online customer reviews

We live in a crowd-sourced economy, where customers want instantaneous opinions on where they should eat and what they should buy next.

Since four out of five people will tell an average of three others about a positive experience they had with a company, its imperative brands have their happiest customers give them a thumbs up wherever they can.

But how do you ask your happy customers for product reviews without coming across too pushy?

Last year, DocuSign took home the Best Product Review Campaign award in the Best Advocate Marketing Awards (also known as The BAMMIES) for their successful approach. Here’s how they did it: the DocuSign team knew they would have to do something special to get more of their best customers talking about them on review sites.

DocuSign-Logo_bigThey launched an advocate marketing program called AdvocatesHQ that challenged DocuSign’s top fans to complete high-impact activities across various channels (including social networks and review websites) for points and recognition. They also increased engagement with customers by using the program to ask for feedback and ideas. “Creating a holistic approach to advocacy by connecting all of those touch points into one multi-touch-point system is what helped us succeed,” says Mat Rider, Head of Social Media at DocuSign. You can read more about AdvocatesHQ in this case study.

Within eight weeks of launching the AdvocatesHQ program, DocuSign’s product review campaign garnered more than 1,900 new AppExchange reviews. Today, that number is over 4,300, making DocuSign the highest-rated eSignature application across all major review sites. Overall, DocuSign was able to tie their advocate marketing program to $3 million in sales pipeline, thanks to testimonials, referrals, and reviews from happy customers.

“To engage with our customers through gaming best practices, and to extend our reach and effectiveness through their networks, is priceless,” says Meagen Eisenberg, VP of Customer Acquisition & Marketing at DocuSign.

We asked Meagen and Mat to share how they’ve continued to generate so many genuine customer reviews over the long-term, and how you can encourage your top customers to share their love for your product online too. 

Tip #1: Get closer to your advocates

Increasing long-term engagement with their huge customer base and getting more of their customers to post reviews has been a priority for DocuSign this past year.

As the number of customers in AdvocatesHQ grew, DocuSign started working with Explorics (part of GYK Antler, the first dedicated advocate marketing services firm) to help keep engagement in their program high.

“We’ve learned to engage our advocates in more meaningful ways,” says Mat. Their strategy includes asking customers more questions about themselves, posting more entertaining content to keep the program fun (including a mid-week funny video), and sharing educational content about DocuSign’s products to make it a valuable information source for customers.

docusign bammies, fun challenge

Part of this strategy also included targeting their customer base more strategically, by categorizing advocates under different professions and industries, making it easier to invite them to participate in specific initiatives they’d be interested in.

The program’s membership has also grown through peer-to-peer referrals: many advocates have invited cross-functional peers within their organizations to join AdvocatesHQ. “It’s been a great way for us to create a horizontal growth metric,” says Mat.

Tip #2: Give as much as you receive

Getting positive customer reviews is a benefit of having an advocate marketing program in place, but it shouldn’t be the only thing driving activity.

Mat recommends using your program to share information that helps customers use your product better—not just your brand’s messages. “You don’t need fresh content every day, but make sure the content that is there is something they can actually leverage.” This will make it easier for them learn more about your product, and be able to talk about it positively, especially if they learn something new about it that makes their life easier. If they use the program frequently enough, they will become an even more loyal fan of your brand (which makes soliciting a review easier!).

Tip #3: Empower your advocates

Another way to earn more customer love is putting the spotlight on them. Mat recommends asking them about their opinions, and getting them involved in community discussions. “We listen and talk to our customers to keep DocuSign top of mind,” says Meagen.

Handing your customers the reigns and letting them say what they’re really thinking about your product makes them more likely to interact with your brand on their own terms. They will feel like they’re getting more out of your program—which will encourage more positive reviews than a direct request will. “Get away from using a spreadsheet to manage your top customers,” says Meagen. “You need to let advocates manage themselves. The return is a lot higher than trying to manage everything yourself manually.”

Here’s how Meagen says winning a Best Advocate Marketing Award for AdvocatesHQ’s review campaign benefited DocuSign: “The team works really hard and so to be recognized for their work—and knowing that they make a difference—is good for our culture. It helps the team bond.”

10 Award-Winning Advocate Marketing Success Stories
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