5 easy steps to check the health of your B2B Incentive Reward Program

5 key areas to address in your B2B incentive reward program to make it a guaranteed winner! 

In today’s competitive market, all businesses should consider a B2B incentive reward program or at least a version of it. However, marketers or sales leaders often forget the benefits of a targeted loyalty program. We have a completely different attitude when it comes to executing a program. We don’t make this claim in vain. It comes from 25 years of experience creating and managing B2B incentive rewards across Australia and New Zealand and observing several organisations churn out the same old program without applying learnings from past initiatives they managed.

Our team has put together 5 key areas your program must focus on to get the best result. The recommendations are not ranked as we realise every business and program has different needs and scope. However, we recommend considering all the recommendations when creating a new program or planning improvements in future iterations.

1. Review the purpose of your B2B incentive reward program

A rewards program is often set up to solve a business problem or a pain point. As time passes, we can get caught up in the daily operation of a program or improving features. There can be a tendency to forget why we started the program. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the role of your B2B incentive reward program?
  • What are the key drivers for the program?
  • Have you set (or are going to set) criteria that all stakeholders understand?
  • Have you been tracking those criteria?

2. Program ROI

Understanding your own program return on investment is critical. A well-designed program aligns to solving a pain point (that is worth solving) but also has a clear objective and financial measurement you can track. ROI can be complicated, and having a C-level (CMO, CEO, CFO) defendable model takes considerable work and expertise. 

Setting program objectives linked to outcomes sets a strong path for ROI. A B2B incentive reward program can’t be “all things to all people”, but a firm outcome and performance review can light the way towards demonstrating ROI. And when it comes to these programs, Return on Investment can be shown in various ways:

  • Revenue vs reward budget
  • Margin vs reward budget
  • Volume vs last year, increase in dollars returned

A program must be related to sales or a financial value to achieve a defendable position on ROI: it’s the only way to determine the true value.

3. Variable Rewards

Some B2B incentive reward programs feel they need to offer a flat reward structure and reward value across all purchases and product ranges. Typically, the three main drivers behind this decision are:

  1. Data
  2. Points vs reward yield
  3. Participant communications

It also comes down to understanding both your market and your participant. How much does a participant have to spend to redeem a reward that holds value to them? The key is to offer a reward that is proportionately meaningful to them. For some customers, this may be a high value; for others lower. You need to understand your customers and market conditions and review where your offers sit. 

Modern platforms can handle transactional data, which adds business logic layers to allow almost endless variations of points, coupled with real-time data updates and points awards. You need to think, “what value should I invest in driving a behaviour change?” This can, in many cases, differ across different product families. Commoditised, low margin, high dollar products are attributed a lower percentage earn rate, while higher margin and added value products (typically harder to sell) are awarded a higher percentage. A catalogue of rewards that incentivises desired behaviour is ideal, along with data lead personalised marketing. 

4. Communication

We have not moved well beyond mass blast messaging and impersonal emails. Today’s market is all about personalisation and delivering engaging triggers for your customers. 

There are noticeable benefits in communicating with your program participants in highly relevant ways. It dials in your conversation and delivers far more engagement. But it also means moving your communications strategy from the relative comfort and low cost of “one to many” to a hyper-personalised context. To move towards “one-to-one” messaging, consider how you can categorise participants by:

  • Personas
  • Engagement metrics, like point usage or point balance
  • Business metrics, such as location and business size

If you don’t have the budget to use an expert, you can find many personalisation guides online. Creating a persona deck can be worth the investment if you can set up personas with the information at hand. This can be a fast forward for your program and personalised communications journeys. Have a look at our recent article where we deep dive into Marketing Essentials for a B2B Loyalty Program

5. Attack Market Share

In this unpredictable environment, the B2B incentive reward program will stop, while others will continue. If you have a competitor who is pulling their program (even temporarily), use this time to relaunch and re-engage your program. Use your B2B incentive reward program to keep the conversation away from price and focus on the whole value proposition. If you have a “red ocean” where all your competitors have a reward offer, it’s time to take a new direction.

Conduct a SWOT analysis on other programs and find your competitive advantage. In the short-term, you might consider tactics like:

  • Giving bonus points for sprint periods
  • Introducing hot deals
  • Employing heavily discounted redemption items or auction sites

As with any list, it’s important to know when to stop! Our guide is based on internal program reviews and factors that we often discuss with stakeholders of the programs we manage. If you aren’t challenging the program design, the outcomes, and yourself, then you could easily miss the opportunities to fix blind spots and make a good program great.

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