Retailers, lodges, airways, and eating places have lengthy relied on loyalty applications—together with reductions, early entry to new merchandise, and unique perks that improve the client expertise and encourage a following—to strengthen buyer loyalty. However solely not too long ago has the concept taken root within the B2B world. And it’s about time. In a latest PwC buyer survey, virtually 60% of B2B prospects reported they’d by no means had an expertise with a model that made them really feel particular. That’s an alarmingly excessive share of shoppers who’ve been given no specific motive to stay round. However the implications of shopper loyalty for B2B firms are huge, and, if something, as essential as they’re for consumer-facing firms. In spite of everything, it might price 5 occasions extra to accumulate a buyer than to retain one, and on common probably the most loyal prospects account for as much as 80% of an organization’s revenues.
For firms prepared to reimagine the normal transactional nature of their B2B relationships, a loyalty program represents an vital development alternative. However on this regard, B2B prospects could be a powerful nut to crack. Many occasions, the B2B “purchaser” is definitely a couple of particular person—together with these in procurement and finance, together with heads of enterprise, for example—and these people have completely different wants. Firms should determine who to pursue: the entire entity or the completely different purchasers? And getting concentrating on proper is only one piece of the puzzle. To achieve success, a B2B loyalty program should additionally align with the client’s strategic objectives and remodel transactional relationships into dynamic partnerships designed to advertise mutual success.
The advantages of B2B loyalty applications
By creating a relationship along with your prospects, you may reap main advantages.
Rising top-line income and enhancing revenue margins. Loyalty applications can function instruments that encourage prospects to check out extra services and products, thus rising their buy frequency and spend. Packages also can provide differentiated advantages, primarily based on elements reminiscent of seasonality or buyer buy conduct, to advertise the sale of higher-margin merchandise. Pairing these choices with inventive premiums that supply strategic profit to prospects—a TV spot highlighting the client, a retailer makeover, energy-efficient tools—assist shift the connection from transaction to partnership. The extra the client interacts along with your model and captures new rewards, the extra your income and profitability can climb.
Lowering prices and elevating buyer satisfaction. Finished proper, loyalty applications can substitute the blunt devices of discounting and heavy promotions with a precision instrument—one which reduces financial reductions whereas increasing buyer advantages in different methods, each tangible and intangible. You possibly can provide gestures or perks, reminiscent of serving to the client optimize its product combine—by promoting extra of 1 in style product than one other much less in style product, for example—to drive most income. These measures don’t straight hit the underside line, however nonetheless construct on the connection. An improved relationship additionally will make the client contracting course of smoother and easier. Collectively, these advantages add as much as better buyer satisfaction, retention, and advocacy, and elevated income and profitability.
Selling digital engagement and producing priceless buyer knowledge. The B2C sector has made the worth of digital engagement clear. Past attracting and retaining prospects, digital engagement generates what we name the “engagement flywheel”: steady buyer insights that spark concepts for brand spanking new services and products, deepen the client relationship, and, in flip, assist firms develop. The B2B sector has been lagging on this respect, however loyalty applications can assist jump-start digital engagement efforts. You possibly can tailor digital channels and methods to every distinctive buyer kind, together with the oft-neglected small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). And as you advance your digital transformation efforts, you may put huge knowledge and analytics to work, accelerating the engagement flywheel.
5 actions for making B2B loyalty work
Though you may’t construct a profitable B2B program by cloning your B2C program, you may capitalize on a long time’ value of B2C classes realized. To realize the advantages we’ve outlined, you’ll have to adapt B2C ideas to what you are promoting.
Finished proper, loyalty applications can substitute the blunt devices of discounting and heavy promotions with a precision instrument—one which reduces financial reductions whereas increasing buyer advantages in different methods.
Dig deeper to know what you are promoting patrons. The muse of any well-designed loyalty program is a rigorously thought-through segmentation technique. This begins with figuring out and understanding your buyer segments. However as we’ve already talked about, understanding your B2B prospects is harder than understanding B2C prospects. For one factor, B2B patrons are under-analyzed. Purchaser segmentation can be extra difficult as a result of getting access to them is tougher—partially as a result of transacting is completed underneath the customer-company auspices, making the precise people onerous to seek out—and the client inhabitants is extra fragmented.
You additionally should pinpoint the worth drivers and financial alternative inside every buyer phase (and even subsegments). One world beverage firm did this by contemplating the worth potential in several buyer segments (excessive, medium, and low alternative) in addition to product segments (core and rising) to prioritize targets for a loyalty program pilot. On this approach, the corporate ensured program incentives had been finest aligned with the corporate’s objectives.
Determine and encourage optimum buyer behaviors. Focus not solely on present, fascinating behaviors but in addition on new ones you wish to elicit—behaviors that may assist your overarching enterprise objectives. These behaviors may embody your prospects shopping for a broader vary of merchandise from you, creating extra shelf area for these merchandise, referring new enterprise to you, or getting shoppers to put in writing product opinions.
Take into consideration which behaviors are priorities, and construction incentives accordingly. And notice that the behaviors you’re concentrating on may range primarily based on location, retailer dimension and sort, and purchaser position. What works for the business-unit vice chairman may not inspire the procurement head. It’s vital to be in step with program incentives so completely different individuals in the identical group reap the identical rewards for a similar conduct, however you’ll additionally need to have the ability to tailor some advantages by promotions and different means. For instance, a number one airline B2B loyalty program shifted from an allotted set of program advantages for company prospects to a versatile mannequin, giving the purchasers alternative of their advantages, which had been dynamically priced to encourage optimum buyer behaviors.
Design your program to be easy. The perfect loyalty applications are intuitive, each for the gross sales workforce (to allow them to promote enrollment) and for the client (so they really use it). Begin with a easy loyalty program idea. It’s onerous to know which options will ship outcomes till you take a look at them, and the extra variables you begin out with, the tougher it’s to isolate their influence. Make certain the directions on how this system works and the app you design on your program are user-friendly.
The bottom construction of this system (e.g., factors accrual and redemption mannequin, tiers, and advantages) needs to be easy. A number one meals producer created an preliminary pilot program that proved overly advanced, with factors being incomes primarily based on kind of product bought, month, frequency of purchases, member degree, and quite a lot of different elements. This difficult system resulted in confusion for members. It was troublesome for the gross sales workforce to even clarify this system. So, the corporate simplified its loyalty providing to award factors primarily based on merchandise bought, and created separate promotions to incentivize behaviors by month, member degree, and different elements. The outcomes of this system have now multiplied.
Lead with digital. B2B loyalty applications require the identical digital-first mindset as B2C applications to speed up the client engagement flywheel. Some trailblazing firms have developed cellular apps with dashboards that present their salespeople and prospects a transparent window into prospects’ operations—for instance, gross sales breakdowns, stock data, product combine, traits particular to their enterprise, and efficiency relative to rivals. This knowledge helps prospects optimize their enterprise and helps either side develop extra profitably. Such a profit is very enticing to SMEs, a lot of which lack their very own native digital technique. And you’ll provide this system by way of varied digital channels to fit your prospects’ completely different wants.
With knowledge, you can also tailor your loyalty choices to buyer preferences, buying habits, and pursuits. For instance, for purchasers that espouse environmental or social values, you may provide rewards reminiscent of energy-efficient tools or contributions to nonprofits that assist their favourite causes. A number one industrial merchandise producer lagged the trade in digital, counting on conventional communication channels (e.g., telephone and fax) and spreadsheets to drive gross sales. It revamped its digital expertise to supply content material, commerce, communications, efficiency insights, and account administration to each prospects and gross sales, underpinned by a buyer engagement program. This led to not solely an trade innovation award, however considerably elevated gross sales at a decrease price to serve.
Create the very best buyer expertise. The perfect B2C applications create passionate followers and advocates. They’re conscious of suggestions and insights, and so they create alternatives for purchasers to have memorable, optimistic model experiences. Though prospects have historically responded to monetary incentives reminiscent of volume-based reductions, these come at a better price and do little to assist SME prospects. The perfect applications reveal that you take care of your prospects by serving to them meet their wants.
As an illustration, a number one garden care firm helped drive site visitors into prospects’ shops by ensuring merchandise obtainable completely to these retailers. It additionally shifted from volume-based loyalty rewards to performance-based incentives to advertise development behaviors, and it offered show allowances and different demand-generating actions, reminiscent of cooperative promoting. The revamped program delivered 20% development in CAGR in unbiased channels and helped double market share in 5 years.
The time for loyalty applications is now
It gained’t be lengthy earlier than loyalty applications start to take off all through the B2B world, significantly because the economic system springs again from its pandemic lows. And as soon as relationships turn out to be sticky, the switching prices for purchasers will solely develop. This needs to be incentive sufficient for firms to get severe about exhibiting some like to prospects.
- John Rolston is a number one practitioner in PwC’s shopper markets and digital practices, specializing in customer-centric advertising and marketing transformation. Based mostly in Chicago, he’s a director with PwC US.
- Jon Glick is an advisor to executives in PwC’s buyer technique consulting follow. He leads a cross-functional workforce working with shoppers to develop, innovate, and develop loyalty applications and life-cycle advertising and marketing capabilities. Based mostly in Chicago, he’s a principal with PwC US.
- PwC US director Mark Baker and PwC US senior supervisor Whitney Nystrom additionally contributed to this text.