Moving Your Channel Incentive Program From Offline to Online
If you are running a basic channel incentive program and are noticing little to no user engagement, transitioning from an offline to an online system is taking the right step forward. In fact, you don’t have to task yourself with creating a super-complicated loyalty program when you shift it online. You may be surprised at how successful your existing strategy can be just by digitizing some of the elements that are already familiar to your team and your program participants—but also by enhancing some of the areas that drive engagement and motivation to sell.
Effective incentive programs go beyond simply paying out rewards. The communication schedule, fresh targeted content, and user continuity are among the most important aspects of running a successful program. Investing into the right tools and features to engage the user base regularly, or on a specific communication schedule, unlocks the opportunity to earn valuable mindshare and performance that could otherwise be missed.
When switching from spreadsheets to a “system,” you must be acutely aware that not all software is created equal. In fact, the biggest misconception people run into involves collecting data versus automating processes. Most incentive systems do not have the ability to calculate results, ingest data, or manage complex goal- or ROI-driven incentives. In fact, all the system becomes is a glorified spreadsheet with a software interface. Think of this like making a switch from doing algebra long hand to using an abacus instead. Either you or your “software provider” will still end up manually sliding the counters along the rods. Slightly better, but what’s needed is a robust calculator that can perform many of the calculations for you.
This lack of automation in incentive programs causes a number of other problems too. These include the following:
- You are limited by the time it would take to calculate results. These delays could slow down your program which could mean participants waiting long periods for their payout. If you want to engage the indirect sales force, you better pay them quickly and not for sales made months prior!
- You will be limited by the complexity of the incentive. Growing companies often outgrow basic incentive promotions very quickly. Capabilities like tiered reward types, conditional logic, and advanced audience segmentation are needs that come with scale; however, the solution isn’t always there in a basic program.
- You will not be able to run very many promotions concurrently. That may not jive with your audience needs, sales goals, or overall campaign.
Finally, in an effective reward system, data, reports, and analytics are your best friend. There are countless valuable and actionable insights generating right within your program. If you can not run and create meaningful visual reports or analytical models to clearly see what’s happening, you may be unaware of the successes or maybe more importantly the gaps in your program. A key goal of a program is to go from simply paying out rewards to a system of seeing results, strategizing, and executing regularly on new ways of improving them to create true ROI.
When making the switch to a software provider, make it an evolution of how your program runs with room to grow, and not just an interface with the same underlying operating model.