Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Reports that Prove Advocate Marketing ROI

Victoria LaPlante

As an advocate marketer, you’re probably used to having the value of your program questioned.

“Isn’t it more of a nice-to-have than a need-to-have?”

“What exactly is the ROI of engaging customer advocates?”

“Why should we devote our budget to this over other marketing programs?”

These doubts are exactly why it is so vital for advocate marketers to be continually proving value, and providing visibility into their programs internally.

However, in a new space like advocate marketing, it can be tricky to know exactly what metrics to report on—and how to tie them to revenue, retention, and cost savings. Plus, there may be areas where you’re adding value that you may not have even thought about.

That’s why I created this quarterly performance reporting guide to help you showcase the value of your advocate program across your entire organization. Proving this ROI will set you up for success in 2018 and enable you to continue to grow your program. Creating quarterly reports for your AdvocateHub will also make it much easier to put together year-end executive reports when the time comes.

As you read this blog, think about how you can plug in your own data and observations into these six sections, and you’ll be well on your way to getting the recognition and funding your program deserves.

1. Executive Summary

While this will be the first section of your report, I’d actually recommend writing it last. This is where you take your entire report and summarize it into a clear and concise paragraph, so make sure to uncover all data first before deciding what’s of highest importance.

Keep the executive summary high-level and focused on the value you drove, not the specific activities you completed. Try to include a balance of the top 1-2 insights from each section below.

Not everyone who sees your report will read the whole thing, so make sure you really construct a strong case for your program here. Use powerful language to highlight the full extent of your accomplishments, and be armed with numbers to support your observations.

2. Advocate Engagement

Start each of the next five sections with a brief paragraph summary, and any necessary definitions of terms you’ll be using. Your reader is likely a busy executive unfamiliar with the lingo of advocate marketing, so help them out by clearing up terms. For example, you can state that an “engaged advocate” is someone who has completed at least one activity in your advocate marketing program this month, and a “churned advocate” is someone who was engaged the month prior, but did not log back in this month.

Metrics to include in this section:

  • Total number of engaged advocates this month/quarter
  • Avg. number of engaged advocates this quarter
  • Churned advocates this month/quarter
  • Avg. number of churned advocates this quarter
  • How the # of engaged advocates compares to quarterly and/or annual goal for engaged advocates
  • Engagement by groups or segments, most engaged group (for example, North America, EMEA, APAC)
  • NPS score by end of quarter (and how this compares to general customer base NPS)

Include any graphs (like this screenshot from our AdvocateHub report below) that help illustrate your points.

For AdvocateHub users, access the advocate engagement report by clicking on the “Advocates” tab under the Reports section in your hub. Then, scroll down to see a bar chart of your “Monthly Engaged Advocates.”

It’s helpful to end each section in your report with a point form list of takeaways where you state your intentions to optimize next quarter based on what you learned this quarter.

3. Reference Calls

Hopefully you’re leveraging your happy customer advocates to hop on reference calls and share their experience using your products with your prospects. This is one of the most tangible ways to influence revenue from advocates.

Metrics to include in this section:

  • Total reference call requests
  • Advocate reference calls completed and as a % of those requested
  • Monthly/quarterly MRR and ARR from advocate reference calls
  • Advocate Reference Call influence on revenue (of Closed Won opportunities or upsells/add-ons)
  • Percentage of overall revenue that was influenced by advocate references
  • Your Call-to-Close rate (shows how effective calls are on winning deals over time)
  • Avg. length of sales cycle without advocate references vs. with advocate references

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It’s really powerful to build advocacy with your own internal stakeholders. In my case, that was our own sales team. I would ask our sales reps at the end of every month how we were doing with references via the advocate program, and gather insights and testimonials.

Then, I then used those internal testimonials in my quarterly report, in a section called “Sales Rep Soundbites.”  These quotes on how the program benefitted them in their roles can give the C-Suite a pulse on how your advocates are supporting other departments’ goals.

Remember, social proof isn’t just useful for marketing your product to your customers, it’s also useful for “selling” your advocate marketing program internally to your executive team.

4. Reviews

With so many review sites out there, make sure to focus on the few that matter most to your business. For example, I like to showcase data on the two main review site where we would get reviewed the most often: TrustRadius and G2Crowd.

Metrics to include in this section:

  • Total reviews on major review sites (use sites that make more sense for your business)
  • Avg. star rating on each review site
  • Comparison of # of reviews total vs # reviews from advocate program members
  • Comparison of # of organic reviews vs # reviews from program members
  • Any leads attributed from these review sites
  • Of those leads, any opportunities, MQLs, or revenue associated

If you have a few key competitors in your industry that are also on review sites like TrustRadius, it’s a good practice to compare how you stack up against the competition. Executives are always keeping an eye out on others in your space, so show the value your advocates make to your ratings that keep you ahead of the pack.

Example chart below:

Make sure you show organic reviews as well to paint the picture of where your company would be without your advocates leaving you reviews!

                       Show what % comes from advocates vs. organically

If your company has success on review websites and is listed as a leader or top contender in various product review reports, such as the G2 Crowd Grid, you should mention those accolades here and refer to the influence your advocates had on helping you rank #1.

Lastly, product reviews (along with user generated content, word-of-mouth referrals and references) have been proven to be one of the top pieces of information that influences decision-makers.

As a best practice, you should be surveying your new customers to better understand what content and information about your company helped them decide to buy. With that information, you can point to advocate-led assets (like product reviews) that are highly influencing new business. Here’s an example from a survey we did with our new customers via our AdvocateHub.

5. Referrals

While this category is probably the easiest to measure from your AdvocateHub if you are using our Salesforce integration, it’s probably one of the hardest metrics to derive from your advocates in general.

If you are taking the time to educate your advocates on the value of referrals to your business, how and where to source them and position properly, you should be driving some revenue for your sales team from referral leads submitted by your advocates.

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Metrics to include in this section:

  • Total referrals from your advocates
  • Referrals resulting in closed won opportunities
  • Influenced monthly MRR from referrals closed won
  • # of referrals still in your pipeline, by deal stage and MRR size
  • Conversion rate of referral leads compared to avg. leads and/or standard MQL leads
  • Avg. deal size of referral leads compared to avg. leads and/or standard MQL leads
  • Avg. length of sales cycle of referral leads compared to avg. leads and/or standard MQL leads

Again, you may want to talk with sales about the quality of the referrals coming in for a testimonials section, and discuss ways you can improve close rates with more sales-marketing alignment around follow-up on advocate generated referrals.

6. Content and Social

One of the major benefits of advocate marketing is expediting the process of creating content, and amplifying the content distribution process on social. Include a section that outlines the benefits to your content team—you can even reach out to them for help pulling traffic numbers.

Metrics to include in this section:

  • Total social shares from AdvocateHub challenges
  • Value of those social shares (usually how much you would pay for them otherwise)
  • Total advocates who volunteered for case studies or user-generated content (UGC), such as blogs, videos, testimonials, etc.
  • Total case studies or UGC pieces published
  • Influence of advocate-created content on pipeline, MRR influence
  • Cost avoidance from UGC (look at normal cost of blog, video or case study creation)
  • Blog traffic driven to website social shares or generated from UGC
  • Website email captures from UGC
  • Cost savings based on employee work hours saved

Reporting on ROI

Once you have successfully laid out performance metrics and business value of your AdvocateHub, it’s crucial to showcase your program’s return-on-investment (ROI). Calculating the ROI of your program is extremely important to your C-Suite as they evaluate all future business initiatives and programs. Proving the ROI also helps showcase the integral value that your advocates have for your organization and bottom line.

The basic formula for your Advocacy program ROI is:

ROI = (Revenue gained from your Advocate program – Cost of your Advocate program) / Cost of your Advocate program

For a more comprehensive calculator for your Advocate program, download our ROI template here.

A strong ROI for any marketing program has a 5:1 ratio, meaning for every dollar spent on that program – five dollars are gained. According to WebStrategies, “A ratio over 5:1 is considered strong for most businesses, and a 10:1 ratio is exceptional”. Make sure you present your ROI data in both a percentage and ratio format for executives to quickly understand.

Rounding out your report

Ultimately, each successful advocate marketing report will look different based on the metrics that matter most to your business. I recommend using this template as a base, and swapping in/out any metrics that closely align with your company’s priorities.

Armed with the right data, you’re well on the way to securing continued support for your advocate marketing program.

Ready for the next steps? Read up on some of these resources:

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