Marketers have traditionally focused their efforts on activities designed to attract new business. But nowadays, in light of how easily customers can switch their allegiance from one provider to another, it’s never been more important to focus on B2B loyalty marketing.
What is B2B loyalty marketing? Put simply, it’s a targeted effort to closely study your customer base in order to devise programs and incentives that will keep them engaged, satisfied, and driven to stay loyal. This type of marketing greatly enhances a customer’s connection to your brand. And, by meticulously addressing customer desires and improving their experiences, loyalty marketing also gives you an edge over the competition.
What’s more, a well-crafted B2B loyalty program won’t just retain customers, it’ll also help attract new business through exciting benefits. Not to mention, loyal customers spend more than new ones. Therefore, businesses investing in long-term growth can’t afford to overlook B2B loyalty marketing.
Now all you need to know is how to start doing it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you not only improve your loyal customer base, but also attract new customers and keep them.
1. Let customer behavior guide your customer loyalty program
The amount of customer data that marketers have at their fingertips can make the work of loyalty marketing and designing incentives fun! When you set out to design your B2B loyalty program, let your customers’ behavior guide you.
Using customer analytics—such as information on popular products, services that are frequently purchased together, etc.—you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of exactly what it is your customers want. Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be able to design personalized, attractive benefits that your customers will value.
For example, let’s say you’re a business management software provider for SMBs of between 10-250 employees. You have a group of clients who have, on at least two occasions, purchased employee management add-ons for the software. You understand that these clients are shopping for tools to better manage their employees, and you can design incentives specifically for them.
In your upcoming newsletter, you can make the simple tweak of highlighting discounts on employee management tools first -- and send this version of your newsletter specifically to those clients who have been buying from this category.
What’s more, you can add incentives they’ll appreciate to their version of the newsletter -- such as a 10% discount off a second HR plug-in for their software -- that will make it seem as though you’ve designed the offer just for them.
2. Plan, plan, plan!
Marketers are seasoned planners. Especially with loyalty marketing, it’s crucial to devote enough time to planning before you implement any loyalty program. As you plan, you’ll want to establish goals that clearly outline the purpose of your program. For example, are you seeking to re-engage customers who were once loyal? Or, are you designing a loyalty program to reward currently loyal customers and increase retention rates?
Another crucial component of the planning stage is setting up a way to track your program’s success. A CRM program can come in especially handy here, helping you stay on track with informed decisions that keep wasted time and money at a minimum.
3. Decide what type of loyalty program best suits your customers
As you explore different types of loyalty programs, you’ll find that there is a wide variety of options. The most common types include:
- Tier-based programs
- Badge-based programs
- Discount programs
Many B2B companies choose to implement a tier-based program whereby customers achieve different rewards at different tiers and are encouraged to advance up the “loyalty ladder” in order to achieve more appealing benefits. Usually, customers can climb tiers by spending more money, but not always. Depending on their goals, some businesses implement rewards programs that depend on activities, like referring peers.
For example, HubSpot, an inbound marketing software provider, developed a program known as the HubSpot Partner Tier Program. As part of the partner program, inbound marketing agencies receive exclusive resources and training that help them increase their revenue, implement ROI-centric services and improve client retention. Those partner agencies who outperform the rest and execute marketing services to the highest standards are then recognized as either a silver, gold, platinum or diamond tier level, unlocking new benefits as they accelerate to each new tier.
Before you settle on the type of loyalty program you want to implement, be sure to spend time digging into the insights you have about your customers’ browsing and purchasing activities and their desires, and let these insights guide you in choosing a type of program they’ll be inclined to embrace.
4. Test your loyalty program
Regardless of how much care and attention you put into the execution of your new B2B loyalty program, you should test it on a small, representative segment of your customers to check its efficacy. Doing this early on will protect you from the possibility of losing money down the line.
Consider testing your loyalty program by first running a pilot program that only a limited number of customers will have access to. This should only be offered to your most loyal customers, as their behavior exemplifies the type of behavior you’re aiming to see more of. Beyond using this pilot program as an opportunity to fix any bugs that surface, you can also use it as an opportunity to learn from participants about what changes would make the program even more appealing.
5. Release your loyalty program to your entire customer base
Once you’ve carefully planned your new B2B loyalty program and tested it with a select group of customers, it’s time to open it up to a larger audience. At this stage, it’s imperative that you communicate to your customers about your loyalty program effectively—meaning, you bring attention to the program by informing customers about it at key points in their engagement with you, like:
- On your homepage
- On your checkout page
- In a dedicated email that you send to your customers
- In a section in your newsletter
When promoting your loyalty program, you can even include an additional, limited-time incentive for customers to begin participating. You should also be sure to have a dedicated web page or landing page describing the benefits of the loyalty program for customers to go to for reference and to sign up.
6. Track and improve
Your work doesn’t end once your loyalty program is up and running. Since you made it a point to implement ways to track your program’s success back in the planning and testing stages, you now have the opportunity to put those methods to use and learn what works and what needs to be tweaked.
Measure the results of your program and remain open to changing aspects of it—even if this means changing the entire type of program you’re running. It’s important to remember, your loyalty isn’t to your program—it’s to your customers’ satisfaction. Use the data you gather from their engagement with the program to constantly adjust and make the program more beneficial for them, and thus, for you.
Loyalty programs can be a lot of fun. Designing them is an opportunity to get to know your customers more deeply than you know them now. And the results of a well-executed program will not only have your customers smiling, it will greatly improve your bottom line. The steps offered here will have you on your way to a successful loyalty program that suits your customers and keeps them coming back to you.
Want to learn more ways to build B2B customer loyalty? Download our free ebook now.