While loyalty programs have long thrived in the B2C space, they’ve only recently begun to play a more prominent role in the B2B sector. As more companies begin to explore the possibility of launching their own programs, it’s important to understand exactly how an incentive or loyalty program can positively impact B2B businesses.
It’s key to note the primary roles and functions loyalty and incentive programs play in the overall workings of a B2B business. In B2B sectors there’s a higher focus on product knowledge and education, the quality of products or services being bought, and providing resources or solutions that support a business’s various needs and goals. B2B incentive and loyalty programs therefore are utilized for objectives like providing consistent communication with channel partners and end-users, creating differentiators that set the brand apart from competitors, and collecting customer data for valuable user insights.
Understanding this, what can B2B companies expect from their incentive or loyalty programs? In 2021 the Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers (IESP) published a research study that provided benchmarks for the kinds of results corporate leaders can expect from well-designed direct sales incentive programs, channel incentives programs, and b2b loyalty programs. Here are some stats that reveal the different benefits of incentive and B2B loyalty programs:
1. 90% of incentive or B2B loyalty programs will achieve over 5% growth year-over-year (YOY), and more than two-thirds of programs on average achieve over 10%.
Growth is a key goal for most companies and is measured through a number of different metrics and KPIs. For B2B businesses especially revenue growth is a primary method used to evaluate success, and understanding growth rate plays an important part in making business decisions. In the IESP study, survey respondents reported that incentive and B2B loyalty programs delivered measurable year-over-year (YOY) revenue lift, all the way to the double-digits.
If that wasn’t enough, the survey also showed that over half of B2B customer loyalty initiatives specifically generated YOY lift beyond 20%. This shows that B2B loyalty programs can help businesses boost revenue growth when they are well-designed and executed correctly.
2. 82% of programs achieved between 5% and 10% retention scores
For B2B marketers customer retention is becoming an increasingly important focus. It costs more to acquire new customers, making customer churn something that directly impacts a business's bottom line. Additionally customer acquisition costs are only increasing, partially due to how the process for acquiring new customers is evolving. Now more than ever B2B buyer journeys are starting in digital spaces, requiring a growing need for digital ads, content marketing, social media, email marketing, and more.
Utilizing a loyalty program helps increase customer retention rates by building and nurturing valuable relationships with existing customers and creating deeper brand affinity. With 77% of B2B customer revenue coming from existing customers, finding ways to increase customer lifetime value and grow customer advocates that promote the brand is crucial.
3. Between 85% and 96% of programs (depending on type) achieve an ROI benchmark between 2:1 and 4:1.
Like with other marketing initiatives, proving ROI and profitability plays a part in the decision of whether or not to invest in an incentive or loyalty program. Loyalty programs that struggle to find financial success are typically the result of poor program design or management execution that cause financial expenses to outweigh any return on investment. This is why it’s important for B2B loyalty programs to be strategically designed and developed to support the goals and objectives of the company. As the IESP survey revealed, well-designed and executed B2B programs can provide a return between $2 and $4 for every $1 that is invested. If companies aren’t seeing a similar trend in ROI for their programs, they need to put time into identifying reasons why and explore options for optimizing and improving program performance.
The above stats and more help paint a picture of the different benefits B2B incentive or loyalty programs offer B2B businesses. While each industry, company, and program will have its own factors and nuances that play a part in program performance, loyalty and incentive programs have a proven track record of providing businesses with increased sales, customer retention, and brand awareness among other benefits. These types of programs can provide B2B businesses with the same value that contributes to their ongoing success.