No matter how great a channel incentive program may be, there is always room to optimize and improve performance, through many different approaches. In some programs, optimization initiatives fall by the wayside, leaving the program to stagnate. Other times, improvement concepts are driven by gut or speculation or perhaps things that worked in totally different programs than the one in focus. Most successful programs cultivate ideas to improve performance directly from their participants through strategic information gathering of actionable insights, like from surveys or focus groups.

More common now than in the past, leading incentive programs are pinging their audiences for feedback to reduce conjecture about how the program can work more effectively. Gathering key intel from the horse’s mouth provides administrators with valuable direction to hyper focus their optimization initiatives on the key areas that the audiences are describing as either pains to diagnose or advantages to lean further into.

Feedback from our Research Services has been insightful and we’re happy to share some of the most common ways to ensure an enjoyable and positive participant experience, keeping users engaged and your brands/products top of mind.

Positive Program Experience

Ease of use in a sales incentive program is crucial to achieving a desired level of participation. Often, program experience issues arise with users when recent drastic changes have taken place, repurposing key operational areas of the program like registration, login, sales submission. Even when making a positive program change, it’s imperative that you and/or your incentive program partner has a focus on change management, ensuring the best possible transition from one program to another. Change management should involve a fluid transition from one experience to the next, proper training and user materials, as well as ongoing management of key program functions to ensure high levels of usability and utility.

Appropriate Program Logic

A common pitfall of programs lies in overly complex logic. Complexity could be good in programs, because it means the system is advanced enough to handle many specific functions and workflows relative to unique business needs. However, sometimes complexity can be too… well, complex for the user to easily understand. Complexity can lie in eligibility requirements to participate in the program or specific contests, product eligibility for reward payouts, payout logic and whether or not a sale submitted will return a reward or if users are submitting blind. It’s wise to consistently survey the audience on program comprehension and usability to ensure an optimal experience.

High Value Rewards

Good program engagement and participation is sometimes a result of the reward assortment available to users for their loyalty. If the rewards are desirable, participants will be engaged. If competitors are running attractive Visa cards and cash options while your program is running solely merchandise, you may see attrition and lack of engagement, irrespective of how attractive other elements of the program might be. Reward impact goes hand in hand with program experience because overly complicated issues while claiming hard earned rewards can leave the user with a negative experience.

Effective Communication

Sometimes, program administrators and other key stakeholders have done their homework or have contracted services to make their program great. However, even a great program cannot reach its full potential with weak communication around the initiative. Strategic program communication is key to good program engagement because it builds awareness around it. Making a splash of the program at launch is a great practice, however, ongoing communication is what keep participants coming back, especially with a compelling offering.