July 18, 2017
At PowerDMS, we provide policy management software that helps organizations reduce their risks and liabilities. We serve more than 370,000 users and have been on Inc. 5000’s list of the fastest-growing U.S. companies for six straight years.
We knew that much of our rapid growth stemmed from customer word of mouth. However, we always took a laissez-faire approach to advocacy. We had no way to measure how customer referrals, reviews, and references impacted our business.
You know word-of-mouth drives growth. But how do you measure the impact of referrals, reviews & references?
I wanted to see what would happen if we put processes in place to engage customers and get them to advocate for us.
From Zero to 19 Online Reviews in Just a Few Weeks
In early 2016, we ran an advocate marketing test. We identified Net Promoters who gave us high scores and tracked them in a spreadsheet. Then, we emailed these customers and asked them to write an online review about PowerDMS.
The process was slow and manual, but it paid off. Within a few weeks, we went from zero to 19 reviews.
Our executives saw how quickly advocate marketing works and wanted to build on our momentum. They asked me to find a platform that would help us engage with customers at scale, boost word-of-mouth, and automate our time-consuming processes.
Advocate Marketing Is More Than Just Technology
I had been following Influitive since they launched at Dreamforce in 2012. But it wasn’t until I attended Influitive’s advocate marketing conference, Advocamp, that I knew they offered the best platform. The conference showed me that Influitive is the expert in the space. Their thought leadership and customer success stories made my decision easy.
However, I did look into other advocate marketing platforms, including some that were less expensive. One platform had similar features as Influitive’s, but it lacked the strategy assistance and great support that they provide. Advocate marketing isn’t just about technology and features; it’s about having a solid strategy that engages customers and drives business ROI. I knew that Influitive could give us both the technology and a roadmap to success.
My Top 4 Tips for Running a Successful Advocate Marketing Program
We launched the PowerDMS Champions program in September 2016. Here’s what we’ve learned about creating an advocate marketing program that engages customers:
1. Reach out to advocates at the right time.
The best time to reach out to a new advocate is right after they promote or recommend you.
For example, we ask Net Promoters to join the Champions program, as they are likely to advocate for us. Three months before their renewal date, we send them an automated NPS survey. Then, an automated invite goes to customers who gave us scores of nine or 10.
But we don’t just rely on Net Promoters, as we also want to engage advocates who didn’t complete the NPS survey.
For example, we reach out to new customers when they are the most excited about working with us. We also invite customers who engage with us on social media or share their amazing results.
2. Show your advocates the benefits of joining your community.
An advocacy program can be overwhelming for customers—especially if they don’t have a clear understanding of what it’s about.
That’s why we send a funny introductory video to new advocates.
The video explains what advocacy is, the types of things customers can do, and how they will benefit from joining. Our advocates benefit in four key areas:
- Status. The more they participate, the more they will be recognized as PowerDMS experts.
- Access. PowerDMS Champions gain access to new features before we release them to our general customer base. Champions can also network with our higher ups.
- Power. We rely on feedback from our Champions when we improve PowerDMS. They have a direct say in making our product better.
- Stuff. Champions collect points when they advocate for us. They can trade these points in for rewards, such as PowerDMS swag.
3. Get your team excited about your results.
PowerDMS Champions generated a lot of engagement right off the bat. I felt a rush of excitement whenever I looked at our AdvocateHub dashboard and saw how fast our community was growing.
I wanted to get others at PowerDMS excited about our results, so I posted regular updates in our Slack advocacy channel. We knew that we had customers who loved us, but seeing all of the things that they did for us made us feel warm and fuzzy.
4. Think of advocate marketing as a relationship.
Advocate marketing can boost your referrals, reviews, and references. But it shouldn’t just be about numbers.
To succeed with advocate marketing, you must focus on building relationships.
For example, every email that we send to advocates comes from me—not from a general PowerDMS address. I mention things that I am working on and where I’m going on vacation to help form connections with customers. I also introduce myself in our video invite, so advocates can put a face behind the company.
We recently held a contest where the winners received a trip to our Orlando headquarters and got to hang out with us. Since I had engaged with our advocates prior to meeting them, they felt like they already knew me. We even had inside jokes!
If you build personal relationships with advocates, the results will follow.
How PowerDMS Got Noticed on Google and Generated $410,000 in Opportunities
Since launching PowerDMS Champions in September, we’ve built a community of 464 advocates. These advocates have brought us 91 referrals and 92 references.
But the biggest area where they have helped us has been with online reviews. They have written 173 reviews for sites such as Capterra and G2Crowd. We currently have 95 reviews on Capterra—more reviews than any other company in our product category.
Thanks to our advocates, we stand out from the competition. When customers search Google for “policy management software,” the first organic result is our Capterra reviews. We are piggybacking off Capterra’s #1 ranking and attracting customers who need our solution. So far, we’ve attributed more than $410,000 in opportunities to our Champions.
Advocacy Doesn’t Just Benefit Marketing
In addition to reviews, our advocates have provided us with case studies and product feedback. They’ve been invaluable in shaping the direction of our product.
Any time we need to hear from our customers, we simply put out the Bat-Signal and they respond. Our AdvocateHub has allowed us to quickly mobilize customers and improve every area of our company.
Want authentic customer stories like this for your company? Learn more about Influitive’s Upshot service.