It’s cliché but true: an incentive plan design is both an art and a science. It requires strategic and business acumen to align the program with corporate sales and marketing goals. It also requires a creative streak to spark to encourage emotional and intrinsic motivation. Along with effective incentive technology, it can be greatly beneficial to consult experts when developing your incentive plan design. Here are some of the services that can help you plan a superior incentive program:
Goal-Setting & Benchmarks
For any effort to grow sales or increase customer loyalty, the best strategy is one with a sound goal. And the best goals come from data-driven research and collaboration. Match your in-depth knowledge of your market position, industry, and business needs with incentive experts’ experience operating successful incentive programs. Incentive planning experts should help you make the following determinations about your program’s goals:
How long should the program run?
The program’s ideal duration will depend on a number of factors: what is the goal and how quickly does your organization need to reach it? Do you need to achieve a 50% increase in warranty registration submissions by the end of Q2, for example? Incentive experts should be able to advise you on how long to run the program, and what your projected success will be by this end-date.
What benchmarks should the program hit to be on-track for success?
If your incentive program provider has worked with companies like yours, they should have a good idea of what the program’s lifecycle will look like. For example, in successful channel incentive programs, redemption rates for rewards distributed typically reach 60% by the second year, then steadily increase by 10% every year after that until year five.
When is it time to restructure or expand the incentive plan design?
An incentive program isn’t a fully self-sustaining tool. In order for the program to continue growing, it requires periodic adjustments according to the program’s maturity, performance, your business goals, and unforeseen opportunities. Changing the program too quickly or soon, however, can hurt its performance. The right incentive experts can advise you on when to update the incentive plan design and how.
Incentive Marketing Services
Incentive marketing has the potential to be much more effective than standard marketing efforts. A case study of one manufacturer revealed that program-related email open rates were 268% higher than industry averages and email click-through rates 780% higher than industry averages. Messaging and content regarding incentives performs well for the simple reason that there’s something in it for the recipient.
All of this is assuming that you would have the extra marketing hands available to create, manage, and measure incentive marketing campaigns. If not, you can outsource incentive marketing to creative professionals who can help you accomplish the following:
Create an annual incentive marketing plan.
The plan should includes a strategic sequence of calls-to-action, from boosting program awareness/enrollment to stimulating reward redemptions and sending reward balance statements.
Communicate with participants through a variety of channels.
You should be able to reach participants through their preferred method of communication, whether it’s email, calls, mailers, texts, or website announcements.
Enhance incentive email marketing.
High-quality templates, automated email scheduling, and a drag & drop editor can make your emails more engaging.
You know what you want channel partners to think and feel when it comes to your brand marketing. You should be able to trust any incentive program experts you work with to accurately represent your brand in promoting your incentive program. Expert incentive planners should understand your branding and marry it to their extensive, specialized ability to craft successful incentive marketing campaigns.
Reward Fulfillment Services
Reward fulfillment is one of the most important cornerstones of a successful incentive program. No matter how well-planned your incentive program is, no matter how well-designed its goals and efficient your technology—a bad reward experience can compromise everything.
Studies have shown that speed affects how well a reward achieves its goal. What’s more, lightning-fast shipping from services like Amazon Prime have changed expectations about shipping times.
By outsourcing reward fulfillment services to full-time incentive experts saves you the risk of delayed or problematic reward redemptions. It ensures your participants have a seamless, convenient reward redemption experience with no issues.
You don’t want to invest time and money into an incentive program, designed to boost motivation and engagement, only for the program to be a source of negativity. But with any technology your salespeople, employees, customers, or channel partners interact with, there is the potential for problems that need troubleshooting. This is why it’s why to choose an incentive provider that offers participant support services along with their software.
Full-time participant support services can help participants who forget program passwords, forget the link to the program website, or have questions about their reward balances. Rather than setting aside your own company resources, you can rely on trained, dedicated participant support experts.
Analytics & ROI Measurement
Lastly, you should have incentive program ROI experts at your disposal, to analyze your program performance and maximize results. Professional ROI analysis services can help you:
- Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that best reveal your program’s performance.
- Identify, post-program, which KPIs proved most useful in predicting success, or which were least helpful.
- Show ancillary benefits the program generated, such as an overall sales lift in addition to specific incentive sales promotions, additional website traffic, or sales and marketing insights gained from customer and sales data.
- Select the tools, features, or strategies best suited to scaling the program’s success?
With these services, you can develop an incentive plan that is ready to run with minimal surprises (none of the bad kind, anyway), delays, or issues. Incentive plan design doesn’t have to be totally out of your control or completely on your shoulders. The best incentive program providers will allow you the level of involvement that works best for you, and prove themselves to be trusted partners and collaborators along the way.