Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
Financial reward like that is what businesses think most customers are looking for. Are there better ways to incentivize B2B customers? Read the most famous B2B incentive programs in the article.
In an age where marketing is everywhere – on social media, on your podcasts, on every corner of the street – it can be hard to get customers engaged due to sheer overexposure, despite many brands spending good money to stand out from the pack. This is even more so the case with B2B customers.
You have to narrow your marketing campaign down to some niche channels to reach B2B customers, but these bottlenecked channels for communication are swamped with more businesses looking to nab the same clients. So, how do you grab the attention of the coveted B2B customer?
How do you keep their attention and loyalty, which is far more critical as a B2B company?
There are a lot of methods you can use, but if you are a B2B business and you are looking at trying to retain your customers, the best thing that you can do is offer incentives. Incentives are simply methods that you can provide to your customers that show them that you appreciate their continued loyalty and that you are eager to keep them working with you.
When people think of B2B Incentive programs, the first thought automatically goes to promotions and discounts, as a financial reward like that is what businesses believe most customers are looking for. However, are there better ways to incentivize B2B customers? Read our guide to find out how to keep your B2B customers returning for more.
1. Create a customer loyalty program
In today’s economy, competition in almost every industry is at an all-time high. As a result, you can create a coalition with business partners and offer a customer loyalty program to provide the best incentives to your loyal customer base. These programs encourage the behaviors you want to see as a vendor and the customer wants to perform as a buyer (with additional rewards).
A loyalty program is a simple example of a loyalty program. These are more popular in B2B circles than in B2C membership because of subscription models. So it’s helpful to keep up engagement with customers.
Netflix launched it, Twitter is considering it, and in between B2B companies have been doing it for years. For a rolling and continuous monthly income, you can reward loyal customers with benefits and incentives within their membership, as well as the loyalty and pride that comes from being a member.
By offering access to such a platform, businesses can improve their customer retention rate, all while boosting customer acquisition at the same time – via referrals or simply showcasing what a long-term relationship with your company looks like. In addition, by having one of the best loyalty programs in the industry, you are guaranteed to stand out as a leader in the market, thus, increasing brand trust and overall success.
2. Membership programs
Of course, not all membership loyalty programs are created equal. For example, you can get memberships in a perks program, in a tiered format, etc.
A tiered program is a good way to incorporate all of these elements and gain a subscription from all of your customers, no matter the size of their business. If your B2B customers are small businesses, they can pay for the lowest tier, where they will get basic access to your services and products but miss out on the higher tier’s benefits and offers. As they grow as a company, chances are they will go up a tier to gain the benefits that will help their company. It all makes for a win-win situation for you as a business.
Another way to go is with a perks program, which can look something like building an online or physical VIP room for your members to choose from. This helps create connections. You can offer perks from other B2B businesses with the incentive that they will have access to your audience without being a competitor. You can be sure that you are getting your money’s worth from it by stipulating that if the customer doesn’t purchase within a particular timeframe.
But what kind of rewards would you offer within either of these formats, then? Well, there are many different options regarding what offers you can put on the table for your B2B customers.
3. Promote personal values
Many customers are happy to reduce their financial incentives if paired up with a company that shares the same personal values. A recent study conveyed that a massive 42% of B2B customers didn’t care about the company's business values. However, their values are what are selling them to the company. Businesses should look at this and offer incentives that reflect their values. This could come from featuring charities in the rewards program, promoting environmental protection, and even personally addressing the channel partners.
Personalization in communication is a great marketing tool. If you want to instill loyalty in your customers, you should speak to them as though there is only them on your mind. Simple personalization like changing ‘Dear reader’ to their actual name in newsletters will always go down easier with your customers.
It’s all about assuring your customers that you have their best interests at heart and are not simply another soulless corporate machine. It’s a concept that takes off throughout online marketing, not solely for B2B marketing. People want to feel heard and that they are making a difference in the world by supporting with or without their wallets.
The B2B industry is constantly evolving, and some businesses are falling behind in training. This is extremely demotivating for employees, making them feel like they are falling behind. One of the best incentives you can offer them is to offer them training incentives. You could organize a points system where employees are rewarded with digital rewards points that they can exchange for several benefits.
Typically, training comes under the term ‘experiential rewards, and you can see why. Customers can say that they got something from being a part of your company’s clientele: something they can take further in their careers.
These rewards don’t necessarily need to be pricey, only innovative enough to entice your customers and employees. You can see what experiences you can offer them as a company, or you can look at partnering with an online class service as a perk in your membership.
5. Gamified surveys
Gamified surveys are another way to incentivize loyalty within your clientele, and there are a lot of perks to it for you as a company. Third-party data is on its way out, and there is even a world envisioned where businesses will have to pay customers to gain their data. In the meantime, surveys are filling in for what data isn’t gained, and to gamify data means you can add it to your rewards system as a means of gaining access to a perk. The customer fills out the survey and gains access to ‘the chance to win something, usually through a prize draw. This has the added perk of meaning that you’re not investing in a prize for every one of your members or customers, but just the one that wins.
All of that is on top of the fact that you are getting valuable feedback that you ordinarily would have to beg for.
6. Referral programs
Referral programs, as you might have commonly seen, come in the form of ‘Refer a friend. However, in your case, they will have a reward to incentivize people to refer their friends. And this should be a tangible, valuable award because there is nothing more valuable to a business than word of mouth. No marketing can match that. It’s arguable that it’s more valuable to a B2B company than a B2C as one referred client will not mean one new sale but potentially a new client with ongoing revenue.
7. Social media content
Social media is a great tool to incentivize loyalty in your customers, and there are a few different ways you can go about it. The first basic move is to create content with an authentic feel to it. That is what people are responding to at the moment, whether they are B2B or B2C. The perks of this are that you will ultimately appear more trustworthy.
Another is with user-generated content. This is a little harder to pull off as a B2B company, but elements of the referral program are dotted in it, and there’s nothing to stop you from promoting the referral program on your social media either. However, there isn’t the same fandom that a clothing brand might have, for example, but if you have something that users are excited about, encourage it. Ask them prompts that will allow them to express what they like about you.
The other element hugely helpful in B2B social media marketing is curated content. Curated content is better known as collaborating and is especially helpful in a B2B. You’re all businesses aiming to entice other businesses. Therefore a shoutout goes further when one business says to another, ‘This business helped mine’. On top of being a good way to fill a gap in the content calendar, you will be sharing audiences for a mutually beneficial experience.
Plus, it can be straightforward to put together. It doesn’t have to be more elaborate than a graphic or photo with a few kind words; you can even offer incentives through your curated content. Entice new customers by partnering up with another business to offer a perk in exchange for memberships or sales.
Another way is to infiltrate communities. B2B companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs will be part of a social media community where you can reach the top. They will be following influencers that focus on business, finance, hustle culture, etc., which you can put your two cents into. Set up affiliate programs with influencers to pull in these communities and make your name known. These influencers don’t have to be massive names. The rise of the micro-influencer, which there are plenty of in the business and finance genres of content, is known to have audiences that are more dedicated and more engaged with their content.
Offer channel incentives
One method you could incorporate within your incentive program is to offer channel incentives to your B2B customers. If you have a loyal collective of B2B customers, you should always look at treating them with VIP treatment. You should also continue to share market data that they are guaranteed to be interested in, such as market insights and listening to their product knowledge. This should simply be the standard that you are offering to your channel, and to stand out from the crowd of competitors, you can then offer amazing loyalty rewards.
This is also an option for your affiliate marketing partners. You’re looking to nurture your relationships with your partners, so in the case of affiliate partners, talk to them to outline what you are expecting from their input and what they expect from you. Maybe they like being told in detail what you want from them, or maybe they like a vague description and the reigns being let go.
B2B marketing can feel very limiting, considering everyone is buying something. Still, not everyone is running a business, but there are a lot of options out there to help you entice a business owner into becoming a client. As long as you are sure you are enriching your clients’ lives, either with perks or training, it’s likely that they will return the favor with data, referrals and clientele.
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