By: Jason Randall – UpCity
Rewards programs aren’t reserved for only retail. The following ideas can put you on the right track to driving customer loyalty to your B2B business.
Customer retention is key for any business, from your favorite shoe store to a big-time software developer. And in the B2B product and service sector, customer loyalty may be even more important than in the B2C space for a variety of reasons. Here we’re taking a look at just why loyalty programs can be so critical for B2B companies, as well as some of the benefits of B2B loyalty programs. And we highlight just a few great examples that show how and why loyalty programs can work in the B2B space.
Why Is Loyalty Important For B2B Companies?
We’ve covered just why loyalty and customer retention are so important for B2B organizations here before, but as a refresher, let’s look at some of the reasons why customer loyalty and loyalty programs can be a huge boon in the B2B space.
First off, the truth is that in the B2B and B2C spaces, it almost always costs more to acquire new clients or customers than it does to keep the customers you already have. This is doubly true for B2B companies because the volume of both current and prospective customers is so much smaller than for a B2C business. As an example, consider how many customers Zappos may have in a given week, and compare that to how many enterprise hardware or software clients a B2B provider may work with in a given year. The numbers are dramatically different, but so are the needs and purchase intent of those different customers.
Additionally, when we say it costs more to acquire new customers, those costs are not strictly monetary. It also costs any business a significant amount of all resources, and especially time, to capture the attention of a new client and inspire them to take action (learn more, make a purchase, contact for a quote, and so on).
The need to retain your customers is only growing in importance these days, too. That is because some reports and recent findings have shown that B2B companies are noticing a decline in customer loyalty, with clients willing to change providers or shift to new suppliers much more readily than they used to do.
Benefits Of B2B Loyalty Programs
The benefits of creating a robust and effective loyalty program in the B2B space go beyond saving your business time and money, however. The upsides are numerous, and can really help to drive new business in some unexpected ways.
To start, loyal B2B clients or partners are also incredibly valuable to your company as advocates or evangelists for your products or services. When colleagues and connections are looking for solutions at their business, they often value the recommendations of their peers above many other factors. In this way, loyal customers can be considered the most direct pipeline to new customers, and you can even consider them an unofficial part of your marketing strategy. While social media content and engaging communication help to keep your business top of mind among existing clients, nothing does a better job of making your case than a satisfied customer.
Another benefit is helping to keep your company out in front of the competition. Loyalty programs can mean the difference for your prospective customers choosing your firm over another, and they also incentivize current clients to continue bringing you their business. Differentiating your company from others is also critical when you are offering products or services that are very similar to your competition. The number one question for any buyer, and especially an enterprise client or corporation, is “why choose your business over XYZ company?” And loyalty programs can be one significant factor that may make a difference in the final decision.
Finally, loyalty programs have been shown to have a huge impact on customer satisfaction. From coffee lovers to software shoppers, every type of customer enjoys getting just a little more for their purchase; a little more recognition, a little more reward, or even just a little more reason to keep coming back. And in this regard, the B2B space is just like the B2C world. Loyalty programs offer that “little bit more” that can provide added satisfaction for customers.
Examples Of B2B Loyalty Programs
Time and again, when you search for examples of great B2B loyalty programs, the name that consistently shows up is Lenovo computers. Their enterprise server division launched the Lenovo Expert Achievers Program, which gives B2B resellers or business partners ways to earn points both for learning about their servers, and then also from continuing to carry and sell their servers to new clients.
Other great examples include TRW’s Automotive Diamonds program in the auto parts aftermarket space, Celebrity Cruises’ program for travel agents, the “Know Your IBM” program, and several others.
Key Features To Consider For Your B2B Loyalty Program
Simple or complex, there are a number of useful and effective features that any business should consider making a part of their loyalty program. These include:
Customized rewards tiers for your repeat customers can encompass almost any kind of reward you can imagine, from increased discounts or promo codes to additional products or services. The key is to make it enticing and to help drive not only repeat business, but increased revenue opportunities as well.
As mentioned before, word-of-mouth marketing is extremely helpful in the B2B space, and incentivizing your satisfied customers to do more of it can pay significant returns without a huge investment of your resources.
You could offer to partner with your most loyal customers to expand their reach by featuring them in your marketing materials and on your social media channels, offering expanded visibility for their business or services.
Hottest Ticket In Town
Consider organizing a large event for your biggest and best repeat customers. Options can range from networking happy hours and trade show placements to corporate boxes and catering at large sporting events or concerts. The possibilities are endless.
Keep Them Coming Back With B2B Loyalty Programs
While there is much more to cover in terms of launching your own B2B loyalty program, hopefully, this gives you a place to start as you consider your options. And while the particulars of your industry and your customers may dictate which choices make the most sense, the best practices and insights offered above will apply to almost any B2B company looking to add a loyalty component for further customer retention and revenue growth.