When it comes to loyalty programs, there is no ‘One size fits all’. We’ve come a long way since stamps and coupons to now bespoke loyalty programs. In the B2C sector, loyalty programs have been around for decades but in the B2B arena, they are fairly new entrants. However, the trend is rapidly catching up, with more and more brands such as Lenovo and Celebrity Cruise, jumping the bandwagon.
So what are loyalty programs especially in the B2B sector?
Well, first, because loyalty programs are no marketing gimmicks, designed to attract unaware customers. They are tried and tested, strategically designed marketing strategies that guarantee high ROI, increased acquisition and retention rate, improved bond with customers and a strong base of loyal customers.
Designing a loyalty program for business is however a different ball game. You simply cannot apply the same aesthetics of a B2C loyalty program to a B2B strategy.
Before jumping the gun, it is imperative to first understand the premise behind B2B loyalty programs, the inherent difference between B2B and B2C loyalty programs and the objectives a decent loyalty plan must accomplish.
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What is a B2B Loyalty Program?
Loyalty programs are marketing strategies specifically designed to engage customers and induce loyalty among them towards the brand for the long run. The short-term advantages of a loyalty program include a shorter sales cycle, which significantly improved customer retention rate as well as influx of new customers.
A B2B loyalty program is a specially designed loyalty program for businesses. Unlike in B2C companies, the customer base here includes other brands and companies and these programs are specifically designed for long-term customer engagement and are more focused on customer satisfaction and relationship-building activities.
Difference Between B2B and B2C Loyalty Programs
To understand the difference between loyalty programs for business (B2B) and for customers (B2C), it is important to first analyze the difference between purchase behavior in both kinds of transactions. A B2C purchase is often impulsive and most of the time there is negligible research involved. Imagine, you are strolling in a mall, you see a cool T-shirt in one of the store displays. In all probability, you might go inside the store, try it on and buy it. Now, imagine purchasing a consignment of photocopy machines for your office. You are most likely to conduct a quick market research, compare costs, request quotations, consider the service period along with the warranty, right? A B2B purchase in most likelihood will involve research, analysis and often involve more than one person.
This is a crucial factor you need to consider before designing a loyalty program for businesses and/or customers. While designing loyalty programs for the B2B market you need to be specific about rewards You need to have a carefully designed program that is beneficial for the parties involved and you also need to be more proactive with your customers and maintain consistent engagement throughout the sales cycle and in B2B it is comparatively longer.
Objectives of a Loyalty Program
- Customer Retention – Retaining customers is the top priority of businesses worldwide.A loyalty program is a highly efficient way to retain your customers and keep them engaged with your brand. Retained customers ensure growth in sales and revenue and act as brand mascots and advocates.
- Customer Satisfaction – When the customer receives more value for their money and investment, it greatly influences the customer satisfaction levels. A happy customer is an asset and can help in building a positive brand image in the market.
- Improved Brand Credibility – Happy customers are more willing to share their positive experiences with their network. Encourage customers to write reviews and post about your brand and products on social media which will help in building brand credibility.
- Strengthening Brand & Customer Relationship – Perhaps one of the most important advantages of brand loyalty programs is that they are excellent brand-building activities for strengthening brand and customer relationships. Having a healthy relationship with your clients strengthens your customer base improves brand recognition and has many long-term benefits.
- Improved Brand Loyalty – The central idea behind designing and executing brand-building activities such as a loyalty program is to instill loyalty among customers towards the brand. Long-term and satisfactory association between a brand and its customers results in improved loyalty and a high probability of repeat business.
Tips to Create a Successful Loyalty Program for Businesses
- Personalization – Personalization always helps to improve the effectiveness of a loyalty program but your B2B loyalty; it is a must. You need to have a personalized approach to entice clients as well as targeted engagement activities. Your program needs to be designed after thorough customer study and analysis of data such as customer’s spending capacity, their requirements and expertise as well as due consideration of competitor’s loyalty offerings.
- Selecting the Right Reward – Unlike a B2C client, a B2B client is harder to please, impress and even engage. Insignificant rewards will fail to motivate B2B customers. The loyalty rewards you offer must add value to the client’s business and help you to form a stronger bond with them. A report by Forrester Research recommends B2B marketers must develop an engagement plan featuring a mix of rewards that influence behavior, experiential rewards that are appreciative in nature.
- Reward Type – Although it’s not written in stone, most B2B loyalty programs are paid programs. Since you intend to offer personalized service and valuable rewards, you can design a paid loyalty program. A paid program requires the customers to pay a predetermined registration fee in order to earn membership of the loyalty program.
- Stress on Long-Term Advantages – Needless to say, a loyalty offering is beneficial to the customers, however, when it comes to B2B programs, you need to stress on the benefits the program will offer to the clients in long run instead of stressing on instant gratification. It’s simple, an entrepreneur intends to run his businesses as long as he can, offering long-term benefits and advertising it will not only engage professionals but also build a credible reputation for your brand in the market.
If you are looking to up your business and marketing game with dynamic and bespoke loyalty offerings, connect with Annex Cloud.