Your channel partners are vital to your organisation, providing a stream of revenue that you rely on every day. Yet keeping them engaged and motivated can be challenging. This is where loyalty programs come into play – something you should consider for your business. Businesses should opt for digital loyalty programs for channel partners, we say at Almond.
Loyalty programs are a valuable tool to engage and reward channel partners for their efforts in promoting and selling a business’s products or services. Building loyalty leads to increased sales, greater customer engagement, and more promotional opportunities that improve channel partner productivity and profitability.
But before we move forward, let’s first understand what a loyalty program is.
Loyalty programs are incentives that companies offer to their channel partners such as suppliers, distributors, and resellers. Through these programs, they offer rewards for their continued partnership and incentivise them when they reach certain goals or perform specific actions.
Marketing professionals often have the notion that incentives are the only way to reward loyalty. But that is not the case. There are numerous forms of rewards such as digital coupons, exclusive access to events, personalised experiences, upgrades, non-monetary gifts, discounts, bonuses, commission increases, and recognition that can be provided to channel partners or customers for being loyal.
But the question is, do loyalty programs make any difference to brands; do loyalty programs benefit channel partners? Here are some benefits that I can think of:
- Through loyalty programs, businesses can provide channel partners with an additional incentive to promote and sell the business’s products or services.
- By offering rewards and incentives, businesses can build stronger and more collaborative relationships with partners.
- By rewarding their most loyal channel partners, businesses can foster a sense of commitment to the partnership.
- Loyalty programs can help businesses motivate their channel partners to achieve specific performance targets, leading to improved overall sales and revenue.
- Businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and provide an additional reason for partners to choose to work with them, by offering a loyalty program.
While there are many methods of engaging and rewarding, perhaps none is as effective and easy to implement in today’s digital economy as a digital loyalty program.
Asian Paints ‘Mobile Pe Charcha’ channel partner program is a great example. It is a short format video-based education and engagement initiative, offered in more than eight languages to make it accessible to channel partners from different regions. The primary objective was to build awareness about safety amongst painters. The indirect benefits that accrued to the company include upskilling of the painters through transfer of knowledge, continued engagement and more business per painter, and enhanced loyalty.
Another exciting example is the Coca-Cola ‘Rishta Rewards’. This program is designed to engage and retain channel partners by offering real-time, omnichannel and personalised rewards to maximise repeat sales. During this program, Coca-Cola distributed 1000+ rewards over more than 100 outlets.
Usually, businesses think that B2B loyalty programs are meant for engaging channel partners and volume customers and driving more revenue. But there’s more to it. Digital programs also help to foster strong, long-lasting relationships and create lead generation, upselling, and cross-selling opportunities.
Digital offers the possibility of providing very personalised rewards and experiences. In the digital mode businesses can encourage customers to share information about their needs and preferences. This information can be used to generate leads as the customer moves along the brand journey. Channel partners can also be encouraged to influence customers to increase their spending, either by buying more of the same product (upselling) or by buying complementary products (cross-selling).
Additionally, by offering exclusive access to new products and services, brands can increase the likelihood of customers making additional purchases. Ultimately, a well-designed B2B loyalty program can help them drive growth and increase their customer engagement.
Loyalty programs can be integrated into existing digital programs without reinventing the wheel. Some of the ways this can be done are:
- CRM Integration: Integrating the loyalty program with a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help track customer behaviour, purchases, and reward points in real-time.
- E-commerce Platform Integration: Integrating the loyalty program with an e-commerce platform can make it easier for customers to earn and redeem rewards and track their progress.
- Marketing Automation Integration: This can help businesses target and personalise rewards-based campaigns to customers based on their behaviour and purchase history.
Most importantly, digital programs can provide valuable insights into channel partner behaviour and preferences, which help businesses to optimise their engagement strategies and drive better results. Overall, digital loyalty programs and engagement platforms are powerful tools to build stronger relationships with channel partners, drive sales, and increase brand loyalty across the board.