Channel Loyalty: 6 Key Things the Best Loyalty Programs Have in Common

by: Mark Herbert June 10, 2019

The best loyalty programs give B2B companies a meaningful competitive advantage. If you’ve read our case studies, you’ve seen how a channel loyalty program can help businesses educate their B2B customers, inspire brand preference, and differentiate themselves from their competitors to gain market share. Or maybe you’re interested in using a loyalty program to turn your dealers or contractors into a valuable source of end-user data or qualified referrals.

If you’re exploring a B2B loyalty program, it’s important to look at what works and what doesn’t. Each organization will have slightly different goals for their loyalty program and different demographics for their target audience. But a lot can be gained by looking at what the best loyalty programs have in common.

The 6 Commonalities of the Best Loyalty Programs

While a lot has been written about B2C loyalty programs, B2B loyalty programs don’t get nearly as much press. In the past, we’ve written about the difference between the B2B and B2C loyalty programs. But for the sake of this article, we’ll be focusing strictly on B2B loyalty, which requires more targeted communication, a higher degree of personalization, more robust claims verification, and more compelling rewards for top performers.

So without further ado, here are the 6 things the best loyalty programs have in common. I’ll be writing about each point in more detail below, so if you see something that interests you, make sure to keep reading!

  1. Clearly defined goals and KPIs, both internally and for your channel partners.
  2. Avenues of communication to increase personalization and program awareness.
  3. Great rewards that feel meaningful to your channel partners and present a compelling value proposition.
  4. Easy-to-use program design and integration—for participants and for admin alike.
  5. External support to ensure the program is achieving its goals and that your B2B customers are having a phenomenal loyalty program experience.
  6. The best loyalty programs result in a meaningful ROI.

1. Clearly defined goals and KPIs, both internally and for your channel partners.

While ostensibly the goal of every B2B loyalty program is to inspire B2B loyalty, that’s not really the full picture. After all, how do you measure something as subjective as loyalty? The best loyalty programs get really specific as far as what they mean by loyalty. These programs hone in on one or two specific behaviors they want to inspire in their channel partners. And they structure their channel partner loyalty program around KPIs—key performance indicators—that can used to measure the success of those outcomes.

Here are a couple examples of potential goals and KPIs:

  • Goal: Increase market share.
    KPI: Order size and/or order frequency.
  • Goal: Improve product knowledge.
    KPI: Email open and click rates and/or performance or interactive quizzes.
  • Goal: Inspire B2B customers to become valuable sources of marketing data.
    KPI: Percentage of warranty registration submissions or sales invoice uploads that include end user contact data.

Additionally, successful loyalty programs communicate clear goals for their channel partners as well and structure reward points to reinforce desired behaviors and let channel partners know they are making progress towards achieving their performance metrics.

2. Avenues of communication to increase personalization and program awareness.

The best loyalty programs effectively market their loyalty program to B2B customers and channel partners (or enlist the help of a trusted incentive provider to market the program for them). Successful loyalty programs make sure there are clear lines of communication with program participants. Personalized program emails, push notifications, mobile optimization, and responsive online incentive platforms improve communication and make channel partners feel more connected with your loyalty program. Great rewards build emotional investment and make them feel more connected with your brand.

3. Great rewards that feel meaningful to your channel partners and present a compelling value proposition.

However, all the communication and program marketing in the world will fall flat if your channel loyalty program doesn’t present a compelling value proposition for your channel partners. Let’s face it: between B2C and B2B, loyalty programs are everywhere. Between 2012 and 2014 the number of loyalty program memberships in the U.S. increased by 26.7%. In 2017, the average U.S. household was a part of 29 loyalty programs! What that means for you, is that if your B2B loyalty program doesn’t offer a diverse selection of compelling rewards, your program will get lost in the shuffle. Your channel partners and B2B customers will focus their time and attention on only the best loyalty programs available to them. This is why we’ve invested time in forming relationships with unique vendors to build an online catalog with millions of exciting rewards.

Additionally, B2B customers are generally higher investment than B2C customers. In B2B sales, where the decision-making process is longer and contracts generally last for months or years, customers expect more. Top performers—your most valuable accounts and channel partners—expect rewards that are proportional to the value they generate for your business. This is why we provide options for custom rewards redemptions and unforgettable incentive travel experiences for your top-shelf performers.

4. Easy-to-use program design and integration—for participants and for admin.

It’s 2019, and customers and B2B marketers alike have higher expectations for the convenience, ease-of-use, and appeal of the online applications they use. At Incentive Solutions we’ve spent years developing incentive technology that checks all the boxes:

  • Responsive, branded portals for participants to track their points and shop for rewards.
  • 24/7 access to robust reports and dashboards, where admins can track the success of their program and adjust the parameters of their loyalty program.
  • 12+ add-on modules for CRM integration, single sign-on, mobile optimization, and verification tools, and more.

5. External support to ensure the program is achieving its goals and that your B2B customers are having a phenomenal loyalty program experience.

The best loyalty programs don’t happen by accident. It can be helpful to partner with a company who specializes in B2B loyalty programs to design and manage a loyalty program that tracks KPIs and achieves its goals. Additionally, you want to make sure that reward fulfillment is consistent, fast, and there is customer support for any of your channel partners or B2B customers who need personalized attention. Failure to follow through on reward redemption can be damaging to your brand and undermine the success of your loyalty program.

6. The best loyalty programs result in a meaningful ROI.

Finally, how do you know if your channel loyalty program was a worthwhile investment? ROI is the gold standard for a loyalty program. At Incentive Solutions, we believe that every channel loyalty program should be planned, designed, and managed to create a measurable ROI.

If you’re interested in projecting the potential ROI of a B2B loyalty program for your business, we encourage you to check out our ROI Calculator or to give us a call at (866) 567-7432.

 

Yours,

Mark Herbert

President & CEO
Incentive Solutions

About Mark Herbert

Mark Herbert is President and CEO of Incentive Solutions. He has more than 30 years of experience overseeing business operations within the incentives industry, helping companies increase channel sales, build customer loyalty, motivate employees, and grow their business.