Today, customers are at the core of all discussions and processes led by brands. Customer satisfaction and customer experience are key elements to remain competitive and last over time. This is why many have already created a customer journey map.
It is a synthetic way of looking at all the different touchpoints, evaluating the actions taken and those to consider in order to further deepen the customer loyalty and relationship. Several tools can be used for each stage, from brand discovery to customer retention. But we will specifically focus on digital gift cards, an efficient tool that can be used throughout the customer journey.
First stage: awareness and consideration
Consumers will pass a first stage: awareness. They identify a problem, a need or something missing. Therefore, they begin to pay more attention to brands meeting their needs, and start looking for products and/or services. They make their inquiries in several ways, both through digital as well as other more traditional channels.
Regarding awareness, three things matter: brand recognition, identity and reviews (other customers or relatives). And for each, digital gift cards are a perfect match. Why is that?
Well, in short, E-gift cards are a new communication medium that is always available, in the holder’s pocket, on their computer or smartphone. That way, the brand is always at the back of their mind.
A second element, that is essential for that step: digital gift cards materialize a relative’s recommendation. Imagine that someone close to the seeking consumer says that a certain brand is good. Sure, it will encourage the potential customer in his/her decision but without certainty. Whereas if that same person supports his/her positive comment with a gift card, you can be sure that the customer will visit your online or physical shop.
Even better, the brand can implement an automatic system. When the current customer is satisfied with the brand, she/he can freely give a gift card with a limited amount. A little push that can make a big difference.
Second stage: decision and customer acquisition
The decision-making stage is crucial. This is when the brand knows if it has convinced the consumer by making the best offer. If that is not the case, the latter will go straight to the competition. So, how can you tip the scales in your favor?
There are several ways to go about it and e-gift cards perfectly fit the bill.
Encourage the first purchase
Just like a promotion, digital gift cards encourage the first purchase and experience with a brand.
Let us explain ourselves. Brands can choose to offer digital gift cards to consumers that are identified as highly interested. Since it is flexible, the brand can choose the amount and expiry date. What is more, it can decide if the gift card is redeemable only in physical or online shops… It is pretty useful to encourage new habits, such as shopping on the brand’s new app for example.
Moreover, new customers with a gift card are more likely to increase their average shopping basket and give in to impulse purchasing.
Incentive to subscribe
Even if they do not purchase right away, all is not lost, far from it. There are actions that can be profitable over time, and e-gift cards can work as an incentive to encourage visitors and potential customers to take the plunge. What are these actions?
Subscribing to the newsletter, to a specific program, registering in a contest, … There are several alternatives for brands to keep in touch with visitors and make them offers to trigger purchases.
But they still have to want to take the leap. Gift cards can be a great way to encourage them, it is like a compensation or reward for their effort. And just like explained earlier, it takes them one step closer to making their first purchase, since the recipient will visit to spend it.
Third stage: loyalty and growth
Once the customer has made her/his first purchase, there is yet another crucial step: getting them to buy again. That means creating satisfaction, loyalty and commitment to the brand. It is no secret that it is in a brand’s best interest to work on loyalty. By enabling it to keep its hard-won customers over the longest period of time possible, it reduces acquisition costs and increases revenue. The perfect equation. But how can this be achieved in practical terms?
Improve your loyalty program
Many brands have a loyalty program. A system based on various rewards, actions, identified paths to stimulate and deepen the relationship between the brand and the customer. Very often the program is based on a point system. Once a certain number of points is reached, customers can exchange them for rewards.
One particular reward is really appreciated by consumers, you guessed it: e-gift cards. Immediate and gratifying, they adapt to all types of consumers. It leads the customer to come back for an in-store or online experience based on pleasure and fulfillment.
Digital gift cards can also be saved on smartphone wallets. Through them, the brand can send push notifications when a customer is close to a shop for example, or for the launch of a new product. The message can be adapted to any situation.
Increase the average shopping basket
It is not just about building long-term customer loyalty, you also have to increase their average shopping basket. To do so, you can once again use e-gift cards.
Let’s say you decide to reward a loyal customer with a digital gift card, the latter is bound to have a different shopping experience than usual. Even if the card’s amount is limited, she/he will go for higher-end products than usual. And if they are satisfied with the product, they are more likely to repeat the experience. The number of impulse purchases will also increase. As a result: their shopping basket will go far over the gift card’s face value.
Reconnect with former customers
There are customers who have not purchased anything for a long time or who buy far less than the average customer. It is interesting to know why and set up strategies accordingly. For example, the brand can send a reminder via email, along with a digital gift card. It acts as an invitation to reconnect with the brand, discover the newest changes and live an improved customer experience.
E-gift cards enable you to develop new behaviors and habits as well as create commitment among former customers. For example, if the brand offers a new service or payment method, you can offer digital gift cards to the first consumers who try it.
Fourth stage: after-sales and retention
Despite all the brand’s efforts to meet and even exceed consumer expectations, some will be unsatisfied. There can be multiple causes: defective products, high prices, issues with another service, … This brings complaints. Although they are often considered bad for business, complaints are nevertheless a sign that consumers are willing to give the brand a second chance, if the latter is able to live up to their expectations.
In addition to the monetary obligation, it is always a good idea to offer an additional gift card with a predetermined amount. It adds a touch of generosity and will help your band stand out. Well-liked by unhappy customers, gift cards are an invitation to come back and live a new – and hopefully better – experience in one of the brand’s physical or digital point of sale.
From customer acquisition to loyalty and retention, the digital gift card is a real all-rounder. Not only is it highly appreciated by consumers, it is also a great tool to stimulate as well as to establish and deepen the relationship between the brand and its customers.
Suggestions for further reading
Why set up a digital loyalty program?
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