Think your business is really engaging your customers and employees?
Meet Kim Ellis, Director of Customer Connect at BMC Software, a leader in IT service support software management tools. Last year, she won the Advocate Marketing Program of the Year Award, which is determined by popular vote, after driving 2,200 of BMC’s customers, employees and partners to cast a ballot in the Best Advocate Marketing Awards (also known as The BAMMIES). As a result, BMC amassed over 11,000 votes in just nine days—and took first place by a landslide.
How did the BMC team get so many passionate advocates to vote for them? It all started in 2014, when Kim launched an advocate marketing program to build stronger relationships between BMC’s customers and its employees. “BMC Software has faced a number of challenges with our customers feeling disconnected. I knew an advocate marketing program would make a huge difference,” says Kim.
By engaging these important groups of evangelists—and making them feel appreciated all year long—Kim was able to rally her advocates’ support and take the top honor at the BAMMIES.
Here are the three key elements Kim and her team used to build their engaging advocate marketing program, Customer Connect.
Step 1: Create one home for all of your advocates
BMC developed one centralized, online hub that housed members-only webinars and presentations, access to beta programs and exciting contests. BMC also used the program to ask their customer advocates to become references, share their success stories and submit product feedback. In return, they were given special perks and rewards.
“Our advocates went from having too many places to find information, to a central location where they felt heard,” says Kim. This exclusive program made customers feel special and closer to the brand. “They went from total confusion to being part of the BMC family.” Today, the Customer Connect program has 2,500 members.
Step 2: Get your whole team involved in advocacy
To win the top BAMMIES award, BMC not only rallied their customers, but also their partners and employees. This meant targeting both groups through their advocate marketing program with tailored resources, challenges and rewards.
Engaging employees has a number of benefits. After all, happy employees are more likely to serve customers better and can inspire even more acts of customer advocacy.
“Not only have customers expressed their appreciation for the experience they are now getting with BMC, but BMC employees are seeing those benefits through their customers,” says Kim.
Step 3: Give people a variety of ways to advocate
In order to build momentum, BMC offered advocates fun and easy ways to advocate on the company’s behalf—with varying levels of difficulty for different advocates.
“Through our Customer Connect program, we had customers writing blogs, tweets and product reviews. They also gave us feedback on our company and product strategy. In addition, some customers offered to speak to industry analysts, their peers and even produce video testimonials,” says Kim.
By giving customers opportunities to advocate on their own terms, the Customer Connect program has:
- Influenced $100M in revenue via customer references
- Generated 40 customer case studies and 10 video testimonials
- Increased online review ratings by 30%
- Had 40+ customers interviewed by industry analysts like Gartner, Forrester and IDC
- Saved $750K in software license fees thanks to advocate feedback