“Showcasing LinkedIn recommendations on our home page raised conversions by 15% – it has encouraged people to dig deeper into our product reviews and to find out more about us.”
Vice President of Marketing, Wild Apricot
Generating awareness for a growing business
Wild Apricot, which offers membership management and website development software for nonprofits and associations, has been in business since 2000, which gives it elder-statesman status in the software world. However, while the 30-employee Toronto-based company now claims 4,000+ customers for its subscription-based software (and many more for the free version of its product), it had to work hard to generate awareness of the business.
“We build software for member-driven organizations that don’t have the resources to set up a big website or an online payment system,” explains Jay Moonah, Wild Apricot’s vice president of marketing. “People can buy into it for a small investment per month, and they don’t need a consultant or a big staff to implement it. The biggest challenge for us is simply letting people know that this kind of software is out there in the world.”
The company was using Google AdWords, SEO marketing, and social media to connect with nonprofits and other associations. “But we knew that one of the best things for any company – particularly a smaller one – is good word-of-mouth from current customers,” Moonah says. “Direct recommendation from a peer matters more than anything.” It’s the “real people” message that convinces someone to try a product, Moonah explains: “If you come to me and say, ‘I’m trying to take membership payments online,’ and I say, ‘I know this great system called Wild Apricot,’ there’s no better advertising in the world.”
Product recommendations boost conversions
Wild Apricot created a LinkedIn Company Page in mid-2010 in order to raise the company’s profile among prospective customers. Shortly thereafter, the company took advantage of the Company Pages recommendation feature, which allows members to post product and service reviews.
“We started reaching out to customers who had given us feedback by email or through our customer survey,” Moonah explains. “Any time we respond to feedback, we include a link to our LinkedIn page and encourage people to post reviews – we do this in our newsletter as well.” Within a few weeks, Wild Apricot was able to gather 25 recommendations from its customers.
Curious to see how LinkedIn Company Page product recommendations might influence purchase decisions, Wild Apricot decided to test the recommendations on their website. Moonah and his colleagues created three different website home pages: one with a link to Wild Apricot’s recent user survey results, one with a link to an online software directory, and one with a link to the LinkedIn product reviews, along with LinkedIn’s logo.
Recommendations on Wild Apricot’s LinkedIn Company Page
Conversions for the home page with information about LinkedIn reviews easily bested the other two examples. “Showcasing LinkedIn recommendations on our home page raised conversions by 15% – it has encouraged people to dig deeper into our product reviews and to find out more about us,” Moonah says. “LinkedIn is a recognized and respected brand. Our audience knows that it’s the social network for professionals, not the place where people share wild-weekend pictures.”
LinkedIn connections influence buying decisions
The LinkedIn logo and a link to recommendations on the Wild Apricot Company Page are now permanent fixtures on the company’s website home page – and as of January 2012, Wild Apricot has more than 50 recommendations from LinkedIn members.
- Raising awareness for a small company
- Gathering credible recommendations for products and services, to drive word-of-mouth referrals
- Establishing credibility as a stable, long-term service provider
- Created LinkedIn Company Page
- Encouraged customers to recommend products
- Highlighted LinkedIn recommendations on company’s website
- Leveraged recommendations for additional marketing
- Highly engaged, professional audience
- High awareness and approval of LinkedIn brand
- Connected members value others’ recommendations
- Conversion on home page rose 15% when using LinkedIn recommendations and branding
- Company Page and followers increased credibility of business
- Recommendations improved value of incremental marketing campaigns
“They realize that the recommendations come from real people – that they can reach out and contact them if they want to,” Moonah says. “They know that we’re a real company, with real products. It’s one thing to read a product review – it’s another thing to read a review and know that the person is a friend of yours, or is connected to a friend. That connection has a strong influence on buying decisions.”
Recommendations have also given Wild Apricot real-life testimonials to use in other marketing material. For a mailer to community associations, the company reached out to Company Page followers in this segment who had submitted recommendations. “LinkedIn makes it easy for us to contact other members in specific industry areas, thank them for their recommendation, and ask them for permission to use their name and a quote in our mailers,” says Moonah.
Promoting LinkedIn reviews on the Wild Apricot website home page
LinkedIn’s Company Page and recommendations combine to help Wild Apricot “establish our business credentials,” Moonah explains. “People can use LinkedIn to connect with me and my colleagues and find out about our business background, and who else we know in the industry. It gives prospective customers a high comfort level about investing their money with us.”
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