Extole turns regular customers into brand ambassadors, raises $10M

Nearly every company has a social presence these days, but personal recommendations are often a more powerful way to boost sales. If you’ve never heard about a company before, but your friend has, you’ll likely trust her opinion over that of a complete stranger. But keeping track of how much customer referrals really help your business can be hard, so Extole has created a way to track word-of-mouth marketing.

The service seeks to find and tend to customer advocates, people who rally around and talk up their favorite brands and get rewards for doing so. Extole not only provides tools for clients to market themselves, it also advises its clients on how to use its services, achieve certain goals, and gain brand ambassadors.

“Our platform helps our customers find their advocates and have those advocates create and share social content,” said Extole chief executive Brad Klaus in an interview with VentureBeat, “We have two types of content we aim to generate: testimonials and social actions.”

Testimonials are what you’d expect; written recommendations and reviews of the business or product. And social actions include a Facebook “Like”, a tweet, or an email opt-in. Businesses can use this customer-generated content however they like and can reward customers for producing content with points, gift cards, or charitable donations.

One prime example of how Extole works comes from its client Roku, the small set-top device that streams movies and TV. Roku realized about a quarter of its sales resulted from customer referrals and it enlisted the help of Extole to create a “social referral program” to boost that number. Customers were asked to talk up the device to their friends and family and for every referral that resulted in a Roku purchase, the original customer would receive a free month of Netflix.

The company just announced that it’s closed a third round of funding led by Shasta Ventures, which will be used to grow the company and create more tools to spur customer referrals.

Extole was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. The company employs a team of 70, and its clients include Redbox, AAA, and Kate Spade. Extole has raised $22 million from Norwest Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Trident Capital, and Shasta Ventures.

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