Use Incentive Marketing to Activate Your Audience

Everybody likes a little reward for good behavior! Encourage your top fans to become even more engaged with incentive marketing.

Incentive marketing techniques are a trusted tool in your audience engagement toolbox. Use them! Marketing and communications can be confusing. Platforms are often changing. Data goal posts keep moving. But not all marketing aspects have to be tough. In fact, some can be kind of simple. Or even, kind of obvious.

Incentive marketing is exactly what it sounds like – and your organization has likely even tried it already. Or, perhaps, you’ve engaged with incentive marketing as a fan or follower of a brand yourself. At its heart, this marketing appeals to our desires to earn, influence, achieve, and be rewarded or recognized. It can be used for global operations or local boutiques. And, no matter the field, it can boost sales and lead to an uptick in engagement. As a plus, it can also help brands identify their biggest fans and most dedicated followers.

When can a brand employ incentives in its marketing? It involves some give and take. First, think about what action you’d like to encourage in your audience, such as:

  • Buying a product
  • Attending an event
  • Completing a survey
  • Downloading a white paper
  • Signing up for an email newsletter
  • Following a certain social media handle
  • Becoming a loyal and active audience member

All of these actions vary when it comes to level of involvement or commitment. However, that’s one of the perks of incentive marketing. No matter your budget, audience size, or reward offering, it could work.

Incentive Marketing Encourages Loyalty

Think of this strategy as a carrot and a stick. The right perk directs clients and customers toward a certain action. The concept is pretty simple, although there are many different ways to play with incentives for your brand. Your brand could use non-monetary rewards, recognition, discounts, or perks to drive the engagement.

Ultimately, your plan could result in a customer loyalty program or a one-off coupon code. Ever picked up a punch card at a café to earn your way to a free drink? Ever signed up for text messaging promotions to receive a 10% off coupon. Both are incentive marketing!

What’s special about incentive marketing is that it encourages continued engagement. The path to the free cup of coffee includes several purchases along the way. This builds loyalty, which is further encouraged as customers receive additional discounts or freebies the deeper customers move into your organization.

Additionally, this boosts lead generation and gives you an advantage over your competitors. And, since customers love to save money and reap rewards, there is a high likelihood they will engage with incentive marketing. Consider this: Coupon code use in the U.S. continues to be popular. In 2020, nearly 90% of surveyed adult consumers reported using coupons for shopping. And, 70% were seeking out digital coupons.

Ideas For Incentives

Not all incentives are the same, even if the marketing strategy is similar. The incentives might be fun, like a game, as customers work to move up loyalty levels. Or, the incentives might appeal to people’s basic needs. Even Amazon Prime’s membership to gain free shipping is a way to use incentive marketing. The incentives are necessary because they create reasons for audience members to engage or make a purchase. In other words, while incentive marketing might not remove all barriers to buying, it does smooth the path. When your audience asks, “Why should I do this?” the incentives provide part of the answer.

If your organization is considering incentive marketing as part of its strategy, there are a lot of possibilities ahead. Incentive marketing could look like:

  • Early access to a sale, content, or product launch
  • Free samples or bundled products
  • Sign-up bonus or gift
  • A loyalty program
  • Refer-a-friend promotion
  • Buy one, get one promotion

With so many options, incorporating incentive marketing might feel a little overwhelming. But lots of options also means lots of opportunities to see what works. Is there a certain target or demographic you are trying to reach? For example, if you have a general communications goal to grow your Facebook followers, brainstorm ways to incentivize that platform.

Perhaps your organization has already run a contest or tried incentive marketing. The good news is you can try again! Engaging your audience with rewards does not get old – as long as the incentives are fresh. Keep thinking of ways incentive marketing could be folded into your communications strategy or tried in a different way. Even playing with incentives on social media versus digital newsletters versus print can offer various pathways to encourage loyalty.

Increase Sales with Incentive Marketing

Incentive marketing is not going anywhere. It’s easy, generates results, and can be scaled up or down. How will you add it to your communications and social media strategy? That’s up to you. Your incentives should directly relate to your brand and your marketing strategy. So, if your brand is selling coffee, it doesn’t make sense to offer a free pizza to dedicated followers. Incentive marketing can be a little simple and obvious – reward your coffee lovers with coffee! You can still have fun and be cool, while also playing in your existing brand world.

Success will look different for each brand. When you begin your incentive marketing strategy, make sure you have set goal posts. If your loyalty program is expensive to rollout and doesn’t inspire additional engagement, you need to know if it’s working and why. Even though incentive marketing can be easy to implement, taking the time to consider strategy and cost, and set goals, will set up brands for success. And don’t forget to nail the call to action! Your ask should be easy and exciting to audience members, but also include clarity and timeliness. Keep it simple.

Remember, incentive marketing is about creating a reward for your dedicated audience members. So, let them enjoy the experience!
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