Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the hottest marketing trends of 2017.
According to SiriusDecisions, 58% of B2B companies planned to invest in ABM technology or services last year.
However, many companies only use traditional tactics, like retargeted ads and email nurtures, to engage ideal prospects.
But these techniques won’t help you build authentic relationships with your most desired prospects. Buyers today are bombarded with sales messages, and they don’t trust what you have to say about yourself.
So, what do they trust? Recommendations from their peers.
That’s why incorporating your customer advocates into your ABM campaigns is crucial for success.
Advocates: your account-based marketing secret weapon
Your advocates are willing to put their reputations on the line to recommend you to their network.
Their positive word-of-mouth can impact every stage of your sales funnel. So, incorporating their voice into the campaigns going to your most desired accounts only makes sense.
According to research from Forrester, advocate marketing will figure prominently in 1/3 of ABM programs launched in 2017.
In this blog, I’ll outline how Influitive involved our advocates in six of our ABM campaigns to help us influence $2.3 million in potential business and close nearly $300,000 in new deals. (If you want to learn how we chose our target accounts, read this blog.)
P.S. If you’re wondering how we get our advocates to help with our marketing, you can read this primer about running a customer advocacy program, or download the Advocate Marketing Playbook.
1. Campaign name: Targeted Intro
Target audience: Top of funnel prospects
One of the biggest marketing challenges is getting people to notice you. If you approach cold prospects on your own, they’ll likely ignore your message.
Potential buyers are more likely to speak with you if share a mutual connection. Your advocates can help you get on your potential buyers’ radars.
Last year, we identified prospects we wanted to connect with on LinkedIn. Then, we looked at their connections to see if they knew any of our advocates.
We then reached out to advocates who knew the prospect, and asked them for an introduction via LinkedIn. This way, the initial message would come from a peer instead of a sales rep they may not know.
Here’s a screenshot of how we approached them:
To make it easy for our advocates to help, we sent them the LinkedIn profile of the person we wanted to meet.
As a thank you, we offered them points in Influitive VIP, our advocate marketing program, which they could redeem for a reward.
- 467 advocate referred prospects to us via LinkedIn
- 78 opportunities created, which influenced $1.2 million in pipeline
- 10 opportunities and $137,000 in sales
- 13 opportunities still in the works
2. Campaign name: ABM Most Wanted
Target audience: Middle of funnel prospects
If you read our last ABM post, you know we mailed some key prospects special packages, which included a review from one of their customers. We then added a note from a rep, asking if they wanted to discuss what they could do to get more customer reviews.
To encourage a response, we asked our advocates to help us engage them on social media.
Here’s what the challenges in our advocate marketing program looked like:
Soon, we had a swarm of advocates engaging with our prospects and encouraging them to reply to our note.
- 178 advocates reached out to 94 accounts
- 33 responses from prospects
- 6 opportunities created and $71,000+ in sales
3. Campaign name: Social Pressure
Target audience: Middle of the funnel prospects
In one of our ABM campaigns, we created custom videos for ten prospects whose product was ranked in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.
We congratulated them on their standing on social media, and talked about how their advocates could help them move to the top rankings in the quadrant.
Then, we asked our advocates to encourage these prospects to respond to our message on social media.
Here’s one of our tweets with our advocates’ retweets at the bottom:
— Influitive (@influitive) July 29, 2016
By sharing the videos we had posted, our advocates validated our message and provided social proof to encourage prospects to respond.
- 21% response rate
- 1 opportunity created, which influenced $16,500+ in pipeline
4. Campaign name: Coffee Time
Target audience: Bottom of the funnel prospects
Reference calls are great, but we wanted to make them more scalable while still feeling personalized.
So, we invited several prospects to join live video chats with an advocate in the same industry as them. We market this live Q&A as “Coffee Time”, and provide the advocate as well as the prospects with a Starbucks gift card.
These chats are well received and work much better than a standard reference call. The video format allows participants to see each other’s reactions when they ask and answer questions, and advocates get the chance to highlight their knowledge.
For example, prospects can see when the advocate is excited about something. Meanwhile, the advocate can tell how well they were answering prospects’ questions.
As an added bonus, prospects don’t have to come in with a lot of questions to get value, since other prospects also help guide the conversation.
- 89 opportunities created, which influenced more than $1 million in pipeline
- $106,000+ in sales
5. Campaign name: Brag Sheet
Target audience: Bottom of the funnel prospects
For this ABM campaign, we asked advocates to share their success stories with five specific, highly relevant prospects. We like to call it a “proactive case study”.
Here’s an image of the challenge advocates received in our advocate marketing program:
To make it easy for the advocates who opted in, we shared a customizable framework they could use to tell their story. We provided prospects’ emails, and advocates sent them the details about their advocate marketing programs’ successes.
Most were happy to take the time to do this because it lets them brag about their success, network and raise their profile within our program.
- Each advocate reached out to an average of four prospects
- 20% close rate for deals touched by advocates
- $51,000+ in sales
6. Campaign name: Keeping Our Advocates On Call
Target audience: All prospects
In addition to helping with specific ABM campaigns, our advocates also act as a year-round extension of our marketing team.
For example, when people ask about Influitive in forums and on social media, we invite our advocates to jump into the conversation. Then, prospects get insights from our advocates to help with their decision making fast.
You can see below how our advocates recommended us to one Twitter user:
Our advocates’ replies have helped us spark conversations and gain momentum with prospects at every stage of the buying cycle.
If you’re wondering how we’ve built up an army of advocates who quickly respond to our requests, see how we created our program in this eBook.
- On average, we see 30 advocate responses to a question in under an hour
How to inspire advocates to help with your ABM
As you can see, advocates can have a significant impact on your ABM results.
Here are three keys to mobilizing your advocates:
1. Make it easy
Your advocates want to help you. But if your instructions are complicated or vague, they won’t know where to begin.
To avoid this, spell out what you want your advocates to do.
For example, we sent our advocates the LinkedIn profiles of the people we wanted to meet. This made it easy for them to make introductions.
2. Follow up with your advocates
Keep your advocates in the loop after they introduce you to someone. They will want to know whether their actions have helped you.
Plus, if you have advocates within a target account, they can let you know what’s happening inside their company.
Also, don’t forget to thank them for helping. Handwritten cards are a nice gesture that your advocates will appreciate.
3. Just ask!
Don’t be afraid to ask your advocates for help. As your biggest fans, they’ll welcome the opportunity to lend a hand.
For example, can they introduce you to new prospects? Can they share their success stories with your late-stage leads? If you position it as a chance to show off their success with your product and network with peers, you’ll be surprised by how much they’re willing to do.