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Inbound marketing success is child's play for Bluewolf

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Inbound marketing success is child's play for Bluewolf
Inbound marketing success is child's play for Bluewolf

When your business is about helping clients innovate, you'd better be innovative yourself. So says Bluewolf CMO Corinne Sklar, speaking from firsthand experience.

Bluewolf is a global business consulting firm with an emphasis on innovation. So when it came time to rethink its approach to driving new business, its goal was to be, well, innovative. But as with many objectives, there are opportunities and challenges. For Bluewolf, both of those came down to one thing: collaboration. The consultancy aimed to increase and improve collaboration internally, as well as externally between and among clients and prospects.

“We were looking to increase what we call collaborative knowledge,” Sklar says. “It's about sharing information to create brand awareness and improve [the customer experience].”

Internally, that meant getting consultants to share information and expertise to build best practices and solve problems faster. Doing so delivers a “tangible business benefit,” Sklar asserts. Externally, Bluewolf aimed to increase the dialog with and between customers and prospects, boosting word of mouth, engagement, and ultimately new and incremental business.

Most of the work so far has focused on the internal collaboration efforts, because their success, by extension, leads to the success of external efforts. The internal approach has social interaction and gamification as foundational elements. Bluewolf uses Salesforce.com's Chatter to support internal collaboration and Bunchball's platform to encourage that collaboration and share information both internally and externally. The company surveyed its staff to understand how they interact on social channels and how they consume information. Bluewolf used those insights to build a resource center designed to facilitate that sharing and collaboration.

One internal gauge of success is employees' usage of Chatter: Are people sharing and accessing content? Externally, the success measures include growing traffic to Bluewolf's social sites and to its website, as well as increasing lead generation and content downloads. 

“We asked, how can we turn our information and expertise into a useful resource?”  says Natasha Oxenburgh, Bluewolf's social programs manager.

The answer was a three-part program called #GoingSocial, which includes an employee portal, Pack profiles, and gamification features.

The portal provides video and PDF tutorials that explain how employees can disseminate Bluewolf's message, Oxenburgh says. Tutorial topics include optimizing key social channels–such as what hashtags to use and whom to follow. There's also information on how employees can build their personal brand both as an internal resource and externally as a subject matter expert. “They're guidelines that are more about providing the do's than the don'ts,” she says, adding that each starts with a clear explanation of the WIIFM (what's in it for me).

Bluewolf's Pack Profiles, available on its website, provide detailed information about the consultancy's employees. “Some companies are afraid to put their staff out there,” Sklar says. “We want to promote our team's expertise.”

The profiles include such information as areas of expertise, certifications, and even interests or hobbies, and have social elements like a feed of recent tweets and links to content like blogs or white papers recently authored by each person. While employees manage their own profiles some elements, like updating content links, are automated. The internal view of the Pack Profile includes employee Klout scores, which are tied into the gamification aspect of the #GoingSocial program, Oxenburgh says. Employees earn a badge for their internal profile if their Klout score goes above 50.

The gamification element of the program not only helped drive organizational change in terms of behaviors, but continues to support the new approach of collaboration and sharing. Employees get points for activities like completing their Pack Profile, posting to Chatter, commenting on posts, and receiving comments. Bluewolf built in rate limitations to discourage gaming the system; plus the point system is weighted based on activity type. Blogging gets the most points, including a whopping 500 for their first post “because it breaks the ice,” Oxenburgh says.

Employees can trade in points for a variety of items and activities, like lunch with CEO Eric Berridge, tickets to Salesforce.com's Dreamforce customer conference, and company gear like hoodies, computer bags, and a coveted wolf T-shirt.

The program has been a big win internally. According to Oxenburgh, Bluewolf has seen a 57% increase in the use of Chatter from Q1 this year versus Q4 last year—and have maintained that level of usage this year.

To avoid demotivating anyone, employees retain their lifetime points, which are always redeemable, though the counter dials back to zero on a quarterly basis. This way the playing field is even at the start of each quarter, especially important to motivate recent hires.

One feature, called Spread the Word, includes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, share buttons; employees only get points when people click on the links they share. “In terms of inbound marketing this has been huge for us in driving traffic to our website,” she says. Site traffic increased 68% from January to August this year; blog traffic increased 153% over the same time frame.

“It's better content and there's more engagement with it,” Sklar adds, noting that employees are not only sharing their own content, but they're sharing colleagues', as well. “It was tough to get even marketing staffers to blog last year; we've seen an eight-fold increase in blogging now that people want to get their personal brand out there.”

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