What’s Is Today’s Online Rewards Program Standard?

by | Mar 2, 2016 | Channel Sales, Employee Motivation, Online Reward Programs, Sales Incentives

Online rewards programs can have a major impact on employee motivation, sales team performances and business partner relationships. Research has proven that skillfully operated reward programs contribute to organizations’ overall effectiveness. For a reward program to accomplish this, however, it must capture the interest of the employees, customers or sales channel partners it’s meant to reward. In other words, the program should be noteworthy. Its value should be evident right away. That means it should, at the very least, measure up to today’s online rewards program standard.

online rewards program standard

But what is the Gold Standard for online rewards programs? What is today’s typical company able to offer to participants through these programs? Through our experience and research at Incentive Solutions, we’ve uncovered a few Golden Rules:

  1. Point-Based Online Rewards Currency

Point-based reward programs are easier, more fun and more cost-effective, most program owners and administrators are finding. A 2012 IRF survey found that 82% of all non-cash/merchandise rewards programs were point-based. That’s likely because—although it may sound counter-intuitive—program participants have a lot more fun when they see themselves as being part of a “social market” rather than a monetary one. Behavioral economists Dan Ariely and James Heyman used the term “social market” to describe non-cash rewards in a study they conducted. They noted that people were more engaged and worked harder when they weren’t preoccupied with the cash value of their rewards. Points can still be used as currency when redeemed for merchandise and travel rewards in an online rewards catalog, but they don’t carry with them the baggage and expectations of cash. Not to mention, points can be branded with fun imagery and names to make people excited whenever they receive points currency with your company’s name or logo on it.

  1. Diverse Online Catalogs with Desirable Rewards

You already know you have to offer your participants rewards they actually want for your reward program to work. The question is: what do participants want, and which rewards are most motivating?
The IRF found that most non-cash/merchandise reward programs offered these rewards:

  • Electronics (79%)
  • Golf items (68%)
  • Luggage (66%)
  • Housewares (62%)


Don’t underestimate the appeal of low-hanging fruit, either. Offering easy-to-earn items such as movie ticket, Redbox and digital download rewards can be greatly beneficial and convenient to your participants, motivating consistent activity in your program.

Particularly if you’re administrating a large and diverse population of program participants, a wide selection of rewards is wise. Today’s consumers are accustomed to having plenty to choose from wherever they go, so a rewards catalog with scant, undesirable options isn’t going to captivate them and keep them active in your program. Partner with a company that can offer you an extensive online rewards catalog filled with everything your participants’ hearts desire.

  1. Reward Program Mobile Apps and Capabilities

Mobile is the way of the future—it’s unavoidable and undeniable. Not only does mobile communication dominate today’s social lives, most businesses are now taking advantage of its convenience and speed. The IRF estimates that 68-80% of all business applications are available through mobile devices. They stress that, going into the future,program communications will not just need to be available on mobile devices, but will need to be configured across multiple platforms… Expectations are that mobile apps designed by businesses for their internal use and competitive advantage will explode over the next two years – a market expected to reach $53B by 2017.”

That means that, if you have no reward program mobile app and your reward website isn’t mobile-accessible, you can consider most of your participants cut off from your program. Communicating benefits, alerts and updates to your participants is absolutely necessary for a successful reward program, and mobile is quickly becoming the preferred method of communication for much of the population.

  1. Reward Program Gamification

Who isn’t familiar with the excitement of revealing a Scratch-and-Win card’s secrets using the edge of a coin, or trying to collect Park Place and Boardwalk during McDonald’s yearly Monopoly game madness? Companies have been using gamification to influence employee and customer behavior for a long time, but the popularity of social media and mobile gaming has sparked a resurgence of gamification as an incentive strategy.
Gamification guru Yu-Kai Chou published a master list of gamification case studies. This list contains over 90 organizations who saw various accelerated results from implementing gamification techniques. Keas increased engagement in their employment incentives program by 10,000%; Cisco was able to reduce call center times by 15% and increase sales by 10% with sales incentives; Extraco Bank increased customer acquisition by 700%; Hewlett Packard saw 56.4% revenue growth—and the list goes on and on. As gamification elements like Spin-to-Win or sales leaderboards prove to be lucrative approaches, they’ve become must-haves for online rewards programs.

To wrap up, here are the online rewards program standards you can expect to meet or exceed in order to captivate your participant audience:

  • gamification elements that make your program more fun
  • a point-based reward currency
  • an online rewards catalog with delectable options
  • mobile accessibility

The best rewards program providers can offer you all these things, so don’t settle for an outdated, ineffective reward system.


Curiosity not satisfied? Get in touch with us for more information on how Incentive Solutions can help you meet and beat online rewards program standards by calling us at 866-567-7432 or using our contact form.

Let’s start talking!
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<strong>About </strong>Luke Kreitner

About Luke Kreitner

Luke Kreitner is the VP of Sales at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B businesses accelerate growth, increase sales, motivate channel partners and retain B2B customers.

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