Perspectives, Trends & News

5 B2B loyalty principles that incentivise transactions

on Thu Aug 08 2022
  • Market Insights

There’s a fundamental truism in customer retention: “a good customer experience is never forgotten.” If your customers have a memorable experience, they are more likely to return, tell their friends or engage with your brand. Seeing the clear benefits, 84% of B2B companies now embrace this customer experience model. Adopting this model enables businesses to improve and maintain their relationships with partners, suppliers and buyers. To achieve this, however, choosing the right B2B loyalty strategy for your business is crucial. This blog identifies these types, to help you select the perfect fit.

What is a B2B loyalty program?

As the name suggests, a B2B loyalty program is a customer retention strategy. This marketing strategy encourages other businesses to continue purchasing from your company. The key to ensuring other businesses make repeat purchases is establishing strong relationships with them. A well-crafted loyalty program achieves this by building brand recognition, fostering emotional and personal connections to your business, generating positive word-of-mouth, creating referrals, and crafting incentives that generate the behaviours desired.

However, a B2B loyalty program does not automatically translate into customer loyalty. To achieve this, your business must implement strategies relevant to your customer’s loyalty “type” (these are discussed further below).

Why strategy matters

Customer loyalty and rewards are interlocked. Attractive B2B rewards (i.e. discounted large orders, bonus products, “branded” money and digital gift cards) encourage other businesses to make repeat purchases. This behaviour, in turn, creates loyalty through brand recognition. By influencing this relationship through rewards, you foster a personal, emotional connection with other businesses.

The overarching goal of a B2B loyalty strategy is to encourage the desired customer behaviour(s) (i.e. repeated patronage, placing more orders, etc.). This is achieved by understanding your customer’s “loyalty type”, and designing a program with incentives to complement this.

B2B loyalty program types

Similar to B2C loyalty programs, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to cultivating B2B loyalty. The type of program which works for your company depends on various factors, such as your: target audience, product/service and objectives. The following are some of the most common B2B loyalty program types.

1. Price-driven loyalty

This is among the most common incentives driving customer and business behaviour. Resellers must reduce their costs, whilst growing their profit margins. This is why some consider price a key reason to stay loyal to a certain vendor. However, there are other forms of price-driven loyalty. These include promotions, trade discounts and special offers like cashbacks.

A price-driven loyalty program is not suitable for every business. Reducing your prices isn’t the optimal strategy if you’re incentivising through a sign-on discount, a sale or a rebate, for instance. The risk is that your business customers may only respond to your incentive to take advantage of a discount. This can result in one-off, short-term, or discount-only engagement with them.


One of the key acquisition campaigns for loyalty programs is promotions. Typically customers are already invested in other loyalty programs, so businesses need a seductive entry point to motivate observers, and casual customers to transact, or share their contact details. By creating and running a custom b2b promotion they can attract more volume, more leads, and grow accounts with their clients. Custom b2c promotions meanwhile can be used to clear stock, drive repeat purchases, motivate first purchases, or build an ongoing cadence to purchasing.  

2. Relationship-building programs

The key goal of this strategy is to cultivate a relationship with other businesses, resulting in consistent, repeat purchasing. Most B2B companies do this effectively, as relationships are made personal, by meeting with business owners face-to-face and sharing experiences.

Fostering good customer relationships is essential, as selling to businesses will net a much higher profit than selling to individual customers. To retain loyalty, it’s important to recognise and reward your most valuable customers. In business, these relationships are built over time and can grow very close. This bond creates brand loyalty and allows you to build a community with similar businesses. A strong B2B relationship also removes several barriers regarding agreements, contracts and negotiations.

3. Transactional loyalty

Transactional loyalty is also referred to as cognitive or functional loyalty. This loyalty type involves customers determining a product or service’s value and making a calculated decision as to whether to carry through with a purchase. If the customer sees value in the purchase and completes the transaction with no further commitment, it’s functional. Using incentives or promotions, brands can encourage consumers to make repeat purchases.

However, repeat purchases aren’t always a good indication of customer loyalty. A better indication is the number of purchases made. Your company must ascertain whether continued purchases are due to a lack of alternatives or the effort required to change suppliers.

4. Focusing on emotions

This approach relies on a consumer’s psychological preference and affective attachment. Emotional loyalty occurs when customers make a connection to your business beyond the transaction, and form a relationship. This loyalty refers to devotion to your brand. This comes from customers making positive associations with your product/service or the company itself. This is clearly demonstrated when a customer makes repeat purchases, despite the efforts of competitors. A good B2C example is customer devotion to Apple.

By creating a personalised interaction with your customers, your B2B brand can foster this same loyalty. To do so, personalise their experience from initial contact (whether personal or via an ad), to closing a deal and follow-up interactions (i.e. asking how they like the product, etc.).

5. True customer loyalty

This is the B2B loyalty strategy all companies should strive for. Customers who have true loyalty display a total commitment to a brand. This takes time and is not easy to establish. However, with true loyalty, your customers will not switch brands. True loyalty is a combination of the previously mentioned loyalty types.

Essentially, it leads to reciprocal relationships – a self-supporting, two-way value exchange. When your brand achieves this level of customer commitment, qualities such as convenience, discounts and promises of “something better” ceases to matter. As customers trust your business, they will always buy your product or service.

This level of trust comes from delivering an experience your customer truly values. You’ll foster such a sense of belonging, that customers will believe you have their best interests at heart. Thus, shifting the focus from mere transactions to devotion.


B2B incentive programs create customer loyalty. However, your brand must select the right “loyalty type” and create an incentive to complement that. Which behaviour(s) do you want customers to change? Should your incentives focus on repeat transactions, or offers to drive incremental sales? Your B2B rewards program must foster personal relationships, resulting in true customer loyalty.

For personalised advice on selecting the ideal B2B incentive program for your business contact us or call us on 03 8383 6000 for a free rewards and loyalty check-up.