Pillars in building long-term loyalty through Incentives and Reward programs

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Capture mindshare and build trusted relationships, developing lifetime loyalty with Incentives and Reward programs.

Being able to create real customer lifetime value is an important drive in most Incentives and Reward Programs. As a pillar of a B2B incentive program, there are various ways that can help you to better engage your distributor channels and reward them for success — and drive your bottom line. Although B2B organisations have traditionally used their loyalty programs as discount programs and re-engagement tools, these programs have much more potential, which most organisations have yet to explore, placing the customer and the value of now and the future at the centre.

Organisations typically associate and build their loyalty programs based on the sales numbers or bottom line. So how can you blame them? It is a true metric when reviewing ROI! But when companies use the loyalty program as a discount program or to reengage customers, they miss the opportunity to nurture them in one buying cycle and then lead them toward the next cycle.

An organisation’s approach to incentives and reward programs should be customer value first. A strategically built B2B incentives and rewards program that aims to eradicate the organisation’s pain points would build long-term behavioural changes and thus encourage lifetime loyalty.

Think beyond the short-term sales cycle 

We have seen this as the most common attitude in the last 25 years of delivering world-class incentives and reward programs. It’s time to get out of the pigeonhole and think about incentives holistically. 

Strategy First. Rewards Second. It’s important in the context of loyalty because companies often tend to interact with their partners often within the buying cycle. Once one cycle ends, there’s usually a period of very little genuine interaction until the next cycle begins. In a competitive market, are you sure your competitors aren’t going that extra mile to get a better share of wallet? 

Boost ROI

ROI is often seen as one of the sole metrics that determine the success of incentives and reward programs. To be classed as successful, a program has to make a return in sales and profit. Build your B2B incentives and reward program on the foundation of a solid ROI process.  

A reward program offers transparent performance but leverages historical sales data to make the incentive ROI much, much greater for the company using the program. Again, it doesn’t matter what sort of relationship is being targeted; incentives and reward programs that use data to identify purchase behaviour insights should provide much richer results. 

Expert Tip: Experiment with targeted sales objectives and then measure the ROI on each offer. You can start with a simplified calculation of (cost of the rewards ÷ dollar margin of goods sold). Repeat the offers with acceptable ROI and discontinue or refine the offers that don’t perform. Or you can choose to implement a full ROI project to truly define a program’s success. We have used the ROI Institute methodology for over 10 years to give true incentives and reward program ROI results.

Build an integrated system

Data never sleeps. Once an incentives and reward program has been launched, it works 24/7, helping engage and grow every participating customer. One of the most effective steps would be to have a dedicated portal for your incentive program. This will allow you to manage and monitor the program. It also presents a massive opportunity to engage with your partners with personalised messages or rewards. 

Track the performance of your incentives and reward program to get a holistic view of your engaged partners. Identify your most valuable partners and better focus your engagement efforts around what they prefer and what motivates them. Drive partner success by uncovering the best rewards for improving their performance and your bottom line.

Expert Tip: Award customers reward points for activities beyond a transaction — like logging into a portal daily or attending a training session. This boosts engagement while ensuring your program is a profit centre. 

Evolve

Incentives and reward program should evolve over time if it is to have any impact on your customer base as it is supposed to. Use the learning from your ROI analyses to help guide your program’s evolution. ROI anomalies will show you opportunities or needs for program changes.

If certain customer segments are delivering higher or lower program ROI than others, you may want to look at altering the terms of engagement or perhaps exclude or add certain customer segments as a result. 

Conversely, if an offer is dramatically successful, it may suggest the offer is too rich, and the offer value could be reduced a bit in future iterations without impacting program results. Remember that incentives and reward program rules are never carved in stone. Your loyalty program needs to work for YOU.  

Get in touch with B2B Incentives, Loyalty and Rewards experts to create measurable changes and behaviours that improve your business performance.

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