Referrals are the holy grail of leads: they close 30% more frequently than other types of leads, and can create a stream of predictable revenue—if your company can figure out how to keep them flowing in from customers.
Act-On Software has turned their referral program into an art form. The marketing automation company leveraged their customers’ networks to make referrals a predictable river of revenue through their ALUV advocate marketing program—and earned themselves a Best Referral Program Award at last year’s Best Advocate Marketing Awards, also known as The BAMMIES, in the process!
How? First, members of ALUV earned points, badges and rewards for low-effort, small asks—like sharing content. Next, they upped the ante by challenging their members to refer as many qualified leads as possible through a warm email or phone introduction. Advocates received points for each phase of the challenge; submitting a referral earned them 100 points and if a deal closed, advocates received 32,000 points in total (which was the equivalent of earning a MacBook Air).
By keeping their challenges easy and rewarding, Act-On received 209 high quality leads in the first six months of 2013 that had generated $175,000 in the sales pipeline ($60,000 of which closed) at the time of the BAMMIE award submission.
Post-win: Looking for technological harmony
Act-On focused on making some technology tweaks to make their referral program easier to manage and track through automation. By integrating their SFDC system into their Influitive AdvocateHub (which powers the ALUV program), Act-On can automatically upload new prospects into their CRM. “We have also leveraged a new social referral capability in Influitive which allows ALUVers to generate referrals directly from their social network through customized links and landing pages,” says Glass.
As a result, the ALUV referral program is still bringing the brand some of their highest converting leads. “Today 30% of customer referrals come from our ALUV program,” says Kristen. “We have been increasing our referrals by at least 15% quarter over quarter, and we plan on continuing this growth.”
Roadmap to referral success: quality over quantity
Aside from putting the right technology in place to easily capture, manage and track your referrals, Kristen recommends honing in on your best customers to attract new leads. “Make sure to focus on quality of referrals over quantity.” Fewer, more-qualified leads, will save your sales team time and effort.
The human element in Act-On’s referral program
Act-On routes referrals through the sales representative responsible for the customer who submitted the referral. “This makes the referral more personalized,” says Kristen. The sales team member and customer then discuss how to tailor the pitch to make it more effective.
Recognition keeps the referrals flowing
Making your advocates feel appreciated for their referrals with appropriate rewards is imperative. “Showcase and thank your customers through ‘Customer of the Month’ and social shout out campaigns,” suggests Kristen.
Offering other benefits through your program will also help keep customers happy—and more likely to advocate on your brand’s behalf. As an example, Act-On offers educational product and industry information through their ALUV program to engage advocates. They also host virtual hangouts that give customers exclusive access to executives, the ability to provide product feedback and early sign ups for beta features to make them feel valued and special.
Aside from the publicity of winning a BAMMIE, Glass says the win has put the spotlight on their customer advocacy program and helped them network with other marketing professionals to share advocate marketing best practices.