Why The Right Rewards Can Drastically Improve Customer Engagement

This summer, Influitive brought some of the brightest minds in customer engagement on the road to Atlanta and New York for our B2B Customer Engagement Leadership Series.

Below, we’re sharing key highlights from a presentation by Michael Beahm, Customer Advocate Marketing Manager at Blackbaud. Watch Michael’s presentation to learn how he turbo-charged his company’s referral program by learning what his customers truly craved.

customer engagement leadership series influitive

Two years ago, Michael had a decision to make when an opportunity to become Blackbaud’s Customer Advocate Marketing Manager arose. At the time, it seemed like a lateral move for Michael, who had held a number of different roles within the company’s marketing department.

beahmBut Blackbaud, which provides software and services for nonprofits, was undergoing a shift in thinking when it came to empowering customers. Michael’s boss had laid the groundwork to implement a strong customer advocacy program. As Blackbaud moved more of its services to the cloud, Michael realized “customer engagement and marketing were becoming increasingly important.”

So Michael jumped into his new role. His first order of business: turn a $13,000 a year referral program into $200,000. “We had to sign up for a number, because demand generation was the air that we breathed,” says Michael. So he took a big gulp and got to work.

Activating Blackbaud’s fans

How do you turn a program that’s providing minor revenue and grow it 15X in one year? You have to change how you reach out to customers. Instead of looking at ways the customer can help your brand, you must first find ways to help them first.

Blackbaud’s referral program was called The Blackbaud Fan Club. “As the name suggests, this program was all about us,” says Michael. “It answered one question: How can our customers help us sell more?”

Customers that participated in the Fan Club received tickets to Blackbaud’s annual customer conference or some Blackbaud schwag. But Michael knew that wasn’t good enough. As one of his favorite strategists, Jay Baer, says “Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards.”

increase customer engagement with the right rewardsBlackbaud needed a way to truly activate their fans by giving them something valuable.

So, 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 customers on a daily or weekly basis through fun competitions and helpful content and resources.

Picking the right rewards

Blackbaud also offered rewards geared towards their audience, like opportunities to speak at the annual conference or in a webinar. These rewards targeted the professional and business goals of their customer, making it a lot more enticing than, say, a hat.

Michael says he checks the The Hierarchy of Advocate Needs (created by Influitive) to come up with new offerings that might encourage a customer to participate.

hierarchy of advocate needs-01

“Having a variety of rewards that meet the needs of our advocates was extremely important,” added Michael.

The results

In 2014, the success of the Champions program blew past the lofty $200,00 goal by 25%. For 2015, Michael and his team now have a target of $500,000 in referral pipeline and they’re well on their way to meeting those expectations.

“Two-thirds of the buying process is done before anyone gets to us,” says Michael when discussing the value of referral leads. “Additionally, buyers trust the experiences of their peers more than they trust marketers.”

Sounds like the move to advocate marketing is paying off for Michael and Blackbaud.

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21 Responses to Why The Right Rewards Can Drastically Improve Customer Engagement

  1. […] they complete an act of advocacy, reward or recognize them for it. Then, they’ll be head over heels for your brand—and ready to share that love with their […]

  2. […] important to recognize and reward your customers for their help, which will incentivize them to refer again. But this doesn’t mean you have to […]

  3. […] your advocates and what motivates them in order to make it worth their time to participate. Exclusive access to content, events and […]

  4. […] these rewards don’t have to break the bank. In fact, some of the best rewards are those that money can’t buy. Offering customers special […]

  5. […] points that can be cashed in for prizes of their choosing. The key is making sure you have a variety of rewards that will cater to their […]

  6. […] is an exclusive hub where your top customers gain access to valuable resources, opportunities and rewards in exchange for connecting with your brand and advocating on behalf of your […]

  7. […] is professionally rewarding. Doug collects points for completing advocacy challenges, which he can use to redeem for rewards like branded swag (so he can show his MongoDB pride). However, he also appreciates that the program […]

  8. […] A fully-automated landing page and rewards system (that integrates with your CRM) allows for efficient referral collection and tracking, automated customer updates (usually via email) on the status of their referrals and standardized reward fulfillment. […]

  9. […] is driven to participate in the QuickBase Heroes advocate marketing program because he likes collecting rewards points and earning a variety of prizes. “I like the Amazon gift cards, but there’s something for everyone who participates,” he […]

  10. […] engaged and rewarded customers across its live events and digital channels to encourage them to submit reviews. First, they ran a […]

  11. […] also important to thank and reward your customers on the quality of their referrals, not the quantity. Once they know who and what you’re looking […]

  12. […] refer their peers. Start by thanking them every time they submit contact information. Then, reward them whenever their referral becomes a customer. (A little appreciation goes a long […]

  13. […] to steal: It’s important to reward your advocates for referring your product or service to their friends. This will strengthen your relationship with […]

  14. […] have an effective way to store and track these acts of advocacy. They may also forget to thank or reward the customer appropriately (and miss the chance to inspire future […]

  15. […] you engage people, says Steven, they will be more likely to share. They want opportunities to be activated and […]

  16. […] the candidates for this at the beginning of the sales process. Maybe start thinking about what the rewards and recognitions are. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re training people on exactly what you’re looking […]

  17. […] these rewards don’t have to break the bank. In fact, some of the best rewards are those that money can’t buy. Offering customers special […]

  18. […] advocate’s boss, or which business objectives they’re worried about achieving, you can tailor rewards to helping solve those frustrations. You’ll know when to offer advocates a best-practices guide […]

  19. […] to steal: Rewarding your customers will encourage them to invite their friends. But providing the same perks to the people they refer […]

  20. […] on the line to help you out. Show them your appreciation by recognizing them appropriately. Rewards need to be targeted to their interests. (One of Sarah’s favourite prizes was a heat-changing Star Wars […]

  21. […] key to motivating this behavior is to find ways to reward and recognize your advocates. It could be small perks and gifts, public thank yous or praise, or badges and points within your […]

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