Gift cards: a formidable marketing tool

by | 26 May, 2020 | CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

It is getting increasingly difficult for marketing strategies to stand out : finding new initiatives, increasing brand awareness amidst the competition, attracting new customers or encouraging loyalty… What if gift cards are the solution for a successful marketing strategy?

Single branded gift cards are often seen as a yet another method of payment, or as a simple product offered to customers. As a result, many gift card programs remain stagnant, they don’t improve or evolve. Very few brands fully exploit their hidden potential. Yet, it is a formidable marketing tool! Let’s take a look at the wide range of possibilities.

Customer acquisition

Customer acquisition is the crux of the matter for all marketers. Today’s consumers are bombarded with adverts from all sides. Emailing, SMS, social networks, display, TV, … No wonder people are trying to calm things down by installing ad blockers. The gift card is a good way to make yourself heard over the noise created by all the competitors and reach consumers directly. Usually given by a relative, it is seen as a gift first and foremost and shows the trust this relative places in the brand. Therefore, it is a strong recommendation lever and a powerful tool, able to turn consumers into regular customers. According to Trifecta Research Group for SVS, in 2014 28% of gift card holders were able to discover a previously unknown brand thanks to this tool.

Revamp your customer experience

With the explosion of internet use and new technologies, consumers have completely changed their lifestyle, and they expect the same transformations in their everyday consumption. Customers want to be taken into consideration by brands. Nowadays, marketing experts must design a tailor-made customer experience in order to create a lasting bond. Could gift cards be this new customer experience’s cement? Whether it is plastic or digital, the gift card’s features are fully customisable (design choice, personal photo or video, written note…). They display your brand and its image, and link them directly to the values of gifting. In short, everything comes together to put customers in the spotlight! Imagine rewarding your customers with a gift card specially customised for the occasion (birthdays, Christmas, …). They will surely feel closer to your brand upon receiving it. And that feeling will last while they visit your physical or online shop.

You are not losing out since 31% of gift card holders tend to buy products or services at full price, or even choose from the product range above. And the icing on the cake, more than a third of customers spend 40% beyond their card’s face value.*

* First Data Study

Hand in hand with promotional marketing

Gift cards are a formidable marketing tool. They can be used as a voucher and are better valued by customers. They can also be sent as rewards after the purchase of a product or a range. You can consider, for example, giving out a €5 gift card for the purchase of a bag. This will boost your sales on this specific item. And if you want to showcase a brand-new product, this method will be just as effective. 3 out of 4 customers claim they are far more willing to try out a new product if they have a gift card! They are seen as a real reward when used as a promotional tool. But unlike a discount voucher they don’t degrade the brand image.

It is also easy to use the expiration date as a way to generate traffic across all or one specific sales channel. If you want more customers at the beginning of the year, you can always launch a promotional campaign to offer them a €10 gift card for a minimum purchase. You get to decide when the expiration date is set. And it is no secret that consumers are partial to gifts. Almost 9 out of 10 enjoy receiving new gift cards regularly as a sales incentive.

Build customer loyalty

Maintaining an ongoing dialogue with customers is key to build loyalty.  Gift cards can fulfil that role through customised designs and messages. Sending a gift card for your customers’ birthday will create a strong bond. And if a customer is unsatisfied, offer them a gift card rather than a promotional code. They will see it under a much better light, and since it is used the same way as a loyalty or credit card, it helps build trust in the company. Thanks to gift cards, their shopping will be boiled down to one thing: treating themselves.

Increase brand awareness

Gift cards are the new ads, and they are always in the customers’ pockets:

  • in their inbox or their smartphone’s wallet if the gift card is digital,
  • in their actual wallet if it is a plastic gift card.

Since they always have it in sight, consumers are not likely to forget your brand.

Using data to better understand customers

More than a tool, data has become a key element for marketers. From better targeting potential customers and getting to know current clients, to offering products and services in line with their expectations, or finding the best insights to gain competitive advantages… Data has many advantages, as long as you are able to exploit the right elements and know how to turn it into relevant information.

Gift cards, whether they are bought online or in a physical shop, provide you with important information on the recipients: what they buy, where, when and how. It gives a good starting point to engage in a dialogue with new consumers, or enrich the relationship with existing customers.

Digital and plastic gift cards are tools that contribute to improve the overall performance of a marketing strategy. They encourage loyal customers to commit to a future purchase before having chosen a product. They are a sales incentive and draw consumers to your brand before they even visit your website or brick-and-mortar shop. Gift cards are a proven tool and are a great cornerstone to any marketing strategy.

Suggestions for further reading

Digital Gift Cards : an asset in crisis management

Digital gift card white paper

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