Success Story: Blackbaud Launches Customer Advocacy Program and Gets 77 Referrals in 10 Days

Truman Tang

michaelbeahmHow much can you ask customer advocates to do for you before you drive them crazy?

This was the question that kept Michael Beahm, Customer Advocate Marketing Manager for Blackbaud, awake at night.

As a leading provider of nonprofit software and services, Blackbaud understands the power of advocacy.

“We had a successful customer reference program, but wanted to mobilize advocates to do other things – such as talk to the press, provide referrals and share content on social media,” says Michael. “We also wanted to build excitement for our annual conference for nonprofits, BBCON.”

Previously, Michael drove advocacy though Blackbaud’s LinkedIn group. Since the program was limited to LinkedIn, it didn’t have a large reach. Michael also had to email customers first to ask them to participate in the LinkedIn group.

“With email, we could only make one ask at a time,” Michael explains. “We also had to limit our requests, because we didn’t want to overwhelm our advocates.”

Blackbaud needed a program that would let Michael and his colleagues engage customers across multiple channels and motivate them to do different types of advocacy at scale. Michael was on the look out for a solution that could mobilize his advocates effectively and efficiently while still making his advocate program ‘human’.

During his search, he spoke with a few executives and found Influitive and began working with one of Influitive’s Advocacy Coaches to build a formal customer advocacy program. It only took three weeks to get Blackbaud Champions up and running.

Michael started with a soft launch, inviting Blackbaud’s customers and LinkedIn advocates into the program. Within 10 days of the launch, Blackbaud:blackbaudchamptions

  • Engaged 150 advocates.
  • Received 77 high-value customer referrals. That’s more referrals in 10 days than Blackbaud had received in the past four months!
  • Motivated advocates to complete 2,200 challenges, including completing 500 surveys and posting 25 reviews on third-party websites.
  • Spread content across social media. Advocates took part in 500 social challenges, where they shared Blackbaud’s content with up to three social networks at a time, including LinkedIn . This resulted in up to 1,500 social shares.

Michael was surprised by the fast results.

“We were expecting only a small uptake when we launched Blackbaud Champions. However, we quickly saw that when you ask advocates to do one thing, they’ll do much more,” says Michael. “Influitive is a bad-ass platform.”

One reason why Blackbaud’s advocacy program works so well is because Michael understands advocacy and engages his customers at the best time – while they’re happy.

If you take action while your customers are feeling the love, you’ll see fast results.

[Update as of December 8th, 2014]

Since launching the Blackbaud Champions, Michael has exceed his pipeline target by 30% and closed a deal to cover the cost of his program.

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23 Responses to Success Story: Blackbaud Launches Customer Advocacy Program and Gets 77 Referrals in 10 Days

  1. […] content creation and product feedback initiatives. In the first three months of using AdvocateHub, Blackbaud received a year’s worth of referrals from their advocates, while InsightSquared generated more than 100 genuine customer reviews on […]

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  3. […] content creation and product feedback initiatives. In the first three months of using AdvocateHub, Blackbaud received a year’s worth of referrals from their advocates, while InsightSquared generated more than 100 genuine customer reviews on […]

  4. […] Michael and his team changed the concept of the Fan Club into The Blackbaud Champions, which they launched in May 2014. Through the Champions program, Blackbaud interacted with their […]

  5. […] Jason asked advocates to submit their “Verafin elevator pitch”. This challenge was a fun way for Verafin’s customers to decide how they would promote the company. The better you prepare advocates to talk about you, the more referrals you will get. […]

  6. […] similarities between CAB members and advocates. They both will go the extra mile for a brand by providing referrals, acting as references, creating content, providing testimonials, contributing to marketing […]

  7. […] a result, savvy marketers are realizing the importance of driving referrals for their businesses. But like any other marketing initiative, there has to be a coherent strategy behind your referral […]

  8. […] Asking for a referral out of the blue won’t be helpful to your team, or your advocates. Here are five great times to ask customers for referrals: […]

  9. […] Learn how Blackbaud received 77 referrals in just 10 days through their advocate marketing program […]

  10. […] it was the relationship Michael had been building with his customers beforehand that really made the campaign successful. Six months prior to the campaign launch, […]

  11. […] Take this example: Michael Beahm, Customer Advocate Marketing Manager at Blackbaud, a non-profit software solution company, created an advocate marketing program that rewarded customers for connecting with others in the non-profit community, and completing advocacy challenges. In three weeks, Michael created an engaging program that generated 77 high-quality customer referrals within 10 days of the soft launch—which was more than the brand had received in the past four months! (Get more details here!)  […]

  12. […] it was the relationship Michael had been building with his customers beforehand that really made the campaign successful. Six months prior to the campaign launch, […]

  13. […] incorporating a fun customer referral contest into the program, he generated $213,000 in new pipeline for Blackbaud, blowing past their […]

  14. […] content creation and product feedback initiatives. In the first three months of using AdvocateHub, Blackbaud received a year’s worth of referrals from their advocates, while InsightSquared generated more than 100 genuine customer reviews on […]

  15. […] the first three months of using AdvocateHub, Blackbaud received a year’s worth of referrals from their advocates, while InsightSquared generated more than 100 genuine customer reviews on […]

  16. […] content creation and product feedback initiatives. In the first three months of using AdvocateHub, Blackbaud received a year’s worth of referrals from their advocates, while InsightSquared generated more than 100 genuine customer reviews on […]

  17. […] content creation and product feedback initiatives. In the first three months of using AdvocateHub, Blackbaud received a year’s worth of referrals from their advocates, while InsightSquared generated more than 100 genuine customer reviews on […]

  18. […] asking their existing customer advocates for referral leads, Blackbaud’s Champions program “immediately began to get more flat-out referrals.” The passion their employee advocates had for the business was rubbing off on their customer […]

  19. […] of easy and engaging challenges for customers to do through their advocate marketing program, Blackbaud Champions. For every act of advocacy members completed, they received rewards and recognition. Once customers […]

  20. […] 10 days of the program’s soft launch in 2014, Blackbaud’s program quickly blew away their initial goals by […]

  21. […] advocate marketing program originally focused on referrals as a measure of success, but that has evolved into deeper measures of engagement. “As our […]

  22. […] you a better idea of if and when they’re ready to give you a referral. Consider advocate marketing like a nurture program for getting more customer […]

  23. […] them got a great deal on the items they won. We got to do something fun for our advocates while we collected customer referrals. The VIP Auction House was such a success, we plan to run it again in the […]

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