Those who work at not-for-profit organizations love being part of a community. That’s why Blackbaud, a non-profit software solutions provider, launched a customer advocacy program to engage and connect with its 30,000 customers. However, the program didn’t give Blackbaud’s passionate advocates many activities to do—or a lot of professional perks. Amy Bills, Customer Marketing Director at Blackbaud, knew they could do better if they rethought their approach to customer advocacy. Watch her Advocamp presentation to learn how Blackbaud launched a new advocate marketing program by building an internal foundation for success.

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Here’s three steps Blackbaud took to build its new customer advocacy program:

1. Education for everyone

Blackbaud worked hard to educate staff, partners and customers on every facet of how the new program would work—including answering any and all questions.

Some questions were as simple as “What is advocate marketing?” While others were more complex, like “What kind of resources should we dedicate to this?” and “Will people really like the gamification aspect that much?”

Amy says the key is making sure your messaging is targeted to the particular person or group you’re talking to—whether it’s the executives who want numbers, or the marketing staff who want to know how other companies have successfully done the same thing. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and fully understands the benefits, which will get them on board with the program.

2. Seek out internal advocates

Finding passionate and influential internal advocates in different departments helped Blackbaud reach its program goals. Amy’s team sought out their most excited sales reps to help invite customers to the Blackbaud Champions advocate marketing program, and drive referrals.

Amy says that as Blackbaud’s reps began asking their existing customer advocates for referral leads, Blackbaud’s Champions program “immediately began to get more flat-out referrals.” The passion their employee advocates had for the business was rubbing off on their customer advocates as well.

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3. Set clear goals

Setting a specific goal and working towards it helped Blackbaud achieve some incredible results.

Amy says that in just the first year of launching Blackbaud’s advocate marketing program they were able to reach and surpass several of their goals—including generating more than 100 online product reviews, a pipeline of more than $200,000+ in referral leads (up  from just $13,000 the year prior) and over 500 new engaged customer advocates.

Not surprisingly, Blackbaud is aiming higher this year—adding new goals, like connecting advocates to NPS surveys to demonstrate how they are more satisfied. Blackbaud is also going to be offering more creative challenges to encourage higher levels of engagement and crowdsource content from their advocates to use in case studies.

Bottom line

By relaunching its advocate marketing program with a greater focus on how the program could benefit the company and its customers, Blackbaud achieved stellar results and gained complete internal buy-in. “We have formerly reticent sales management members who weren’t convinced, and are now sending e-mails to their teams making sure customers are on board,” Amy says. “They’ve had a complete turnaround. It’s a very energizing win for everyone.”

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