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The evolution of channel engagement and B-to-B loyalty

Mar 21, 2017

Written by: Mark Pearson
(View Author Bio)

It’s time to start thinking differently about channel engagement and B-to-B loyalty. And it’s time to stop thinking differently about B-to-B versus B-to-C marketing.


At BI WORLDWIDE, we use the principles of behavioral economics to create the best engagement strategies on the planet. We work with expert academics who advise us on the latest research on human behavior, engagement and decision-making. We use non-cash rewards and recognition to engage and motivate employees and sales teams. Check out our case study, white papers and posts library to see how our customized and results-driven solutions have helped clients all over the world.

The B2B2C Ecosystem

Channel engagement operates within increasingly complex and continually evolving economic ecosystems. These ecosystems differ by industry, vertical, product or service, brand and even customer segment. Understanding the unique characteristics and cross-channel dynamics of your ecosystem is a critical first step in thinking differently.

The Loyalty/Incentive Continuum

At the foundational level, effective channel engagement requires an assessment of the role that businesses play within the ecosystem. At one end of the continuum, businesses behave like customers or buyers. The restaurant industry is a great example. Here, a B-to-B loyalty or lifecycle marketing program is the most effective solution. At the other end of the continuum, businesses behave like sales people or re-sellers. Auto dealers fall into this category. Here, an incentive program is the best solution. Not surprisingly, most businesses exhibit characteristics of both buyers and sellers. In these cases, a hybrid approach is the best solution.

The Blurring Line Between “B” And “C”

Regardless of position on the loyalty/incentive continuum, effective program design requires an acknowledgment that the line between B-to-B and B-to-C marketing is blurring. More and more, businesses are increasingly behaving like consumers. This is great news because it means that the marketing concepts at the core of successful consumer loyalty programs can be leveraged in the design of channel loyalty programs. It also means the behavioral economic theories that drive consumer behaviors can also drive business behaviors. Let’s explore some of the key theories and concepts behind the evolution of channel loyalty.

Reframe Loyalty as Lifecycle

Customer lifecycle marketing as a strategic framework for loyalty can be just as powerful for businesses as it is for consumers. Where loyalty is nebulous, lifecycle is tangible. And where loyalty is the destination or goal, lifecycle is the journey or the path to reach that goal. The key to a successful lifecycle marketing program is creating a win/win scenario by balancing the desired engagement and behaviors with the appropriate motivators and rewards. Start by identifying and prioritizing the critical touch points and behaviors tied to the optimization of your unique customer lifecycle. Then, determine the value of each behavior and rank those behaviors on the degree of effort required. Finally, identify the right mix of rewards and motivators based on value/effort alignment.

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Mark Pearson

Vice President, Loyalty Marketing

Mark is responsible for multi-channel marketing strategy and solution design. He applies expertise in customer lifecycle, loyalty and interactive marketing to develop programs that leverage behavioral economics and gamification to drive engagement and targeted behaviors. Most programs are deployed online via responsive design, often incorporating social media extension and sales channel integration. Mark has more than 25 years of experience, a BA in English from Gustavus and an MBA in Marketing from St. Thomas.