Reviews and How to Measure the ROI of Customer Marketing & Advocacy – With Leslie Barrett

The 10 Best Software Review Sites was written by @Joe  from B2B Saas Reviews.

Leslie Barrett is the Director, Customer Marketing & Advocacy of Sendoso. She has been recognized as a TOP 100 CMA Influencer & Strategist in 2022 and 2023. Perhaps no one in customer marketing and advocacy shares their knowledge more than Leslie. She writes The CMA Soulmate Newsletter, a weekly newsletter chock full of helpful how-to information for customer marketing.

She’s also one of the best in reviews. In 2022, she led Sendoso to the #5 spot on G2’s annual Best Software Products in 2022 list. To put that achievement into perspective, there are over 100,000 listings on G2. 🤯

Recently, she launched a much-needed online course, Measuring the ROI of Customer Marketing & Advocacy.

She’s a vocal advocate for customer advocacy program metrics, as you can see in this TikTok video by her.

Here’s my interview with Leslie.

How to measure the ROI of reviews? Key takeaways

To measure the ROI of reviews, here are the from Leslie:

  • Measuring is the key to shifting the perception of customer marketing and advocacy from a “nice-to-have” to a “need-to-have.”
    • Regrettably, customer marketing and advocacy is still seen by many as a “nice-to-have”. Therefore, customer marketers need to show the business impact of their work to change that perception.
  • You can measure the ROI of customer marketing & advocacy
    • You can calculate the impact of your CMA programs, including the ROI of reviews, case studies, events, references, etc. Leslie outlines how in her course. The results will aid in securing additional headcount and receiving yearly promotions.
  • Switch your mindset from that of a Marketer to that of a Business person who executes Marketing
    • Customer marketing can increase the stickiness and adoption of your platform. The voice of the customer content you create can be used across the business to educate, enable, and empower your customers. This mindset helps complement the advocacy program output, such as case studies, references, referrals, and reviews.
  • The number of reviews can matter – a lot
    • The number of reviews is important for rank and leadership placement (on G2) because it’s one of the criteria used in G2’s scoring algorithm. If your number of reviews is growing, then your advocacy program is growing. You can also look at new badges, awards, and placement on the grid as benefits of getting more reviews.
  • The recency of reviews matters, so consider a review refresh campaign
    • Leslie’s “Fresh Cookies to Freshen up your Review” email was sent to 169 people and got 44 reviews refreshed, contributing to Sendoso’s #5 spot on G2’s annual Best Software Products in 2022 list.
  • Four keys to review generation
    • Make sure NPS is running like a well-oiled machine so you can automate the review ask if they respond with an 8, 9 or 10. Leslie got 90 net new G2 reviews this way for Sendoso, which influenced $450k in revenue.
    • Automate review requests in your nurture emails to your advocates.
    • Ask for a review right after onboarding. People are pumped and are typically ready to talk about how the implementation went.
    • Keep track of the increase of reviews, badges, and awards and how much revenue these reviews touch.

Q&A with Leslie Barrett

Here’s the full interview with Leslie.

Hey Leslie 👋 It looks like you got your professional start in radio as an on-air personality.

How did you transition into customer marketing and advocacy (CMA) for B2B SaaS companies? And how has your on-air experience influenced how you approach CMA?

I was in college while working as a DJ. It was always the plan to jump into software sales after I graduated. I landed a job as an SDR at Marketo. Now THAT IS A HARD JOB. That really developed my work ethic. At the same time, I was determined to get the hell out of that job and find the right fit for me. 🤣The fire was lit. I was hungry. Nothing could stop me. I did some really weird/genius stuff.

It’s 2012, I’m an SDR intern at Marketo. I don’t know anyone at the company and I am determined to find the right fit.

I found out about a Halloween costume contest. I go to the mall, buy a purple morph suit, and have them iron on a Marketo logo. Perfect, I’ll be the Marketo mannequin!

I made sure to go to every floor that day and stand at the entrances, elevators, and kitchens, so everyone saw me. (I didn’t get much cold calling done that day. It was a risk I was willing to take because I could feel I was on to something.)

I ended up winning and got my name and picture in the announcement that went out to the whole company.

Later that week, I used the email to book meetings with all the executives. I told them they had to meet the face behind the Marketo mannequin!

They were intrigued and respected the hustle.

It ended up working. I got the attention of a manager in Professional Services and stayed there for 3 more years.

Adobe Marketo changed my life. Perhaps this one day of putting myself out there changed my life. Don’t ignore the crazy ideas. Lean in!

With 10+ years of experience in customer marketing, you’re sharing a ton of knowledge through your CMA Soulmate newsletter and your course, Measuring the ROI of Customer Marketing & Advocacy.

Can you tell us a little bit about both, and how you came to start them?

It all started when I found out about a CMA slack channel back in 2021. I was in their everyday posting things, answering questions, and attempting to meet folks. I figured out that I had things to say! In February 2022, I won the TOP25 CMA Influencer so I leaned in. “Quick”, I said, “I need a name?” I know these people’s struggles, how to win, and how to measure, in this amazing job.

So CMA Soulmate was born. I love to write so a newsletter seemed like a natural first step.

The purpose of the newsletter is to help them launch their CMA programs faster with how-to guides, lessons learned, & program docs. Plus, I give a ton of lessons learned to make sure they don’t repeat my mistakes.

860 subscribers and 35 episodes later, I could not be happier with the love and opportunities I have received.

I never intended to put a paid course out there but when I would share it with other Senior level CMA folks, they would freak out with excitement. So then came →  Measuring the ROI of Customer Marketing & Advocacy. The 45-minute course offers a clear path to calculating the revenue impact and the ROI of your CMA programs such as reviews, case studies, events, references, etc.

The course comes with my actual spreadsheet of metrics to start tracking and a step-by-step process for implementing a more reasonable revenue attribution model. The results will aid in securing additional headcount and receiving yearly promotions.

In the intro of your course, you say one of your objectives with the course is to grow the Customer Marketing and Advocacy (CMA) function. In your ideal future state, gone are the days of customer marketing getting cut during layoffs, Customer Marketing as a one-person department, and Customer Marketers needing help to prove their revenue impact. In your opinion, why is the measurement the key to this change for Customer Marketing and Advocacy?

Measurement is super important for the success of customer marketing and advocacy. It gives us the juicy data we need to show the impact our work is having on the bottom line. Without this data, it’s tough to prove the value of what we’re doing and get the resources we need to keep it going and grow. Plus, by measuring things, we can see what’s working and what’s not, so we can tweak our approach and make it even more impactful.

Regrettably, despite the significant value we bring, CMA still remains in the category of being viewed as a “nice-to-have”. The current level of awareness among executives about the positive impact we deliver has reached an all-time low due to their concentration on pursuing new business opportunities.

When customer marketing is a one-person department, it is especially important to have a data-driven approach, as this can help demonstrate the value of the role to others within the organization.

You advocate for Customer Marketers to switch their mindset from that of a Marketer to that of a Business person who executes Marketing.

Can you share an example or two of “thinking like a marketer” pitfalls?

As Customer Marketers, one of our many initiatives is to increase the stickiness and adoption of our platform. At Sendoso, we have different use cases as well as several integrations. There is never a shortage of topics to host a User Group. Now these may not be a massive audience but they are impactful.

**Lessons Learned** A mistake I made thinking like a marketer is that I was just going through the motions, only sending the recording to folks who joined or missed the event. I was missing so many opportunities to plug into other departments like a true savvy business person.

Going forward I am:

  • Pass the recordings over to my education team to put in the University
  • Use it in my advocacy nurture streams
  • Pop it into Highspot so all of our customer-facing teams can send it to customers and it’s trackable.

Since implementing this, I can see the customers who consume it from either of those channels and see if any upsells, new integrations, or professional services packages come from it. In addition, I now have new program output metrics to report on at the end of the year.

In your Metrics sheet, which can do wonders for Customer Marketers struggling to quantify the business impact of customer marketing, you have 23 metrics across four categories.

For someone just starting out with customer marketing measurement, how would you advise them to approach prioritizing metrics to measure?

The first 30 days into a new job are about training to familiarize yourself with the platform, vision, services, procedures and best practices.

But if you are like me, you are JUMPING IN full steam ahead. There are going to be a ton of nasty projects and people telling you what is a priority but I would tie your programs to company OKRs and eliminate random acts of Customer Marketing.

This is also important when you are a year+ into it and overwhelmed. Some days, AKA most days, I can only get things done that are on fire. It’s always nice to stop and refocus. Going back to my company’s OKRs really helps me prioritize and feel comfortable in saying “not right now” to other departments.

You shared how KPIs can measure one of three things: the value of something ($), The number of something (#), or the percentage of something (%). You also shared reviews generated as an example of a customer marketing KPI that measures the number of something.

In your experience, why does the number of reviews matter for a business?

The number of reviews is important for leadership placement. The overall weight that G2 is measuring is the number of reviews. Good or bad. Short or long, though the short ones are weighted less. I used to measure how many reviews I generated and I still do but just so I can calculate YOY growth.  If the number of my reviews is growing then my advocacy program is growing. Nowadays I look at new badges, awards, and placement on the grid.

Your weekly newsletter, The CMA Soulmate Newsletter, is chock full of super helpful how-to advice for customer marketing. Episode 7 was on G2 Reviews. You had G2’s Director of Customer Marketing, Kaitlin Hess as a guest. Kaitlin mentioned the importance of not only high G2 ratings and volume of reviews, but also the recency of reviews. You shared a great example of a review refresh campaign. It seems like one that can be easily applied by many looking to refresh their reviews. I suspect few have actually run a review refresh campaign.

Any additional context or considerations you’d share with someone considering a review refresh campaign?

Well I think the struggle is all of the anonymous reviews. How do you know who to ask if you can’t see their name?

What you can do is get more reviews refreshed by known reviewers. And the Sendoso Salesforce integration helps easily track the folks who did the original review in order to know who to contact for the refresh review. If you don’t have Sendoso, it’s worth doing it manually and asking them to let you know once they complete the review.

Note: here is the gist of the campaign, shared in episode 7 of the CMA Soulmate newsletter:

I run a Refresh campaign once a year that asks customers to update their review.

The subject line kills it: Fresh Cookies to Freshen up your Review 

In August of 2021, we sent the email to 169 people. We got 44 reviews that month and 26 claimed the cookies! As you can see we offered an egift at the bottom of the email and only 2 people opted in for that. Sooo… the takeaway, people like cookies!

Source: The CMA Soulmate Newsletter, Episode 7: G2 Reviews

You mentioned that Sendoso was named #5 Best Software Products in 2022, and that “You bet your ass I’m going for that #1 spot in 2023!” and that a former CMO of yours once told your “You need to have a level of obsession for G2″. You scoffed at him at the time, but you said you now get it and would advise others to see it that way.

In short, how did you come around to be G2 obsessed?

Having won the Top 5 Best Software in 2022 then dropping down to not being on the list in 2023 was heartbreaking and I believe, super telling. Our NPS was down last year so I couldn’t have pumped out the amount of reviews to see any YOY Growth. I got about the amount I got last year. You should be obsessed with reviews because they generated $681,144 in new business revenue at Sendoso in 2022.

Do you have a favorite review campaign?

Perhaps your NPS campaign that got 90 reviews? Or your review refresh campaign that got 44 reviews refreshed?

The refresh review is my favorite because no one or at least not many are offering physical gifts for reviews. It’s different and it stands out.

Note fo readers: for reference, here is the NPS campaign that got 90 reviews and the review refresh campaign that got 44 reviews refreshed. Pictured below is the email from the NPS campaign.

Source: Sendoso, How to Influence $450K in Closed Won Revenue and Drive 90 New G2 Reviews (Sendoso Using Sendoso)

For 2023 planning, how do you recommend Customer Marketers approach review generation?

Make sure NPS is running like a well-oiled machine so you can automate the review ask if they respond with an 8,9 or 10.

An advocacy program is another way to automate the review ask in nurture emails.

If you have Gong, set up Trackers so Gong can listen for advocates by keywords.

My favorite time to ask is right after onboarding. People are pumped and are typically ready to talk about how the implementation went.

And, of course, keeping track of the increase of reviews, badges, awards, and how much revenue these reviews are touching. I walk you through everything in my course Measuring the ROI of Customer Marketing & Advocacy. It is a difficult time for our community right now so I’m offering 40% off.

In Conclusion

Follow Leslie on LinkedIn to get more of her takes on customer marketing and advocacy.

You can also check out her other interviews:

Sign up for Leslie’s free weekly newsletter, The CMA Soulmate.

To learn more about Sendoso, visit

And don’t forget to check out Leslie’s course to learn how to measure the ROI of reviews! Measuring the ROI of Customer Marketing & Advocacy.