This week Toronto-based Influitive announced the launch of their AdvocateHub platform for B2B customer advocate management and mobilization. The platform aims to provide companies with the ability to make requests of their top customers, and reward their top customers and evangelists with an incentive program to drive key marketing activities. The company raised $3.75 million in early August to build the platform, and is now opening it up to potential customers.
Founder Mark Organ, previously the founder of Eloqua, started Influitive to make it easier to get feedback, referrals, and other engagement from their existing base of fans or customers. The company’s AdvocateHub platform allows companies to leverage their existing customer base for social media promotion, reference calls, referrals, testimonials, public speaking and case study creation from a single place, and to reward them with things like badges and recognition for their participation.
“Our customers already know 80 percent plus who their advocates are, they talk to them all the time, the challenge is getting advocates to increase their level of activity. It’s getting that advocate that today is maybe doing a couple of reference calls a year and occasionally sends over a lead and getting them to do four reference calls a months and generate lots of leads, and help out on a case study for you and speak on stage for you,” CEO Mark Organ said in an interview. “A lot of things which they’re actually perfectly willing to do and wanting to do. That’s the problem we address.”
Companies sign up and create a branded page where they can then start inviting advocates and giving them challenges that revolve around advocating their product in exchange for a variety of badges and other prizes. Advocates can be invited through LinkedIn, where selected contacts are sent an email, or through a variety of other methods. Most advocates are current customers, but can also include industry analysts and even former customers. Although advocates can receive points and badges later redeemable for things like exclusive networking events, Organ points out that most of them do it because they genuinely love the product or service.
“These people do this stuff naturally, you actually don’t really need to incent them. Less than 20 percent of advocates ever actually redeem their rewards,” Organ said. “People are also looking for thanks and networking opportunities. I mean I would much rather get a call from a C-level guy asking me what I do for two minutes over a gift card, and those are the type of rewards we found really work.”
Part of what makes AdvocateHub a step forward for B2B sales is that whereas before the process of advocacy marketing was fragmented and split up between the sales team, marketing and PR team, the platform can now be managed by a single program administrator. The tracking functionality allows companies to track which activities are driving sales activity and which advocates are the most influential for them. Although gamification has become a trend as a way for companies to engage both consumers and employees with companies like Badgeville, and influence measuring companies like Klout connecting consumer advocates with perks, Influitive stands apart with its focus on advocacy as a means to shorten the B2B sales cycle.
The company currently runs its AdvocateHub on a freemium model, giving users the ability to engage up to 20 advocates before paying a monthly subscription which starts at $500 per month. Customers can then choose to pay for activity on a per-advocate basis, or on a discounted tier model which is based on the number of advocates a company has on board.
Influitive’s next steps revolve around building a mobile applications for their advocate network, and capturing a larger user base of the B2B cloud software providers before expanding overseas. Most influencer targeting tools like Klout, PeerIndex and Kred focus on connecting companies with their end consumer, and promoting their messages within their social network. While that is one focus for Influitive, it’s more focused on helping B2B companies gather testimonials and referrals, something that could set them apart in the influencer marketing space.