Why Channel Loyalty Programmes Matter
Loyalty is the pot of gold; the ultimate reward for a job well done by any business. Without loyalty – whether we’re talking about loyalty from your own employees, from the resellers in your channel, or from your customers – your business is not on strong footing, and is really only existing from one customer interaction, one marketing attempt, or one promotion to the next.
Think of it like a human pyramid, with you (AKA, your business) at the very top. You’ve got to be able to invest a certain amount of faith into the idea that every touchpoint in that pyramid are there with you; there to stay, and that nobody’s going to suddenly get bored, get up, and walk away, leaving a significant structural issue within any of the rows.
But this doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be based on blind faith. It should be built on tangible data, real results, and a long-term strategy to keep everything in place where its needs to be.
Channel loyalty programmes can and do become one of the most worthwhile tools you can think about. A programme that covers the entire length of the chain, rather than one particular link, will enable you to develop a robust loyalty framework that exists within the very core of your business strategy.
They Boost Retention
Repeat customers are far more valuable than new customers. New customers only show value at the point-of-sale, while long-term, returning customers know you and your brand – your products and services – and what makes you unique and worth shouting about. This is why B2B retention is so vital.
In fact, of all the un-controversial, undisputable claims someone could make, ‘a high b2b retention rate is proof of a strong business that focusses on all the right things’ is right up there with ‘puppies make better company than alligators’, or ‘there’s always room for dessert’.
And, as we continue to demonstrate, rewarding loyalty is a great way to boost retention.
They Grow Credibility
Your business can have the best branding in the world – a great, recognisable logo, a strong voice behind it, and a clear philosophy. But what gives you a sense of identity within your industry comes down to your customers.
Your identity grows with your ability to forge connections with customers. You want to be credible, and you want to be recognised and remembered.
This is vital, whether you’re operating directly with those endgame customers, or through an extended channel.
They Create the Evangelists, Not Mercenaries
If you’re incentivising your channel through hot deals, sudden promotions, and highly competitive offers, you’re more than likely to see some pretty significant results. The catch? These results will have a big short-term impact – one that ends at around the same time as your deal, promotion, or offer.
Why? Because you’re not giving your customers any reason to stick with you. This creates the mercenary – the type of customer that you really want to avoid creating.
If you consistently work at creating those long-term reasons for customers to consistently shop from you, and not treat you like the flavour of the month, then you can work towards creating the evangelists – the customers who are passionate and enthusiastic about your brand, willing to spread the word to others, and genuinely invested in that long-term relationship.
Incentivesmart created an incentive programme for Kärcher whereby distributors could develop their brand and product knowledge, as well as earn points on qualifying purchases. Three priorities were set to help achieve a successful engagement programme:
- Make access to the resources easier and more relevant to the dealer.
- Create a two-way dialogue to capture requirements relevant to making the sales process simpler & easier
- Use incentives to drive desired behaviours.
They Make it Possible for Channel Marketers to be More Informed and More Passionate
There are many, many benefits to channel marketing, provided you can commit to mobilising that channel and taking full advantage of it. One of the best ways you can do this is not just through instilling a sense of passion about your brand throughout your channel (ultra-important, as we mentioned above), but also ensuring that your channel has the information they need to make more sales, and forge better relationships with customers further down the chain on your behalf.
A strong B2B customer loyalty programme makes it possible for you to foster a stronger and more consistent relationship with your channel. It means you create those easy, welcoming points-of-contact that can help to boost education, awareness, and passion.
Ultimately, this improves the customer experience. Incredibly, less than half of organisations are thought to perceive customer experience as a competitive differentiator. That’s bonkers! If you can offer your customers a tangibly better experience than your competitors, you’ve got a real edge.
They Give You Better Insight into Your Customers
This is particularly true of your closed group/membership only customer loyalty programme, since you can gather an incredibly rich store of data as you work to boost loyalty.
The more insight you have into the entire length of your channel, the more you can hone your product range – lean into your USP and strengths, while improving any perceived weaknesses. You can understand the importance of providing clear yet specific product knowledge to give sales people the best chance to secure custom with confidence and credibility. And of course lets not forget how you can also utilise that all important data collected, to continue improving the programme you offer, creating an invaluable cycle of actionable insight.
We all want to get to know our customers better, but it takes time and effort. It’s one of those things that just can’t be rushed.
Engaged customers aren’t just good for your point of sale. Research suggests that companies excelling at the customer experience have more engaged employees. We’re not talking small fry, either – we’re talking 150% engagement.
Ultimately, They Boost Sales
What factors boost sales revenue for businesses? All of the above. The more loyal, passionate, invested, interested, educated, and understood your channel is, the more they’re going to turn to you instead of someone else.
This is why loyalty is the backbone of any strong business – because it translates into the most fundamental aims – to create a relationship which boost sales and makes that bottom line an enviable one.