30 Use Cases for Using Incentives Across Your Entire Customer Lifecycle
January 18, 2022
By Hannah Shain
In September, we gave you a primer on great ways to drive customer advocacy through incentives. We covered some essential points on incentives, reminded you to avoid bribery at all costs, and started you off with some ideas.
We’re back again because since then, we’ve been letting more ideas percolate, and we have come up with more ways to use incentives across your buyer’s entire customer lifecycle.
Let’s jump into the 30 use cases—10 for each stage: attract, engage, and delight—we’ve dreamed up to wow your leads throughout their entire journey.
Attract: Lead Generation Incentive Ideas
Offer a small-value gift card or subscription if:
- A potential customer books a meeting with your team.
- A customer books time at a conference.
- A customer gives you a referral, and the referral takes some action toward becoming a customer.
- A customer completes a research survey.
- A customer registers for a webinar.
You want to avoid becoming known as the company or brand that constantly gives away freebies. People are just going to be hanging around waiting for that next offer or gift rather than feeling truly appreciated and completely surprised by it Of the first few incentives on our list, try using one, or at most, two. Otherwise, you run the risk of turning your well-intentioned incentives into bribes for your customers to take the next step. Consider using BHN Rewards (formerly Rybbon) to provide rewards digitally.
Give away items at conferences.
6. Gift attendees with a swag bag that includes items such as a company T-shirt or coaster at a conference booth.
7. Offer a VIP gift at a conference. Promote the gift ahead of your event as an incentive for a customer to take action, such as registering or—even better—upgrading their registration.
Use gifts to welcome and thank clients.
8. Give new clients a warm welcome. Send them a gift card or welcome package once they are at least partially signed on as clients. Design the incentive to make them feel appreciated as customers.
9. Incentivize product survey responses. Send something as simple as a $10 gift card as a thank-you to customers for filling out a product survey. They will be attracted to take the next step, and it’s not bribery because the gift card’s value is small.
Utilize social media with its ever-growing power for lead generation, especially among younger clients.10. Make a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Pinterest, or website-based contest page. Only offer rewards to potential customers who have already signaled their interest by liking, or even better, joining.
Avoid using these incentives en masse. Instead, when you sense a hot opportunity to attract your customer to take an action, choose one incentive to employ to make them feel welcome and appreciated.
Engage: Conversion Incentive Ideas
Offer rewards to qualified leads who have taken action.11. Make a qualified lead feel welcome if they download content from your website or platform by offering a sales outreach gift card along with a note inviting them to book a meeting to get to the next step.
12. Send those who have booked the meeting a virtual gift card, such as for free coffee, small-value lunch, or a drink at happy hour, depending on the meeting time. You don’t want to bribe the qualified lead, but if they have a chance to enjoy a free treat during the meeting, it will make them feel appreciated and welcomed.
Revive near-miss opportunities.
13. Sometimes, you can have a near miss. Maybe you have an awesome discovery call, and that lead went into the sales-accepted stage, but they kind of fell off the radar and didn’t necessarily convert, or they selected a competitor. Wait for a time, then revive the seemingly lost opportunity to convert by offering something cute.
A good example is a pair of high-quality shoelaces that will work with any shoe, along with a cute note inviting them to “coming running back” to your company. Six months after the near miss is a good time to use this incentive idea.
Engage with potential customers.
14. Invite target accounts to an industry-related happy hour function. Make it a “punny” experience by coming up with a non-cheesy pun theme. Some ideas include a party featuring donuts. Your messaging might say, “Do-Nut Let Your Strategies Slip Another Month.” Or host a happy hour event with messaging that says, “Let the Good Strategies be-Gin.”15. Offering a seven-day free trial for your brand’s products and services. This is a tried-and-true incentive method that will have your leads lining up left and right. Make it easy to cancel, and don’t complain if they want to cancel after the trial. Instead, impress them during the trial period and watch them convert and keep using your product or service.
16. Incentivize experience. For example, you could offer a $10 gift card for customers scoring higher than 80 percent on a training exam for your product to help them convert.
Nurture relationships with existing customers.
17. Impress customers who may have had a negative or unpleasant experience with your brand, and lead them back gently to conversion. “Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. We want to make it right, starting with a $15 gift card just for you!” Include a way to get in touch with the note, but don’t be pushy. If they appreciate the gift and decide to give your company another try, let them do it themselves.
Attract leads with freebies and experiences.
18. Offer them a free e-book or other valuable inbound content that makes them more knowledgeable about the product or service and want to buy or use it. If you end up converting them with this simple incentive, offer another if they sign up, such as a small-value gift card.
19. Offer bundled services to make converting more attractive to your leads. People tend to choose bundled products and services because, when done right, it truly saves money and—even more valuable—time and effort for them.
20. Use the good ol’ barter system. Offer a small portion of your services or a partial product and send it with a note that if the customer agrees to take advantage of the full product, you will send them a set of free business cards or something relevant to their company. You could offer signage to a real estate company, for example.
Delight: Customer Happiness/Advocacy Incentive Ideas
Acknowledge major milestones.
21. Use milestones to make your incentives even less like a bribe and more like a reward. For the six-month anniversary (or whatever date makes sense) of them being a client, send a small-value gift card or certificate to the customer’s favorite store, if you know it.
22. For significant milestones, up your incentive game. Send a gift not just to the account manager but perhaps to the entire team. We’ve shipped customer teams cupcakes in jars to help them celebrate significant milestones such as one year as a customer.
23. Use another milestone if your customer sticks around—and why wouldn't they?. After two years as a client, offer a gift they could share. For example, you could throw a prepaid group lunch party to celebrate a significant milestone.24. For a major milestone, such as five years as a customer, offer a high-end reward to make your customers feel valued and appreciated.
Give customers recognition throughout your relationship.
25. To delight your new client, send them a small-value gift card or quality gift such as flowers in a vase for signing on as a new customer.
26. Send out a birthday card and maybe a small-value gift card to a party store to help them plan their perfect birthday party. Birthdays are an excellent opportunity to make someone feel special and appreciated as a client.
27. Send customers an email telling them if they leave a review on a major public review site your company is listed on, they’ll receive a small-value gift card. Once they are your customer, they’re sure to be delighted by your product and services. Why not utilize incentives and their delight to increase business and make everybody happy?
28. Capitalize on the very definition of the word incentive by offering a free small-value gift card or other gift if your current customer refers a client to your company. Be sure to tell them they will only receive the incentive if the referral makes it to a certain point in the process.29. Up the fun with a culinary experience or another type of interactive activity during a customer advisory board. For example, your company could offer free cooking lessons and feature upgrades to their current customer status while they’re there.
30. Offer a coupon card at any point during the customer’s standing as a customer to truly delight. Partner with Starbucks to offer a punch card to customers so that if they buy four grande regular coffees, they get a fifth for free, sponsored by your company.
Never Forget the Value of Customer Incentives to Attract, Engage, and Delight!
We worked hard to develop these 30 use cases for customer incentives because there is no “loser” here. Even for customers who didn’t convert, you always have an opportunity to show them they are still valued and appreciated with a small incentive. Ideally, they will decide to convert after all.
Don’t offer too many incentives, don’t be pushy, and avoid even the appearance of bribery.
You are limited only by the stretches of your imagination. BHN Rewards can send digital rewards to recipients around the world.
Here are some more great things to consider when choosing digital reward providers for your incentive ideas.
What other gift incentive questions do you have on your mind? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @SmartBugMedia.
About the author
Hannah Shain was formerly the Vice President, Marketing at SmartBug Media. She leads demand generation, brand, marketing technology and more, and she is an energetic, ambitious, witty, and data-driven leader with over 14 years of hands-on marketing experience. Hannah brings a unique balance of seeing the bigger picture - assisting with market strategy and the launch of new lines of business - while also rolling up her sleeves to build from the ground up. She thrives in a fast-paced, collaborative environment, where she can lead a team, set goals and hunker down and get to work generating results. She leads all marketing initiatives that drive pipeline, increase lead velocity, and build a lovable brand. Read more articles by Hannah Shain.