At the start of 2014, Blackbaud, a fundraising software company that serves non-profits, was in the process of moving to a SaaS model. Michael Beahm, Blackbaud’s first Customer Advocate Marketing Manager, saw this as the perfect time to play a part in the transformation of the company’s marketing.
“The majority of B2B buyers now do their own research and ask for peer recommendations before they speak with a sales rep,” says Michael. “I knew that delighting customers would be critical to driving recommendations and revenue going forward.”
From traditional marketer to advocate marketing superstar
To do this, Michael wanted to revamp Blackbaud’s customer reference program. “We had 1,600 customers raise their hands to serve as references, but we were just filing them away and not engaging with them. The program wasn’t providing our customers or our sales team with the potential value I knew it could.”
Michael already drove advocacy through Blackbaud’s LinkedIn group, but the process was painfully slow and hard to scale. Blackbaud needed a program that would let Michael and his colleagues engage customers across multiple channels and motivate them to advocate at scale—with the ultimate goal of increasing Blackbaud’s referral pipeline by 50% year-over-year.
Stepping out of his comfort zone to launch an advocate community
Shortly after Michael moved into his new role as Customer Advocate Marketing Manager, he discovered Influitive’s AdvocateHub, a software platform that would help him find, engage and mobilize Blackbaud’s brand advocates at scale. He used it to launch Blackbaud Champions, an exclusive community for Blackbaud’s happiest customers.
In the program, advocates are given valuable resources and recognized for helping out the brand. “We wanted our relationship with advocates to be a two-way street. It’s not just about us getting references or referrals. It’s about giving our customers opportunities to engage with each other, boost their careers and be rewarded for their advocacy,” says Michael.
Within 10 days of launching Blackbaud Champions, Michael had engaged 150 advocates and received 77 high-value customer referrals—more referrals than the company had received in the previous four months combined!
Michael mobilizes Blackbaud’s advocates… and increases referral pipeline by 40X
Next, Michael took Blackbaud’s advocate marketing program to new heights. His tireless efforts, likeable personality and creative campaigns helped him:
- Build a community of more than 2,500 Blackbaud Champions
- Increase referral pipeline 40X from 2013 to 2015
- Influence millions in revenue through customer references for 125 sales opportunities
Want to learn more about how Michael achieved these results and get his top five advocate marketing tips? Read his full success story here.