How to launch a successful gift card program?

by | 2 Mar, 2021 | INSIGHTS

Implementing a gift card program is one thing, but making it successful is what really matters. The first requirement for success is a good launch, in fact, it is the trickiest step.

What elements should you look out for?

Choosing the right solution

Brands that do not have any gift card program, or that do not have a comprehensive solution, can decide to outsource their project. They have to choose among different options: gift card plugin, marketing agencies, SaaS solutions, …

Making the right choice is essential to successfully launch your gift card program. The service provider must match your needs, the solution must be flexible enough to adapt to the brand’s requirements, and most importantly, it must be able to evolve over time. In the end, the most important is to set clear goals and expectations in order to find the best offer on the market and lay the right foundations for your gift card program.

Integrating your gift card program

Whether you decide to outsource your program or develop it in house, the brand will have to integrate it to its back office. Since it is a new product and new means of payment, it has to be incorporated with the brand’s existing flows in the cash register system, but also, and especially, the banking flows.

Integrating a new program also means training employees. They need to be able to know how to make it work, to operate it and reap its benefits, … in order to use it efficiently. Training employees also encourages them to use this new service, commit to it, and therefore, it improves communication and satisfaction among salespeople in physical stores.

To stack all the odds in its favor, the brand should have a dedicated internal team. Or at least a team whose mission is to work on the gift card program. Having a dynamic solution is crucial for its success. Of course, this service launch should be promoted, like any new product. But you must also prepare communication campaigns for key dates beforehand. Gift cards have their highlights throughout the year, so many opportunities that should not be missed.

Moreover, if the brand sells plastic as well as digital gift cards in their e-commerce and physical stores, it is essential that they stay in constant contact with the different sales channels. It will enable them to always keep a clear overview of the situation, on a case-by-case basis, and adapt accordingly.

A service that meets customer needs

Customer knowledge is a real goldmine for brands. The saying “the customer is always right” is not to be taken lightly here. Before jumping into a gift card program, many forget a crucial step for its success: understanding customer needs. Gift cards are first and foremost a service for customers. There are a great many possibilities to choose from, and you need to pick the right ones.

First of all, brands must lay the foundation: which customers should you target? What are their expectations? What are their needs?

A brand might decide to focus on B2B clients (works councils, companies, network of distributors, …) or prefer B2C (individual customers). They can decide to only offer plastic gift cards, or just digital, or both as an omnichannel solution. The cards can be made available online, or in brick-and-mortar stores, or both. Gift cards have been in constant evolution over the past few years.

Include other services

A brand with a gift card program can also be used by other services, such as marketing. Gift cards are a formidable marketing tool. They can be used in multiple ways (promotion, acquisition, loyalty, …) and are a great way to boost the program. In addition to encouraging profitable behaviors for the brand, marketing campaigns will make the new service known to customers and drive its adoption.

The brand must reflect on how to best use gift cards throughout the customer journey, in order to derive maximum benefit from the program.

Maintenance of the gift card program

In order to have a sustainable gift card program, both maintenance and upgrades are necessary. Gift cards, and more specifically e-gift cards, evolve over time, along with new technologies. To have a service that remains competitive and that meets the ever-changing customer needs, you need to monitor the market and stay ahead of changes.

User feedback and performances are also resources to pay special attention to. The brand must prepare carefully thought-out tracking systems and KPIs ahead of time, in compliance with regulations. It is essential to understand habits and know what to pay attention to, in order to frequently improve the program.

Finally, part of the program must be devoted to implementing a fraud protection system. Since gift cards are a product as well as a means of payment, they attract cybercriminals.

A gift card program, when it is successful, can provide a new additional source of revenue. From its launch to its maintenance, the brand must pay close attention to all aspects of the program, lay solid foundation and keep a long-term view.

Suggestions for further reading

Top 10 reasons why a brand should offer digital gift cards

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