B2B (business-to-business) marketing is very different from B2C marketing. Where B2C markets directly to the consumer,B2B markets directly to other businesses such as small, medium, or large (enterprise) companies, which in turn sell to their customers such as distributors, VARs (value-added reseller), or direct mail businesses.

Since the B2B business model is so complex and has lengthy sales cycles, these businesses understand the importance of loyalty programs in order to retain current customers. Businesses know that online customers have a lot of options to take their business elsewhere, making B2B marketing all the more necessary in this highly competitive industry.

What is a Loyalty Program?

A loyalty program rewards customers’ buying behaviors, which encourages them to keep coming back to the same brand for more. Loyalty programs are not all punch cards enticing the loyalty of a customer. While each program may differ in concept and implementation, the theory is the same. With B2B, the competition is fierce and keeping a customer is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. According to Forrester, it costs 5x more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.

B2B uses a personalized strategy for each account and different value propositions depending on the client’s needs. The loyalty program cannot be a “one size fits all”, they must be customized to each account’s needs and customer base.

Top 5 B2B Customer Loyalty Program Strategies

  1. Tiered Incentives

Sales reps love the tiered approach as each level brings in rewards of different values, making them competitive with their counterparts to see who can sell the most and win the big prize. It is usually set-up by their sales performance over a period of time. Each tier is a different sales quota and the sales quotas are set based on the company’s yearly revenue performance. Or, if you are like many B2B organizations, each of your customers fit into a “Partner Performance Level”, such as Platinum, Gold, and Silver, all depending on a variety of factors.

A basic program to start with is a membership reward to encourage customers to sign up for the loyalty program.

  1. Customer Events

B2B partners will tend to build long-term relationships with their vendors. Customer events, such as golf tournaments, mini trade shows, retreats, or customer appreciation at a sporting event gives your sales rep a chance to speak candidly and understand any issues your account may have with your product. Once a rapport has been established, both parties strive to keep this partnership thriving, and this creates customer loyalty.

  1. Third Party Partnerships

A strategic partnership with a company that compliments your product or service can help position your brand as a one-stop shop for all of your customers’ needs. Partnering with a reseller or distributor helps build brand awareness, lead generation, and a strategic network of revenue opportunity. Third party partnerships offer extra value to your product, brand, and the company.

  1. B2B eCommerce Website/App

Personalizing the buying experience using a rewards website or mobile app helps manage discounts, monetary rewards, and trip incentives. Customizable content is available for each of your partners such as product catalogs and pricing, and like most online commerce experiences, it is a 24/7 self-service tactic.

Many B2B customers have portals where you upload the specifics of the rewards program. Customers will alert their sales reps of new and important messages on programs, features, or pricing. The alert can be a call to action to open a certain message and receive a number of points towards their rewards.

Using CRM software and integrating it will allow access to your customer data from which you can see where changes need to occur.

  1. Co-Marketing Activities

Co-marketing campaigns are a great loyalty program and tactic in retaining customers as well as acquiring new ones. By partnering with your customers, you build trust in supporting both businesses. Expenses can be split between the parties to tie up more funds for other loyalty programs such as email marketing, trade shows, content marketing program, or charity events.

In Conclusion

Loyalty programs are an effective B2B marketing tool and strategy for increasing brand awareness, retaining customers, lead generation, and improving your brand and company reputation. Loyalty programs are easy to implement and maintain, and should be an essential part of your B2B marketing strategy.

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