Today Toronto and San Francisco-based influencer marketing platform Influitive announced that it has added $7.3 million in Series A funding, only a few months after raising raising $3.75 million in early August. The funding round was led by Hummer Winblad and Relay Ventures, with participation from existing investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and several angel investors.
The company launched its AdvocateHub B2B customer advocate management platform in August to help brands engage with their top customers, reward them, and incentivize them to provide referrals, share marketing messages on their social media channels, and provide case studies and testimonials. Unlike influencer identification platforms like Klout, Littlebird, and Linksy that help companies find and engage with their B2C customers, AdvocateHub is targeted to companies who already know who their top customers are, and want to increase their level of activity.
Companies create their own AdvocateHub page where they can invite customers to become advocates, giving them challenges and rewarding them with badges and other prizes when they complete those tasks. Companies can add up to 20 advocates for free, with monthly subscriptions starting at $500 per month for access to more advocates.
Prior to starting Influitive, founder Mark Organ was the founder of Eloqua, which debuted its initial public offering in August 2012. He said since the launch in August, the company has increased its number of advocates by 180 percent, though he declined to share exact numbers, and added that advocates are completing an average of 4.4 challenges per session. Organ said the new funding round will be used primarily for hiring, with the company looking to add to its marketing, sales, and customer service teams, as well as to build out partnerships.
Organ said while companies often engage in advocate marketing, it’s usually a manual process, reaching out to customers one by one to request testimonials or reviews. “Most companies are going to have some kind of advocate program in the future, they’re just going to have to,” he said. “I believe this more complete self-service idea is going to be the one that wins out.”
The company will also be using the funding to build out mobile apps to give companies and advocates better access on their mobile devices, so customers can complete challenges on the go. And while the platform was initially billed as a way to reward customers for completing challenges, Organ said since the public launch they’ve found that most advocates aren’t incentivized by rewards, and they’ve moved to a perks system, giving users badges and points based on the challenges they complete. ”It’s really all about social capital,” Organ said. “That’s why advocates do what they do, they really don’t do it for a gift card.”
With plans to build a sales team (until now Organ has been doing most of the sales himself), the company should be able to scale its customer base as long as it can prove to companies that it has a measurable impact on their bottom line. Organ said it’s easier with certain challenges, for example showing an executive that Influitive resulted in 10 new positive reviews on a site like Yelp. If they can sell B2B customers on the fact that advocate marketing really does affect their bottom line, they should be able to scale in 2013.