Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marketing Automation And Advocate Marketing: A Sweet Combination

Marketing automation + advocate marketing = delicious!
This post was originally posted here.

2013 has been a year of transition for me. My wife and I will be adding a new addition to our family, which will require me to paint a room pink and have tea parties (it’s a big transition after having two boys), and I moved from a behemoth of a technology company to a fast moving startup.
I have also moved from one area of B2B marketing to another. While the audience we focus on at Influitive is still primarily B2B marketers, the space that we play in is a bit different.

Marketing automation software is essentially a marketing database that runs marketing campaigns and provides insights on how those campaigns have performed. It’s the driving engine behind marketing’s efforts and can justify where marketing should be spending its budget. There are, of course, many other functions, such as sales enablement features, but let’s focus primarily on the core aspects of marketing automation.

Influitive focuses on advocate marketing, which is all about taking your customers, partners, employees and fans, and mobilizing them to support marketing campaigns, refer new business and help close deals. We call these super duper supporters your advocates and Influitive helps you tap into these amazing brand ambassadors.

Looking at these two areas of B2B marketing, they are not as different as they once appeared to me when I switched marketing disciplines.

Why advocate marketing and marketing automation are like waffles and maple syrup

Is it a coincidence that marketing automation and advocate marketing share the same initials, but in reverse? I think not!

Both areas actually work well together, like like waffles and maple syrup, for example.

Waffles, which represent marketing automation, are awesome by themselves, but they taste so much better with maple syrup, which is the advocate marketing component.

Adding advocates to campaigns which are being executed from your marketing automation system can amplify your existing campaigns and maximize your marketing automation investment.

5 ways marketing automation can tap into advocates to increase campaign effectiveness

Here are the top five recommendations on how you can leverage your advocates and advocate activities to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing automation campaigns:

1. Mix in online reviews to your lead nurturing efforts

The most recent Nielsen Trust In Advertising report found that 84% of buyers cited recommendations from people like them as their most trusted source when purchasing a product.

When mobilized, advocates can provide online ratings and reviews on sites such as G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, Quora, the Salesforce AppExchange and many others.

Instead of directing prospects to marketing materials that you have created, which are seen as less genuine in the eyes of your buyers, why not direct them to third-party sites where your advocates have left you glowing reviews?

You can also ask your prospects if they would like to connect with these advocates and set up a reference call.
Did you know? Like maple syrup, marketing automation and advocate marketing have strong roots here in Canada.

2. Score leads based on acts of advocacy that have been performed

There are certain social indicators of advocacy which explicitly indicate that a prospect is more interested in your company as well as when their interest is peaking.
These can include:
  • Following your company on social channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, SlideShare, Spiceworks and Facebook
  • Sharing information about your company on social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Mentioning your company on public forums such as Quora or Spiceworks
  • Responding to surveys and requests for more information
Many of your prospects are fans of your company even if they aren’t customers.

They may not have the budget or exact need at the moment for your services, they may have used your product or service at a former company or they may love what your company represents in their industry.

You can tap into this positive sentiment and track these activities.

As these activities increase, they should be scored appropriately, and an inside sales rep should reach out at the right time to see if they are ready to purchase or just to thank them for their support.

3. Add testimonials from advocates to landing pages to increase lead conversion

MarketingExperiments has published a number of case studies which show that including indicators of trustworthiness on your landing pages reduces friction.

There is no better way to do this than to use testimonials that you have collected from your advocates. You can gather testimonials that indicate the strength of your customer onboarding services, various benefits of your products and even justify spending the five minutes needed to read through an eBook.

Sprinkle in some testimonials and measure the increase in conversions.

4. Ask advocates to share your marketing content

These days, relying solely on email and even your owned social and web properties to reach your target audience is a mistake. The Nielsen Trust In Advertising report backs this up: content shared by people who are similar to your intended buyers is much more powerful and your prospects will be much more receptive to this information.

Have your advocates share your infographics, upcoming webinars and other marketing content with their social networks in order to maximize the effectiveness of the campaigns that you are running.

Be sure to accurately measure the leads coming from advocate activities by using unique URLs and/or designated landing pages.

5. Get feedback on your planned marketing campaigns

…before pulling the trigger on a larger audience. Advocates love to provide feedback. Why? Because they want to have their voices heard.

They feel connected to you and asking them for feedback enhances this relationship. Of course, you need to ensure you are recognizing their contributions for this to work. When performed properly, you can use advocates to provide advance feedback on campaigns that you want to run for a larger audience.

Think about it. You’ve spent or about to spend a significant amount of on a nurturing program, video, infographic or webinar series. Wouldn’t you want to get some honest feedback or test your messaging on a smaller, dedicated audience before you do a major campaign launch? This is easy to do with a co-ordinated advocate marketing program. Using advocates this way, you’ll guarantee a much better chance of campaign success.

I hope you will take advantage of these recommendations and add the sweetness of advocates to your marketing automation efforts.

Chad H.

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