Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing… especially if it’s two customer reference programs.
JDA Software—a leading provider of supply chain, retail and omni-channel solutions—merged with a fellow supply chain software company, Red Prairie, in 2012. This meant merging two different sets of sales teams, marketing data and customer reference programs.
When the new Global Customer Marketing Team decided to bring together their reference programs, they had three challenges to address:
1. Determine the best reward system for customers
Each program awarded customers different point values for providing references. The team would have to pick one reward system and make the transition smooth and clear for customers so they would continue to participate. “We needed to maintain the momentum of both customer reference programs during the merger,” says Mary.
2. Grow their reference base
“We didn’t want to burn out specific customers by asking them for references and case studies all the time,” says Johanna. That’s why one of JDA’s top marketing goals was to get new references. It needed to promote the program not only to its customer base, but also internally so the entire team would submit new references.
However, some customers JDA had previously invited into the program faced a dilemma. “Many of our happy customers couldn’t give us a traditional reference due to their company’s legal policies,” says Johanna. The team felt like they were missing an opportunity to capitalize on their customers’ enthusiasm, and wished to offer those who wanted to participate—but couldn’t—a way to get involved.
3. Operationalize the reference process
JDA needed to clean and standardize data between the two programs. Now that it had a larger customer base and more complex team structure, automating parts of the program—like customer reward redemptions and the reference nomination process—would be important for maximizing results. They wanted to find the right technology to help scale the process.
Blending advocate marketing and customer reference programs
JDA selected BoulderLogic (now part of ROInnovation) as a software solution for their customer reference platform. With the new program, they were able to automate the reference process end-to-end for customers and the sales and marketing teams. And as a result, JDA doubled the number of references in their system.
Even with the new and improved reference program, the Global Customer Marketing Team felt they could do more.
JDA’s new CMO, Kevin Iaquinto, had a vision that could help Mary and Johanna:
• Gain more internal visibility for their programs
• Get more customers into the program
• Reward customers who couldn’t act as a reference but wanted to help JDA
He wanted the team to engage customers through an advocate marketing program that would consistently inspire them to become references and reward them for other kinds of customer advocacy.
JDA selected Influitive’s AdvocateHub platform for their advocate marketing program, which they called JDAdvocate. The program, which is open to both customers and employees, allows the Global Customer Marketing Team to better promote the reference program and give customers who can’t be references opportunities to advocate for JDA in other ways—like writing reviews, sharing content on social media or submitting referrals—and get recognition for their contributions.
“We felt that advocate marketing could help us build positive buzz while we launched the new brand,” says Mary. “It would also give our happy customers more ways to get involved—even if their company policies prevented them from giving a traditional reference.”
3 ways integrating advocate marketing and customer reference programs boosted engagement
Here is JDA’s advice on how to blend advocate marketing and reference programs to boost customer engage and your results:
1. Give the right incentive to the right customer
JDA has a different reward system in each program to motivate customers based on how they prefer to advocate.
Their customer reference program is for customers who are allowed to give references and share their success stories publically. JDA rewards these customers by giving them points that they can redeem for e-learning classes or conference tickets.
The JDAdvocate program recognizes the individual for spreading their love of JDA, but who can’t mention their name or company publically in a case study, testimonial or video. JDA’s advocates earn points for things like providing feedback, sharing content or engaging in social media activities. They can redeem these points for small tokens of appreciation, such as gift cards or JDA swag.
To incentivize customers in the reference program to use their points, JDA gives them 24 months to cash in. Once the prizes are redeemed, customers are compelled to complete more references to build up their points again.
2. Bring new advocates into your reference pool
Both programs help feed new members the other. Thanks to an integration between BoulderLogic and AdvocateHub, when someone completes a reference, they are automatically nominated to join the JDAdvocate advocate marketing program. The JDAdvocate community also has a challenge that asks advocates to join their reference program.
“Our AdvocateHub lets us connect with more people,” says Johanna. “The more people we reach, the more customers we can bring into our reference program.”
To build their advocate marketing program’s members, JDA has:
• Reviewed satisfaction surveys and support issue resolutions to target those with positive scores to advocates
• Invited customers who attended JDA’s user conference or were a part of special product user groups to join
• Posted an “Invite A Friend” challenge in their program that encouraged advocates to bring friends and colleagues to the hub
Prior to the merger, JDA collected references via word-of-mouth from the sales team. This made it hard to grow the reference program. So, all employees were invited to JDAdvocate, and given specific advocacy challenges—such as becoming a social media ambassador—and offered special rewards for their contributions. One of their challenges centered around promoting the reference program and learning how to submit new references.
3. Scale manual processes with the right technology
The BoulderLogic and AdvocateHub integration has helped automate the invitation process to both programs. Now the JDA team doesn’t have to contact customers one by one and training for employees is simplified. Since both technologies integrate with JDA’s Salesforce database, all customer reference and referral data is associated to the right opportunity for easy tracking and measurement.
Thanks to the promotions through JDAdvocate, more employees are now aware of the reference program and how to nominate customers. BoulderLogic has made it easy for anyone in organization to submit customer references in a consistent manner for the Global Customer Marketing Team.
Points are also automatically awarded through both programs when actions are completed. In the JDAdvocate program, customers can redeem their points for rewards of their choosing. On the reference program side, point expiration is automatic. These three aspects make monitoring and approving rewards a less manual process for JDA’s team members.
After combining advocate marketing with their customer reference program, JDA:
• Increased their customer reference contacts by 20% in 2016 over the previous year
• Increased their customer advocates from 16% to 84%
• Turned 24% of their employees into advocates
“We’ve come a long way in two years and have done a lot with our small team,” says Mary. “We faced a lot of challenges with the merge, as well as having a new place in the company with more responsibilities. We’ve knocked most of our goals out of the park and have kept the momentum going.”
“The advocacy program has opened a lot of doors for us,” adds Johanna. “It’s been great for engaging customers and employees.”