B2B loyalty marketing deconstructed

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Adryanna Sutherland, gyro Cincinnati
Adryanna Sutherland, gyro Cincinnati

Customer delight, loyalty, and advocacy, especially in today's economic climate, are arguably more important to businesses than ever before. Loyalty marketing can play a key role in helping to retain valuable customers through rewards that encourage repeat purchase and referral, and should be part of nearly everyone's  marketing program.

From the simple to the complex, loyalty marketing is a great way to show how the marketing organization can have a big impact on the bottom line.

In the B2B space, a 2x2 chart correlating purchase value (product/service cost) to purchase frequency is a simple tool to match efforts to the right opportunities. Here are the four combinations:

  • Low-low: For customers who don't purchase often and for whom the purchase value is low, there isn't much of an opportunity for loyalty marketing. If this describes your company, focus all of your energy on filling the top of the funnel as often as you can. It's imperative to keep your customers satisfied because there's always a chance that they'll comment on your company or your products—and you want to ensure that the conversation is positive.
  • High-low: For customers who purchase frequently, but the purchase value is low, there are a few things you can do related to the sales experience. If your product or service requires little customization and can be e-commerce-enabled, you can create a meaningful engagement opportunity through personalized e-commerce sites that include the customer's purchase history, negotiated pricing, related application content, and other relevant information.

    For example, a regional telecommunications provider created this exact experience with back-end analytics that allowed it to track activity on the site to inform its direct salespeople on opportunities for up/cross-selling complementary products. The company also customized the service channels on its website for high-value customers, including dedicated phone numbers and chat functionality.
  • Low-high: For customers who purchase infrequently, but the purchase value is high, a good nurture program is the key to loyalty. High-touch events such as user groups, advisory boards, and executive roundtables are a great way to engage current customers who may not be in a buying cycle but will be eventually.

    A large broadcast equipment manufacturer, for instance, presented high-value customers with an annual “gold pass” that gave them exclusive access to the  company “café” at big events where the smell of warm cookies, fresh-brewed coffee, and the promise of a place to take a break proved to be an incredibly popular and much appreciated destination. Customers look forward to getting  their pass each year.
  • High-high: For anyone lucky enough to have customers in this segment, where  customers purchase often and spend a lot of money, you can use a combination of the tactics above. However, in this segment, you're almost certain to have a direct sales channel in place, and therefore loyalty programs should focus on amplifying and enhancing the relationship between sales and the customers. Create marketing programs that allow you to arm sales with relevant information, invites, and value-added opportunities to make the team heroes in the eyes of customers.

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