Choosing a B2B marketing incentive for a loyalty or win back programme

Choosing a B2B marketing incentive for a loyalty or win back programme is not an easy task. Engendering and rewarding customer loyalty is essential for B2B companies since it eventually morphs into referrals resulting in new business and new cross-sell/upsell opportunities.  At the same time, winning back lapsed business can be a core, untapped market.

Choosing a B2B marketing incentive for a loyalty or win back programme can be tricky – what do you pick as the reward, how do you present it?

If you are a b2b marketer, you shouldn’t ignore incentives to change. The New York Times reported that companies say 65 percent of new business come from referrals. Despite this, a lot of B2B companies still allocate the bulk of their marketing resources to lead generation and customer acquisition. So much so that a lot of companies don’t have a defined customer loyalty program in place.

If you want to reward a business purchase, for example, a perk for choosing you over another vendor, it’s key that you do some research on the best B2B incentives. B2C and B2B aren’t interchangeable!  Luckily, we’ve compiled some of the best stats all in one place for you.

B2B incentives should be based on convenience, not cash

Choosing a B2B marketing incentive for a loyalty or win back programme starts with the knowledge you should be giving the purchaser the confidence that they won’t have egg on their face. Anytime they make a business case for a supplier, they are putting their reputation on the line internally. If you are using an incentive to buy and think that you can just use a ‘b2c’ model – ‘Buy now and get a free voucher!’ you’re missing a key feature – the service benefits. Giving gifts or reducing costs don’t land with the person on the phone – they profit goes ‘back into the till’. By all means, reward with a reward or an incentive, but remember that there’s nothing like reducing “the hassle factor” to cement loyalty, whether you’re a business or a consumer.

As OroCRM suggest, to successfully approach business customers with a loyalty program, you should first understand

  • Business customer buying potential along with the peculiarities of a buying cycle
  • What stakeholders should be addressed, how to incentivize them, what aims they follow and what benefits they seek
  • Importance of value propositions: as in the B2B space, product and vendor properties influence product selection (in contrast to B2C counterpart driven by promotions), the loyalty programs launched for B2B should focus on providing value propositions
  • Nuances of industry, marketing segment, and submodel within the B2B sector a company you’re gratifying with a loyalty program operates in (i.e. loyalty programs for a manufacturing company selling to retailers and for a company providing its services to a manufacturer should not be the same).

B2B incentives can’t ignore service

Choosing a B2B marketing incentive for a loyalty or win back programme is all about not ‘papering the cracks’ with gifts and ‘bells and whistles’. Tenfold put it well when they say:

“At its heart, customer loyalty is rooted in extraordinary, over-the-top account management. Especially when you’re competing in a saturated market, being the best in ensuring customer happiness. Are you failing to deliver as promised? Did you overpromise? Is there a way to meet the gap between the promise and the delivery? Constant dissatisfaction with a product–even when it’s a very low-grade boil of disappointment or frustration–could push customers to make the switch and associate negative thoughts to your product.”

Examples of B2b incentives related to service

Business is business and not all customers are created equal. Segment your customers post-sale according to contract size and value to the company. Orocrm has a range of interesting concepts for choosing a B2B marketing incentive for a loyalty or win back programme – but beware, you’re not an island and these changes will involve you sales, account management and senior teams.

Using tier incentives

Tiered systems allow engendering customer loyalty from the very start and prompt business clients to purchase more. You can begin with petty rewards to encourage customers to sign up for the loyalty program and offer more valuable rewards to the repeat clients already enjoying a program membership as they get promotions within it. Unlike the points system, the tiered system enables its participants to redeem the gratification points without having to wait too long.

Virgin airline company provides tier points to its club members. By gaining more points, the program participants level up from one tier to another, each of them offering more benefits than the previous one.

Partnering with third parties to give customers extra bonuses

By establishing a strategic partnership with a company providing affiliative products or services out of your scope, you can offer all-inclusive packages relevant to the business activity of your business customers.

If your company sources raw materials used by other businesses for production, you may partner with a firm that offers services that can streamline production. As a company selling tires to an automobile manufacturer, you can partner with a windscreen reseller and offer your customers a combined product’s package at a discount price.

Arranging member events

As a rule, enterprise customers tend to build long-term and sustainable relationships with partners and suppliers. In this regard, in-person events give businesses a great opportunity to recognize their clients, expand and strengthen ties with them, and simply encourage giving feedback on customer experience.

Litmus, a major email marketing software provider arranges both free and paid conferences, trade shows, meetups and retreat events for its B2B users to increase loyalty and educate them on the industry-related issues.

Providing transaction-based immediate discounts

This loyalty program type echoes B2C approach, however, perfectly fits in the B2B environment. When completing an order, customers are being offered exclusive single or permanent discount that can be applied to the current or future purchase. This method is used to encourage the clients to join the loyalty program membership.

A textile clothes distributor selling to the apparel shops offers an instant discount applicable to every order made within a certain timeframe.


‘Traditional’ incentives may have tax implications

If you want a B2B incentive to mimic more of a consumer campaign, offering perks such as gift cards, meals out, presents and merchandise, ensure that you are up to speed on the government regulations.

According to

“If your employees get awards from a third party, you may need to pay PAYE tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) on them. There are different rules for what you have to report and pay depending on what the award is and whether it’s you or someone else who makes the award to your employee.

Incentive awards could be:

  • cash
  • vouchers – including ones that can be exchanged for cash
  • non-cash items like goods
  • prizes for employer-run competitions
  • holidays you pay for

If a cash award is made to one of your employees by another business, then you must calculate and pay the NICs due on the award – the other business must deduct PAYE tax from the award.

You must:

  • report the value of the award to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on a Full Payment Submission (FPS) at the time it’s provided – even if this is before the employee’s main payday
  • include the amount in the fields ‘pay subject to Class 1 NICs’ and ‘taxable pay in this pay period’ on the employee’s payroll record

You have to report the award itself on or before the day it’s made, but you don’t have to calculate or report any NICs for the pay period until the last payment is made in that period.”

Gift cards for B2B incentives

Gift cards do stand out as a popular incentive for both B2C and B2B. Portable, easy to purchase in bulk from a re-seller or direct from a retailer, you can choose from open loop, closed loop, and virtual card solutions with various branding and personalisation options that can really boost your own brand. There’s an increasing trend towards gift vouchers that give even more choice, such as supermarkets, department stores, multiple stores or even experiential vouchers and these can all have a B2B feel.

B2b Incentive – your brand ethos

Research has shown that 87% of shoppers consider corporate social responsibility in their purchase decisions. In addition, when presented with comparable price and quality, 91% of consumers are likely to switch to brands that are aligned with a good cause. It may seem strange and not a traditional ‘incentive’ – but a change in how you position your ethos could have a substantial impact in loyalty or returning customers.

Measuring the success of a B2B incentive

When it comes to measuring the success of a B2B incentive, you may not have the luxury of a whizzy eCommerce system and tonnes of Big Data. In those cases, your best bets are to look at repeat customer rate (RCR) (How many of your customers buy from you more than once- comparing before and after), customer lifetime value (CLV) also known as “LTV”, Lifetime Value)  and Net Promoter Score (NPS) – which tracks how likely your customers would be to recommend you to their friends or peers.

In summary, choosing a B2B marketing incentive for a loyalty or win back programme is more than just selecting a hamper and a ship out date. You need to get the whole business on board with your brand message and offering incentives that give long-term results. Any less than that and you’re doing yourself a disservice!

What successful b2b incentives have you seen? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.