In the most recent installment of our customer success webinar series, I had the opportunity to chat with the two rockstars behind Marketo Engage’s award-winning customer advocacy program: Kevin Lau, Global Head of Customer Advocacy, and Will Harmon, Customer Marketing Manager. Purple Select, part of Marketo Engage’s portfolio of advocacy programs, nabbed the 2019 BAMMIE award for Advocate Marketing Program of the Year, with Kevin taking home the coveted award of Advocate Marketer of the Year.

Marketo Engage’s customer marketing team runs an array of customer advocacy programs that make up what is known as Advocate Nation, comprised of more than 10,000 customer advocates. These programs are designed to develop key relationships with customers across their journey with resources for their appropriate level of expertise with Marketo Engage.

Read on to discover what makes Marketo Engage’s fans some of the most passionate in the software industry.

Q: How do you turn your customers into raving fans?

Kevin: Your most die-hard customers are the folks who are giving you candid feedback, advocating for your brand, and helping you see the bigger picture of what enables them to be successful. The customers who best illustrate this for us are those we call Marketo Engage Champions.

We look at them as an extension of our own team because of the valuable feedback they provide and their willingness to help other customers by sharing their product expertise. A big incentive for these folks is being able to label themselves as Marketo Engage Champions—on their LinkedIn profiles for instance—which can unlock many doors for them professionally. Some of our Marketo Engage Champions actually create a salary guide every year that shows how being a Champion or passing our Marketo Engage certification exam has a direct impact on their income.

Beyond career development, our customer advocates also care deeply about building relationships with their peers and our executives. A major reason why we’ve been able to incite deeper engagement and passion from our customer advocates has been our involvement of our internal C-Suite leaders in our advocacy programs. They spend time talking to our customers one-on-one or within small groups and forums, making them feel like their voices are heard. In turn, this allows us to align our strategic goals with our customers’ goals and prove the programs’ ROI to executive leadership.

Swag is a pretty obvious incentive for getting customers engaged. Rewards can also come in other forms like customer awards, early access to product features, opportunities to provide product feedback, and the levels and points from our Influitive-powered online community.

These elements—personal branding, peer networking, and rewards—are essentially the three pillars of how we approach customer advocacy at Adobe.

Q: How do you measure and prove the impact of your customer advocacy program?

Will: As an Adobe company, we follow a practice referred to as DDOM, which stands for data-driven operating model. This is a company-wide policy of measurement and data excellence. In terms of measuring the business impact of customer advocacy, we use what we call an Advocate Score. Similar to a lead score model, the Advocate Score takes data at the contact level from dozens of touchpoints to calculate an engagement score within Marketo Engage. With this score, we’re better able to track customer advocates’ influence on revenue on a program by program basis and shine a light on how our team’s efforts reduce churn and bolster retention.

The Advocate Score provides us with a living, breathing mechanism to track ongoing engagement rates, which has been challenging to calculate in the past. Historically, we’ve had to pull manual reports to get snapshots of advocate engagement—and these values can fluctuate week to week. Because we know that most of our advocates are engaging with one or more of our advocacy programs, the Advocate Score helps us highlight exactly what their engagement metric should look like.

This ultimately helps us communicate the impact of advocacy across our business, giving our team a real seat at the table. In the future, we’ll be putting together educational content on our philosophy behind the Advocate Score and the learnings we’ve gained as we’ve developed it.

Q: How does customer advocacy help with product adoption?

Kevin: Our customer marketing team has two areas of focus: customer advocacy and adoption. By adoption, we mean getting the customer to understand the full value of their purchase of Marketo Engage. What we’ve found is that by having both of these functions—advocacy and adoption—sit within the same team, it creates a synergistic relationship where one impacts the other.

If advocates share their personal tips, resources, and guides, it then translates to helping other customers in the early stages of their journey to see the complete impact of their investment in Marketo Engage right out of the gate. In turn, this creates a better overall customer experience.

Our adoption team is our closest partner for developing challenges in Purple Select—our Influitive instance—whether we’re looking to get program feedback, content suggestions, webinar registrations, and more. They also work hand in hand with customer experts to develop critical content for all levels of familiarity with our product (from beginner to expert). When a new customer is being onboarded, they are getting educational guides on tips and best practices in addition to hands-on training from our other teams.

You don’t necessarily need a designated customer adoption team to build out a scalable customer adoption framework. Simply start with getting customer input through interviews, one-on-one calls, and surveys. The key to success with our adoption team has been a dedication to customer alignment when producing any kind of content.

Q: How do you avoid customer advocates experiencing fatigue from all the activities they complete?

Will: I don’t think any customer advocate community is immune to fatigue, but for us, it has been about striking the right balance to stave away as much fatigue as we can. There was a time when our strategy placed much more importance on reviews and testimonials. But we then found it better to decrease the frequency of those kinds of asks in favor of challenges directed to our online community and that encourage public discussion. This move helped us increase general knowledge sharing between customers and improve their understanding of the software.

We reserve challenges asking for testimonials and reviews in conjunction with larger initiatives like our Adobe Summit conference or our most recent Experience Makers Live virtual event. Spacing out these requests goes a long way so that advocates are not logging into the platform every day and seeing that we’re asking them to write another review.

The daily login bonus in Influitive (which increases by five points each consecutive day an advocate logs in) has also been huge for our retention as well. Even if advocates are logging in every day to collect their bonus points, they’re still getting new challenges put in front of them, which increases their likelihood of returning every day and continuing to complete activities.

Kevin and Will shared so many fantastic insights during the webinar that we couldn’t possibly fit them all within this blog post! Check out the full webinar recording to hear how Marketo Engage tailors their customer advocacy approach for every level of customer maturity—and as a result, creates advocates for life.

You can also read more about Marketo Engage’s award-winning customer advocacy program, Purple Select, and how Kevin won the coveted title of Advocate Marketer of the Year at last year’s BAMMIE awards in our eBook, “12 Award-Winning Customer Advocacy Success Stories.”