Driving Business Revenue Through Customer Loyalty

B2B buyers can't help but to be influenced by retail sales processes, user-friendly features and customer loyalty programs because they also buy retail goods and services over the Internet. Business-to-business platforms increasingly try to provide the same level of user-friendliness and loyalty incentives that are popular among consumers who shop on B2C websites. That means customizing displays based on each buyer, providing complete access to customer buying histories, delivering multiple customer service options, enabling onsite buyer research and providing consumerlike incentives such as B2B customer loyalty programs. A fully integrated B2B platform can provide unlimited customer-facing options that include automated loyalty programs that work differently for each stakeholder based on his or her most compelling action triggers. Competition and price-shopping are common reasons that customers switch companies, and only 12 percent to 15 percent of customers stay loyal according to a Center for Retail Management at Northwestern University report. This loyal base, however, generates between 55 percent and 70 percent of corporate revenue.[1] That's why it's important to nurture this core constituency to build revenue because B2B buyers respond just as enthusiastically as consumers to personalized incentives that add value to the buying experience.

Strengthening Business Bonds Through Well-Designed Loyalty Incentives

Customer loyalty in the highly competitive business world might seem like a fantasy, but people respond to the many of the same triggers regardless of whether they're buying for a business or personal consumption. The statistical facts favor marketing programs that target existing customers because it costs five times as much to land a new customer than to generate additional revenue from an existing client.[2] A fully integrated website can identify customer needs and motivations to design effective B2B customer loyalty programs that deliver solid cost-value benefits.

Gathering Information to Segregate Customer Stakeholders

Offering general incentives and across-the-board discounts tend to devalue a company's brand. However, an integrated platform can identify triggers for each decision-maker in the buying process. Full platform integration provides the tools to capitalize on website visitor behavior by identifying digital-engagement triggers, typical browsing behavior and which content generates the most successful conversion rate. This data can be used to segment customers by predictive behavioral pathways to identify the most influential customers. The information can also be used to design each program in a way that's profitable and sustainable because the cost of providing incentives could outweigh the benefits. Companies might choose to focus on retaining only the top performers instead of offering general discounts and incentives. Integration allows B2B organizations to gather data from multichannel resources such as multiple departments, distributorships, resellers and outside sales teams. Companies call follow customer journeys through multichannel contact points to gain more complete information and use the data to test reward programs, analyze success rates and optimize loyalty program content and marketing approaches.

Drivers of Customer Loyalty in B2B Transactions

Well-designed programs for business buyers include rebate and cash-back programs, buyer or company recognition, experiential benefits and rewards for accomplishing tasks in the sales-conversion funnel. The automated data that companies gather can be used to design incentive programs that appeal to each decision-maker in the buying process.

  • Stakeholder-Specific Rewards These rewards might include advance notifications, virtual currency, experience points or increased content access such as receiving extra time to study specs before a closeout auction.
  • Gamification Strategy Using gamification strategy doesn't mean using a game to hook professional business buyers but to use gamification theory to motivate human behavior. Offering lotteries, setting progression levels and overcoming challenges can motivate buyers in many ingenious ways.
  • ersonal or Company Recognition Even sophisticated buyers enjoy being recognized for their accomplishments. Posting corporate or personal accomplishments, milestones and upcoming events offers customers the low-cost incentive of free publicity for goals that matter to them.
  • Differentiation Offering customers something that competitors can't is always a solid strategy. Each stakeholder has personal hobbies and interests, such as favorite sports teams, and these can be used to provide a customized loyalty reward like season tickets.
  • Instant Rewards Instant rewards are especially attractive to new buyers. These programs can include free shipping, instantly redeemable points and gifts, business associate discounts and virtual access to appealing VIP programs.
  • Multitender Benefits Involving business associates in reward programs expands the incentives that companies can offer their best customers. These might include a getaway excursion, night on the town, personal goods from a private label or gift card from a major online retailer.
  • Ongoing Education Custom emails and newsletters--delivered directly to a stakeholder's phone--offer extraordinary appeal when correctly designed. Busy buyers often overlook new products, emerging industry trends and even some of the features of products that they're already buying. Educating customers in stages--to prevent information overload--can be used as a special incentive for loyalty.
  • houghtful Considerations Small but thoughtful considerations can generate increased loyalty such as recognizing a buyer's birthday and sending a card or sending a pair of tickets to a play or movie premier. B2B Loyalty programs don't always have to be predefined. Sending small gifts and invitations can be part of an overall inbound marketing effort that works just as well as a structured loyalty program.


The Value of Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty not only generates new streams of revenue but also increases word-of-mouth referrals. One study found that referrals from loyal customers were more valuable than recommendations of a customer acquired through marketing. Loyal-customer referral retention rates averaged 92 percent while new-customer referrals only averaged 68-percent retention rates.[3] In digital marketing, percentages often define success and profitability, and full platform integration facilitates measuring key data such as customer satisfaction, product loyalty, complaints, customer churn and other key metrics that are the lifeblood of business-to-business sales. B2B marketers can't afford to ignore inbound marketing and consumer influence on B2B buying trends. Forrester Research shows that business buyers don't respond well to coupons, universal discounts and reward points, but personalized programs that add value, special perks and recognition work well in the extended B2B buying process.[4]

What Is Your Business Doing to Promote Loyalty and Leverage Inbound Marketing Information?

The choice is simple: You can continue experimenting with hit-or-miss marketing strategies or build a platform that collects valuable BI data about your customers, helps you craft personalized incentives and monitors changes in buying habits to keep ahead of customer buying trends. Integration is the operational key to getting the most accurate and timely information so that you can blow customers away with targeted, appealing loyalty rewards. Fully integrating your site helps you to determine buying triggers for each customer stakeholder who's involved in the decision-making process. B2B customer loyalty options might include complex graduated tier incentives, recognition, personal incentives and intangible, experiential benefits such as getting first rights to view new product lines. Integrating and customizing your platform deliver astonishing benefits because every business process generates actionable intelligence for marketing to your best prospects--inbound website visitors and existing customers.
[1] Crmtrends.com: Loyalty Programs www.crmtrends.com/loyalty.html
[2] Blog.hubspot.com: What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Customer Retention blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/31549/What-B2B-Marketers-Need-to-Know-About-Customer-Retention.aspx#sm.0001eh0jlvozsdidt331lr27ohguo
[3] B2binternational.com: Customer Loyalty Research www.b2binternational.com/publications/customer-loyalty/
4] Info.influitive.com: B2B Loyalty, The B2C Way info.influitive.com/rs/influitive/images/B2B%20Loyalty%20The%20B2C%20Way%20%5BInfluitive%5D.pdf