gift card marketing strategies

8 Effective Gift Card Marketing Strategies To Grow and Engage

Justin Calderon

Justin Calderon

8 min

Today, truly exploiting the power of digital goods incentives requires a strong understanding of how gift card marketing strategies can best benefit your business. 

Gift cards, in particular, are such powerful incentives and rewards tools because they: 

  • Are becoming more popular as gift items
  • Are easy to make, deliver and track 
  • Are very liquid thanks to digital vouchers 
  • Entice customers to make more purchases 
  • Drive engagement and brand awareness 

Deploying a smart gift card strategy is, thus, an increasingly important part of incentive marketing across a wide variety of industries, all across the globe. 

Gift cards are today being used across industries outside of traditional incentives marketing fields, many of which didn’t previously use much of them, including:

  • Mobile game studios
  • NGOs
  • Digital research firms
  • Corporate / HR platforms 
  • Academic institutions

This wider global adoption has created unique new avenues for launching gift card marketing strategies, and in all sorts of creative business models. Chances are, you are now looking to create just such an operation. 

In this article, we’ll cover what a comprehensive gift card marketing strategy looks like, including 10 effective parts that can compose your ultimate strategy. 

First, however, we’ll take a look at what has made gift card marketing such a potent marketing tactic today, as well as the surge in demand witnessed during Covid-19.

If you wish to skip ahead to the list of the 10 essential strategies of gift card marketing, then click on the link below to jump to that section. However, we recommend that you read the below overview on gift card marketing and its recent industry growth, as it sets up why the selected strategies are specifically so effective. 

The 10 effective gift card marketing strategies your business should be weighing in on 

Gift card marketing: Why it works

In the pantheon of incentives and rewards tools, gift cards have grown into a class all their own for multiple reasons. 

Below are just a few examples of why companies increasingly use gift cards strategies as incentives. 

  • Minimal effort: A gift card is a passive marketing strategy that generates more leads and more money for your business. 
  • Versatility: You can quickly distribute gift card vouchers via social media, SMS, email, or a landing page. In addition, you can easily use gift cards to pivot your approach to anchor them onto unique events and occasions. For example, gift cards are as applicable for special occasions and holidays as they are for running promotional campaigns (Think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, referrals, and word-of-mouth marketing on social media ). 
  • Effective sales booster: Incentives incite more purchases — plain and simple. First, gift cards as incentives drive more traffic to your sales funnel. This results in a larger collection of leads you can convert into customers. Indeed, a consumer insight study by First Data revealed that customers spend an average of $59 more than the value of the gift card, creating an avenue for higher ROI. 
  • In demand: Gift cards are quite popular, and becoming more so every day. In 2019, gift cards were the most popular item on shoppers’ wishlists; 59% of people in a survey conducted by the National Retail Foundation asked for gift cards more than any other gift item. 
gift card marketing strategies demand

Source: NRF’s Annual October Holiday Consumer Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics

Spendings on gift cards mirrors this survey result: 33% of people spend more on gift cards than they do on other gifts, and that number is projected to increase yearly.

Covid-19’s boost to the gift card industry 

Lockdowns and lower incomes made the demand for gifts slump — except for gift cards.

On the contrary, the demand for gift cards more than doubled in 2020, according to a report by Research and Markets

Although the surge is primarily attributed to changes in online buying behavior, the growth simply extends the reign of gift cards as the top-desired gift item for over a decade

However, today gift cards have even more utility. They can be used to play games, stream multimedia and make purchases with a growing catalog of online retailers. 

As a result, Research and Markets projects that the gift card industry will grow at a cumulative annual growth rate of 8.8% between 2021 and 2025.

Source: Research and Markets, United States Gift Card and incentive cards market forecast

Globally, the margin of the projected increase is even larger. Gift card purchases soared by 50% in 2020. This signals that, as more conventional means of payments become digital, gift cards will benefit and become further embraced across the world.

Looking forward, the global industry for gift cards is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 14% from 2020 to 2025, with an increase projected from $378 billion in 2020 to $510 billion in 2025, as shown in the graph below. 

Cumulative global gift card CGAR. (Mage Plaza)

[Looking to implement a gift card strategy? Reloadly provides a gift card API that allows you to integrate a catalog of global retailers directly into your app or web platform within a day. Sign up for free, or ask your burning questions by sending us a message.]

The 8 effective gift card marketing strategies your business should be studying

Below we have listed some time-tested strategies that will help you kick-start a remarkable gift card marketing campaign. 

Note that not all will apply to your business, but many can and will. 

1. Use gift cards as incentives and rewards for games, surveys, etc. 

Perhaps the most-used strategy for gift cards is to use them as incentives and rewards. 

Indeed, gift cards are excellent as incentives simply because they are so desired and so liquid. 

As mentioned above, they have been proven to increase sales, in particular as an upsell by motivating buyers to purchase to a particular threshold. 

When used as rewards, there are some time-tested ways to boost engagement, including using your gift cards as a raffle prize for a game or event, or to reward responses in marketing, NGO or academic surveys. 

Indeed, games and events are popular strategies for gift cards, which can be built into a variety of marketing channels, as we’ll see below. 

audience lives, including social media platforms and forums where they are most active.

2. Build new leads from an SEO’ed gift cards landing page

Your gift card is a lead magnet, so you need to ensure you get the email address or phone numbers of people who come to your landing page.

By using an email address or phone number, you can send newsletters or SMS messages to make new offers and translate the recipients of gift card vouchers into customers. 

However, this is often easier said than done. That’s because getting the right traffic to your landing page requires more than just a generic service description.

As we will see, it is important to have a specific landing page for each event that your gift card campaign is targeting. 

To increase traffic and conversions to this page, next you’ll need to ensure your landing page is optimized for both search engines and user experiences. This requires that you:

  • Optimize your page loading speed
  • Use SEO best practices such as addressing search intent, generating backlinks, and targeting the right keywords
  • Write helpful and persuasive copy
  • Conduct A/B testing

3. Use multiple marketing channels

Social media and email marketing are uncompromisingly essential components of gift card marketing efforts.

Social media giveaways, for example, can drive engagement by up to 70%.

Facebook and Instagram are also hotspots to generate engagement, driving up brand awareness and generating more leads from your landing page.

Moreover, email marketing campaigns can drive results, especially when built around an event with a well-defined target audience.

To truly succeed, however, you need to send engaging, personalised and relevant emails to leads. Your gift card marketing campaign will be the better for it. 

4. Drive brand awareness through influencer marketing

Implementing paid marketing and sponsorship deals with influencers as part of your gift card marketing strategy can generate big dividends. 

If you have the budget for it, using brand-fitting influencers in your industry or target location can boost results. 

A study by Rakuten shows that 80% of consumers have made purchases based on an influencer’s recommendation. 

Clearly, the impact for a gift card strategy would likewise be noticable. 

5. Identify key dates long ahead of time

Take a look into the future. Review your annual calendar ahead of time, and then target dates you want to create specific marketing content for.

Take particular notice of gift-giving holidays in the calendar year, and across the regions you operate in. Ramadan in Islam-majority nations, or Chinese New Year in Chinese-majority nations, for example. 

Secondly, identify important days in your industry, such as Black Fridays in e-commerce, cyber Monday in IT, and giving Tuesdays in the nonprofit sector.

You should market your gift cards around those days, fitting with your target audience accordingly. 

6. Use growth hacking for referrals and loyalty campaigns 

With a gift card service, you have essentially set an automatic referral system in place. 

People will share the news about your gift card via word-of-mouth and social media, and you can attract loyal customers from this buzz. 

Make it easy for them to share this news. Add growth hacking techniques, such as referral links at the end of gift card voucher messages. 

A step further, you can then start to build loyalty programs to connect with repeat customers, turning them into evangelizers of your service. 

7. Use interesting and relevant design concepts 

A gift card service with a boring design can be off-putting.

Make sure your gift card service app or website includes designs that are stylish, using impressive designs and memorable captions. Even more so, make sure the concept makes sense for your target market 

This will increase the shareability of your gift cards in the both short- and long-term. 

8. Regularly review your analytics

It is imperative to review analytical data for insights on what to modify and iterate in your next marketing campaigns.

If you use a platform that provides real-time reporting, then a team member should give regular updates on this in case something needs to be changed in the middle of the gift card campaign. 

Metrics you may measure include:

  • Cost per lead acquisition
  • Landing page traffic-to-lead ratio
  • Mobile traffic 
  • Traffic sources 

These metrics will help you make better decisions for your next gift card marketing campaigns.

4. Getting started with gift card marketing 

The great thing about these gift card strategies is that you can begin implementing them quickly, even if your service isn’t quite ready yet. 

Today, new technology has made it easy to set up and run customizable gift card services. 

To get started, a developer just needs to integrate your website or app to a digital gift card API, which can be up and running within a day. 

Reloadly’s gift card API makes this task straightforward, allowing your team to: 

  • Integrate your website or app quickly and easily
  • Send gift cards to multiple people (bulk) in five regions within five seconds
  • Access an ever-expanding catalog of retailers including popular brands, such as Amazon, Apple, Nintendo, Roblox, and more
  • Set precise values of gift cards via a dashboard with over 100 currencies
  • Manage, analyze and improve your gift card distribution with analytical real-time reporting 

Getting started with Reloadly’s gift card API is easy, and comes with the benefits that Reloadly’s airtime API has become renowned for: 

  • Sign up for free. No contracts at all.
  • Free support service
  • Integration occurs through one endpoint, managed all on one dashboard

If you are developing a service using new gift card strategies, contact us and we’ll explain how our gift card API can best help make your campaign easier to manage.

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