Showing Advocate Marketing ROI: Insider Secrets from Two Successful B2B Marketers

Truman Tang

Like it or not, you’re in a constant competition with your colleagues—for budget.

To win budget for your programs, you must show how they drive value for your business.

So when it comes to advocate marketing, how do you show ROI?

kevin lau headshotcarlos gonzales headshotWe held a video chat with Kevin Lau, Senior Marketing Manager of Customer Retention and Advocacy at NetBase, and Carlos Gonzalez, Vice President of Customer Success Operations at Ceridian, to get an inside look at how they prove the value of their advocate marketing programs.

Here’s what they think every B2B marketer must know about measuring advocate marketing:

The top metrics to measure

Of course, you can start by tracking your number of advocates and how many are active each month.

powerpoint bar chart linesNetBase focuses mainly on their customers’ engagement rate, and tries to determine how they can bring it through the roof. “We look at how we can take them from being a basic customer to really becoming one of our most trusted authorities in terms of social influence, or how can they also help us with case studies and videos,” says Kevin.

They do this by looking at which content and challenges are the most popular with their advocates. “This helps us determine the types of content we should create,” says Kevin. “It also shows us where advocates are in the customer lifecycle.”

Their technique is clearly working. In the past quarter, NetBase has produced 30 case studies and 25 videos featuring its advocates.

Ceridian takes a slightly different approach by tracking how many advocates are willing to do specific activities for them. For example, they track the number of advocates who raise their hands to provide references, speak at their user conference, or talk to press. They call these “benches”, and aim to make sure they have a number of advocates for each activity so they have a target group they can quickly call upon for help. “Our Customer Success department now has an inventory of customers they can call upon at a moment’s notice,” says Carlos.

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“Show me the money!”

Integrating your advocate marketing platform with Salesforce.com will show you how much advocacy turns into revenue.

powerpoint money eye“We hold webinars where advocates share their experiences with dozens of prospects,” says Carlos. “We tie these webinars to Salesforce.com and often find that just one advocate impacts millions of dollars in pipeline”.

Carlos also learned that your best customer might not be the one who is spending the most. “We discovered that one grocer in Wisconsin—a smaller company but a huge advocate—had a $39 million impact on our company,” says Carlos.

Your advocates can have a huge impact on your pipeline when they send you referrals and serve as references. “We posted a referral challenge for our advocates and gave away a VIP experience at our user conference,” says Kevin. “During the 60-day challenge, we generated 149 referrals and more than $200,000 in pipeline.

Both Ceridian and NetBase have also leveraged their advocate marketing platforms to upsell to existing customers.

NetBase hosts local meet-ups where customers share their experiences on panels and essentially sell to each other. “Our meet-ups have been one of our most successful marketing campaigns,” says Kevin. “This year, we’ve generated more than $1 million in pipeline from these events.”

How to get others in your company on board

powerpoint handshakeOnce you have these metrics, it’s important to make others aware of your successes.

Both Kevin and Carlos give monthly email updates on their advocate marketing programs.

Carlos also takes opportunities to slip advocacy stats into company-wide presentations to increase program visibility internally. “It’s important to let others know about your successes on a regular basis,” says Carlos.“When people saw that just one advocate had a $39 million impact on the company, it made a powerful impression.”

Tracking customer retention

powerpoint icon hand money“We survey our customers in our AdvocateHub and track their satisfaction ratings and renewals over time,” says Kevin. “We’ve seen tremendous improvements in our NPS.” Since the launch of its advocate marketing program, NetBase has seen a 30-point increase in its Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Ceridian improves retention by inviting all of its customers into its AdvocateHub—even the ones with low NPS. “There’s something in the Hub for everybody, whether you’re new to our product or a long-term advocate,” says Carlos, “Everyone can find resources that will help them network, collaborate with other customers and elevate their satisfaction.”

Advocate marketing saves you time

powerpoint icon hourglass 2Advocate marketing can bring you a number of intangible benefits, such as saving your team time.

For example, both NetBase and Ceridian give advocates opportunities to network, ask each other questions and share best practices.

“We’ve fostered hundreds of connections between customers,” says Carlos. “Instead of contacting our support team, our advocates answer each other’s questions. Our most successful customers have engaged with other customers in our community.”

“Since our advocates now help each other, fewer questions are going to our support team,” says Kevin. “I estimate that the reduction in questions has saved customer support 15% of its time.”

How advocacy impacts product development

powerpoint screwdriver wrenchNetBase and Ceridian collect valuable feedback from advocates that helps them improve their products and provide a higher level of service.

In two months, Ceridian brought in 200 advocates for user acceptance testing. Ceridian’s engineers also worked with advocates to learn more about what specific verticals want.

“Our advocates have had a phenomenal impact on our product development,” says Carlos. “Their feedback shortens our engineering and quality assurance cycles. It also cuts our sales cycles, as we’re making products that better meet the needs of our targeted verticals.”

Video: how to show the ROI of customer advocacy

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