Last year, we created a retrospective blog about the results of our top B2B marketing campaigns of 2014. It quickly became one of our best performing articles month after month.

Why? Well, as a marketing leader, I learn by observing what others do. So, when we pulled back the curtain on some of our most creative campaigns, it clearly resonated with marketers.

So, like every great blockbuster, we’re bringing it back for a sequel. Here are Influitive’s 10 biggest B2B marketing campaigns from 2015 (in no particular order), including a look at how and why we created them, and the real results we achieved. Enjoy!

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1. Rachel, the Referral Relationship Coach

We’ve always said asking for a referral is like asking for a first date on Valentine’s Day: you’ve got to build some rapport before you go in for a big ask (or else you’ll seem desperate). We decided to keep the love theme alive in all of our referral-focused content this year.

[accordion class=”campaign1″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] littleblackbook-cover-232x300-transFirst we created the “Little Black Book of B2B Referrals”—a playbook on how to court customers to drive referrals. Then we dreamed up Rachel, The Referral Relationship Coach—a sassy, no-nonsense advice columnist who could answer all our customers burning questions about the referral process in a series of weekly videos and blog posts (played by our Content Marketing Specialist Jillian Wood). We created a community thread where questions could be submitted, and a resource page to house more referral best practices and content. Results: Great creative…but we aren’t done yet The ebook we created before we launched the Rachel campaign received 1,936 downloads, created 16 opportunities, and influenced $342,837 in pipeline (plus $15,000 in direct revenue so far). We also received over 40 questions in our ‘Ask Rachel’ community thread. However, the videos and blogs haven’t received many views since we haven’t done any special promotion (aside from some social media the week each piece goes live). We plan to leverage the series now that it’s nearly complete in a new campaign for 2016 and will likely redesign a new Rachel resource page so we can breathe a second life into this content. [/spoiler][/accordion]

2. Don’t miss the boat on advocacy…

Booking valuable prospect meetings at conferences is tough. Doing it at a conference where vendors are banned from booking meeting rooms is next to impossible. But that’s the policy at the SiriusDecisions Summit. So, we knew we’d have to get creative if we wanted others to ride the advocacy wave…which is when we noticed that the hotel hosting the conference had a scenic indoor boat cruise.

[accordion class=”campaign2″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] 2015-05-13 12.13.40-2We decided to rent the boat during the conference to offer our top prospects an enjoyable experience. First we reached out with “Don’t Miss The Boat On Advocacy!” messaging. We also provided everyone who booked a boat meeting a personalized advocacy assessment (researched and created by one of our stellar interns) to show them where their brand could be getting better results. The ride included two laps around the scenic indoor gardens of the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville with our VPs of Marketing and Sales, and a selection of free beverages.

Results: Not sea-sick yet

Our email had incredible click through rate of 5.7%—the highest for any email campaign so far in 2015. We ended up booking 27 boat meetings, which resulted in 9 opportunities and 1 closed deal. The campaign also influenced $56,269 in pipeline. Due to our success and quality of the attendees, we plan to head back to the SiriusDecisions Summit and increase our level of sponsorship by two tiers! The only question is how we’ll top this past year’s campaign… [/spoiler][/accordion]

3. The Referral Relationship Expert Webinar Series

Keeping in line with our relationship theme, we launched a three-part webinar series dedicated to referrals in November. It was the first time we had packaged three separate webinars as an on-going series with just one registration page and used our entire technology stack to manage the process.

[accordion class=”campaign3″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] referralreasearch_cover_232x300The first webinar featured referral expert Joanne Black. The second had Matt Heinz revealing new B2B referral research findings. The final one included two of our most creative customers, Danielle Camara, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Marketo, and Michael Beahm, Customer Advocate Marketing Manager at Blackbaud, breaking down their most successful referral campaigns. We also used several pieces of technology together, including Marketo for promotions and registration flow, ReadyTalk for the live webinars, Vidyard for on-demand video and tracking, and Salesforce and FullCircle Insights for post-event follow up and Campaign attribution. Results: Value-packed webinars bring all the marketers to the yard The series ending up getting 805 registrations and 250 views (including both live views and on-demand ones afterwards). It influenced 12 opportunities, 1 closed deal and $440,259 in new pipeline. This has been one of our biggest and most successful webinar campaigns, and inspired us to do the Next Gen Customer Experience series in December, which featured five webinar in five days. The key takeaway? Positioning different webinars around a specific topic can garner more attention than a single webinar. [/spoiler][/accordion]

4. Giving paid advertising a personal touch

When it came to our advertising efforts, all of our offers focused on content, like ebooks and case studies. While that’s helped us generate quality inbound inquiries, we wanted to convince people to skip the gated assets and jump right to the Contact Us/Request a Demo stage. We hoped that these leads would progress faster through the buying process. But to do it, we knew we needed to make our ads incredibly compelling. So what was the secret ingredient? Advocates.

[accordion class=”campaign4″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] We decided to marry our paid advertising and advocate marketing by featuring our top advocates’ success stories in our paid ads. We put out a challenge in our Influitive VIP advocate marketing program asking our advocates if they’d like to be featured in an ad. We then put their headshot and a short testimonial about their achievements with our product above a “Get A Demo” button. Our thinking was prospects would respond better to social proof from a real person than another content download.b2b_marketing_cmapaigns_advocacy_paid_ads_2015

Results: We may be onto something here…

19 of our advocates raised their hands to be in the ads. By putting real faces and voices in our ads we ended up generating 2 sales qualified opportunities (SQOs) within a month of launchinga conversion rates that’s 2x faster than an average opportunity. So far, the campaigns have influenced 4 opportunities and $46,000 in pipeline, with the Twitter ads being the most successful channel. We’re planning to experiment more to see how else we can leverage social proof to drive interest and faster conversion rates.[/spoiler][/accordion]

5. Our series B funding announcement, brought to you by advocacy

For Influitive’s Series B funding announcement, we wanted to go beyond traditional PR tactics (which typically focus on the company getting funded) and tell our story through the real “early” investors in advocate marketing: our customers.

[accordion class=”campaign5″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] Influitive Raises $30.5M In Series B RoundWhile we still created a traditional press release and a blog post by our founder, we decided to ask our customers, partners and investors to talk about why they believed in advocate marketing. We challenged them to submit videos explaining why they had invested in advocate marketing and Influitive through our advocate marketing program, Influitive VIP. Then, we featured the videos on a webpage about our series B funding, as well as in our CEO’s blog post and in press release. To show how we pulled this off, we also created a fun “behind-the-scenes” video explaining how easy it is to ask advocates for videos via an advocate marketing program. Results: A unique spin on a classic PR problemWe collected over 50 video testimonials to feature on our series B landing page. We’ve also generated more than 6,000 pageviews between the page, blog post and press release (with the majority going to the video page), more than 4,200 video views and 1,000 shares on LinkedIn. We’re quite proud of how we turned our funding announcement from a self-promotional PR message into a real marketing campaign featuring our amazing advocates.[/spoiler][/accordion]

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6. Turning Dreamforce into the ‘Wild West’

We wanted to see if we could use an account-based marketing strategy at one of the biggest technology conferences in the world—Dreamforce 2015—to capture the attention of the people and companies we really wanted to talk with. So, we launched a Wild West-inspired bounty hunting campaign to get other people to bring our top prospects to us!

[accordion class=”campaign6″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] web_ad_3aWith the help of our sales team, we created a “Most Wanted” list of our top 125 prospects. Then, we put $100 cash bounties on each of them. Anyone who brought a Most Wanted B2B marketing executive to our Dreamforce booth would receive a $50 cash bounty. The Most Wanted marketer would also receive $50 cash. We promoted the campaign through our website, social media, advocate marketing program and email marketing campaigns a few weeks before Dreamforce. We also created custom tweets and images for each Most Wanted marketer, which we then sent to the target and their company’s Twitter handle in the hopes that one of their colleagues would bring them in to collect the bounty.

account based marketing at eventsTo stand out on the show floor, we decked our booth out with an old saloon feel, real cacti and cowboy hats. We also had attendees who dropped by our booth tell us about a company that they loved. As a thank you for sharing their stories, we gave each advocate a branded mason jar with a mystery cash prize (ranging from $1 to $20). We then shared photos of these acts of advocacy on social media, and tagged the brands being mentioned so they could see the power of advocacy firsthand—and uncover new advocates.

Results: Our lassos may have missed a target or two…
Only eight of our most wanted marketers came to our booth to have a conversation. Turns out most of the people on our Most Wanted list weren’t attending Dreamforce. However, our efforts still helped us strike it rich! The campaign engaged 50 accounts, influenced 22 opps (worth $367,000) and helped us close 4 deals. It also allowed us to generate 623 social mentions across social networks before and during Dreamforce about our Most Wanted campaign, including tweets from some huge brands like DocuSign. Many marketing leaders also complimented us on the campaign. As a result, we plan to invest more heavily in account-based marketing in 2016.[/spoiler][/accordion]

7. The Next Gen CMO

Despite the fact that Influitive markets to marketers, we had never created content specifically for the CMO persona before mid-2015. Our primary focus had been customer marketersthe users of our softwareand, well, marketers in general. As our company matured, however, we realized how critical CMOs were to the decision-making process and we had to start speaking to them directly. It was time to turn up the volume on our content for CMOs. Thus, The Next Gen CMO campaign was born.

[accordion class=”campaign7″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] We started by asking our customers two things in our advocate marketing program: 1) What do CMOs care about? 2) What should we call our CMO campaign? The CMO's Guide to Next Gen BrandingThey gave us a ton of great ideas. From there, we started working on a series of content and campaigns to reach CMOs, including 2 ebooks; 3 live video interviews with Bill Macaitis (CMO of Slack), Jascha Kaykas-Wolff (CMO of Mozilla) and Kobie Fuller (investor at Accel Ventures), and Chandar Pattabhiram (Group VP of Product and Corporate Marketing at Marketo); numerous blogs posts; a community AMA with Meagen Eisenberg; and the Next Gen Customer Experience 5-day webinar series. Results: Turns out people really care about this whole CMO thing…All of these assets together generated over 5,000 Inquiries. They were the primary contributor to 20 SQOs and 50 Opportunities, and influenced 118 Oopportunities and over $2 million in pipeline. This has probably been one of our largest and most successful content campaigns of the year. Not only has it helped us reach a previously untapped persona, but it also generated interest from other marketing leaders because the role of the CMO has been a hot topic in marketing this year. The campaign blended targeting, newsjacking and content to attract high-quality leads.[/spoiler][/accordion]

8. Our first conference, Advocamp, takes marketers down a new trail

We launched our first conference as a way to help us build an advocate marketing product category and spread one important idea: the future belongs to those companies that develop and mobilize advocates as their primary goal. To make the event special we know we needed shake up the normal conference format and delight our attendees. So we took our “camping” theme to a new level to make the event memorable. We called it Advocamp.  

[accordion class=”campaign8″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] advocamp-press-releaseAll of our campaign materials, event signage and decor had a fun camping theme. This wasn’t just because we long for the days of summer camp. We wanted attendees to feel like they were gathering with a tribe of forward-thinking marketers. Our networking opportunities took place around campfires (and yes, there were s’mores). The main stage—which looked like a campsite—hosted inspiring, 15-minute Ted-Talk style presentations, known as AMP Talks, from our speakers. Attendees (dubbed Advocampers) were also invited to participate in an online experience before, during and after the event to help connect with their peers, learn more about the event, and help us promote it on social media.

Results: Year 1 set us up with some crazy high expectations for this year

A total of 300 attendees came to Advocamp, which was our goal! We received a large amount of positive feedback from attendees about the experience. Of the 140 Advocampers that participated in the online experience, 75% of respondents said it added value to Advocamp. This year, we’re expanding to a 3-day event with advocate marketing training, double the amount of speakers and bigger networking opportunities. (Don’t worry, there will still be s’mores!).[/spoiler][/accordion]

9. Crowdsourcing our Level Up Your Advocate Marketing Game eBook

We like to do something different with every piece of content we make. So when we were creating an ebook to help our customers use our product better, we decided to do two things. First, we wouldn’t write most of it ourselves; we would let our customers tell us their top tips. Second, we wouldn’t make it look like a typical ebook. And that’s how our Level Up Your Advocate Marketing Game ebook was born.

[accordion class=”campaign9″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] level_up_your_advocate_marketing_game_guide_232x300To help our customers get even better at using our product, we held a contest to collect the best tips for building a successful advocate marketing program from our experienced admins. We then curated the top ten tips for the ebook. Our graphic designer based the theme of the ebook on a video game. As readers progress through the PDFwhich resembles an old 8-bit video gamethey see their lives being used up and battery life going down, much like they would as they move through a real game. The “level up” theme ties nicely into our product because our software contains levels, and we just love game mechanics! Results: Not stellar…but it’s just the beginning The ebook has received 314 downloads in two months, which isn’t a huge number. However, the ebook has influenced 2 opportunities and $53,890 in pipeline, likely because the content (tips for running a successful program using our software) appeals to prospects already considering our product. While the value it can bring our current customers hasn’t been fully determined, those featured in the ebook were definitely delighted to be turned into video game characters! This ebook will serve as a standard on our team for advocate-sourced content and design execution as we head into 2016. [/spoiler][/accordion]

10. Buying Is Scary

Here at Influitive, we love pushing our limits. So, we decided to see what we could accomplish as a team if we dropped everything and focused on launching a multi-touch campaign in less than 24 hours. We decided to focus our efforts on creating something that would address common sales objections and revive dead opportunities. With Halloween just around the corner, we chose to center our messaging around the theme “Buying is Scaryusing images from classic horror movies and posing the question “What scared you about advocate marketing?”.

[accordion class=”campaign8″][spoiler title=”Learn more & see the results”] Our 24-hour campaign broke down into several major projects, including: a new landing page, four pages of content, two emails, a direct mailer, targeted social media outreach, retargeting ads, sales enablement, and video testimonials from our customer advocates discussing their initial buying fears, how they overcame them and why there are now happy Influitive customers. Sound a little overly ambitious? We soon learned that it was. What was supposed to have been accomplished in less than one day stretched into almost 48 hours of hard work that really put us to the test.b2b_marketing_cmapaigns_advocacy_objections

Results: Not as big as we’d hoped for but we’re sure glad we built this thing

Our initial results weren’t anything to write home about. Within the first week we generated 26 inquiries and 2 opportunities, and eventually closed one new deal from the campaign. To date, the campaign has influenced a total of 3 opportunities and $24,000 in pipeline. However, contacts from lost opportunities can now be easily added to the campaign by our sales reps, meaning this project will continually influence pipeline and revenue in the quarters to come. The bonus? We discovered how agile our marketing team can be and identified areas we need to improve on in the coming year.[/spoiler][/accordion]

What have you learned from your 2015 marketing campaigns? Share your insights in our community discussion.