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IESP Report: Do This, Get That Is Out in B2B Program Design

New Research White PaperA report on business-to-business incentive and loyalty programs published by the Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers (IESP), a Strategic Industry Group within the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), finds that “even the most substantial business purchases are built on relationships, not simple rationality.”
“The bottom line: If you are not moving toward personalizing every aspect of your program—communication, user experience, rewards and even rules structures—you might be leaving incremental growth on the table.”
This is one of the primary conclusions of a special report entitled “Emerging Best Practices and Innovation in B2B Incentive and Loyalty Programs,” based on 70 survey responses consisting of 43% corporate buyers of business-to-business incentive and loyalty programs and 57% of solution providers. Respondents ranged from executive management to sales operations and several positions in between.
According to the study, the top three needs in loyalty and incentive solutions are:
1. Integration
  • “Fully integrated enterprise engagement technology linking all key engagement levers and audiences the way CRM does for customer management.”
  • “Greater integration between disparate tools to communicate with one another to enhance individual performance.”
2. Engagement
  • “More user engagement (log into the portal more), including dashboards showing progress.”
  • ”More ad hoc promotion, loyalty program gamification.”
3. Personalization
  • “Predictive needs and suggestions based on purchase history.”
  • “Ability to drive the personalized reward experience down to individual preference.”
  • “A more personalized experience.”
Other findings include:
"Growth and ROI are among the top KPIs (key performance measures), and when you include market share growth, incremental financial performance is critical in B2B programs. However, three metrics in the top six--Engagement Rate, Member Retention and Enrollment—are indicators of relevance more than financial performance.”
Softer objectives matter too. The survey asked respondents to identify all their “softer” program objectives, ranked below:
  • Building an emotional connection with the brand through appreciation (72%)
  • Building broader awareness of the brand and its products (68%)
  • Improving skills and understanding of products, services, and brand values (63%)
  • Creating and enabling brand ambassadors (45%) 
Primary objectives of respondents, in order of response:
  • Motivating people/customers to achieve greater results for our organization
  • Recognizing and rewarding members/customers for their continued loyalty to the brand
  • Building deeper relationships with our most important business drivers
  • Celebrating and retaining our top performers
  • Encouraging personal and professional development
  • Capturing new data for personalization and segmentation
The minimum technical requirements critical to program success, ranked in order of responses:
  • Stand-alone platform for enrollment, points issuance, reward redemption and reporting
  • Ability to administer promotions and offers to specific segments of your audience
  • Integration with CRM, or HRIS (human resources) system(s) for authenticating members and tracking progress
  • Embedded communications tools for email and/or SMS
  • Gamification—badges, leaderboards, missions, surprise and delight rewards
  • Integration with other systems (Learning Management Systems, Point-Of-Sale, etc.)
  • Embedded training or learning management module as point-earning opportunities
  • Mobile app, stand-alone or branded
  • Integration with 3rd party marketing automation tools for communications
  • Integration with an existing mobile apps.
Using data to craft personalized experiences: 40% of respondents focused on dynamic segmentation, automation, and ways to create personalized experiences. “It is also noteworthy that in this era of mobile-first websites, dedicated apps and app integrations are at the bottom of the list.”
Most popular communications platforms:
Email - 100% of respondents use email to communicate with program participants
Web or app notifications—56%
SMS/text messaging—51%
Social media feed—51%
According to these respondents, the best performing rewards are: brand name merchandise; store-branded gift cards; pre-paid gift cards; discounts and rebates; events and experiences; individual travel; group trips; the company’s products; logoed promotional items; charitable donations, and points exchanges.

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