Today we have a guest post from Jessica Baculik at Axios Systems.
The guys at CustomerAdvocacy.com asked me to tell the story of our advocacy platform selection, so here goes…
We knew we needed to bring more customers into our marketing activities to support our objectives – to scale up marketing reach, drive referrals, launch more customer-generated content, engage customers in R&D and sort out the way we managed customer references (burn-out was a big issue). What we didn’t know was the shape of the solution, but we’d been feeling the pain points for some time so it was easy to get a consensus on the main requirements.
We did the usual Googling to form a long-list of technology options, picking up some best practice tips along the way which helped us fill out and refine our specific requirements. To begin with, we struck off solutions aimed squarely at the B2C market which wouldn’t flex to support what we needed in the B2B world. From there we used a simple features matrix spreadsheet to evaluate each platform and whittled it down to a short-list. The process finally coming down to a head-to-head between CustomerAdvocacy.com and Influitive – the two obvious B2B advocacy contenders. It was here that we were really able to “zoom in” on features and functions and closely evaluate how they mapped to our requirements. We began to understand the differentiators and how they would impact our advocacy program.
Here in the marketing department we have to deal with quite a few platforms in our day-to-day jobs (marketing automation, CMS, social media, analytics, etc) so it was important that we could get to grips with our new advocacy marketing platform quickly. We work at a fast pace here, so we didn’t want a complex system that would put a hand-brake on our productivity. When we evaluated the user interfaces and how they got the job done we saw some subtle differences, like the number of clicks it would take to perform everyday tasks, and how easy it was to find the different features and functions in the menu system.
Customer reference management had been a major bugbear for years. We’d been struggling to connect sales people working on live opportunities with the right customer references in the timescale required (“We need it today or we’re going to lose the sale!”). We have a large customer base but often we were going back to the same customers again and again until they were burnt out and would bounce back requests. So getting a more efficient and effective customer reference management program off the ground was a deal-maker. We had the customer base and just needed a better way to tap into that customer base at scale to avoid burnout and make the whole process faster. Influitive offered RM features and so did CustomerAdvocacy but Influitive’s RM features were accesses via integration with BoulderLogic. With the pressure we were under to get an advocacy/reference management program off the ground,we needed the fast route. The native RM functionality that CustomerAdvocacy provided meant we could get going faster. As it turned out, we had a process in place within a few weeks and began building out our list of referenceable customers to spread the load and avoid the burn-out issues that had plagued us before. It wasn’t long before the sales teams recognized that the process we’d put in place was the quickest route for them to get the references they needed to close sales. We cut the cycle time on reference requests in half and now have complete visibility and control over who is asking for what. Now we’ve got the intel we need to make sure we’re not overloading a small group and we have a much bigger and healthier pool of reference customers!
The other big difference was language support. We market globally to audiences in over a dozen languages. Effectively, our English-speaking customer base would be our pilot group but we knew we needed to future-proof our decision to ensure we could spread out our program across all our different customer segments. For us, the language support that comes built-into CustomerAdvocacy.com was a high-scoring feature. Alongside that came some requirements for managing who would be doing what in the system in our regional marketing teams. We wanted to avoid customer-abuse and didn’t want to go back to the days of reference burnout, so keeping control over who could create challenges, send messages and admin the system with role-based privileges was another major plus-point for CustomerAdvocacy. Role-based privileges and the flexible workflow manager have helped us govern our global advocate marketing program from a central point.
At the start of our process – on our initial “journey of discovery” – we weren’t really aware of the price points we’d be looking at. It was only latterly, once we had a firm idea of our requirements (and the potential ROI), that we started sizing up vendors in terms of cost. The value of scaling-up our advocacy program with technology was clearly high enough to give us a fast ROI on just about any brand advocacy platform, but the cost of the CustomerAdvocacy platform added up to about 60% of Influitive and we found the pricing structure more simple without a third party reference management solution and integration to consider. The lower price tag made getting budget an easier task.
We still get a lot of inspiration for our own advocate marketing program from what the guys at CustomerAdvocacy are doing. Recently they asked us for insights into our procurement process for their 7 steps to selecting an advocacy platform whitepaper. It was great to be included and interesting to share feedback with other customers along the way. Now we’re gearing up to launch more customer generated content of our own.
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