P.S. If you’re wondering how we get our customer advocates involved in our campaigns quickly and easily, read our how-to guide on running an advocacy program.

1. A personalized video invitation to our annual conference

Goal: Drive attendance to our annual conference

Our annual conference, Advocamp, is the biggest customer experience, engagement and advocacy event of the year. For its second edition, our goal was to attract 1,000 attendees—nearly quadrupling attendance from the previous year.

We knew that with all the other marketing conferences competing for attention, a generic email campaign just wouldn’t cut it.

So, for the second year in a row, we created a series of entertaining videos featuring Buck, Advocamp’s fictional head counsellor, aimed at marketing leaders. We call these Buck Shots and they’re scripted, filmed and edited by the Austin-based agency Sparksight.

To make the invitation video stand out, the recipient’s name was shown on a sash with badges (just like in Scouts) using some cool personalization technology from Vidyard, our video marketing platform.

Watch Cassandra’s video to learn about the results of our personalized video invite.

Results: High engagement rates help grow attendance

Our personalized video invite email had a 29% open rate, almost double the previous Advocamp email campaigns we’ve sent. We also had a 5.5% click-through rate and 18.7% click-to-open rate, which were 8X and 4X higher respectively than previous Advocamp campaigns.

The best part: we came close to hitting our goal of quadrupling attendance, registering 3X the number of attendees we had in 2015. We also had tons of questions about how we created such a unique invitation.

Lesson learned: Personalization works

These results inspired us to continue using personalized video in other campaigns, such as our holiday e-cards and an ABM campaign.

Bonus: we followed up with attendees by sending them a personalized Advocamp care package so they wouldn’t forget the amazing time they had at camp.

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Verdict: Couldn’t be happier (campers)!

 

2. Pinatas make an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign stand out

Goal: Have our most sought-after accounts talk to our sales team

Like a lot of B2B companies, this year we’ve started focusing on ABM campaigns to spark conversations with a targeted group of ideal prospects.

The key to a good ABM campaign is personalization. So, we decided to send our target recipients positive reviews from their customers, which we found on third-party tech review sites, such as G2 Crowd.

The review came with a handwritten note from one of our salespeople that said: “Hey, we found this positive review from one of your advocates. Wondering how you can get more? Talk to us!”

We also included a personal review from one of our awesome advocates, Amy Rosenberg at Namely, for good measure.

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However, sending these reviews alone wouldn’t have packed the punch we wanted. To make our campaign memorable, we decided to send these items inside pinatas filled with candy.

Watch Truman’s video to learn how he pulled off this ABM campaign without blowing his budget.

Results: ABM sparks meaningful conversations

Over a third (36%) of these highly sought-after accounts got in touch with our sales team in response to the pinata-gram—one of the highest response rates we’ve ever had to a marketing campaign.

Lesson learned: Test and track to make ABM more effective

We experimented with several ABM campaigns on smaller groups before we perfected the one above. (You can read about the others in this blog post.) Tracking and iterating on ABM efforts is crucial for success.

Overall, our ABM campaigns get 3X the response rate and 2X conversion rate over our average marketing campaign. Turns out personalization, social proof and a little bit of pizzazz can work wonders on your most important prospects—as long as you deliver something valuable to them first.

Verdict: Thumbs up for ABM!

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3. A marketing campaign created by our advocates

Goal: Drive demand with content about user-generated content (UGC)

The message of our last campaign of the year was this: content marketing is broken. The most authentic and trustworthy content your brand has isn’t something your marketing team can create—it’s user-generated content (UGC).

In this campaign, we explained how an advocate marketing strategy can help companies produce more user-generated content, instead of creating branded content prospects don’t trust.

The goal of the campaign was to engage with people interested in the topic of UGC before we launched Upshot, a new product that makes creating high-quality customer success stories easier and faster.

However, we knew we couldn’t make all the content ourselves—or we’d be hypocrites. So we tapped into our advocate marketing program to get customers sharing their UGC success stories and best practices with us.

Our advocates contributed the most by:

Watch Jillian’s video to learn how we got our customers to share their stories (and how you can, too).

Results: Not the pipeline we were looking for

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers from this campaign:

  • The eBook has received over 900 downloads
  • The “You’re So Vain” video received over 1,100 views and influenced two opportunities in the first two months after its publication
  • The UGC presentation received over 8,500 views, 649 social shares, and was placed in the “Most Popular” listing on Slideshare soon after it was published

We received some praise for the cleverness of our video and Slideshare, and feel the current number of downloads for our UGC eBook are solid. However, the interest hasn’t influenced a large number of conversions or new sales opportunities, which is unfortunate due to the amount of time and effort we put into planning and creating this content.

Lesson learned: Choose your target audience wisely

We may not have reached our pipeline goals because our message appeals most to content marketers, who aren’t typically the main buyers or users of our software (even though they stand to benefit from it). We also don’t have a large network of content marketers in our social media following or marketing database, which made promotion difficult.

We’re not finished promoting this campaign yet, so we’ll be watching the results in early 2017.

Verdict: A clever miss

 

4. Bringing our conference to the masses: Advocacy Advantage Roadshows

Goal: Deliver meaningful interactions to 1,000 attendees via a seven-city roadshow tour

We wanted to bring the magic of our annual conference, Advocamp, on the road to customers and other marketing professionals who couldn’t attend. So, we planned the Advocacy Advantage Roadshow, a seven-city tour designed to accomplish three main goals:

  1. Spread the message of advocate marketing to a larger audience
  2. Influence deal speed and create new sales opportunities
  3. Help our customers become better advocate marketers

Each roadshow had an afternoon filled with presentations from B2B marketing thought leaders about how customer advocacy can become a sustainable competitive advantage. Some of our incredible speakers included Rand Fishkin, Mike Volpe and April Dunford.

On the day of the event, we also hosted morning user groups and executive dinners in the evenings to get our happiest customers mingling with prospects and discussing their advocacy best practices.

Get Truman’s biggest lessons learned from planning these events in the video below:

Results: The roadshow delivers value to attendees

We surpassed goal #1, and had nearly 1,100 registrants across the events. We also received a lot of positive feedback about the quality of the roadshows and our messaging.

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In regards to goal #2, the events have generated 11 new SQOs and influenced 86 deals. At this point, we’ve broken even on the costs of the event with revenue generated. We still have a number of open opportunities from the events that have the potential to double our ROI if they close.

As for goal #3, our customers received a lot of value from these events because they’re able to:

  • Get ideas for their advocate marketing programs
  • Forge relationships with other advocate marketers
  • Teach their executives more about advocacy programs
  • Grow their professional clout by presenting their success stories at the roadshow (which often makes them bigger advocates for us in the future!)
Lesson learned: Make the most of in-person events

We’ve noticed a 13% increase in customer attendance when we blend our roadshow, user groups and executive dinners together. By creating this triple threat, we’re able to be more efficient, cost-effective and provide more value to our customers and prospects that attend.

While we haven’t cracked the code on increasing deal speed with our events yet, we feel we’ve generated enough value to plan more roadshows in the future.

Verdict: The (road)show will go on in 2017!

 

5. Influencing influencers with Jonah Berger

Goal: Grow our database through a webinar with a well-known influencer

We asked Jonah Berger, best-selling author and Wharton School professor, to join us for a video chat about what influences today’s buyers. We did a webinar with him back in 2013 when his first book, Contagious, was released. Since we’re big fans of his latest book, Invisible Influence, we were excited to chat with him again about his findings on social influence—which is highly related to the topic of customer advocacy.

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We felt his profile could help us start high-level conversations about peer influence with more fans of his that we might not have been in contact with.

To make it as big as possible, we decided to connect with our partners to invite marketers who weren’t already in our network to attend. As extra encouragement, we created a lead-sharing agreement in which all partners would receive the lead list if they drove a minimum number of attendees.

Our goal was to drive 1,000 registrations—meaning we asked each partner to register at least 100 people. To motivate them, we turned it into a competition by sending out a leaderboard update each day leading up to the webinar.

Watch Morgan’s video to learn more about how our partners helped us drive attendance.

Results: Influencers and partners make a dynamic duo

We ended up getting 1,300 registrants overall, 75% of which were driven by partners—topping our goal by almost a third. 800 of these registrants also became MQLs. This campaign also influenced a total of $214,000 in pipeline—and cost almost nothing to produce.

Lesson learned: Help and motivate your partners

Make your partnership promotions successful by providing frequent updates and offering help to partners that are struggling to hit their numbers.

We helped our partners modify their promotions by seeing what worked and what didn’t for other partners. In one case, tweaking the landing page to make it more mobile-friendly helped one partner drive more registrations.

Verdict: Partner collaborations work!

 

6. Keeping engagement high over the holidays with a VIP Advent Calendar

Goal: Generate 50 high-quality referrals and increase engagement in our advocate marketing program by 10% compared to November

December is often a slow time for advocacy since most people take off for the holidays. To keep engagement high, we tapped into the holiday spirit with a virtual advent calendar for customers in Influitive VIP (our advocate marketing program).

The advent calendar ran from December 1st to 24th and contained holiday-themed advocacy challenges. These included fun challenges, like sharing a favourite holiday memory, alongside requests to submit referrals and writing reviews.

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We also provided great prizes for our most active advocates (like an Apple Watch or iPad Mini) to keep them engaged.

Watch Dylan’s video to learn how it all worked:

Results: Happy holidays for Influitive

By the end of the campaign, we hit 67 referrals—beating our goal—and increased our customer engagement rate 9% from November.

We also enjoyed a few other benefits, including:

  • 114 new testimonials
  • 11 video testimonials
  • 621 content shares on social media
  • 443 community posts
  • 37 new sign-ups to our VIP program

Plus, we received great feedback from our customers, many of whom were inspired to run holiday-themed campaigns in their own AdvocateHubs.

Lesson learned: Be timely

When you tap into current events or holiday themes, people are more than happy to participate in your campaigns. Just make sure you mix fun with your requests, or else your audience may get turned off.

Verdict: Let it snow more holiday campaigns!

 

The best B2B marketing lessons come from transparency

I love being transparent and sharing the results of our marketing campaigns because I learn best by seeing real-life examples from other marketers.

Would you be willing to share what worked, what didn’t, and what surprised you in your campaigns from 2016? Let’s keep the conversation going below in the comments.

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  • Natalie Gullatt

    Great article!

  • Jessica Mitchell

    These insights are very valuable. Thanks for sharing!

  • quackthebush

    Video is where it’s at. Reading lengthy blogs / articles is tedious and hard to hold an audience- if it can be explained in a fun, personalized way, it’s way more impactful . … imo, anyway

  • Nergis Sungur

    There are simple but effective ideas. Thanx.

  • Clay McCullough

    Awesome tips! Thanks!

  • Awesome tips! I appreciate that you shared the data and insights about what worked and didn’t work.

  • Margaux Eleina Novak

    Thanks for all the tips!! Great insights.

  • Emily Ely

    I think the personalization that you give to each of these campaigns makes them all solid winners. I hope to bring that same aspect into some of our campaigns this year!