Christmas is fast approaching, and during this period, gift card sales account for 41% of the annual total – nearly the majority. It’s no surprise, as gift cards consistently rank among the top 3 choices on French wishlists for Santa Claus.
To maximize sales and seize every opportunity, it’s already time to work on your gift card program. To be fully prepared for the big day, it’s ideal to begin your strategic planning as early as July, considering that the first purchases by the most organized shoppers start in mid-October.
To ensure you don’t miss anything, we’ve compiled a list of things to do in this article.
1. Assess Previous Christmases
If you haven’t just started your gift card service, you already have a history of past Christmases. It’s worthwhile to analyze gift card sales to make any necessary adjustments and determine the ideal campaign launch dates.
Examine the evolution of gift card sales. When do they start? Is there a peak in the days leading up to Christmas? This will help structure campaigns for both early buyers and last-minute shoppers.
Next, determine the average amount, how many additional payments were made alongside gift card purchases, and the average amount of these supplementary payments. This information can be used to potentially create campaigns aimed at increasing the value of gift cards purchased and maximizing revenue.
Lastly, understand the conversion rate of the order page for optimization, the rate of expired gift cards to implement a push notification system upon card use, and strategies to increase the portion of spent gift cards, among other factors.
2. Set Your Goals
Now that you have a clearer picture of your past results, it’s time to set objectives for the upcoming holiday season. These objectives will lead to a budget and a time-bound action plan.
Being clear and organized will prompt you to carefully consider your gift card program, often overlooked. It’s important to note that brands not focusing on their gift card service can miss out on up to 40% of additional revenue during the Christmas season.
3. Analyze and Optimize Your E-Gift Card Ordering Process
Let’s revisit the ordering process. Optimizing your order page will help you avoid missteps during the holiday season. This will lead to a smoother customer experience, faster purchasing processes, reduced shopping cart abandonment, and maximized revenue.
It’s worth noting that gift cards are unique, sitting halfway between a payment method and a product. The buyers of gift cards are not your primary target; they are the friends and family of your target audience. Knowing this, implementing a dedicated ordering process that bypasses the cart and account creation (which is unnecessary for buyers purchasing gifts for others) will increase your revenue.
Two additional aspects to consider are implementing a robust anti-fraud system to prevent attacks during the holiday season and bolstering the servers and technical infrastructure supporting the gift card service to anticipate traffic spikes.
4. Personalize the Ordering Process and Gift Card Service
Every respectable shopper enjoys being immersed in a complete experience when it comes to holiday gift-giving. They also expect contextual elements related to the gift card service.
This involves updating the order page on one hand and using dedicated visuals on the other. Visuals play a critical role in increasing purchase chances. A buyer will always prefer to gift a brand with a beautiful Christmas tree, an enchanting setting, or a snowy landscape rather than just the brand name.
A gift is an experience, and for it to be perfect, everything should be tailored to the magic of Christmas.
5. Website Promotion
There won’t be gift card sales if the service isn’t visible. In the midst of the holiday rush and numerous choices, buyers need guidance, and it all starts on the e-commerce website.
Offer the gift card as a versatile option suitable for the indecisive, last-minute shoppers, and budget-conscious customers.
- Make sure the service is prominently displayed in the main menu of the website and possibly in the footer.
- Create a banner on the homepage highlighting the benefits of your gift card.
- Implement a pop-up to propose the gift card as an alternative.
- If you have a dedicated “Christmas Gift Ideas” page, emphasize your gift card there.
- In case of out-of-stock situations for products known to be Christmas bestsellers, display the gift card service as an alternative on the product page.
6. Physical Store Promotion
The same principles apply to physical stores. If you sell physical gift cards, consider creating Point of Sale (POS) displays in Christmas colors to showcase your gift cards.
Three strategic locations for these displays are:
- Near the cash register.
- At the store entrance.
- In the area dedicated to Christmas gifts, if one exists.
As an extra touch, think about displaying a QR code that directs customers to order e-gift cards, giving them the choice between physical and electronic gift cards.
7. Promotion Across Brand Channels
In addition to your website and physical stores, boost the visibility of your gift card on external channels:
- Dedicate one of your newsletters to the gift card service, listing its advantages.
- On your social media platforms, include posts about the gift card service.
- Consider integrating your gift card into gift recommendations made by influencers or bloggers.
8. Comprehensive B2C Marketing Campaigns
In the midst of challenging economic circumstances, consumers are looking to optimize their budgets. Their primary purchase criteria are price (93%), and more than 50% of them pay attention to promotions, discounts, and special offers, even if it means buying gifts in advance. The budget will see a €30 increase in line with inflation, but the number of gifts will decrease.
As a result, you can use the gift card as a response and alternative by creating various marketing campaigns for consumers. The gift card is flexible, allowing for precise budget management while delighting the recipient.
Here are some campaign ideas to launch:
- A campaign targeting your customer database. Since your customers have embraced your brand, they are the best advocates to recommend it to their acquaintances. You can accompany this campaign with an offer: increase loyalty points when purchasing a gift card.
- A campaign for early buyers to launch by the end of October. Use social media advertising to increase the visibility of the gift card.
- A dedicated campaign for those looking for a practical gift with a 100% satisfaction guarantee through social media and search engine advertising.
- A retargeting campaign for consumers who left your site without making a purchase. Offer the gift card, which allows them to gift any product.
- A campaign for procrastinators and last-minute shoppers on social media and search engines.
- A promotional campaign on the gift card. For example, a 10% discount on the gift card or buy a €50 gift card and get a €10 card to give to someone else.
9. Comprehensive B2B Marketing Campaigns
Seventy percent of employees appreciate receiving a gift card, a practical gift with significant added value. As a result, more than half of companies and Employee Welfare Committees (CSE) use gift cards as a means to distribute employee bonuses at the end of the year. This is especially advantageous because URSAFF allows for a tax exemption if a certain limit is not exceeded. To be eligible, a connection between Christmas and the amount received must be proven, which gift cards facilitate quickly and easily.
Given this, companies and CSEs are actively seeking single-brand gift cards. This channel accounts for over two-thirds of a program’s revenue. Like the B2C channel, it experiences a surge in orders during Christmas. To maximize results, visibility and commercial campaigns are essential.
Here are some avenues to explore:
- Send an email to remind professional customer databases of your services. You can include a tiered discount on purchased gift cards in this campaign.
- A visibility campaign through social media and search engine advertising targeting CSEs, HR departments, firms, and agencies during the holiday season.
- A campaign for last-minute buyers to launch in early December.
If you are multi-distributing your gift card through partner resellers/distributors (loyalty programs, inter-CE platforms, incentive platforms, etc.), you can create commercial operations:
- Visibility campaigns within these platforms: banners, inserts in partner newsletters, etc. Ensure your ad visuals and text effectively convey your brand’s universe and highlight key products.
- The compensation system is based on a commission for each gift card sold. To motivate partner distributors, you can temporarily increase the commission, a possibility easily facilitated by some aggregators like BuyBox Network.
10. Gift Cards as Support for Your Christmas Goals
Gift cards can also serve as promotional and customer acquisition tools. Therefore, they should be included in your strategic thinking. Sometimes, they can be a better alternative than a simple promotional code, offering more impact and being a viable solution to your challenges.
Here are some examples:
Brand Visibility During the Holiday Season:
- Form partnerships with bloggers or influencers using gift cards (e.g., allowing an influencer to organize a contest).
- Create a referral program where both your customers and their referrals receive gift cards with each referral.
- Launch a social media contest with a gift card as the reward. Participation requirements can include tagging a friend, creating a story, or posting to share the gift experience.
- Increase your presence on partner reseller platforms (CSE, HR, loyalty programs, etc.).
Generating Foot Traffic in Physical Stores During Christmas:
- Offer a €5 gift card to your customer base with a loyalty card, valid until December 25th in stores and on the e-commerce site.
- Bundle deals. For every purchase of a specific product, offer a gift card of a certain amount (valid until Christmas to encourage repeat purchases or after Christmas to encourage return visits).
Increasing Basket Size:
- Offer gift cards for each spending threshold reached. For example, €10 for €100 in purchases and €20 for €200.
Boosting Mobile App Usage:
- For any purchase over a certain amount on the mobile app, offer a €10 gift card.
Bringing Customers Back After Christmas: To bring customers back after Christmas, you can implement the above-mentioned commercial operations where a gift card is offered. For the gift card given, you can manipulate the validity date. In this case, it will only be valid in January/February. For example, for a product purchased, you offer a gift card valid after Christmas. Or, following the BOGO (Buy One Give One) principle, you give the buyer a gift card when they purchase one, allowing them to indulge after the holidays. A little Christmas gift ahead of time.
A gift card program, once established, should not be left to languish. Successful brands today are thinking about both short-term and long-term strategies. They deploy workstreams and test numerous campaign combinations.
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