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AI, Data, ‘Talent Culture’ Boost Incentive & Recognition Impacts

AccuList’s many incentive and recognition products marketing clients should take a look at The Incentive Research Foundation’s “IRF 2019 Trends Study” for tips on where the market is headed this year.

Room for Growth With a Corporate Culture Stress

With economic growth and optimism strong, companies are continuing investment in incentive and recognition rewards, with considerable room for market expansion for product suppliers: 84% of businesses are now using non-cash rewards, but past studies show close to 60% of merchandise and gift card rewards are still sourced through retail versus specialized agencies or providers. One factor pushing the recognition market is the trend to “talent culture” creation by C-suite executives, with “The Incentive Marketplace Estimate Research Study” finding more employers than ever offering non-cash rewards aimed directly at building relationships, encouraging inclusion and knowledge-sharing, and promoting engagement. Why? IRF’s studies as well as academic research are finding that when executives combine economic incentives with recognition and well-designed non-cash rewards, they promote “corporate citizenship” behaviors and work environments that attract and retain top talent.

Continued Spending for Merchandise and Gift Cards

Overall use of merchandise rewards is expected to increase, per IRF, particularly among corporate audiences, with a net increase of 33% compared to a net 20% of suppliers and third-party providers. The use of logo’d brand-name merchandise dominates, with 75% of corporate programs using these items as rewards. Other popular rewards are electronics (63%) and clothing/apparel (59%). The average merchandise reward value is pegged at $160, pushed up by the small part of the market that spends more per reward; in fact, nearly a quarter of respondents indicate their average merchandise reward is $100, and half of respondents reporting average merchandise reward values falling between $1 and $100.  Meanwhile, gift cards continue to be a popular option within reward and recognition programs, with open loop cards (that can be used anywhere) and brand-specific cards both enjoying high utilization. Plus, e-gift cards are gaining momentum, with half of large enterprises and 58% of medium enterprises using them in 2018.

Analytics and AI Are Changing the Landscape

Of particular note, IRF’s most recent study urges reward program designers and suppliers to understand how predictive analytics and AI are changing the market: “In the incentives field, predictive analytics and machine learning are helping program designers understand who is drawn to which types of rewards, and how those rewards should be shaped and presented to produce the best outcomes on an individual basis. Organizations are using analytics and AI to see patterns in peer-to-peer recognition so they can encourage greater participation. Some are using it to personalize learning. In the near future, algorithms will spot patterns and correlations between past rewards and incentives and the desired behaviors and outcomes that define a high performer.” Read the full IRF trends study for more, including data on incentive travel and event gifting.

2018 Recognition Market: Tech Partnering, Wellness & Non-cash Awards

AccuList USA recently completed proprietary research on hundreds of top performing lists of employee recognition and incentive product buyers to support clients in a business-to-business marketplace that now encompasses close to 90% of companies.

89% of Companies Committed to Recognition Spending

In fact, the 2017 “Trends in Employee Recognition” report from WorldatWork, a nonprofit human resources association, found 89% of surveyed organizations committed to recognition programs, with 65% offering between three and six different programs, from companywide (81%) to individual (69%) to department/team (67%). The top five recognition programs rewarded length of service (85%); above-and-beyond performance (77%); programs to motivate behaviors associated with the business initiatives, such as customer service (51%); peer-to-peer recognition (49%); and retirement (34%).  Certificates and/or plaques remain the most awarded recognition item, at 80% of respondents, followed by cash (55%), gift certificates/cards (45%), company-logo merchandise (40%), and food, such as a lunch or pizza party (39%). For incentive and recognition marketers, targeting can mainly focus on two departments responsible for administering programs: human resources (59%) and compensation (22%).

2018 Trends Include Brand Culture, Tech Partnering, & Wellness

The Incentive Research Foundation’s “IRF 2018 Trends Study” offers recognition and incentive marketers more guidance on changing demand trends. For one, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality capabilities will be a “fundamental requirement” for vendors and suppliers looking to partner with incentive professionals in 2018, per IRF. Marketers also will want to push wellness messaging, since more incentive professionals are adding health and wellness components focused on fitness, food, and comfort to their incentive programs this year compared with other features, says the report. And when it comes to merchandise products, incentive buyers in 2018 don’t want more choice as much as more “impactful products,”  such as products with local sourcing or organic roots and products that can be easily personalized and customized. The desire to build a brand-asset culture around intangibles, such as innovation, as well as traditional assets is one factor pushing these non-cash awards in 2018, notes the report. On the other hand, gift cards will continue to gain momentum this year, according to the IRF, which says mid-size firms spend an average of nearly $500,000 annually on gift cards across all programs, while large ones spend over $1 million annually. Finally, although incentive travel makes up a small part of the recognition pie, the incentive travel industry’s net optimism score for the economy is up almost 20 points from 2017 in the IRF report, leading to budget increases despite rising costs. For more on top incentive trends, see http://www.incentivemag.com/News/Industry/IRF-Top-Incentive-Trends-2018/

 

 

Positive 2017 Fundraising Trends Create Opportunities

While 2017 is starting as a year of uncertainty, especially in politics, a recent CauseVox post provides some good news for AccuList USA’s current and future nonprofit direct marketing clients. CauseVox staff writer Tina Jepson spotlights 10 fundraising trends that offer opportunities for greater success this year, and we’ll pass along a few here.

Increased Individual, Corporate & Recurring Giving

Donation forecasts are upbeat, Jepson shares: Philanthropy Outlook 2016 & 2017 predicts that an increase in individual and household income will help to boost fundraising efforts for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs by as much as 3.8% in 2017.  Plus, with Gross Domestic Product and business savings on the rise, total corporate giving is predicted to rise by 4.7% in 2017. And monthly giving, which accounts for 17% of online revenue, also will continue increasing per the 2016 M+R Benchmarks report. The trick with individual donors is to catch the wave with smart targeting, inspiring creative and campaigns to get existing donors to boost giving, says Jepson, while, for corporate giving, nonprofits would do well to maximize gift matching, to court business leaders and to keep tabs on company arrivals and growth locally. Plus, Jepson urges nonprofits to amp up their monthly giving strategy, making monthly giving the first option for donors on the website and a marketing priority in e-letters, direct mail and e-mail.

Donor Retention at a Record High

Donor retention rates are at the highest rate since 2008 at 45.9%, and nonprofits and charities clearly should make retention a marketing priority to capitalize on this powerful fundraising engine, Jepson notes. She suggests capitalizing on the trend with tactics such as personalization; prior gift recognition; leveraging donors’ preferred channels; donor education via videos, infographics or pamphlets; and donor activation with engagement opportunities such as volunteering or advocacy.

More Donor Data Than Ever Before

Digital interactions—websites, e-mail, social media and now the Internet of Things (IoT)—combine with traditional channels such as direct mail to generate a wealth of data about existing and potential donors. A key goal for 2017 is to gather, analyze and use actionable data effectively. Jepson lists a few ways to do so: Tracking analytics on your website and social media posts to learn the demographics and behavior of your paid, earned and owned media audience; using Facebook and Instagram Ads and Business Manager to target ads to donors likely to give; and turning around data learning to share with, and inspire, donors in real-time online via options such as a website ROI ticker that tracks return on investment (possibly in lives changed) per average donation.

Social Media & Mobile Marketing Challenges

In social and mobile marketing, nonprofits face challenges as well as opportunities. Social media platforms, including Facebook, now are promoting organic content that prioritizes the audience’s friends and family over nonprofit messages. Jepson points out that this means that effective social media marketing will need to rely more on purchased ads and targeting of key demographics, as well as creating viral content that inspires shares. Meanwhile, if your nonprofit hasn’t invested in mobile optimization of websites and e-mails, you’re missing a key donation source: Mobile giving makes up 17% of all online giving now and is projected to rise further in 2017.

For more trends and Jepson’s suggestions on maximizing their fundraising impact, see https://www.causevox.com/blog/fundraising-trends-2017/