Every year, we honor 10 customer-centric B2B marketers with the Best Advocate Marketing Awards (also known as the BAMMIES). These awards are given to those marketers who are harnessing the power of their advocates through engaging, creative and effective marketing campaigns to fuel growth and change the way their company does business.

Below, we’re featuring five BAMMIES success stories. In each example, we’re sharing how these savvy marketers increased referrals, grew their advocate communities and improved their relationships with customers through their advocate marketing initiatives.

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1. Want more referrals? Include everyone in on the fun

Buffini & Company, winners of the Best Referral Program award, launched a three-month Referral Rally campaign in the hopes of filling their pipeline during a normally quiet time—the summer.

To get employees invested, Buffini & Company held a pep rally, gave staff “Got Referrals?” t-shirts and recognized weekly “Leaders of the Pack” who submitted the most referrals. Employees were also encouraged to ask for referrals in every 1:1 conversation they had with customers. In return, top employee referrers were rewarded with Buffini Bucks, which they could save for an end-of-the-year auction for prizes.

To get customers excited, the team promoted the Rally all summer-long across communication channels (like blogs, videos and social media) with one clear message: “Got Referrals? Get Rewards!” Participants were rewarded for submissions, with the top referrers being treated to a five-star resort stay, a meal with Buffini’s founder and a giant thank you from the entire staff. They also incorporated the Rally into their annual MasterMind Summit to get customers referring at the event.

dermont_buffini“Our customers and our employees are our greatest assets. Encouraging both groups simultaneously allowed us to turbocharge our referrals,” says Dermot Buffini, CEO at Buffini & Company.

By engaging both of these groups, Buffini & Company received 3,990 referrals, and could attribute 1,093 sales to these referrals.

2. Inspiring reviews through online and real life advocacy

Marketo, who took home the Best Product Review award, wanted to stand out in their crowded (and competitive!) industry by generating 50 reviews per quarter for 3rd party websites (with a focus on driving reviews in the Enterprise segment).

Marketo engaged and rewarded customers across its live events and digital channels to encourage them to submit reviews. First, they ran a contest to build buzz for The Marketing Nation Summit through their advocate marketing program, Purple Select, by offering advocates a special branded hoodie if they wrote a review before the event. Seeing the success from these efforts, Marketo then ran the same promotion across its seven roadshows and Dreamforce. Marketo also drove reviews through two exclusive online experiences: Marketo Jeopardy and Purple Palooza. Each offered advocates points and prizes for writing reviews, submitting referrals and interacting in the advocate community.

Danielle_Camara“Reviews were our number one goal when we launched our advocate marketing program. Most of our pipeline comes from AppExchange, G2 Crowd and TrustRadius. Engaging customers across both physical and online channels allowed us to get more genuine reviews and gain a huge competitive advantage,” says Danielle Camara, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Marketo.

Through these successful promotions and online experiences, Marketo received 538 net-new reviews across G2 Crowd (340), Trust Radius (145), Software Advice (28) and AppExchange (25). They also gained the #1 position on G2 Crowd within the Enterprise segment, the #1 spot on TrustRadius in the Mid-Market and Enterprise segments, and was dubbed the “Most Reviewed in 2015” on G2 Crowd.

3. Get everyone talking (about you) on social media

Cisco, winner of the Best Social Engagement award, knew that their IT advocates loved to talk with others in their field, so they set a goal to incentivize their growing community of advocates—called the Cisco Champions—to talk about the brand amongst their professional networks across social channels.

Through the Cisco Champions program, advocates had opportunities to enhance their professional skills, network with their peers and highlight their expertise. Cisco did this by featuring their Champions across the channels their advocate community uses. For example, Champions were invited to showcase their knowledge on Cisco’s blogs, participate in #CiscoChat on Twitter, be featured in Cisco’s Engineers Unplugged video series and interview the company’s tech experts in Cisco’s weekly podcast. To reward their Champions for engaging with them, Cisco gave their advocates invitations to exclusive events, product sneak peeks, recognition in their content and direct access to some of Cisco’s top engineers to discuss product features, technology trends and more.

Lindsay_Hamilton“Cisco Champions have created a consistent stream of timely and engaging content on an unprecedented scale. The program reaches a diverse audience and allows Cisco to earn the trust of the IT community with authentic and relevant content. Our community views the information as “for us, by us,” says Lindsay Hamilton, Social Media Marketing Manager at Cisco Systems.

Through the program, Cisco Champions generated 55,000 tweets about Cisco, wrote more than 200 Cisco-related posts on their websites and authored 100 posts on Cisco’s blogs (generating more than 44,000 hits and over 8,000 social media mentions).

4. Making your events all about your advocates

Okta, winner of Best Use of Advocates at Events, wanted to build a closer relationship with their advocates through their annual conference, Oktane.

Okta inspired its customers to be the heart of Oktane through its advocate marketing program, Okta Ozone. First, they motivated advocates to help drive sign ups, social media mentions and event promotion before the conference. During Oktane, they had special challenges, an exclusive networking lunch and unique awards to recognize advocates.

More importantly, advocates were featured everywhere throughout the event—in sessions, keynotes, branding, awards ceremonies and a special book about their advocacy program given to every attendee. This helped grow program membership while showing customers and advocates alike all the ways they could support the Oktane event.

Lauren_Berry“Our founder once said that Oktane is not a user conference, it’s a customer conference. That’s why customer stories are truly the heart of Oktane. By showcasing their success, we also make the event more successful,” says Lauren Berry, Customer Marketing Associate at Okta.

As a result, Okta’s advocates helped generate pre-event buzz, on-site engagement and post-event feedback, including generating 1.1 million social impressions for #Oktane16, a 34% increase in advocate engagement and 38 advocates volunteered to share their success stories at Oktanewhich were some of the highest rated sessions at the conference.

5. Elevate your advocates with an online community

MuleSoft, winner of the Best Advocate Community, wanted to create an online advocate community that would engage thousands of developers and encourage them to advocate for the brand with their broader network.

MuleSoft launched an advocate marketing program, MuleSoft Champions, as a platform for helping their developers grow professionally, network, contribute back to the community and raise brand awareness. They did this by tailoring content and challenges based on their advocates’ skill levels and interests. To help scale this process, MuleSoft created ChampBot—a robot that helps automatically approve challenges. The program also encouraged advocates to complete expert-level MuleSoft Developer Certification so they could gain new skills. In total, they built 42 custom badges to motivate developers to learn more and advocate for them. To recognize their most active community members, MuleSoft featured Champions on their developer site by showing off their badges and expertise
Mike_Stowe“The Champions Program has become a central component to MuleSoft’s Developer Relations Program and a key part of our developer community. We have big plans for 2016 to expand on our capabilities and continue growing the program aggressively and smartly,” says Mike Stowe, Developer Relations Manager at MuleSoft.

Thanks to their efforts, MuleSoft increased advocate engagement by 1,300% and new forum threads by 45%. Community members also helped create 3,000+ pieces of content about Mulesoft, including 7 books that were authored solely by advocates.

10 Award-Winning Advocate Marketing Success Stories
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