Changing face of loyalty: a B2B perspective for SMEs
Among traditional B2B companies, particularly SMEs, there is a belief that growth hinges on reducing expenses and improving revenue levels. Today, more forward-thinking and pragmatic companies also attribute the growth to customer loyalty. So, how are they cultivating loyalty?
For starters, nothing can bring loyal customers if your service levels are not up to the mark. Moreover, the B2B market has competitors racing to win their customers’ hearts, minds, and wallets. It can be difficult to differentiate yourself from the rest of your competitors when your business offers run-of-the-mill products and services. Fortunately, there are technology tools that help you have a finger on the pulse of customer needs and the market.
The importance of loyalty
SMEs on a B2B model often operate with budget constraints. Unlike B2C, where loyalty is hard to cultivate due to a multitude of value propositions, B2B models operate on a foundation of trust and long-term associations. So, many tend to stick with what they know and what they have already tried and liked. However, the lines between business-facing and customer-facing models are getting increasingly blurry following the pandemic-related disruptions. So, the need to build loyalty is greater than ever at the moment, regardless of the business models.
Various studies have proved that existing customers can constitute the majority of a company’s revenues. This is to say, ignoring your existing customers for the benefit of new acquisitions is never a viable approach. The costs of acquiring new customers are always high compared to that of retaining existing ones. So, it is more critical than ever that you cultivate loyalty among your current clients.
Cultivating customer loyalty
Repeat customers transact with a business for a reason — they already trust the brand and its services. Furthermore, they also represent a group that is more responsive and receptive to your marketing efforts.
When you manage to retain customers, it can also directly boost your sales and improve the profit margins significantly, as evident from a case study.
When we consider the long and complicated B2B sales cycles, customer retention definitely merits greater attention than acquisition.
Marketing automation for the win
One of the key performance metrics for a B2B business is customer satisfaction. Marketing automation helps you achieve this goal by providing a complete set of tools to focus on your customers as well as the core operations.
A well-designed marketing automation system can help you build lasting relationships with your customers by ensuring they are engaged at the right time and in the right channel. Here are some ways marketing automation helps improve brand loyalty:
Marketing automation helps you build stronger relationships with your audience by providing them with relevant information. Data-driven platforms make it easier for you to understand their needs and make more informed decisions. It also helps you identify gaps in your existing strategy so that you can course correct based on real-time feedback from customers.
By tracking behaviour patterns, automation technologies can help SMEs stay in sync with consumer movements. You can monitor every aspect of your campaigns — from where people are engaging, what they are clicking on, how frequently they have visited your website, etc. In one such instance, marketing automation helped increase order frequency by 30 percent and repeat purchases by 22 percent.
Customer loyalty programs to complement your marketing automation efforts
Customer loyalty programs are a great way to help improve the brand building. You can use customer loyalty programs to increase your visibility and improve engagement, which will ultimately lead to more sales. One of the most popular customer loyalty programs is the rewards program, which allows customers to earn points based on purchases, referrals, and other activities. Rewards programs incentivize your customers to spend more money over time. From a strictly B2B standpoint, another way you can create loyalty is through subscription services at discounted prices or special deals for customers who purchase regularly from you.
The importance of brand loyalty cannot be emphasized enough. When customers engage with your company more than once, they give you a chance to earn their trust, respect, and business. At this juncture, you need the right tools for subsequent engagement. If there is friction in services, your tools must alert you to it, so that redressal can be initiated immediately. A loyal customer is a brand ambassador who doesn’t charge you for their unconditional word-of-mouth marketing.
In B2B models, where one new customer can bring so much revenue and growth, loyalty is a gift that keeps on giving.
About the author
Managing Director UAE and Vice President MENA at WebEngage, Hetarth Patel has had more than 20 years of experience in the global Information Communication Technology industry, leading strategy, organization building and global business expansion. A committed individual and creative thinker, Hetarth has played a pivotal role in the growth of various companies he’s been associated with.