June 27, 2023
I vividly recall the day I discovered the power of customer advocacy.
It was a pivotal moment in my career, as I needed a sales reference to speak with my client at the very last minute. The size of the deal meant that its outcome could make or break my quota, and the stakes couldn’t have been higher.
I was working at HubSpot, and a formal reference program was not yet in place. We had a plethora of case studies available, but my client wanted to speak to a living, breathing human being using the product. At the last minute, I was able to secure a customer reference. The result? I made the sale, hit my quota, and saved my position at one of the fastest growing martech companies in the world!
Through this experience, I identified something important: our customers could sell our product for us, and were willing to do it. I knew that we needed a program to formalize and hasten the process. Shortly thereafter, I pivoted out of sales and became a founding member of the sales enablement team. There, I fell in love with and grew to understand the full power of customer marketing and advocacy.
FloQast, Meet Influitive
Fast forward to April of 2022, I have successfully launched customer marketing and advocacy programs at several high-growth tech companies and decided to join my next venture at FloQast, the leading provider of accounting workflow automation. FloQast had a customer community, but the previous platform wasn’t meeting our business needs or engaging with customers the way I know communities should.
The previous community offered a discussion board, which really functioned as a place for the company to share information about various updates, product releases, and announcements. It was very much a one-way conversation, and our customers were lurkers, not active participants.
Over the years, I had become familiar with and a big advocate for Influitive. I used it to develop the first customer advocacy program at HubSpot back in 2014—in fact, we were one of the earliest users. I also led customer marketing and advocacy at Influitive for a couple of years, getting to expand upon my passion and work with some of the very best in the advocacy field.
After demos to the community council, everyone saw how Influitive would help us better engage our customers and activate our advocates.
We knew we wanted a better community solution that would not only allow us to scale but provide ways for customers to connect and learn from their accounting peers. I presented a solid business case for Influitive, gathering buy-in from key stakeholders—including our customer success, product, marketing, and client enablement teams—throughout a series of “community council” meetings. Our company’s founders are passionate about building a community and elevating the role of accountants, and after two product demos to the community council, everyone saw how Influitive would help us better engage our customers and activate our advocates.
I knew the ins and outs of Influitive, but even new users could see how the gamification elements of Influitive set it apart from its competitors. Features like points, rewards, and leaderboards get people excited to participate in the community and motivate them to share their thoughts, give product feedback, and raise their hands for other opportunities. These features allow administrators to discover their biggest advocates and share their actions throughout the organization.
Features like points, rewards, and leaderboards get people excited to participate in the community and motivate them to share their thoughts, give product feedback, and raise their hands for other opportunities.
The Influitive integration with Salesforce also swayed us. Once activated, we knew we could amplify actions within the community and connect them to activities in other areas of the business. We switched from our previous platform and got ready to relaunch our new and improved FloVerse community.
Planning for Launch–and the Aftermath
One of my closest collaborators is Kristen Krepich, who joined FloQast in July 2022. We gained access to the platform in August, and our goal was to launch our community in October. FloVerse was Kristen’s fourth Influitive community, and her prior community experience made it possible to get everything done in such a short timeline. I don’t know if anyone else could have done it!
In the weeks leading up to the launch, we led many activities and initiatives, including:
- Weekly Lunch and Learn sessions to create program awareness and involvement
- Monthly meetings with customer-facing teams
- An Intranet page with information about our community and how to engage
- A segment about FloVerse in our new employee onboarding
- A Slack channel dedicated to FloVerse updates and information
- Weekly community updates highlighting key activities
- Rewards and incentives for employees
We also took a multifaceted strategy to migrate existing community members into the new FloVerse. We started by emailing frequent users and sharing the benefits of our new Influitive platform. Then, we shared information about the change in the former community and added an in-product Pendo pop-up.
In our first month with Influitive, our community housed 105% more customers than our previous platform.
The next step was launching an email campaign incentivizing our customers to join by offering them a private VIP customer roundtable with our company founders. At this webinar, we told them more about the new platform and collected feedback about customers’ preferences. It was a great opportunity for customers to have face-to-face time with our C-suite.
After that, we offered a trivia night for our FloVerse members, further enticing them to join our community platform. At the end of the month, our email campaign included a $5 gift card for each person who joined by a specific deadline.
In our first month with Influitive, our community housed 105% more customers than our previous platform.
A Customer Journey Begins with Small Steps
Moving from a discussion-only platform to a platform that includes gamification and rewards has been a game-changer. Where our previous discussions saw little activity, our customers now click into multiple challenges (targeted asks) and engage with our social sharing features. It’s much easier to discover new brand advocates, who we go on to nurture, engage, and encourage to provide content that adds value, such as reviews or references. We can then drive those referrals, amplify social posts, collect product feedback, and support product adoption.
Moving from a discussion-only platform to a platform that includes gamification and rewards has been a game-changer.
We’re still exploring creative strategies for use cases like customer reviews. In February, we had a Share the Love campaign, in which anyone who submitted a customer review also got a box of chocolates. For us, it’s not overwhelming to jump into multiple use cases. There’s no way to tackle everything from the start, but we’re putting the right building blocks in place to build quickly.
Apart from gamification, one of the biggest draws for Influitive is the ability to create personalized journeys and custom content. As members enter the FloVerse, we always want them to view the community as somewhere they need to return. Rather than coming in to get a reward, we wanted them to ask, “What’s new?” and come back regularly to find out.
And for us, there’s always something new. We publish about 70 challenges a month but don’t make everything available to everyone at once—that would be too overwhelming. We are mindful of where people are in their journey and match relevant content to that specific moment. This mix of content creates an enticing community for newcomers and ensures that long-term community members stay engaged.
We set an initial goal for the first quarter of 500 members and fell just shy at 465. But then we implemented single sign-on (SSO) and released targeted content during a highly publicized product roadmap event that was only available for registration within FloVerse. After that, registrations spiked, and we’ve been above the benchmark every month since. Our goal for FY23 was 2,000, and by June, we surpassed that goal. By the end of the month, we had 2,300 customers!
Continued Internal Engagement
And just like ongoing engagement with community members is critical, it’s also important to continually engage with our colleagues. As our tagline states, “We are a community of accountants.” Our software is for accountants by accountants, and 80% of our frontline customer-facing teams are former accountants. One of the things Kristen preaches is employee involvement, especially for product experts. People don’t necessarily join the community to talk to us; they want to talk to the people who are most knowledgeable about our product.
We encourage product managers and client-facing colleagues to participate in discussion forums to build organic relationships and share best practices. We also partnered with our sales enablement team to include specific discussion posts to spark conversations.
To build a community of raving fans, we need content that resonates with our audience—new and interesting content every day to keep them coming back to the community and engaging. We continue to work closely with our FloQast evangelists to ensure our content resonates with our ideal customer profile. We review content and campaigns weekly and collaborate on new ways to engage customers.
Getting Closer to Our Goals
Influitive has enabled us to build stronger relationships and incentivize customers to perform acts of advocacy independently, removing the need to burden the customer success team. A great example is a recent social competitive selling activity. In a Slack community for accountants, a prospect posted asking for advice and comparisons of FloQast to other companies. The Slack community started responding, but nobody was talking about FloQast. Within 30 minutes, we had a challenge live in the community for our customers to sign up for this Slack community and advocate for us. They did, and the prospect is now an active opportunity forecasted to close.
Influitive has enabled us to build stronger relationships and incentivize customers to perform acts of advocacy independently, removing the need to burden the customer success team.
Before Influitive, we didn’t have customer referrals. We also weren’t amplifying social posts. While we collected product feedback, now we can do that and promote it through the community instead of sending emails or trying to get CSMs to add it to their daily tasks. Our HR team is even looking at building an onboarding journey within Influitive to immediately put new hires in a customer-centric mindset as they join the company.
We have big goals, including:
- Expanding our community to all our accountants
- Building raving fans
- Hosting community roundtables and other fun networking events
- Expanding to EMEA
I’m a firm believer in everything customer advocacy. Customers are the hidden gem to unlocking an organization’s full growth potential. That said, advocate communities aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s not the Field of Dreams. You have to be building and evaluating constantly. Creating a community strategy involves understanding your audience and what will inform them, engage them, and keep them around. When you can do that, you’ll have a program poised to put the power of advocacy to its highest and best use.
Want authentic customer stories like this for your company? Learn more about Influitive’s Upshot service.