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4 Ways to Improve Participation in Your B2B Loyalty Programme

We all like launches. They’re definitive, tangible events that we can plan for, and most of us know how to make that splash – that big song and dance, cut that shine, or any other idiom of your choosing. They create a period of buzz, action, and anticipation, and they’ll make any business feel like the centre of its own universe in the very best way possible.

What comes next? Everything else – and ‘everything else’ is a much trickier subject to master. The ways you gain attention at launch are not tenable in the day-to-day, month-by-month, year-on-year approach. If you keep going at the same volume, people are going to start to cover their ears and walk away – and we wouldn’t blame them.

What’s more, the louder your launch, the quieter things tend to feel afterwards. This is what we call the Participation Problem – when the momentum of the launch drains away, and participation rates slump. People move on, and your programme stops standing out from the rest. It’s not what any of us want to see, but it’s also normal and expected. It’s the ‘grey hair’ of any B2B incentive programme, but it doesn’t have to signal a turning point for the company.

Like a fresh dye job, we all love new things. Customers lose impetus and change their minds, but not out of boredom – out of a desire to find the next new, bright, shiny deal or worthwhile offer.

So, how can you continue to represent that shiny new thing? Ultimately, by understanding your audience.

1. Data, Data, Data

While it may be an indisputable fact that money makes the world go round, data is what keeps the rest of the solar system in its orbit. Both are so important that we couldn’t cope without them, but one does a lot more than the other.

You don’t need us to justify data’s ascendency. Any business regards the data they are able to gather on their customers as one of its most significant assets – or, if they’re still catching up with this whole ‘world wide web’ thing, they should. In fact, Fundera found that 64% of shoppers say they don’t feel retailers really know them – something that should be seen as a major wakeup call if you’re not putting your data to use.

Data tells your customers’ stories – and, while each story is unique in its own right, there are plenty of points at which those thousands of stories overlap. Where they overlap is where you find key trends that should, no, need to be jumped on if your loyalty programme is going to continue to see success.

Data is meaning. It’s your driving force, and the end reward. Curate it and use it, or you won’t know which way’s up.

Incentivesmart customer loyalty platform data dashboard

2. Make Measured Moves

We call this our triple-m. What matters here is ensuring that every move you make to change or adapt or evolve your programme, make sure that it is measured against the data you are pulling in from your customers.

The alternative is that good old cliché of ‘going with your gut’. Instinct in the face of real, concrete data is just a little hellraiser, and we would urge you not to follow it down any tangents – however promising they seem at the time.

Mistakes and misjudgements happen. But, if you consistently go with your gut and it doesn’t pan out, your customers are going to get very accustomed to associating your brand with dead-ends, duds, and let downs.

3. Make (Nice) Noise

A common reason for an ailing customer loyalty programme is, quite simply, lack of positive noise. You want your customers to have just the right amount of good communication from you that you start to occupy a prominent position in their mind – or, at least, their workaday minds. Recent findings from Adobe show that 39% of customers felt that annoying or excessive communication would break their trust in a business; at the same time, we know how powerful an effective email marketing campaign can be. It’s all about the how, not the what.

The default for most customers is passivity, and a passive stance toward your business is not conducive to B2B customer retention. That’s just the way it is. But you can get proactive about engaging them, through meaningful and well-timed communications that remind them of your existence, of the value of your loyalty programme, and let them in on any shiny new ventures you’re pursuing…Mobile phone with social media activity icons

4. Pursue Those Shiny New Ventures

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Keeping the programme fresh and finding new ways to showcase its sparkle is absolutely fundamental, as even the best and most impressive loyalty programme will require a tune-up sooner or later, if for no other reason than to re-engage customers who no longer find it shiny and new.

Working out where to venture (and gain) comes right back around to your data, and carefully tracking how your customers have been influenced by all that positive noise you’re drumming up. If you want to see the extent to which they’re going from that default passivity to genuine participation, you can collate the results from a wide range of tools like Hotjar, which is excellent for cross-platform analysis of customer behaviour.

With a tool like this, you can generate heat maps that represent click data (or even just mouse roll overs). You can keep track of your top searched products and services, the frequency with which customers contact your support centre.

All these principles are must haves and to be fair, possibly things you may have considered along the way. A common question hereafter is always around the ‘how’. How do we do this? How do we get started? How do I know who to ask for what? That’s where your team at Incentivesmart help you. Each programme make up and action plan will be unique based on the outputs from the data collected - and this is where we truly come into our own. We use our years of experience and expertise to craft out a very realistic plan which works for your programme participants and truly drives those all-important metrics towards achieving ROI. Its not just about the pretty face of a lovely looking scheme, it’s the finer touch points and detailed thinking behind the scenes which truly makes for an effective B2B customer loyalty programme

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