Loyalty Programs Benefit B2B Businesses, Too
As a consumer, you know that customer loyalty programs are big business. That’s why your mailbox is likely besieged by points programs for credit cards and travel, and you probably have at least a couple of the most popular rewards apps on your smartphone. But, as an integrated B2B marketer, have you thought that a loyalty program could earn your business big rewards, too?
A thoughtful B2B program can help boost loyalty, customer retention, and those always-important word-of-mouth referrals. The premise is the same: offer enticements to get customers to buy more or interact with your business in specific ways. However, there are a few key differences that can help you fine-tune your approach.
Know Who You’re Targeting and Craft Your Offer Accordingly
B2C rewards programs go for broad appeal: if you’re Starbucks, you know that all of your customers are going to respond to an offer for free coffee. B2B programs must take into account different users with different needs.
In some cases, you may want to target a purchasing or operations manager, whose concerns will probably be related to the bottom line. If this is your audience, your reward doesn’t have to be anything more complicated than cash or discounts.
But you may also be addressing the end-users, who will be more likely to respond to free perks, exclusive access to information and support, or swag.
Think Beyond Purchases
If you’re only equating a customer’s value with how much money they spend with you, you could be missing out on some potent marketing opportunities. Obviously, sales are important, but you should also look for ways to incentivize behaviors that create real value for your business, such as:
· Submitting reviews for your products
· Answering question in support forums
· Sharing/engagement on social media
Or something else that’s important to your company. For example, the HP Planet Partners Reward Program offers points-based rewards for businesses that help recycle HP print cartridges. The program not only rewards customers for continuing to buy HP products, but it makes them allies in a mission that has broad appeal and lets HP build a deeper connection by marketing its principles.
Getting the Most Out of a Referral Program
A high-quality referral is worth its weight in gold: referrals from satisfied customers drive as much as 84% of B2B purchases. Companies like Uber and Lyft have built massively successful programs just based on B2B referrals, alone.
Unlike other types of referral programs, where you’re trying to coax your lowest-rung customers up the ladder, you may get more substantial benefits (i.e., more or better referrals) from clients who are already actively engaged with your business. Conversely, it’s best to avoid advertising your program to new customers, since this can feel transactional.
Make the program easy for your current customers: after all, they’re doing you a valuable favor. Provide something of worth both to your existing customer and the prospective customer: for example, an attractive discount, a few free months of your service, or a similar reward shows legitimate appreciation for your current client, and it’s a solid way to entice the prospect into the fold.
Finally, if your product requires a significant investment or an ongoing commitment, consider rewarding the referring customer for providing the lead, and then giving them a larger reward once you’ve closed the deal with the new customer.
Don’t Forget About Your Other Tactics
Done right, a B2B loyalty program is an effective way to drive sales and increase retention. You should still strive to build meaningful connections with your customers using your regular channels – content, social, and direct, to name just the basics. In fact, when you launch your loyalty program, you can use these tactics to announce its debut and generate real excitement.
We do it all: from attractive, branded swag and premiums to marketing messaging and communications and even advice on database upkeep and customer segmenting. Because a loyalty program is a nice extra, but nothing replaces quality products and personalized service. Contact us to learn how we can help.