Three Ways Advocate Marketing Software Can Accelerate Early Stage Company Growth Thumbnail

powerpoint icon money plantLet’s face it: as an early-stage company, you’ve got small budgets and big goals. Every dollar you spend has to go a long way.

Instead of wasting it on traditional marketing and advertising tactics—which prospects tend to ignore—invest in mobilizing your advocates.

Who are your advocates? They’re the people who:

  • Provide referrals
  • Participate in reference calls and case studies
  • Speak at your events
  • Help build your product roadmap

These champions also spread valuable word-of-mouth about your brand that can cut through all of the marketing noise and have a measurable impact on your bottom line. If you want to engage them, you just have to motivate them the right way. Creating an advocate community (using Influitive’s AdvocateHub) is a scalable way to inspire more brand advocacy.
You’re probably thinking “That sounds great, but I can’t run an advocate community because…

  1. I don’t have time to chase down customers for a program like this
  2. I don’t have the budget to invest in an advocate community platform
  3. I don’t have enough customers to make a real impact

You’re not alone. Many of our early-stage customers felt the same way…but once they launched their programs and saw the benefits, they wondered why they hadn’t do it sooner.

In fact, the most common concerns early-stage companies have when it comes to buying an advocate marketing platform are also the main reasons why you need a program right now.

Here’s how investing in an advocate marketing solution can save you time, accelerate your growth and delight your customer base at scale.

1. The time you invest will save you more time and effort

Taking the time to build a pool of happy customer advocates can save you a lot of time in the long run.<

Consider the days (or weeks) you spend chasing customers for case studies, references, testimonials, or PR requests. First, you have to bug your sales or account reps for customers with an industry-specific story. Once you’ve found a customer who’s willing to talk, you exchange multiple emails to set up an interview—only to find out their story isn’t the right fit and go back to square one. Does this painful (and inefficient) process sound familiar?

An advocate marketing platform can automate this process by sending out an ask (or “challenge”) to all the customers within your community. Your advocates can then volunteer to participate. In a matter of 24 to 48 hours, you could have five or six responses from advocates your team never even thought about approaching—allowing you to quickly select the best story.

bobandy_readytalk_headshotSmall-but-mighty use case: Privately funded SME ReadyTalk had a hard time standing out from large competitors like Citrix and Cisco in the web conferencing market. To drive lead generation and social proof for their product, they launched an advocate community called the ReadyTalk Summit Club.

Through this program, ReadyTalk gave their happiest customers fun, educational and engaging challenges. Advocates were also asked for favors like acting as a reference or volunteering to be in a case study, receiving points as a reward after completion.

This time investment in customer advocacy paid off in the first four months. They recruited 470 advocates who submitted 190 referrals—33% of which closed within the first 60 days. In 2015, the program generated 760 net new leads, which resulted in three closed-won deals and an extra $60,000 in pipeline. (Read the whole story here.)

“Our reference process is much better and faster. Before, I’d need three days to get a couple of references. Now, I only need a few hours.”

Bo Bandy, Director of Marketing at ReadyTalk

2. Advocates can have a significant impact on brand recognition and top of funnel

The ROI on customer advocacy far outweighs the costs. By running an organized advocate marketing community, most of our customers average 2-4 referrals per year from each engaged advocate.

Here’s what you could expect:

Engaged Advocates: 100 (results in 200-400 referrals/year)

Average Sales Price: $10,000

Average Close Rate: 5% (this varies based on company)

Total Revenue: $100,000-$200,000

Consider also the intangible value gained from investing in customer advocacy. It’s hard to place a value on ranking as the top customer-reviewed company on sites like G2 Crowd, but since 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it can have a big impact on your bottom line.

Sjames_scott_brightpearlmall-but-mighty use case: Brightpearl, an ecommerce shipping business, was losing deals because of a few negative online reviews from unhappy customers. They decided to increase customer engagement with an advocate community. This way, customers could learn more about Brightpearl solutions from the company and other customers, plus be given a channel for sharing negative feedback before it ended up on a public forum.

In the first year of their program, Brightpearl generated 70 positive reviews on sites like GetApp and WebRetail. Now, they’re consistently getting 5-star reviews and attracting new leads as a result.

“Today, hundreds of Brightpearl customers interact in our community to connect with peers and learn how to grow their retail businesses. That’s the kind of experience our customers want us to deliver, and Influitive’s unique integration of advocacy, social media and community helps us get there.”

James Scott, President of Brightpearl Inc

5 Ways Brightpearl’s Advocate Community Drives Customer Success, Engagement and Positive Word of Mouth
Learn more

3. Grow and retain your advocate base

Only have 50 to 100 customers right now? That’s ok. Advocate marketing is about engaging all your potential advocates. You can invite business partners, industry colleagues, investors and employees to be a part of your program and help drive your company’s growth.

While we recommend having at around 200 advocates to have a successful community, your objectives for your program are the true indicator of how many people you’ll need to recruit.

Setting up a sequence of engaging “starter” challenges that will nurture your advocate relationships is the key to scaling your program’s growth. Once it’s perfected, all you have to do is get your potential advocates inside.

Elin Boman headshot InsightSquaredSmall-but-mighty use case: InsightSquared, a sales insights SaaS platform, developed a nurture path in their advocate community so they could connect with customers on a personal level. By giving customers fun and educational challenges first, they were able to build trust before making bigger asks for things like referrals or online reviews.

Through their program, The Square, the company grew its advocate base to 300 in just 90 days. Through these advocates, the company generated 139 customer referrals, 18 testimonials, and $500,000 worth of business—from just one advocate referral! The bonus? The team has a scalable way to get to know their advocates and make them feel special fast.

“As many of our advocates could tell you, we care a tremendous amount about them. They’re more than customers to us. In fact, we don’t refer to them as advocates; they’re our friends.”

Elin Boman, Advocate and Digital Marketing Associate, InsightSquared

Join Influitive's advocate communityDiscover the power of advocacy and develop your advocate marketing skills through an interactive experience in our AdvocateHub platform.Try Influitive