Channel marketing is all about keeping your brand in front of your customers and channel partners. This includes raising brand awareness, keeping the brand top of mind, and engaging channel partners. You’re competing for channel partners attention, not only with the competition, but other product, promotions, partner initiatives, etc. Reaching partners is tough, let alone making sure the right message gets through to them. You have to rise above the noise with effective, timely channel marketing touch points.
Channel marketers have many tools at their disposal to help capture channel partners’ attention: SEO, PPC, social media, trade publications, email marketing, direct mail, trade shows, affiliate marketing programs, and the list goes on. You can even think of your organization’s sales reps as marketing tools, designed to be the face of your organization and create a personal association with your customers and channel partners.
The different avenues of reaching your audience can be overwhelming and it’s widely accepted these tools are must-haves with their own unique purpose. In general, B2B companies don’t effectively engage customers with marketing touch points as well as B2C companies. As an IBM study found, “B2B companies..tend to score, on average, less than 50% in customer experience index ratings, compared to B2C organizations that tend to score between 65%-85%.”
Almost all marketing tools that create touch points cost money. You’ll be paying for them whether they translate into sales or not. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to track the sales ROI for some of these tools to prove that they work. However, there is one strategy that will keep you top of mind, build brand awareness, and engage your audience—a performance-based strategy in which costs are incurred after the sale. When it comes to creating channel marketing touch points, there is no better tool than an incentive program.
Incentive Program Touch Points
Most people know the basics of an incentive or loyalty program: you reward customers for buying products or sales reps for selling them. That’s certainly a big part of these programs, but incentive programs also open up a whole new world of engagement and interaction with channel partners and even end users.
Once registered to your incentive program, participants can opt in to receive program communication. This could include program emails and/or text messages. These communications grab participants’ attention. In one incentive program case study, an Incentive Solutions client saw email open rates 44% higher and click-through rates 420% higher than B2B industry averages! Incentive program emails tend to outperform other types of marketing emails because the participant has a vested, personal interest in the program rewards.
When you consider all the additional channel marketing touch points created by an incentive program, alongside high-performing email engagement, it’s eye-opening how effective these programs can be in driving sales growth. Incentive programs also decrease churn because your customers are less likely to turn to competitors.
Each incentive program touch point is a reminder of your value proposition and keeps your brand top-of-mind when so many others are competing for that same space. Some examples of standard incentive program touch points (excluding special promotional emails/texts or announcements):
The announcement of your incentive program should be exciting! Whether you have a launch party, kick-off rewards raffle, or just send out an email or direct mail to drum up interest, participants will take notice of new opportunities to earn rewards.
As previously mentioned, participants sign up to your incentive program to receive notifications through email and/or text. You can customize the fields in your enrollment form to capture useful channel partner data.
An incentive program welcome message can be automated, so it reaches participants as soon as they enroll to confirm their registration. This is a good opportunity to nudge participants toward the reward program website or to current sales promotions they qualify for.
Between the spam and irrelevant updates, few people look forward to opening emails. But there’s a shining light for incentive program participants. That rare, glorious treasure: an email that’s actually exciting, announcing “You have rewards”! Who doesn’t want to read those words? It’s probably one of the few times channel partners will be genuinely thrilled to receive a business-related email. You can make the most of the opportunity with personalization, eye-catching design, helpful info, and resource links.
Almost as exciting as award notifications, monthly statements give participants a summary of their incentive program account and reward balance. This helps them keep track of the rewards they’ve earned and reminds them if they have rewards waiting to be redeemed.
Sometimes incentive program participants save up rewards over long periods of time while deciding how they want to use their points. That’s where redemption campaigns come in handy. Incentive Solutions conducts redemption campaigns for clients throughout the year to stimulate redemptions and ensure they’re getting maximum benefit and participation from their incentive programs. These campaigns generally consist of multiple touch points including email, post cards, phone calls, etc.
It’s important to get feedback about your incentive program from participants. Every year, for instance, Incentive Solutions conducts a Voice of the Customer survey to assess participants’ incentive program experience. This not only provides useful insights on how we can make programs even better, but it shows who’s engaged with the program, which initiatives are most effective, and reminds participants of the program’s value.
Program Log-ins and Catalog Shopping
Participants interact with your brand every time they log into or visit the reward program website. Even better—with integrated services, participants can access the program with single sign-on (SSO) through your corporate website menu. That means they’re hitting your site every time they want to check their reward points balance or claims status, browse the reward catalog or redeem rewards.
One of the most positive brand touch points your channel partners can experience is redeeming rewards through your incentive program. Whether it’s scoring seats to a big event, getting plane tickets for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, ordering a new gadget, or just treating themselves to a coffee, participants associate these warm ‘n fuzzy emotions with your brand.
Redemption Confirmations & Updates
After participants redeem reward points for tangible items, their first thought is probably going to be “When will it get here?” Incentive Solutions’ reward redemption services ensure participants get updates when their redemption order, shipping, and delivery confirmation. Each touch point is a little burst of excitement, reminding them that the reward they earned from your brand’s incentive program is on its way.
Receiving the Reward
Mission accomplished: reward acquired! This is the most significant incentive program touch point. The delight participants feel when they receive their reward—whether it’s tangible merchandise, event tickets, or debit/gift card funds—will leave a lasting impression, maybe even an unforgettable memory forever tied to your brand.
For many incentive rewards, the impact continues long after reward acquisition or experience. If the reward is a set of golf clubs or patio furniture, for example, it becomes a conversation piece. If the reward was a trip or event, looking at or sharing pictures will always bring back the memory of the reward and how they earned it.
Your incentive program could have many more touch points depending on the tools and features you add to it. You could provide on-the-spot reward certificates, for example, to reward participants for any number of actions. You could reward channel partners for passing online quizzes or completing surveys. The possibilities are vast!
When you add up all of the channel marketing touch points that incentive programs have to offer, along with the fact that 95%+ of your costs associated with it are incurred after the sale, it becomes clear: incentive programs are one of the most efficient ways to engage channel partners consistently and repetitively. You stay top of mind in one of the most positive ways possible—by providing personal value, not just business value.