Many companies have multiple online touch points with their customers, including forums, reference programs and social media networks. This makes tracking customer conversations and gauging the effectiveness of each platform difficult. Marketers often wonder where to put their resources, and how to connect their customers across platforms.

Oracle Marketing Cloud has a robust community spread around several channels. Their most passionate advocates already participate in the brand’s well-known marketing community, Topliners. However, they were also looking for a way to seamlessly integrate an advocate marketing program with Topliners to mobilize and engage their best customers, and reward them for advocating for the brand.

Two years ago, Oracle Marketing Cloud decided to launch AdvocatesHQ, a program that could track acts of customer advocacy across platforms, and recognize advocates for participating with perks like front row seating at the company’s annual industry conference, invites to VIP parties, and other types of public acknowledgments.

By using the two programs simultaneously to create a holistic experience for their engaged customers, Oracle Marketing Cloud increased loyalty and boosted engagement, and, as a result, won last year’s Best Advocate Experience Award at the Best Advocate Marketing Awards.

Jenny-Berthiaume-180x180“AdvocatesHQ took the Topliners program up a notch in terms of how were managing, mobilizing and nurturing advocates,” says Jenny Berthiaume, Director of Customer Culture at Oracle. “They complemented one another despite working in two different environments.”

We asked Jenny to break down Oracle Marketing Cloud’s formula for successfully nurturing customers across platforms to turn them into life-long advocates for your brand:

Step 1. Make a plan

Before establishing your program, plan a strategy that focuses on giving back to your customers. The best way to find out what they truly value? “Ask them what’s important and use that feedback to build your program,” says Jenny. Allowing customers to easily communicate ideas with your organization across channels will help keep your strategy on-point and nimble.

You’ll also want to make your program scalable so you have the potential for unlimited customer advocacy.

Step 2. Find your advocates

In 2012, Oracle acquired four big marketing brands in a short period of time. With all of the changes, they needed to refresh their AdvocatesHQ program to reach and serve their entire Marketing Cloud customer advocate base.

First, they developed an advocate lifecycle that identifies and nurtures engaged customers, and cultivates aspiring advocates. Then, all challenges and levels were updated, and inactive advocates were removed for a fresh start. Segmenting advocates by region, product and industry, and personalizing communications and challenges helped increase adoption and engagement among Oracle Marketing Cloud’s global customer base. “We’ve operationalized a global program, established repeatable processes, and launched new programs that nurture, celebrate, and recognize our advocates for going above and beyond to share the goodwill,” says Jenny.

Step 3. Power your program from within

“It’s easy to get caught up in your own management of the program,” says Jenny. That’s why Oracle Marketing Cloud also generated internal evangelists among employees by having customer facing teams become an integral part of AdvocatesHQ. Having internal champions from every department can make the customer experience better, and help gain buy-in from other stakeholders. “It takes a tribe to power a truly meaningful advocate program.”

Step 4. Establish appropriate rewards

Creating authentic value for your advocates means giving them what they truly crave. “Advocates want to find value in a community, be appreciated and have a real connection. If you can create everything you do with those points in mind, you will be successful,” says Jenny.

The rewards for your advocates don’t have to be physical gifts. Jenny recommends giving members the chance to develop themselves personally through opportunities to be seen as thought leaders and experts. Fueling interesting conversations and connections to help advocates grow professionally can often mean more than physical gifts or rewards.

In addition, Jenny says even a phone call or nice email can work wonders on making your brand’s advocates feel loved.

Jenny says that winning a Best Advocate Marketing Award highlighted the value and importance of AdvocatesHQ, and the amazing customers in the program. “Our customer-facing teams were also excited to be a part of something special.”

Think your brand has created a special customer experience? Prove it! Enter the 2015 BAMMIES now!