B2B

Stream Loyalty Reshapes Customer Engagement in B2B

A Wise Marketer executive interview with Mark Maclure, co-founder Stream Loyalty

Mark Maclure, is co-founder of Stream Loyalty, a B2B marketing company that he started 14 years ago with Melanie Parker. The company has benefited from organic growth and has a client base that is global, with many pan-European clients.

Mark’s mission for the business was not immediately focused solely on loyalty, but on overall business performance improvement. He did have a dedicated passion to understand clients and wanted to bring his experience and knowledge to help organizations digitally transform themselves.

Mark came into this business from an unfamiliar, yet wholly appropriate business adjacency. His background in corporate finance taught him how businesses tick. His deep understanding of business models, balance sheets, and the needs of leading executives provided him with the insights necessary to create strategies that help organizations grow their customer base and improve profitability.

The orientation to loyalty marketing came through work with one of the company’s first clients, a national window manufacturer. What started as an employee engagement program developed into a loyalty program that was then extended out to customers. Stream are big advocates of combining a customer and employee loyalty program for greater impact. The transition to full-service loyalty provider was further cemented by Streams work with a dental equipment manufacturer, a client that is still with Stream today. The team helped this client progress on a path to what they term “loyalty maturity” and achieve business goals in a complex product distribution environment.

The Stream “USP” is composed by its work across many sectors, its generation of thought leadership and insights and learnings that have been acquired from other channels. The C-Suite and Marketing team is their audience and Stream connects well by being a “bringer of insights” to its clients. Its software platform is designed to appeal to the way in which B2B marketers work.

Complexities of B2B Loyalty Marketing

We asked Mark about the contrast between B2B and B2C loyalty and he was quick to say that B2B is more complex to design and execute than B2C. “There is normally a smaller population of clients, a broader profile of those clients and higher value per client than in the consumer sector – essentially all the averages are higher,” said Mark, “the Pareto rule is in effect but in a more pronounced manner.”

The B2B business model creates challenges for marketers as well. Sales models can be direct, indirect, or multi-layered. In one case cited, Mark said that a building and heating product manufacturer was flowing product from the source to wholesalers, distributors, and sole traders before it reached the end-user customer.

Regulatory environments in some sectors can affect the landscape and can vary across geography, sometimes impacting program structure and reward selection. Not every business can reward clients directly and the nature of rewards offered can vary greatly by the size and type of business. Stream is “reward agnostic,” so it listens to its customers to understand what’s important to them to help create optimal reward strategies. Options range from free products, trade account credits, currency in ecommerce platforms, business specific rewards like training and team building, complementary services from partners, charity donations and sometimes third-party products. Our programs have seen a sharp rise in the number of redemptions that are made on charitable donations in the last few years.

These scenarios influenced the way Stream architected its software platform. Clients can meet their need for short term campaign execution in support of specific promotional needs but can also support to deliver longer term sustainable programs. The software is designed to reward actions, not just transactions. Mark shared that there are many more actions in B2B (such as referrals), thus highlighting the comprehensive nature of the value propositions that their product can support.

“B2B buyers are not typically buying on passion, rather functionality,” said Mark. “There is not a prevalence of emotional connections being created in B2B, but we still need to remember that, at the end of the day, we’re all consumers and it’s important that we build strength in the relationships with customers. Loyalty allows you to track and measure behaviours to grow those connections.”

Stream’s product was developed through an in-house software development team based in the UK. Its delivery model is cloud based, software as a service, with hosting centered in a Microsoft Azure environment and integrations created among many enterprise applications. Though clients can use the platform on a self-serve basis, most value the collaboration with Stream team members to gain the benefits of their business acumen and thought leadership.

Belief in Loyalty Training

Stream was a sponsor of the recently completed Pan European workshop held by the Loyalty Academy in Dublin, Ireland. The leadership at Stream participated in the workshop and all earned the Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional™ designation. “We are keen to position ourselves as thought leaders and see real value in this program,” said Mark.

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