Last month, a stampede of over 3000 sales, marketing, and customer success pros took over the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for the SiriusDecisions Summit. They came ready to learn the latest insights from industry leaders about how their peers are driving business growth.

But one announcement stirred up more buzz than anything else at the conference.

The game-changer? The new Customer Advocacy Framework by SiriusDecisions.

Industry leaders like Marketo, Cisco, and Staples have been running top-notch advocacy programs like this for years, but now there’s an industry standard how-to guide to implementing an advocate marketing program.

In this blog, I’ll give you the scoop on this new framework, and how to use it. Plus, I’ll share examples of how top performing advocate marketers are running their programs.

So what is this new framework all about?

Let me start with this—customer advocacy is critical to your brand’s reputation. In a world where 83% of buyers trust their peers more than big brands (according to Nielsen), companies need to harness the power of their advocates if they want to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Today’s most innovative brands are relying on their customers to power their marketing efforts and sales pipelines. Your customers’ networks and first-hand insights help support your sales opportunities and growing customer relationships. Using your customers’ stories can help you surround your prospects with customer proof, and use these trusted connections to win more deals.

So how do you implement a customer advocacy program at your own company?

According to the new SiriusDecisions framework, there are 3 stages to building an advocate marketing program.

Now, let’s jump in and look at each tier of this new framework!

The SiriusDecisions Customer Advocacy Model
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1. Define your program goals and metrics

The first step is to define the organizational goals you’re looking to achieve using your customer advocacy program. This is critical for getting started, and can be sliced and diced in various ways. Ultimately, the important thing is to make sure your goals align with top-level metrics.

Here are some common metrics to measure:

  • Pipeline (both direct and influenced)
  • Customer retention
  • NPS score
  • Referrals
  • References
  • Reviews
  • Content sourced
  • Social media shares

This is where you’ll need to start evaluating whether you have the core technologies in place to accurately measure your goals.

You’ll also want to ask yourself: who are your internal champions? (Think about stakeholders in Marketing, CS, Sales, and Product who would benefit from the immense value an advocacy program brings.)

Example from an advocate marketing leader

The customer engagement and advocacy team at Xactly defined clear goals from the start with their advocate marketing program called FOX, short for Friends of Xactly.

The strategic goals of the program were to drive viral word-of-mouth via advocate product reviews in communities and third party websites, and to ultimately drive new product sales via advocate referrals.

In order to achieve these strategic objectives, they set four operational goals:

1. Generate reviews for award nominations
2. Drive LinkedIn engagement
3. Gather employee referrals
4. Increase social conversations

The Brand Advocate Persona
Most modern marketers have developed buyer personas to address the needs of key people in the buying process, but what happens when…
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As a result of the clear direction set, Xactly was able to achieve amazing results within the first year of the program, including:

  • Driving 80% of their AppExchange activity through their advocates
  • Boosting their social following and conversations significantly
  • Signing up 500 customers from their referral program

2. Design your program

Once you have your stakeholders on board, your key program metrics set, and goals aligned, now it’s time to build out your program.

This stage is where you’ll need to ask yourself:

  • Where will your program will live?
  • Which department will own the program?
  • How will they work with other department stakeholders?
  • Who are your core advocates, and what motivates them to act?

This is where you can start reaching out to your customers to learn more about the type of program they’d enjoy participating in. You can do this through 1 on 1 calls, on-site customer meetings, or through a customer survey.

Example from an advocate marketing leader

At the SiriusDecisions Summit, Carlos Gonzalez, VP of Customer Success Operations at Ceridian, walked users through how their various departments benefit and are involved in their customer advocacy program, XOXO.

At Ceridian, Customer Success leads the way with their advocate program, which is fully integrated across the organization to support departments like Marketing, Product, and Sales.

Ceridian used their program to achieve the following results:

  • Marketing – Hundreds of reviews written for 3rd party websites
  • Support – $500K+ in averted support costs
  • CS – 90% of customers say Ceridian XOXO positively influences their renewals
  • Sales – Influenced $189,000,000 in pipeline opportunities in 2017
  • Implementation – 356 graduates and 795 participants in the Dayforce Success Orientation over the last two years
  • Engineering – Shortened QA and development cycles from customer feedback

Customer story: How Ceridian Averted Over $500K in Support Costs & Increased Customer NPS
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3. Develop your advocacy program

This phase is where you’ll put your plans into action. At this point, you should have a good grasp of the technologies and vendors you’ll need to support this process and who will be involved in the implementation of this program.

Use this time to start increasing internal communication around your program, and rally your colleagues to get involved in the initiative and excited about how it’s going to benefit their departments.

Use this time to determine:

  1. Who you will be inviting to the program (e.g. vocal social media advocates, anyone your CSM/sales team flags, customers with high NPS scores, etc.)
  2. How you will be inviting them (e.g. at a live event, via email, in person on CSM calls, etc.)

When defining your invitation strategy, you should also think about ways to continuously invite new customers—perhaps it’s a part of their onboarding process with your platform.

Example from an advocate marketing leader:

Craig Prickett, VP of Demand Generation and Customer Advocacy at Ellie Mae, also spoke at the SiriusDecisions Summit about how they launched their “License to Succeed” invite campaign when they introduced their program powered by Influitive in 2016.

Here’s how they rolled out their invite process:

  1. First invites for all new contracts signed
  2. Launched to all system admins
  3. Extended to new managers on board
  4. Launched to key contacts

At the end of this phased roll-out, Ellie Mae had over 2,000 joined advocates within 4 months of launch. This put them in the top 4% of all Influitive launches in 2016!

Advocacy is the future of customer-powered growth

Customer engagement should be a company-wide initiative, and a successful advocacy program models this with alignment across your organization. And with this new industry standard how-to guide, you can now model your customer engagement strategy off of the best practices set by SiriusDecisions.

But before you do that, here’s a few resources you can use to kick-start your planning process:

So whether you’re new to advocacy, or reigniting your program, you have the tools to go forth and be a customer marketing hero!