Should B2B Use Customer Loyalty Programs? – Part II
Although customer loyalty programs are not a business tactic usually associated with B2B, in our previous blog post, we share research from Forrester that shows B2B companies have a lot to gain from using these programs to differentiate themselves from the competition. In a world where it costs less to keep a customer than acquire a new one, customer loyalty programs help save money and boost customer retention.
While our last post covers what benefits these programs have for you, this post covers how to make them work for your customers. For a customer to sign up for a customer loyalty program, the rewards must have value. When thinking about what you want to offer as part of your loyalty program, the first question should be: “What’s in it for my customers?”
Here are a few ideas on what to offer and how to ensure your proposition has value for the end consumer:
- Discounts, special offers, and other related deals for your products and services. This option may be the most obvious, but there’s a reason discounts and deals are so prevalent in B2C customer loyalty programs. People love saving money. Also, these options encourage more purchases, which creates a positive feedback loop where more sales are made and everyone benefits.
- Personalized materials or services. In B2B as opposed to B2C, your customers have customers of their own. A customer loyalty program gives you the opportunity to help your buyers turn around and serve their buyers. Two examples of a personalized reward for customer loyalty are personalized packaging and dual-branded marketing materials. The creation of these assets does have a cost, but that may be balanced out by the loyalty you reap in return. And we know customers love personalization.
- Complementary products and services. If your products aren’t fit for discounts or personalized materials, you still have the opportunity to leverage giveaways and deals for a customer loyalty program. Look into offers that complement your products, and make deals with partners in order to deliver related products to your customers. For instance, companies that sell airline tickets offer discounts and deals on hotels and car rentals. These complementary deals are highly relevant for their target market, and they don’t have to offer a free airplane engine with the purchase of 40 tickets.
- Improved Customer Experience. We recommend that you deliver a great customer experience to each and every one of your customers. This, in and of itself, drives customer retention. That said, there are perks that make sense to offer your special high-value customers. As an example, Amazon Prime, Amazon’s paid customer loyalty program offers free shipping, which improves the customer experience and gets people to sign up.
- Content for Loyal Customers Only. Do you have content that particularly targets high-value customers? This may be perfect for a customer loyalty program. A “loyalty customers-only” webinar gives you the ability to even more finely target your customers. If this restriction is too exclusive, consider offering loyal customers advance registration for webinars, trade show meetings, or other events.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. A little creativity goes a long way. And although customer loyalty programs are more associated with B2C vendors, a B2B program with creative rewards gives B2B customers a reason to stay loyal and a reason to come back for more business.