Today, we are very excited to announce that Branderati, the leading influencer advocate solution, has been acquired by Sprinklr.
It’s a big day for the industry as advocacy now becomes a critical part of the enterprise social infrastructure. For Sprinklr, it’s another milestone on our journey to creating the most complete social software platform for large brands.
We’re witnessing an immense change in consumer behavior, in both B2B and B2C environments. Today, over 60% of consumers have decided what to buy before they ever step into a store or contact a brand. Over 70% of consumers trust others like them more than brands themselves when it comes to product information.
Advocacy is an essential part of every marketer’s activities going forward.
However, instead of telling you why this makes sense for Sprinklr and the brands we serve, I am going to let Mark Curtis, the CEO and Founder of Branderati and our newest General Manager, tell the story. He understands the importance of advocacy as well as anyone.
Mark…take it away and welcome to Sprinklr.
-Ragy Thomas, CEO and Founder, Sprinklr
By Mark Curtis, CEO of Branderati:
As we have been preparing for the announcement, I’ve been asked many questions by colleagues, journalists, and friends.
“How did your relationship with Sprinklr begin?”…
“Why did you decide to join forces?” …
“What does this acquisition mean for brands?”
To answer these questions, one must tell two stories. One is a story of a marketing discipline coming of age. The second is a story of two organizations that share a vision of how social will revolutionize business as we know it.
Advocacy Marketing’s Coming of Age
When we built the very first version of the Branderati platform in early 2010, we didn’t know we were tapping into a large industry need. We knew we needed to respond to a clear client need to screen advocacy candidates and create a members-only space we could use to activate and measure a highly-curated network of ambassadors. At the time, there were no other existing options in the marketplace. So we built it ourselves.
We quickly got results. The publishers we were working with started driving millions of dollars of annual revenue from the bespoke communities our technology enabled. As we expanded into new verticals, our clients started realizing we were driving social sharing at a scale that outpaced many of their broader Facebook and Twitter communities. They also realized the cost of this authentic social sharing ran between 1/7th to 1/25th of the cost of incremental social sharing driven through their media campaigns.
And we weren’t alone. Several other companies received funding and provided a path to advocacy at scale for brands without a legacy audience, whether it was customer advocacy or employee advocacy. As a group, we were delivering results and fighting to be viewed not just as an isolated point solution to be engaged on an à la carte basis. We pushed for advocacy marketing to be viewed strategically — as an “always-on” function of an overall social/digital strategy that should be built organically and leveraged in connection with each major priority throughout the promotional calendar.
Today is a bit of a watershed moment for advocacy marketing. We believe the collective efforts of Branderati and our fellow advocacy marketers have caused a tipping point. We have fundamentally proven that one of the greatest by-products of scaled social media communities is the ability to connect with, nurture and identify brand advocates. We have proven that by taking our relationship with these advocates to the next level, they return the favor many, many times over in terms of authentic and directed word of mouth. We have proven to enough CMOs around the world that advocacy now must be viewed as a critical component of the social ecosystem. And the major players that hold the charter to provide end-to-end social infrastructure must respond by providing best-in-class advocacy technology and workflow as a seamless extension of the holistic social stack.
Leave it to Sprinklr, the most nimble and fastest growing player in this space, to be the first to bring advocacy into core infrastructure. Can the others be far behind? I doubt it. But I do know we will have a pretty great head start on them.
Two Companies, One Shared Vision
Our CMO, Ekaterina Walter, and I had a very important discussion in 2013 and then again early in 2014. We knew that our goal from the start was to be eventually bought out by one of the major infrastructure players in the space. However, we also knew that our clients and prospects were looking NOW for a more streamlined solution to recruiting, engaging and measuring their advocates as a part of their overall social efforts. We wanted to build a partnership with one of the key players. If we were lucky, it would be more than a marketing partnership. We would want to explore actually embedding parts of our technology into the core client experience. But who would we approach first? SXSW was coming up and this would be an excellent time for us to make the initial overtures. Our discussion ranged across the usual suspects, but time and time again Ekaterina and I came back to Sprinklr. At the end of the day, if we thought we were the best, we wanted to partner with the best.
When we had the chance to present our full vision for integrating advocacy into the core social management experience, we knew that the one person who would share our passion was Sprinklr’s CEO and founder, Ragy Thomas. As we weren’t wrong, the connection was made within minutes. Rather than having to “sell” Ragy on our vision, he was completing our sentences. In fact, he didn’t think we were thinking big enough.
For Ragy, social media isn’t about changing the way we market. It’s about changing the way we do business. He told us that if advocacy was so important for sales and marketing, how could it not be important to other functions like HR? Why shouldn’t recruiters have their own advocates that are helping position the brand among key talent pools? We quickly realized that we had found the partner we were looking for.
In the ensuing months, we were announced as an official partner, began integrating Sprinklr listening into our core product, and built plans for a full scale integration. Today is simply the next step in this relationship that is founded on a shared vision.
We are excited about today’s announcement. But we are even more excited about what we are going to be able to accomplish as key part of the Sprinklr family. We can’t wait to start bringing you the new capabilities that will ignite brand love, help you build passionate tribes, and drive true business impact.
Read the Wall Street Journal’s coverage here.
Full Press Release (also available here):
SPRINKLR BUYS TOP INFLUENCER ADVOCACY COMPANY, BRANDERATI
Most powerful technology in the market makes third acquisition in six months, becomes world’s largest, independent enterprise social media solution
NEW YORK, NY (September 3, 2014) – Sprinklr, the leading independent end-to-end social relationship infrastructure, today announces the acquisition of BRANDERATI, the industry’s foremost platform for advocacy and influencer marketing. The addition of BRANDERATI fuels Sprinklr’s aggressive growth and creates the only fully integrated, enterprise-grade paid, owned and earned media (POEM) solution, an essential ingredient for marketers looking to optimize spend and maximize ROI.
“Integrating customer advocacy into the core social technology will be essential for every brand that is focused on growing reach in an increasingly fragmented marketplace. And that’s every brand,” said Kellie Parker, Senior Community Manager at SEGA. “With over 65 accounts around the globe and properties like Sonic the Hedgehog, customer advocacy is critical for us.”
The average American consumer mentions brands 60 times per week in both on – and offline conversations1. BRANDERATI helps brands tap into this powerful word-of-mouth by giving them a way to exclusively reach their most influential and engaged audience members. By identifying these passionate fan groups from brands’ existing social communities and providing scalable activation programs, BRANDERATI goes beyond traditional social listening and influencer marketing platforms to strengthen the quality of customer engagement and drive true return on investment.
“While many brands are experiencing less than 10 percent reach across their social platforms, with direct access to their advocate influencers, our clients have experienced as high as 68.5 percent social sharing engagement,” added Mark Curtis, founder and CEO of BRANDERATI. “By integrating BRANDERATI’s technology into the Sprinklr social relationship platform, we’re making advocacy a core part of the social stack and giving brands the power to organically recruit brand ambassadors and create scalable influencer programs.”
Called “the most powerful technology on the market” last year by Forrester Research2, Sprinklr has strategically expanded their platform over the last six months to meet the increasing enterprise demand for comprehensive social relationship management. In February 2014, Sprinklr acquired Dachis Group, incorporating best-in-class brand analytics, content optimization and employee advocacy into their platform. After receiving a $40 million Series D investment from ICONIQ Capital, Intel Capital and Battery Ventures in April, Sprinklr purchased TBG Digital, a pioneer of social advertising for big brands on Facebook and Twitter. The acquisition brought over $100 million of paid media spend into Sprinklr as well as top-tier brands that include Vodafone, Heineken and Zynga.
“With 92% of consumers now trusting recommendations from friends and family more than any form of advertising, advocacy now must take a more central role — not only in marketing but in the overall business strategy,” said Ragy Thomas, CEO and Founder of Sprinklr. “BRANDERATI has unlocked the key to sustained brand advocacy at scale and having their technology and know-how natively integrated into Sprinklr is critical for our existing and future clients.”
With BRANDERATI, Sprinklr now employs 550 employees in five countries and serves 675 enterprise brands worldwide, including:
Four of the top five U.S. banks
Three of the top six insurance companies
Three of the top seven hotel chains
Four of the top six retailers
Tech titans such as Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, and Dell.
BRANDERATI CEO Mark Curtis will join Sprinklr as a general manager of the advocacy business unit in their New York City office. Brands that rely on Sprinklr to optimize their social business now benefit from a more complete suite of capabilities which furthers ad spends, enriches content and increases consumer engagement enabling them to demonstrate even greater impact from marketing campaigns.
Sprinklr provides the technology that enables large brands to manage customer experiences at every social touchpoint across teams, departments, divisions and geographies. Unlike tools and platforms, Sprinklr is the only fully integrated social relationship infrastructure, ensuring that the voice of the customer is heard throughout the enterprise. Called “the most powerful technology in the market” by a leading analyst, Sprinklr is headquartered in New York City and serves more than 650 brands worldwide including Microsoft, Intel, Virgin America, IHG and four of the top five U.S. banks.
BRANDERATI is the industry leading marketing platform for advocacy and influencer relations. The company works with agencies, publishing partners, and brands to direct, reward and amplify entire networks of influential advocates. BRANDERATI’s turnkey strategic services and its robust influencer marketing platform provide the foundation for a complete and sustainable program, from recruiting, through engagement, to measurement and optimization. The platform has formed the foundation of advocate influencer initiatives for more than 50 brands across different industries, from beauty and luxury to fashion and retail, to consumer packaged goods and technology. For more information please visit branderati.com.
2 Forrester Research Wave, Social Relationship Platforms