November 10, 2023
Being an advocacy team of one can be empowering. The authority to make decisions improves agility, allowing you to change direction on a dime when necessary. But there’s only one person to handle the endless stream of daily tasks, which takes time away from strategizing ways to move the business forward.
As the Senior Manager, Customer Advocacy at Emburse, I oversee customer advocacy within the marketing organization. Part of my role is leading our customer advocate community, the Emburse Collective. But no one is an island, and to successfully manage our community and provide the rich experiences our community members expect, I needed more resources.
A Customer Advocacy Manager on a Singular Mission
Emburse makes expense management simple. We deliver efficiency and time savings, increase financial visibility, enhance spend control and compliance, and improve the business travel experience for more than 20,000 organizations and 12 million users worldwide.
About two years ago, we relaunched the Emburse Collective, opening the community to customers across our product portfolio. We had big goals around community membership growth and engagement, and at the time, I worked closely with our platform partner, Influitive, to build content to support the launch. But as the new community took shape, I realized that expanding to additional segments within our customer base created complexities that did not exist before, many of which centered around targeting content and customer journeys.
As the primary advocacy marketer and community manager at Emburse, I sometimes struggled to develop engaging activities or determine the most effective way to set up a campaign in the Collective. It was also challenging to find the time for certain things I knew could benefit the community, such as discussion moderation, in-depth survey analysis, refreshing rewards and badges, and creating more complex campaigns.
Identifying a need for additional support in the Emburse Collective, we determined that a Managed Services package from Influitive would fill the gap and act as an extension of my team.
A Smooth Start to a Managed Services Partnership
I worked with my Influitive customer success manager and sales rep to put together a proposal outlining the different levels of services, and we got approved fairly quickly. We began with a three-month package at a high service level since there was so much work to do after the relaunch. Our primary goals were welcoming new members and ensuring we migrated current members correctly—all while keeping engagement up.
Transitioning to Managed Services was easy. The Influitive team did their research and brought themselves up to speed very quickly, so they consistently put together the best approach when I went to them with ideas, initiatives, or goals.
We’re in the FinTech industry, and I wasn’t sure how long the Managed Services team would take to get to know our advocates and the industry. But transitioning to Managed Services was easy. Thanks to the relaunch, we had a lot of documentation regarding our audience and goals, along with other detailed information. I didn’t need to worry—the team did their research and brought themselves up to speed very quickly, so they consistently put together the best approach when I went to them with ideas, initiatives, or goals.
One of the most successful examples of our collaboration came from our re-engagement campaign. The team helped me fine-tune our existing approach of re-engaging inactive members, recommending that we move from a quarterly standalone challenge (interactive modules that members complete to earn points) to an evergreen campaign. In 2023, we’ve seen more than 110 inactive members become active again as a result of the campaign.
A Fresh Perspective for Community Content
Before leveraging the Influitive Managed Services team, I relied on my own content ideas along with templates from Influitive’s content library, but I didn’t have time to build campaigns or create more complex journeys, such as unlocking challenges. One of the biggest changes since adding Managed Services is having the extra resources to make more cohesive campaigns around specific goals and customer experiences.
One of the biggest changes since adding Managed Services is having the extra resources to make more cohesive campaigns around specific goals and customer experiences.
We’ve done several campaigns focused on product reviews, education, and engagement. For example, after a recent live event where we invited many new people to join the community, the team recommended a special challenge for new members to get bonus points. This activity connected the event to the community and transferred the in-person engagement to a digital space.
There are many more highlights of the work the Managed Services team helps me accomplish:
- Proactively monitor and moderate discussions. They help me stay on top of the conversations between community members. Sometimes, they notice a topic that’s gained traction. They may suggest promoting it in a challenge and even offer to create the challenge for me. That alone saves me hours each week.
- Increase the variety of content. We publish plenty of industry thought leadership content, along with educational resources specific to Emburse products. But we need to balance it with other high-engagement elements. For instance, the Managed Services team helps come up with fun, engaging challenges to publish on Fridays. You’d think it would be easy to create this type of content, but it’s pretty hard, even after doing it for a few years! The team offers a fresh perspective and without the added assistance, I expect member engagement would be much lower.
- Promote and celebrate our customer awards program. I worked with the Managed Services team to promote participation in our first annual customer awards program, with about 60% of nominations coming from community members. Once we announced the winners, we built a campaign to share their stories and create buzz both within the Collective and across our social channels. Thanks to the success of this campaign, I’m hoping we’ll get even more nominations next year and continue celebrating our customers’ successes.
- Take a more strategic approach to the Emburse Collective. As the team has gotten to know our business, they understand what content resonates with our audience. Because they’re helping with the day-to-day work in the community, I can spend more effort designing a consistent user experience that better aligns with company goals.
- Provide extra resources on ad hoc projects. Earlier this year, we rebuilt all of our rewards and switched our gift card provider from Sendoso to Tango Card. This meant we had to rebuild all of our rewards and set up the integration, which would have taken me a lot of time. Managed Services handled all of it.
- Assist with recruitment efforts. This year, we had big goals of growing community membership by more than 50%. The Managed Services team helped review invitation copy and provided advice on recruitment best practices. We launched a new in-app invitation through Pendo, along with an always-on nurture campaign through Gainsight—both of which have been very successful in helping us achieve our goals.
Detailed Reporting for More Informed Planning
Managed Services provides biweekly reports that keep me updated on how many challenges and admin hours we’ve used and how many we have left in our package, giving me the information I need to plan things out in advance. For example, if I know that I want Managed Services to take the lead on a holiday-themed campaign, I can plan my upcoming content creation accordingly to account for that.
The team is very flexible. We have biweekly meetings to review new and upcoming content and community initiatives, and we can increase our meeting frequency if needed. Between meetings, most of our communication and work happens through the shared project management platform, Asana, which alerts me when things are ready for review and approval. I can also submit requests for new challenges and share ideas there. Since we track everything in one place, I can easily refer back to the work and add tasks as needed.
As the only advocacy marketer at Emburse, partnering with the Managed Services team means I don’t have to stretch myself too thin, and I’m able to better plan and prioritize my work—both in and out of the community. It frees up my time for other high-value projects, such as interviewing clients, writing case studies, managing our customer awards program, and supporting customer conferences.
Proving the Value of Managed Services
The Emburse Collective has become much more visible in the past couple of years, leading to more leadership buy-in across marketing and other teams. We’re able to demonstrate value by showing how many community members participated in our customer awards program—the fact that all of our 2023 winners are highly active in the Collective speaks volumes to the impact of our advocate community. We can show how many members submitted product reviews on G2, contributed to marketing content or speaking engagements, and participated in product surveys or interviews. We can track how many new members join from our customer conferences to show the relationship between in-person events and engagement within the community.
The Managed Services team has truly become an extension of my team—they ensure that I have expert support and execution, allowing me to make the strategic choices that will drive the community forward.
While I can share with leadership how many challenges or campaigns Managed Services has helped us create or how many product reviews they helped us generate for a particular campaign, the biggest impact for me is saved time. As the primary community manager, I still spend plenty of time in the Emburse Collective, but it’s a lot less than it would be if I were creating all the content on my own. I also have the peace of mind of knowing someone is monitoring community discussions and flagging anything that needs my attention or response.
What started as a three-month package to provide guidance during an extra busy time, has transformed into a two-year partnership. The Managed Services team has truly become an extension of my team—they ensure that I have expert support and execution, allowing me to make the strategic choices that will drive the community forward.
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